Note: Now Cathy has formally announced this, I will say how worried I have been by the decline of Neil’s health. For about five years, it’s been one thing after another. I hope that he will make a good recovery and be able to go home to his loved ones.
I will add that Neil has been one of the most significant libertarians of the past forty years. Of course, we need our economists and philosophers. But we also need our poets – that is, we need those who can inspire as well as explain. In more than thirty novels, Neil has reached out to the world at large, spreading the good news of what our lives could be like without the State and its attendant institutions of control. So far as libertarianism has a presence in popular culture, it is in large part thanks to Neil.
My own debt is more personal. I owe much to Neil’s advice and moral support. It isn’t from jealousy or rivalry that writers tend not to comment on each other. We are all trying to make a living, or just wrapped up in our own work, and paying attention to someone else is a diversion from this. Even so, Neil has always been astonishingly generous with his time.
In brief, my very best wishes to Neil and to all his loved ones. They are in my thoughts.
Oh, and, if anyone wants to go beyond thoughts, you can send some money to Neil and his family.
Cathy Smith Writes:
To our friends who have patiently refrained from asking, Neil suffered a stroke on June 28. He is currently in an excellent acute rehabilitation program at a facility in Northern Colorado and is making good progress. I’m happy to share information. If you want updates, please let me know by email and I’ll reply. Giovanni and I are working on making the house (built in 1949) accessible for Neil’s eventual return.
Neil, Cathy, & Giovanni
Historická detektívka zo 7. storočia (knižná recenzia)
Hneď na začiatku sa priznám, že pre historické detektívky mám slabosť. Hlavne preto, že v sebe spájajú dramatické napätie z vyšetrovania zločinu − vo väčšine prípadov nejakej vraždy – s viac-menej reálnym historickým pozadím, nezriedka aj so skutočnými historickými postavami. Popri vzrušení z odhaľovania zločinov a zločincov tak historické detektívky ponúkajú svojmu čitateľovi aj atraktívny exkurz do rôznych historických epoch, ktorý môže byť poučnejší a približuje konkrétne dejinné obdobie viac než matné spomienky zo školských hodín dejepisu. Continue reading
‘The Break’ is the latest book by Sean Gabb, and another that explores another alternate timeline of the UK, as well as the amusing political outcomes of said universe. ‘The Break’ is set in the UK in 2018, in the aftermath of a disastrous event (the break) that has taken modern Britain and thrown her back near enough 1,000 years in time, or put her in an alternate universe in the more accurate sense. Most of the story is based around the quest of a young girl who needs to find her parents who have gone missing during her time abroad in Normandy. The other main character is the nephew of a Byzantine diplomat who have come to England to meet her rulers. Continue reading
The Curse of Babylon
Amid the plotting, revolts and wild hedonism of the remains of the Roman empire at the beginning of the seventh century, English adventurer Aelric faces his hardest challenge as he tries to stop a Persian invasion – and deal with a determined and dangerous woman. Continue reading
Interview with Richard Blake
Richard Blake has so far written these historical novels, all published in London by Hodder & Stoughton, and all set in the Byzantine Empire of the seventh century:
Conspiracies of Romeby Richard Blake (2008)
The Terror of Constantinople by Richard Blake (2009)
The Blood of Alexandria by Richard Blake (2010)
The Sword of Damascus by Richard Blake (2011)
The Ghosts of Athens by Richard Blake (2012)
The Curse of Babylon by Richard Blake (2013)
What was your original inspiration for Aelric?
Based on the similarity in their names, is there any special connection readers are meant to draw between Aelric and the historical figure of Alaric, the Visigoth who sacked Rome in the fifth century?
I think the first idea came to me in the February of 2005, when my wife took me for a long weekend break in Rome. This was my first visit to the City, and my first at that time of year to anywhere in the Mediterranean World. In both senses, the visit opened my eyes. It was cold – much colder than England. Though I “knew” otherwise from the sources, I’d had a fixed notion of the ancient world as a place of omnipresent sun and warmth. Stumbling round the Forum in thick overcoat and gloves brought everything closer to my own experience, and set me thinking about what the Romans wore in winter, and how often most of them really bathed, and what the air must have been like in a place where a quarter of a million houses were heated with charcoal. Continue reading
The Joys of Writing Byzantine Historical Fiction
(Published on ForWinterNights, July 2014)
As the author of six novels set in seventh century Byzantium, I’m often asked: Why choose that period? There’s always been strong interest within the historical fiction community in Classical Greece, and in Rome a century either side of the birth of Christ, and the western Dark Ages. With very few exceptions – Robert Graves’ Count Belisarius, for example, or Cecelia Holland’s Belt of Gold – Byzantium in any period of its long history is a neglected area. Why, then, did I choose it?
The short answer is that I wanted to be different. I won’t say that there are too many novels set in the other periods mentioned above. There is, even so, a very large number of them. If there is always a market for them, standing out from the crowd requires greater ability than I at first thought I had. And so I began Conspiracies of Rome (2008) I ran at once into difficulties I hadn’t considered, and that could have been shuffled past had I decided on a thriller about the plot to kill Julius Caesar. Solving these difficulties put me through a second education as a writer, and may even have shown that I do possess certain abilities. Before elaborating on this point, however, let me give a longer answer to my question: Why choose Byzantium? Continue reading
Meet the author – Richard Blake
KCC events, Talks & Presentations
Deal Library , Deal
Meet local author Sean Gabb writing as Richard Blake at Deal Library for an insight into his historical fiction writing.
Sean Gabb is a historian, broadcaster and university lecturer and lives in the Deal area. He has written eight fiction books some under the name Richard Blake.
He has also written for The Times and the Birmingham Post. Sean has also written a number of nonfiction political titles.
Saturday 19th July 2014