On 7 September 2018 many of Mike and Deb’s family and friends gathered at the Cloister Chapel in Warriston Crematorium to celebrate his life.
On this page you’ll find a copy of the Order of Service and the eulogy Allan Scott gave for his best and oldest friend.
Remembering Mike Scott Rohan
When I first met Mike Scott Rohan I was a callow, introverted 18-year-old
Straight out of school.
Mike was two years my senior.
He was already a budding classical music and opera buff.
And he’d already seen a good deal more of life than me.
We were different in other ways, too.
Mike had little or no time for religion, and felt that if there was a God we didn’t need to bother him. I was a cradle Catholic.
And when it came to politics – as Flanders and Swann might put it – there was a misalliance.
He twined firmly to the right, and I twined to the left.
So perhaps opposites do attract – because this was the start of a friendship that would last almost 50 years.
And that happened because of the things we had in common.
Our shared passion for music – of all kinds.
Our shared fascination with the Vikings, with mythology and legend, and with Anglo-Saxon and Scandinavian mythology in particular.
Not to mention our shared love of the ridiculous – which led to some daft escapades in and around Oxford.
The swordfight duels in the corridors.
Which – on one famous occasion – generated enough sparks to set off the fire alarms.
The snatches of Wagnerian opera – sung at top volume for maximum irritation value.
And the ceremonial cutting of my 20th birthday cake.
With a replica double-handed broadsword – ever after known as Hlavisbana.
If your Anglo-Saxon is a bit rusty, that roughly translates as ‘cake-slayer’.
But perhaps most important was our shared love of fantasy and science fiction.
Because that’s how we met.
We kept running into each other among the well-stocked shelves of the Oxford University Speculative Fiction Group.
Hunting down the books we had yet to read…
And discovering that they were often the same books.
Mike was studying law at St Edmund Hall – without much enjoyment.
In the words of his good friend John Clarkson – ‘being in a tutorial with Rohan was like being the bloody Flying Dutchman’s navigator…’
So it was clear, even then, that Mike would not become a lawyer.
In fact he often told me he should have read English.
And he was intrigued by my own course of study at New College.
I was reading the somewhat eclectic English Course 2.
Focusing on Old English, Middle English, and (in my case) Old Norse.
Thanks to that course I met a fellow nutcase called Debby Hickenlooper – and had the privilege of introducing her to Mike.
I can’t take credit for what happened next.
That was entirely down to them.
But in Mike’s words they ‘kept finding excuses for not getting married’.
Though they did – eventually – run out of excuses…
In the meantime, another kind of magic was at work.
I’d taken over as editor of the SF Group magazine, SFinx.
I had grand ideas. But I needed stories.
Diana Reed, my predecessor, had started a writers’ group.
A place where budding authors could come to have their precious manuscripts brutally macerated by their peers.
As it happened, Mike had written a story called ‘The Planetoid in the Case’.
It centred on the legal status of an asteroid…
…which had been shunted sideways in hyperspace.
Several decades before Douglas Adams made that kind of thing a comedy staple.
It also featured a somewhat seedy lawyer called Musgrove.
He bore a strange resemblance to another somewhat seedy lawyer named Rumpole.
Who appeared – several years later…?
It was probably the best use Mike ever made of his law degree.
I loved it. The writers’ group loved it. It was witty, clever, and imaginative.
So I had the privilege of publishing Mike’s first story.
And the rest, as they say, is history.
You’re all aware of Mike’s bitingly original and wonderfully written novels and stories.
What you haven’t heard is how that all started.
Because even in the 1980s, getting anything published was a challenge.
And by then we’d both served a long and gruelling apprenticeship – thanks, initially, to the Oxford Writers’ Group.
By then it had morphed into something called the Pieria Group.
For those not cursed with a classical education, the Pierian Spring was the gathering place of the Nine Muses, the nymphs who inspired all the creative arts.
So not even slightly pretentious, then…
What it became was a place where the budding science fiction and fantasy writers of the 70s and 80s could present their latest work to the teeth and claws of their peers.
It was ego-bruising, painful, and absolutely necessary.
