Monday 13 August 2018

RIP Michael Scott Rohan

News has unfortunately broken that Scottish fantasy author Michael Scott Rohan has passed away at the age of 67.

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Rohan was born in Edinburgh in 1951, apparently in the house next door to one where Robert Louis Stevenson resided. He attended Oxford University, where he started reading English but switched to Law, and got involved in an SF group. His first published work of genre interest appeared in the group's SFinx magazine. His first published story was "Fidei Defensor" (1977) in the anthology Andromeda 2 (edited by Peter Weston), which attracted praise from no less a personage than Ursula K. Le Guin ("an absolute knockout!"). A writer with widely varying interests, he co-wrote (with Allan Scott) a nonfiction study of the Viking era, The Hammer and the Cross (1980), and also wrote reviews for Opera Now. He also developed an interest in the home computing scene and wrote an introduction to the field, First Byte (1983), and sang and played guitar in a folk band.

His first novel was Run to the Stars (1983), a hard SF story, which was followed by a switch to fantasy with The Ice King (1986, with Allan Scott). The same year he published The Anvil of Ice (1986), the first in the Winter of the World series, which remains his best-known work. Five additional novels in the sequence followed.

Rohan returned to SF with The Spiral, a four-volume series set in a series of interconnecting parallel worlds, featuring such ideas as computer programs that can be used to empower magical spells.

Possibly Rohan's finest novel is The Lord of Middle Air (1994), a stand-alone which melds the history of 13th Century Borders Scotland with a fictional faerie realm.

Rohan's writing career was abruptly curtailed after the publication of the sixth Winter of the World novel in 2001, after he had been diagnosed with an incurable disease. He decided to dedicate the rest of his life to his family and to travelling, including visiting both Antarctica and the Arctic. Occasionally his publishers hinted that he was writing another fantasy novel, but alas none appeared.

This is sad news. Michael Scott Rohan wrote with skill and a poetical flourish, and showed an enviable proficiency across the fields of criticism, science fiction, fantasy and historical fiction. He will be missed.


Run to the Stars (1982)
The Ice King (1986, with Allan J. Scott)
A Spell of Empire (1992, with Allan J. Scott)
The Lord of Middle Air (1994)

The Winter of the World
The Anvil of Ice (1986)
The Forge in the Forest (1987)
The Hammer of the Sun (1988)
The Castle of the Winds (1998)
The Singer and the Sea (1999)
Shadow of the Seer (2001)

The Spiral
Chase the Morning (1990)
The Gates of Noon (1992)
Cloud Castles (1993)
Maxie's Demon (1997)

The Hammer and the Cross (1980, with Allan J. Scott)
Fantastic People: Magical Races of Myth and Legend (1980)
First Byte (1983)


Unknown said...

Very sad news, I've loved the winter of the World for 30 years, my thoughts are with his family.

Anonymous said...

Very sad. I loved the Winter of the World series. It had great atmosphere and imagery. Very close to a LOTR vibe. To me anyway.

indomite said...

Sad news. Condolences to his family and friends. A reread is in order.

Unknown said...

He was my best and oldest friend, as well as the kind of creative collaborator most of us can only dream about. I'm working on a new memorial website to update and replace the old Zetnet site that has somehow managed to survive for decades - and to which (although I built it) I no longer have access...

Allan Scott

Anonymous said...

I just found out this morning that Mike has passed away. We have been writing each other over the past quarter of a century and I loved him not just for the great writer he was, but also for his sense of humor and interests we shared. What a generous human being! My thoughts go out to his wife Deb and his close friends in these hard times.

@ Allan Scott - thank you, I'm looking forward to the new website!

Steve Logan Krebs

Nick Borrelli said...

Somehow this news escaped my attention until now. I vividly remember devouring his Winter of the World series when I was in my late teens. Such a great and engaging Fantasy world. Michael will be missed.

Unknown said...

I reread the anvil if ice every few years. i enjoy it more than lord of the rings. he was a great writer I was hopin g to see some of his great works brought to the big or little screen. even though we weren't aquainted I feel like a good friend has gone.

Markus said...

I just ran across this news. I remember reading the Winter of the World for the first time; a stunning discovery. As a Finn, I of course loved picking out the occasional references to Finnish mythology, but the whole work is so much more than, deep and wise, and somehow achingly familiar. It gave me great comfort at a dark time in my life. Than you, Michael.

I loved his other works as well. One of the greats has passed, and the world is a little bit darker now.