I’m a big fan of Space Captain Smith, so I was absolutely over the moon when Toby Frost agreed to do an Inheritance Books post. For those who aren’t in the know, Toby writes steampunk flavoured sci-fi comedies full of swashbuckling adventure and inspired silliness. Enough fan-girl waffle. On with the blog post.
Hello Toby, welcome to Inheritance Books. Please tell us a little bit about yourself.
Hi – thanks for inviting me to appear on your blog!
I write the Space Captain Smith books, which are science-fiction comedies with a steampunk feel. They tell of the adventures of Isambard Smith, brave captain of the British Space Empire, and his more-or-less competent crew of deranged aliens and terrified robots. When I was young, I always wanted to be an author, and while writing the Novel of the Decade, I wrote some comical space stories for fun. Predictably, the Great Novel is gathering virtual dust and here I am writing more comedy… which isn’t a bad thing at all! So far, there are three books out – Space Captain Smith, God Emperor of Didcot and Wrath of the Lemming Men – and a fourth, A Game of Battleships, is out this August. It’s a strange tale of war, diplomacy and high adventure, played out against a background of tea, chess and some very unreliable Victorian inventions.
Great books they are too. Although, they need more cake in them. All that tea needs more than mere biscuits. Which book have you inherited from the generation above? Why is it special?
The book I inherited was The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes. This book belonged to my grandparents, and I can remember it on the shelf at their old house near a large red binder that held the Radio Times (it had a picture of owls on the front – I’m not sure why). Holmes’ adventures were the first grown-up stories I ever read. When I was about 12, I started with “The Adventure of the Dancing Men”, because it had pictures, which still strike me as sinister. As a child, it always seemed odd how the short stories were in a much bigger volume than the long stories: I never was much good at maths. Even now I can still remember sitting on grass somewhere in Bedfordshire, either in a park or in the garden of friends of theirs, trying to turn over the exceptionally thin pages.
Which book would you leave for future generation? Why?
The book I’d pass on is The Complete Essays of George Orwell. My copy is falling apart from use and grubby with soot from holidays in Cornwall, so the readers of tomorrow will have to buy their own, I’m afraid. Why Orwell? He was the first writer I read who seemed not just clever, but actually talking about things that directly concerned me. For him, patriotism wasn’t just for the powerful: he saw a clear link between social justice, the British people and even the landscape. As I became a more serious writer, I saw how, for him, the reporting of the truth and the act of writing became inseparable from the political message he was conveying. And also, he’s just interesting, whether he’s talking about gardening, Dickens or national cuisine. For a man with a reputation for gloominess, he’s a surprisingly entertaining person to read.
I shall have to look out for that one. I don’t know much about Orwell, to be honest (apart from reading 1984 and Animal Farm and visiting his grave after a pub lunch in Sutton Courtney). Thank you for sharing your Inheritance Books, Toby. All the best with the new book.
I’ll leave the last word to Toby:
My website is as www.spacecaptainsmith.com, which has more on the books and some short stories as well. There’s a rather more serious one at www.tobyfrost.com, where I pretend to be a deep authorial type. There’s also a Space Captain Smith Facebook page and Twitter, er, twittery thing. Thanks again! Toby.
A Game of Battleships will be release on the 12th of August.