The Tenth National Irish Science Fiction
Guest of Honour
Co-Chair Pádraig Ó Méalóid introduces our
Guest of Honour, Robert Rankin
first met Robert Rankin on a Friday in April 1992. The occasion was an art exhibition
organised by the Irish Science Fiction Association, which was being held in Bewley's Cafe
in Dublin. Now, at this point, I was, to my certain knowledge, the only member of the
association who had ever read anything by him. I was not the only one who had heard of
him, as I was constantly urging anyone who started extolling the writings of a certain
Terence P. Ratchett that they should try Robert's books.
On that first meeting, which, as far as I recall, began by Robert saying
"So you're the one who's heard of me," Robert and I began a friendship which is
still going strong.
The feeling of belonging which I had found to pervade Robert's books, the
familiarity of the characters, the sense that, above all, he was a storyteller, were also
obvious in the man himself.
Robert has been described, among other things, as England's Flann O'Brien
and anyone who has read both can see the similarities. Robert is an admirer of Flann
alright, but in my opinion, the real connection between them is their sheer joy at telling
stories. If Robert were not a full-time writer and part-time sculptor and tour-guide, he
could have made a go of stand-up comedy. His talks at various gatherings are often ideas
he has for future books, and he has the opportunity to try out things on a live audience,
which is something writers doesn't normally get to do.
Over the years, Robert has amassed a large and fanatic fan club,
Sproutlore, which I inadvertently started. That, however, is a story which will be told in
all it's gory detail in the programme book.
importantly, Robert has an enormous amount of friends. Not one for "I am a famous
author" type nonsense, he is always genuinely delighted to meet his readers, and
anyone who has met him on more than a few occasions will be recognised and greeted,
sometimes by their own name.
On one occasion an talented young Irish writer was about to publish his
first novel. He wrote to Robert asking if he would be willing to provide him with a few
words for the back of the book, and received by return of post a page and a half of
quotable quotes, and a reminder to send a copy of the book so he could actually read it.
A kind generous, intelligent and funny man, I'm proud to call him my
friend. Come and see for yourself.
For more information about Robert Rankin, including biography and
bibliography, visit the pages of Sproutlore,
The Now Official Robert Rankin Fan Club.