Wednesday 25 May 2011

Quoth the Scotsman | Robert McCammon on Living the Dream

A couple of caveats to bear in mind before we start. Unless otherwise indicated, none of the quotes quoted in the following article are representative of the beliefs of the person in question quoted nor those the person quoting the person in question. Additionally, any resemblance to persons living or dead is purely coincidental... or so I'm saying.

In short, Quoth the Scotsman is just a space here on TSS for me to post neat quotes as and when I come across them. Simple. As. That.


What a topsy-turvy couple of weeks it's been...

If you follow me on the Twitter, you'll know all about the latest twist of the knife in the comedy of errors my life seems to have become this last while: after the router failing, and the pitiful hand injury, on Monday my monitor gave up the ghost.

I suppose I shouldn't begrudge it. My Samsung Syncmaster served me very well for four, perhaps five years - and it even had the decency to let me know, in advance of its final failure, that its time was finally coming. Didn't make the thing any cheaper to replace, but hey, these things happen. I just wish they didn't happen all at once!

And I'll say this. Not being able to blog's left me with an almighty whack of time to spend on other things, like reading. And betwixt sessions of the tremendous L. A. Noire, read I have. I've read The Lost Fleet: Dauntless, The Thing on the Shore, Who Goes There? and Man Plus. On my shiny new tablet I've read a couple of comics: some Locke and Key, some silly Batman fluff, and the first volume of Richard Stark's Parker.

But last night I put the Transformer down to start in on a particularly appealing new arrival: the gorgeous Subterranean Press edition of The Five by the great Robert McCammon, which I hear is selling out as we speak.

There'll be more on The Speculative Scotsman about The Five in due course - not least in The BoSS when it returns this weekend. But today, I wanted to pull out a quote from this monster of a novel about the last tour of a nothing band that struck a chord in me... a quote which I think speaks to the eternal dilemma facing aspiring artistes the world over:

"Before he said what had to be spoken, before he opened his mouth and let the future tumble out of it, for better or for worse, he had an instant of feeling lost. Of wondering if he was advancing toward a goal or retreating from one, because in this business - in any of the arts, really - success was always a lightning strike away. Yeah, he would do fine as the rep selling audio units on the road. He would get to know the products so well he would know what the client needed before he eyeballed the venue. But was that going to be enough? Was he going to wake up one night when he was forty years old, listening to a clock tick and thinking If only I had stuck it out... 

"Because that was the sharpest thorn in this tangled bush where the roses always seemed so close and yet so hard to reach, and everybody in the Scumbucket knew it. How long did you give your life to the dream, before it took your life? 

"'I have nothing,' he said, which he had not meant to say and wished he could reel back in, but it was gone." (p.23)

I'm only 50-odd pages into The Five at the time of this writing, and I'm rooting for these guys already. Not least because they're so down-on-their-luck - as I suppose you could say I've been on mine, this last little while.

Though I'll admit I was expecting more in the way of the supernatural from a Robert McCammon novel than there's been thus far... which is to say not even a whiff. Not that I'm complaining. And perhaps the weird and wonderful is still to come - or else I've quite misunderstood the modus operandi of this particular author. An entirely too plausible scenario, in truth; it's just incredible how little exposure this author has in the UK given his profile overseas.

Now all y'all feel free to set me straight on this, but Robert McCammon is a speculative fiction author, right? Swan Song wasn't just a dalliance with the disturbing, was it? 


  1. Hi there,

    The books of his I have read have all had supernatural elements. The only ones that haven't (although even though it is hinted at), is his Matthew Corbett series.

    I totally agree, how this author is not more widely known over here is criminal. Waterstones looked at me as if I was a monster when I asked for this book. I am eagerly awaiting my copy from Amazon.

    Did you read Swan Song? I didn't see the review.

  2. Hey Rob. :)

    Actually, no, I've not gotten around to reading Swan Song yet - and no promises that I will any time soon. Sorry! What with all the ARCs, I buy so few books these days that those I do put down the pennies for, I like to take my time with; the better to enjoy the feeling of not having to read and review everything on a tight schedule.

    On the other hand, I can hardly wait to find a few days to devote to Swan Song. I did read a little of it - enough to know I'm probably going to adore it when I get to the rest - but certain circumstances intruded, as certain circumstances are wont to do, it seems especially of late, and I've been too stressed out to relax with it since.

    But totally. What gives, British booksellers? Does McCammon even have a publisher here in the UK?

  3. He's mostly spec fic, but he veers off on occasion. I think I remember Gone South being sort of more psychological thriller than anything, for one (although in my opinion there's a fine line between psych thriller and horror, if you've got to put labels on them). It was also great, by the way.

    It's been a very long time since I've read anything by him, excepting Swan Song. I may have to go through the back list and refresh my memory.