Welcome back to The Pop Quiz at the End of the Universe, a recurring series here on Tor.com featuring some of our favorite science fiction and fantasy authors, artists, and others!
Today we’re joined by R.S. Belcher, an award-winning newspaper and magazine editor and reporter. He’s also been a private investigator, a DJ, a comic book, and game store owner and has degrees in criminal law, psychology and justice and risk administration. Belcher is the author of The Six-Gun Tarot, a dark, western fantasy with steampunk elements. Its sequel, The Shotgun Arcana, is available October 7th from Tor Books. Check out an excerpt here on Tor.com!
What’s the strangest thing you discovered while researching a book?
I love to research. I’ve been fascinated by weird, but true, stuff most of my life. Finding all these dark, secret, little corners of history—all these odd characters, and seemingly impossible events, It fascinates me. Research is like getting a twisted present in the mail from a stranger.
While researching some conspiracy theory stuff for one of the books, I came across a bunch of factual accounts of early U.S. military research into radiation that was more horrific than anything an author could ever dream up. The one that always has stuck with me was our government feeding radioactive food to mentally disabled children. Now that’s a horror story.
What was your gateway to SF/Fantasy as a child?
The earliest memories I have associated with SF/Fantasy are the space toys of the 1970s—if it had to do with space exploration, I was hooked on it. I recall my mother reading to me from an Avenger’s comic on our back porch and it being one of the most wonderful memories of my early life. I fell in love with comics—pretty much all of them. Legion of Super Heroes, Batman, and Spider-Man were my favorite.
Star Trek was huge— I recall it gave me this sense of wonder and excitement and hope, boundless hope, for the future. Doctor Who—I discovered a TV station in North Carolina that showed the Tom Baker episodes and I used to have to hold the TV’s “rabbit ears” ( way way waaaay pre-cable TV, and yes, I am that decrepit…) just to be able to get the signal and watch the show through a fog of static. The Doctor was pure magic and madness!
In books, there was Isaac Asimov, Robert Heinlein, Michael Moorcock, Alfred Bester, and Alan Dean Foster—I think “Splinter of the Mind’s Eye” was one of the first novels I remember reading as a kid.
Battle to the death—phaser, lightsaber, or wand?
Oh, that’s a tough one! The grown-up in me says “phaser,” because you can level freakin’ mountain ranges with one of them, or just stun someone with it! It dices, it slices, it makes Julienned fries! But, the kid in me screams “Lightsaber,” ’casue it’s the coolest weapon ever and I spent most of my childhood with one in my hand battling the forces of the Empire! I guess I’ll have to compromise… Sonic Screwdriver!
What two characters would you write fanfic or slashfic about?
No contest—Hannibal Lecter and Will Graham. It’s one of the most fascinating and horrific love stories I’ve ever seen. “Hannigram” makes Batman and the Joker’s relationship look like Joanie Loves Chachi.
If you regenerated into the new Doctor, what would be your signature outfit?
I wear the same outfit most of the time— black leather jacket, black T-shirt, jeans and work boots. So, I’m basically a less interesting incarnation of Eccleston and Capaldi, with a smidge of John Hurt. It cuts down on the time it takes to get ready in the morning (“so do I wear the black shirt…or the black shirt?)