So Mike and I submitted ourselves to the process repeatedly.
Sometimes at each other’s houses.
And in the early 1980s our shared masochism started to produce some returns.
We both had short stories published in a Doctor Who ‘Alien Monsters’ anthology – along with other Pieria group survivors. Sorry, members.
Mike published his first novel – a grimly prophetic science fiction story called ‘Run to the Stars’
Both of us left our jobs – and teamed up with mutual friend Phil Gardner to form Asgard, a publishing services partnership.
And Mike and I started writing books together.
Which is a great way of getting to know someone really well.
Because – much like a marriage – it will quickly reveal the things that irritate you most about your chosen partner…
Even so, in the days before I had a car I was quite happy to cycle about 50 miles to spend time with him.
Mind you, that might have had something to do with Deb’s legendary cooking skills.
Once there we argued. A lot.
I think it’s called the creative process.
And it’s probably the only similarity we ever had to Lennon and McCartney.
But it worked because we both wanted the same things.
When we were looking to the future – as we did in ‘The Ice King’ – Mike and I gave serious thought to what might happen just a few years down the line.
Mike was particularly good at that – as others have also remarked.
So our version of Van Helsing – Bram Stoker’s vampire expert – was a portable computer connected to an internet search tool.
Years before there were any portable computers. Or any search tools. Or an internet, for that matter.
That was typical of Mike’s approach to creative writing.
He would bury himself in source material.
Dig deep into history, mythology and archaeology.
Build environments from his love, and ever-growing knowledge, of natural history and science.
And use those things to create completely new worlds that seemed imbued with a life of their own.
It was a privilege to share that process with him.
And no surprise to see him using the same approach in everything else he wrote.
From encyclopaedia entries to music reviews.
When it came to remembering information, Mike was a sponge.
In two weeks he could become an expert on just about anything.
So could I.
But I forgot it all two weeks later – to make room for the next project.
Mike remembered the lot.
It was impressive.
But there was so much else that made him more than just a friend.
A year or two after I went freelance I was diagnosed with ME – otherwise known as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.
It meant I spent a lot of time confined to barracks.
With no chance to get out and see my friends.
Mike was my lifeline.
I’d talk with him almost every day.
He kept me sane.
He kept me alert and interested – even when my symptoms were at their worst.
And he helped me keep going.
When the going got so tough I could hardly carry on.
You can’t put a price on that kind of friendship.
And when I got better – and got married – Mike was my best man.
Ironically, by that time his own health was failing.
Sometimes he’d fall asleep in the middle of a conversation.
Which made the process of writing our final book together – well, let’s say ‘intermittent’.
But we had a lot of fun doing it.
It’s still around.
And two of the principal characters are our affectionate caricatures of each other.
For a good few years we were near neighbours – at least by East Anglian standards.
Mike and Deb were in Cambridge.
My new home was – and still is – near Ipswich.
But self-employment is a harsh mistress.
And we didn’t see each other as often as I’d have liked.
Though we did manage several memorable get-togethers.
And it was comforting, to me, to find a house so overflowing with books, CDs, videos and DVDs that it was almost as untidy as mine…
When Mike and Deb moved up to Scotland those visits became even more infrequent.
But the connection – and our friendship – continued.
And it was a real pleasure to celebrate my 60th birthday with Mike, Deb and Marise right here in Edinburgh.
Just two years later Mike supported me far beyond the call of friendship – in a business dispute that was threatening to turn my life upside down.
Deb assures me he enjoyed every minute of it.
Especially when the other party hilariously suggested that Mike didn’t actually exist…
Well, he most certainly did.
He was – and still is – a massive presence.
And like any massive presence, he has had a radical effect on the space, and the people, around him.
Nothing about that has changed.
Because Mike – whatever his own beliefs about it – has achieved an afterlife.
In his books.
In his other writing.
And – above all – in the memories that everyone who knew him will always have of him.
In the words of the Anglo-Saxon poem, Beowulf, which he and I both loved:
‘He was of all in this world the kindest to his comrades, the most mannerly of men, and the best to his people.’