About

A Few Details About Myself

I was born in Toronto, Canada, although at an early age the family moved to Glasgow, Scotland, where I grew up. I studied engineering at university. After some fairly unrewarding years with British companies, I took an MBA in London and New York. This allowed me to escape being an engineer in Mrs Thatcher’s Britain.

I have worked in various parts of the UK, Switzerland, Germany, Sweden and the US. For a while I did R&D of turbochargers and turbine blades, later on I designed whole industrial plants full of large amounts of alarmingly explosive gases. I also had my “seriously ambitious young man” phase when I strove for rank in a global manufacturing company. Ah, the joys of corporate politics… Not to worry, I soon came back to my senses. At the moment, I live in Edinburgh, back home in Scotland.

Why I Write

None of this had anything to do with writing novels. From my earliest years, I have been a compulsive scribbler. At the bottom of a box somewhere, I still have the biography of one of my cuddly toys written when I was six or seven. I scribbled the most dire rubbish through my teens, without ever having the least intention of getting any of it published (fortunately). Yet the intense absorption of the scribbling haunted my working life. I did from time to time whizz off some yarn in desperate haste to finish before my enthusiasm waned, but the results were exactly what you would expect: scribbles. It took me years to understand how much imaginative investment is required up front before even setting pencil to paper, nor the months of rewriting, scrapping, polishing and editing and editing and editing required to bring a story up to a standard at which it at least has a chance.

Why do I do it? I like to set my imagination free to explore the lunacies of bureaucracy, power and politics as they relate to the end of the world. How can industrial society disintegrate? If industrial society is sensible, it cannot disintegrate. The recovery following the vast destruction of the Second World War illustrates the point well. I am not making a point here about “capitalism” specifically (depending on what you want “capitalism” to mean). Most European economies were not very capitalist after WW2, yet they still recovered to prosperity.

If industrial society is sensible, it cannot collapse. But industrial society is not sensible. Eyes tight shut, it rides three curves: expanding affluence, expanding debt, and dwindling high-quality fossil fuel reserves. When those three curves meet… What will be left?

The risk in asking a question is the nature of the answer.

Experience has slowly taught me that my imagination is surprisingly accurate in its predictions. Extreme Economic Logic reaches some pretty grim scenes, but that does not make it implausible, still less gratuitous. Almost all of it happened somewhere at some time in the last century. I am just re-arranging, not inventing.