Michael A. Stackpole
Stackpole at the 2017 Phoenix Comicon
|Born||November 27, 1957|
Wausau, Wisconsin, United States
|Occupation||Writer, game designer|
|Genre||Role-playing games, video games, fantasy, science fiction novels|
Michael Austin Stackpole (born November 27, 1957) is an American science fiction and fantasy author best known for his Star Wars and BattleTech books. He 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 with limited distribution within the industry. He lives in Scottsdale, Arizona.
Michael Stackpole was hired full-time at Flying Buffalo after they accepted his submission for a solo Tunnels & Trolls adventure which was published in 1978 as City of Terrors.:36 He wrote columns on industry news and reviews for Flying Buffalo's magazine Sorcerer's Apprentice.:36 Stackpole worked for Coleco from 1980-1981 as the result of a meeting between Rick Loomis, Stackpole, and the president of Coleco at a gaming and pinball convention.:36 Stackpole designed the roleplaying game Mercenaries, Spies and Private Eyes, which Flying Buffalo published in 1983.:38 Stackpole left Flying Buffalo after the company's 1985 move to Scottsdale, Arizona.:39 Stackpole, Ken St. Andre, and Liz Danforth designed the computer roleplaying game Wasteland, published by Interplay in 1988.:39 He later returned to work with his fellow creators of Wasteland as a writer on its sequel Wasteland 2, released in 2014 by inXile Entertainment.
In response to the accusations of Patricia Pulling (among others) who felt that the "occult" elements of Dungeons & Dragons were driving people to suicide, Stackpole began to defend the game and the roleplaying game community.:22 Stackpole published one of his first articles about the media misinformation in Sorcerer's Apprentice #14 (Spring 1982) in an article called "Devil Games? Nonsense!",:38 and even debated the Western Regional Director of Pulling's BADD organization on the radio on July 14, 1987.:22 He compared BADD's statistics of suicides among roleplayers to the general rate of teen suicide and found the number of roleplayers committing suicide was actually lower than those who were not gamers, and published his argument in an article called "The Truth about Role-Playing Games" in the 1989 book Satanism in America; he also published the document "The Pulling Report" in 1990, which further discredited Pulling's stand against roleplaying games.:22
In the 1980s, Stackpole began designing computer games for Coleco and then Interplay Productions. His work at Interplay included Bard's Tale III, Wasteland, Neuromancer, Star Trek: 25th Anniversary and Star Trek: Judgment Rites. He also created the role-playing game Mercenaries, Spies and Private Eyes, which provided the game mechanics for Wasteland, and wrote several solo adventures for the Tunnels & Trolls role-playing system, including "Dargon's Dungeon", "Overkill", "City of Terrors" and "Sewers of Oblivion".
Stackpole loaned his image to Decipher for the image of Corran Horn used in their Star Wars Customizable Card Game expansion "Reflections 2". Timothy Zahn did likewise for the character Talon Karrde. Stackpole teamed up with Decipher again, helping them write the background story to their WARS TCG, including e-books and other writing tie-ins for the expanded universe.
In January, 2019 Stackpole resigned from the Board of Directors of GAMA (Game Manufacturer's Association), citing its inactivity and the poor handling of an incident involving GAMA President Stephen Brissaud. He was one of the few remaining Emeritus Directors (alongside Rick Loomis and Will Niebling).
In 1986 Stackpole wrote his first novel, the fantasy story Talion: Revenant. His editors believed that a 175,000 word book was too long for an unknown author and that the story wasn't particularly engaging. The story remained unpublished for the next 11 years until reworked by Stackpole's editor, Anne Lesley Groell. Stackpole clarifies these issues himself in the afterword of the published version of Talion. The manuscript was published in 1997 by Bantam Books.
Stackpole's first published novels were the Warrior trilogy for the BattleTech universe, published by FASA in 1988-1989.:122 His "Blood of Kerensky" trilogy (1989-1991) were the last novels published directly by FASA; the BattleTech cartoon (1994) was set during the events of this trilogy.:124 Stackpole also wrote a trilogy of novels published in 1992, which were based on the Dark Conspiracy roleplaying game by GDW.:60
Stackpole has found his greatest success in serial works that continue the characters and plot lines developed by other authors. In 1987 he began writing novels set in the BattleTech universe for FASA Corporation, some of which were used as the source for a television animated series. He was then selected to write several novels in the Star Wars universe for Bantam Books. He also wrote several comics based in the Star Wars universe for Dark Horse Comics. Initially these covered the period just before his X-Wing novels. Later, he also covered the marriage of Luke Skywalker and Mara Jade in the graphic novel Union and collaborated with Timothy Zahn on Mara Jade's early career. In the foreword to his book Outbound Flight, Timothy Zahn thanks Stackpole and issues a challenge at Star Wars Trivial Pursuit.
In addition, he has written several novels and short stories with original settings. One series is the DragonCrown War Cycle. These books attempted to break fantasy conventions in order to stir reader interest, including the introduction of firearms in a fantasy setting. Reception of these books was fairly positive based on Amazon reviews, but reviews elsewhere were not as good.
Stackpole contributed one of the four stories in Roger Zelazny's shared world anthology Forever After, published by Baen Books in 1995. He was a contributor in the 1998 anthology Lord of the Fantastic commemorating Zelazny.
The Age of Discovery trilogy is his latest complete series, with A New World released mid-2007. The trilogy is set in a fantasy world, with an attempt at an unconventional approach to magic and mastery.
The Crown Colonies is a trilogy that re-imagines the events of the American Revolutionary War. The first book, At The Queen's Command, was released in November 2010.
At New York Comic Con 2012, it was revealed that Blizzard Entertainment had approached Stackpole to write the next novel in their series based on the popular MMORPG, World of Warcraft. The novel, titled Vol'jin: Shadows of the Horde, centres around the chieftain of the Darkspear Trolls as his loyalty to the Horde is put to the ultimate test after an assassination attempt on his life. The novel was released in July 2013.
Stackpole also writes and publishes an online newsletter titled The Secrets, which offers tips, tricks, and tidbits about fiction writing (focusing on, but not limited to, science fiction and fantasy). It is aimed towards the serious fan fiction writer and some casual writers, and includes information about getting books published..
The Secrets newsletter requires a subscription, and issues are released every two weeks.
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.
Stackpole has been the executive director of the Phoenix Skeptics since 1988 and is listed as the contact for the group in the magazine Skeptical Inquirer.
Published by Bantam Books.
Published by Bantam Books.
Published by Night Shade Books.
The BattleTech novels were originally published by FASA Corporation up until 1991. In that year, Penguin Group/Roc Books took over the line and also reprinted the earlier novels. The last print novel of the classic BattleTech setting was published in 2002; in the same year, the first novel for the Dark Age setting (set some 100 years after the classic setting) was published, written by Stackpole. His novels were typically "spine novels" that moved the setting ahead, narrating large-scale or otherwise important events with far-reaching consequences in the fictional timeline.
Published by GDW.