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Roberts, Adam 1965- (Don Brine, A.R.R.R. Roberts, Adam Charles Roberts, Robertski Brothers)

Roberts, Adam 1965- (Don Brine, A.R.R.R. Roberts, Adam Charles Roberts, Robertski Brothers)


Born June 30, 1965, in London, England; married; wife's name Rachel; children: Lily and Daniel. Education: University of Aberdeen, M.A.; University of Cambridge, Ph.D.


Home—West of London, England. Office—Royal Holloway, University of London, Egham, Surrey TW20 0EX, England. Agent—Steve Calcutt, Anubis Literary Agency, 6 Birdhaven Close, Lighthorne, Warwick CV35 0BE, England. E-mail—[email protected]; [email protected]; [email protected]


Royal Holloway, University of London, London, England, professor of nineteenth century literature, 1991—.



Salt, Gollancz (London, England), 2001.

On, Gollancz (London, England), 2001.

Park Polar, PS Publishing (London, England), 2001.

Stone, Gollancz (London, England), 2002.

Jupiter Magnified, PS Publishing (London, England), 2003.

Polystom, Gollancz (London, England), 2003.

Swiftly: Stories That Never Were and Might Not Be, Nightshade Books (San Francisco, CA), 2004.

The Snow, Gollancz (London, England), 2004.

Gradisil, Gollancz (London, England), 2006, Pyr (Amherst, NY), 2007.

Land of the Headless, Gollancz (London, England), 2007.

Splinter, Solaris (London, England), 2007.

Swiftly (novel), Gollancz (London, England), 2008.

Yellow Blue Tibia, Gollancz (London, England), 2009.


(As A.R.R.R. Roberts) The Soddit; or, Let's Cash in Again; or, There, and Back Again, Dammit, Where Did I Put It, Where Is It, I Don't Believe It, I Must Have Left It There, Over Again to There, Oh for Heaven's Sake, It's Not Here Either, Back Yet Again, Fuming, Oh There It Is, It Was by the Front Door All Along, Gollancz (London, England), 2003.

(As A.R.R.R. Roberts) The Sellamillion, Gollancz (London, England), 2004.

(As Robertski Brothers) The McAtrix Derided, Gollancz (London, England), 2004.

Star Warped, Gollancz (London, England), 2004.

(As Don Brine) The Da Vinci Cod: A Fishy Parody, Harper (New York, NY), 2005.

Dr. Whom, Gollancz (London, England), 2006.


Robert Browning Revisited, Twayne Publishers (New York, NY), 1996.

(Editor) Robert Browning, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 1997.

Silk and Potatoes: Contemporary Arthurian Fantasy, Rodopi (Athens, GA), 1998.

(Editor, with Paul Schlicke) The Oxford Reader's Companion to Dickens, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 1999.

Romantic and Victorian Long Poems: A Guide, Ashgate (Brookfield, VT), 1999.

Fredric Jameson, Routledge (New York, NY), 2000.

(Editor) The Oxford Authors: Tennyson, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 2000.

Science Fiction, Routledge (New York, NY), 2000, 2nd edition, 2006.

The New Critical Idiom: Science Fiction, Routledge (New York, NY), 2002.

Victorian Culture and Society: The Essential Glossary, Arnold (London, England), 2003.

(Editor) Homer, Homer's Iliad, translated by George Chapman, Wordsworth Classics (London, England), 2003.

(Editor) Homer, Homer's Odyssey, translated by George Chapman, Wordsworth Classics (London, England), 2003.

(Editor) Robert Browning, Robert Browning: The Major Works, Oxford University Press (Oxford, England), 2005.

The History of Science Fiction, Palgrave Macmillan (New York, NY), 2005.

Science Fiction, Routledge (New York, NY), 2006.

(With James Holden and Simon King) Conceptual Breakthrough: Star/Alien, InkerMen (Ashby-de-la-Zouch, England), 2007.

Contributor of short stories to various anthologies and periodicals, including The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror, edited by Terri Winding and Ellen Datlow, Griffin (New York, NY), 2003; Scifiction; and Spectrum. Contributor to various academic journals, such as Victorian Poetry, Browning Society Notes, Notes and Queries, Dickensian, and Browning Institute Studies.


