Matthew HughesTell us a bit about “The Plot Against Fantucco’s Armor.”

Over the past couple of years, it has become clear to me that with the series of stories about Raffalon the thief and Baldemar the wizard’s henchman, I have been gradually exploring Jack Vance’s Dying Earth, at least as I envision it.  Baldemar’s adventures have taken him into other Planes and helped illustrate the different schools of magic.  Now, in “The Plot Against Fantucco’s Armor,” we divert into the political machinations of one of the city states that are scattered across what remains of Old Earth.


What was the inspiration for this story, or what prompted you to write it?

Self-indulgence, to some extent.  I used to do politics for a living, within the Canadian context, so I’m often drawn to the kinds of themes available in that sphere.  Also, I spent my speechwriting career working closely with CEOs of billion-dollar corporations, leaders of political parties, and heads of government, which gave me a good understanding of how powerful individuals do what they do.  That makes it fun to draw Duke Auerbrache and the people who attend him.  I’ve known guys like him.


Whom do you consider to be your influences as a writer in general?

Depends on what I’m writing.  For SF and fantasy, I’m following in the footsteps of Jack Vance, Fritz Leiber, and satirical writers like Cyril Kornbluth and Fred Pohl.  For crime writing, I belong to the same schools as Lawrence Block (to whom I dedicated my suspense novel, One More Kill) and Elmore Leonard.  For historical fiction, it’s Cecelia Holland and L. Sprague de Camp.


What are you working on now?

I’ve recently finished a Dying Earth fantasy novel, A God in Chains, and am waiting to hear back on it from a Canadian small press.  Plus, I’ve done a YA contemporary novella that I’ve submitted to another Canadian publisher.  I’ll probably start a new novel in the spring.  In the meantime, I’m writing a novelette that revives Conn Labro and Jenore Mordene, the main characters of my space-opera stand-alone novel, Template, at the suggestion of an editor at another magazine.

I’ve been able to go back to writing longer-length fiction because of the support I get from my Patreon patrons.  If anyone wants to join in that effort, here’s a link:

Something I’d like to plug:  later this year, Pulp Literature Press will publish my historical novel, What the Wind Brings, a tale of how shipwrecked African slaves combined with indigenous peoples in sixteenth-century coastal Ecuador to fight off the colonial Spanish power and win lasting independence.  It’s a story I waited more than forty years to write and it’s the book I hope to be remembered for.


“The Plot Against Fantucco’s Armor” appears in the March/April 2019 issue of F&SF.

You can buy a copy of the issue here:

You can subscribe to the print edition of F&SF here:

You can subscribe to the electronic edition of F&SF at the following links:

Weightless Books (non-Kindle):

Amazon US (Kindle edition):

Amazon UK (Kindle edition):

Visit the author’s website: