Michael A. Stackpole
Michael A. Stackpole
|27 November 1957
|Writer, game designer
|1988 - Present
|Category:Works by Michael A. Stackpole
Stackpole was born in Wausau, Wisconsin, but raised in Vermont. He has a BA in History from the University of Vermont.
From 1977 on, he worked as a designer of role-playing games for various gaming companies, and wrote dozens of magazine articles for the industry.
In the 1980s, Stackpole began designing computer games, working (among others) on Bard's Tale III and Wasteland, both published in 1988. On the latter game, he is credited as a designer alongside Ken St. Andre and Liz Danforth, both of whom also worked on BattleTech in its early days.
In 1986, Stackpole wrote his first novel, Talion: Revenant. However, the manuscript would not be published until 1997. In 1987, he began writing novels set in the BattleTech universe for FASA, and became one of the most popular authors in that genre.
Based on that popularity, he was selected to write several novels in the Star Wars universe for Bantam Books.
In addition, he has written several highly praised novels and short stories based in settings of his own creation.
Michael Stackpole is a prolific contributor to BattleTech fiction, being one of the lead authors during the settings's formative years. He made his entrance to BattleTech with the Warrior trilogy, published in 1988/1989. While the Fourth Succession War had already been foreshadowed in the game's earliest background information from the rulebook, Stackpole's novelisation of the events leading up to the war and how it played out profoundly shaped the nascent BattleTech universe. Working closely with Jordan Weisman and other BattleTech writers at FASA, Stackpole would go on to bring the entire setting from the Succession Wars era into a new, unexpected era with the Blood of Kerensky trilogy (1989-1991) that started the Clan Invasion era. He would continue to write "spine" novels, in the sense that the events and stories in his books typically imparted momentous changes to the BattleTech universe as the timeline evolved.
Ever since, Stackpole remained closely associated with BattleTech and with pushing its timeline forward through "spine novels" in the novel line, to the point where most if not all new BattleTech projects are spearheaded by fiction penned by Stackpole: When FASA closed its doors and Roc Books voiced no interest in continuing the classic BattleTech novel series, the license went to WizKids and it would be Stackpole who wrote both the very first short story in the new MechWarrior: Dark Age setting (The Inheritance of Duty, published by WizKids via their homepage in ca. 2002 to promote the upcoming MWDA game), and the first novel in that setting (Ghost War, 2002). He also contributed a short story (Well Met in the Future) to the BattleTech: 25 Years of Art & Fiction tome and was contracted by HBS to write a serialized novel to go with their successful BattleTech video game. In 2020, the Shrapnel magazine's first issue (out of initially four projected issues) came with part 1 of 4 of a Stackpole story, If Auld Acquaintance Be Forgot....
He wrote extensively about Wolf's Dragoons and the Clans, but the unit most closely associated with him are the Kell Hounds (and House Kell) that he introduced in the "Warrior" trilogy, together with their signature BattleMech, the Wolfhound, which he had personally designed and for which he had created a Technical Readout-style writeup for BattleTechnology magazine, issue #0204.
Self-referential in-joke and Gus Michaels
The original FASA printing of the "Warrior Trilogy" and the "Blood of Kerensky Trilogy" contained an "About the Author" section. In what became something of a running joke, Michael Stackpole took a tongue-in-cheek approach by writing these as in-universe reports where he inserted himself into the setting as a living, over 1,000 years old 20th century author writing in and later escaping from a ComStar reeducation camp. In the subsequent "Blood of Kerensky Trilogy", he continued the narrative and his purported exploits there under an unspecified alias happen to exactly match the exploits of the Gustavus Michaels character in the books' main body, establishing this otherwise fully canonical character as a stand-in for Michael Stackpole. These "About the Author" sections were not included in the ROC or InMediaRes ePub reprintings of either trilogy, and are not considered canon.
Michael Stackpole also writes and publishes an online newsletter entitled The Secrets. The Secrets newsletter offers tips, tricks, and tidbits about writing (focusing on -- but not limited to -- science fiction and fantasy). It is aimed towards the serious writer, and includes information about getting books published, but casual writers can certainly benefit as well. Topics discussed in the newsletter range from how to beat writer's block to how to build a world, and even how to manage writing as a career.
The Secrets newsletter requires a subscription. Issues are released every two weeks. Several sample issues are available on Stackpole's website.
The Secrets newsletter has an "audio companion" in The Secrets podcast. The first ten podcasts were based on material from the first ten issues of The Secrets newsletter. After the first series ended, the content of the podcast diverged from the newsletter. The podcasts average twenty-five minutes long and are voiced and produced by Stackpole.
The podcasts are free and require no subscription, but older episodes have been retired and are no longer available on the main archive.
- Works by Michael A. Stackpole (BattleTech-related)