British-born writer Adam Roberts was educated at the University of Aberdeen in Scotland, where he studied English and classics, and at the University of Cambridge in England, where he earned his doctorate with a thesis on poet Robert Browning. He serves on the faculty of Royal Holloway, at the University of London, where he is a member of the department of English, as a professor of nineteenth-century literature. He also teaches creative writing, and supervises doctoral candidates in both areas of study. In addition to his academic duties, he is a prolific writer, producing both works of literary analysis and criticism and novels in the science fiction genre. He has also written a number of parodies under various pseudonyms, including A.R.R.R. Roberts and Dan Brine. His short stories have appeared in a number of periodicals and collections.

Salt, Roberts's first novel, tells the story of a fleet of ships sent from Earth to colonize a new planet, only to discover upon arriving that whatever knowledge they had gathered before making the trip was either incorrect or has altered in the interim. The planet itself is made from salt, with only one source of water available in the large, wasteland desert of white. The colonists are comprised primarily of religious groups, but one ship holds anarchists who found themselves unwelcome on Earth and sought a new world on which to carry out their beliefs. The other colonists are unaware of their agenda, however. Yet, it soon becomes obvious that they will stand out due to their refusal to work as a team and their strict belief in making decisions as individuals. Greg L. Johnson, reviewing for SF Site, compared Salt to several well-known classics of science fiction, including The Dispossessed by Ursula LeGuin. He concluded, however, that the book "succeeds on its own terms. Roberts's prose carries the weight of a serious theme, but never becomes bombastic or portentous itself. This is the work of a writer who has already found his voice, and has something meaningful to say."

Stone tells the story of a society called t'T, the citizens of which believe they have created a true utopia. There is no hunger or want, and almost no crime. Almost, however, is the operative word, as Roberts introduces the narrator, Ae, a criminal with sociopathic tendencies who escapes prison and follows the voice in his head that asks him to kill all of the residents of a planet in payment for his release. Johnson, again reviewing for SF Site, commented that "if Stone has a flaw, it is that the final chapter amounts to a drawing-room scene where All Is Explained. Yet it is an explanation that Ae has been demanding from his employers throughout the story, and it is an explanation that the reader deserves as well. At the most, it is a minor flaw of form in a novel that completely succeeds both in its world-building and its character study."

Swiftly: Stories That Never Were and Might Not Be offers readers a collection of short works of fiction that illustrate quite decisively Roberts's deft hand at combining science fiction with his own literary style. In the title story, he revisits the islanders from Jonathan Swift's Gulliver's Travels, setting the author's Blefuscans, the people living on the island adjacent to Lilliput, into a whirlwind of activity, all focused on manufacturing. They have fallen victim to the wonders of the industrial revolution and therefore become adept in the creation of machines and various specialized devices. Roberts also reports on the fate of the various other islanders that Swift created, all while indulging in a certain "Dickensian diction," according to Gerald Jones in a contribution for the New York Times Book Review. Jones went on to comment that, while the conceit itself is intriguing and the pay off a surprise, Roberts fails to adequately set up the resolution of his story. He concluded that "a similar premium on cleverness at the expense of narrative logic mars many of the other stories. The subtitle, which makes less sense the more you think about it, is emblematic of this strategy." However, Carl Hays, writing for Booklist, praised the collection, concluding: "May the display of … original ideas Roberts makes in these stories attract the larger audience he … deserves."

In Splinter, Roberts revisits Jules Verne's Off on a Comet, making it his own. The story follows Hector Servadac as he travels home to California at the request of his father, Hector Senior, who claims the world is coming to an end. Holed up with a group of like-minded believers, Hector Senior insists that something from space is about to hit the planet, something he has seen in numerous visions. When a series of strange happenings take place, including an earthquake, followed by fog, and just a few sparse hours of daylight before night falls prematurely, Hector's father explains it all by claiming the object has finally hit Earth, and they are surviving on a piece of what remains of the planet. While Hector in no way believes his father's rambling explanations, he finds himself compelled to remain on the ranch, drawn in part by a beautiful Bulgarian woman named Dimmi, who is among the group there. Hector falls for her hard, but Dimmi is already sleeping with Hector Senior. Roberts switches tense from past to present, depending on the section of the book, narrating the parts relating to the romance and Hector Junior's jealousy to the present. Reviewers questioned this tactic, and much of the book as a whole. A contributor for Kirkus Reviews ultimately concluded of the work: "Dazzling revelation or self-indulgent folly? We report; you decide."

Roberts told CA: "Reading Roald Dahl's short story (for an adult audience) ‘Over to You’ early in my second decade first got me interested in writing. I enjoyed it very much, but it affected me in difficult-to-pin-down ways as well: a sensation of implicit intensity, or a shuffle and lift of the hairs on my arms, or the back of my neck. I wanted to recreate that myself.

"My science fiction is in continual dialogue with classic science fiction and fantasy of the past and present, as all good science fiction must be, I think: there are too many names of authors who have influenced my work here. I'll mention Philip K. Dick, Ursula K. Le Guin, Jack Vance, Stanislaw Lem, J.G. Ballard, Brian Aldiss, James Tiptree, J.R.R. Tolkien, Marcel Proust, Vladimir Nabokov (I consider those last two to be science fiction authors for my purposes, you understand).

"I write with loud music piping through my iPod headphones, often in coffee shops in Staines (where I live), or at home in the interstices occasioned by the demands of family life and my day job: lots of strong coffee, and a rapid typing on my portable computer. I write best from about eight in the morning to about 11:00 a.m. or noon. I consider the writing process to be quite distinct from the revising process, which is equally important but which cannot be conducted with loud music on.

"I remain surprised that I am published at all, and that I continue to be published is even more startling.

"Three of my books constitute a themed trilogy (not, that is, a narrative trilogy) about faith and scale: The Snow, Land of the Headless, and Swiftly. I probably like them the most, because they achieve most of what I set out to do. That said, the first two garnered some of my most negative reviews, so I could be simply wrong about this. Also, with hindsight, I think I should have made The Snow a blanker book than it is.

"I hope my books will rewire a few core circuits in science fiction. But hope and expectations are different things."



Advocate, September 11, 2007, "Adam Roberts," p. 16.

Booklist, February 15, 2002, Regina Schroeder, review of Salt, p. 999; April 15, 2003, Regina Schroeder, review of Stone, p. 1457; August 1, 2004, Carl Hays, review of Swiftly: Stories That Never Were and Might Not Be, p. 1914; March 1, 2007, Regina Schroeder, review of Gradisil, p. 71.

Bookseller, December 9, 2005, review of Gradisil, p. 33.

Choice, February 1, 2001, J.R. Cox, review of Science Fiction, p. 1077.

Kirkus Reviews, August 15, 2005, review of The Da Vinci Cod: A Fishy Parody, p. 867; July 1, 2007, review of Splinter.

Library Journal, April 15, 2003, Jackie Cassada, review of Stone, p. 130; November 15, 2003, Jackie Cassada, review of Polystom, p. 102; March 15, 2007, Jackie Cassada, review of Gradisil, p. 65; August 1, 2007, Jackie Cassada, review of Splinter, p. 77.

New Scientist, July 15, 2000, "Salt, Bitter and Good," p. 47; April 7, 2001, review of Salt, p. 49.

New York Times Book Review, October 10, 2004, Gerald Jonas, review of Swiftly.

Notes and Queries, June 1, 1998, John Haydn Baker, review of Robert Browning, p. 259.

Publishers Weekly, April 21, 2003, review of Stone, p. 44; August 2, 2004, review of Swiftly, p. 56; August 15, 2005, review of The Da Vinci Cod, p. 32.

Utopian Studies, January 1, 2001, Edward Chan, review of Science Fiction, p. 241.

Victorian Studies, March 22, 1998, Clyde De L. Ryals, review of Robert Browning Revisited, p. 543.


Adam Roberts Home Page, (May 27, 2008).

Bookslut, (August 1, 2004), Adam Lipkin, review of Swiftly.

PanCrit Blog, (December 22, 2007), Chris Hibbert, review of Gradisil.

Royal Holloway University of London Web site, (May 27, 2008), faculty profile.

SciFi Dimensions Web site, (March 1, 2008), Carlos Aranaga, review of Swiftly.

SF Site, (May 27, 2008), David Soyka, reviews of The Snow and Polystom; Nick Gevers, reviews of On, Swiftly, and Salt; Greg L. Johnson, reviews of Salt, Stone, and Gradisil; Horton Rich, review of Splinter; Gabe Mesa, review of Jupiter Magnified; Paul Raven, review of Land of the Headless; Martin Lewis, review of The New Critical Idiom: Science Fiction; Lisa DuMond, review of Park Polar; Steven Silver, reviews of The Soddit and The Sellamillion.

Strange Horizons Web site, (July 17, 2006), Dan Hartland, review of The History of Science Fiction.

Trashotron Agony Column, (May 27, 2008), Rick Kleffel, reviews of Polystom and Salt.

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