Rod MacDonald: a remembrance by: Geoff Willmetts.

We report the deaths of significant people in our genre on our site, but this is the first time I have to report the death of one of our own.


This is for Rod MacDonald, as astute film reviewer and lover of Science Fiction and one of my earliest recruits to the SFCrowsnest team when I became editor here back in 1998.

What is less known is he had muscular dystrophy and had to rely on vocal software to write. He urged me to try out Microsoft’s in-built version a few years back just to get a feel of what it was like and although it was nowhere as good as the Dragon software he used, which would eventually need to be reset when the datafile overloaded, I realised his necessity for quiet to block out other noise when he wrote.

I also found it took time to master and quickly preferred to type. I urged and he finally updated his computer, with the help of a charity fund, to one with a massive RAM which got around that problem a couple years back because his software always needed the space … and I was glad to be proven right about that.

Neither of us saw his muscular dystrophy as a disadvantage to writing and I could edit the areas where his software couldn’t, although it was only in minor areas, surprisingly. In many respects – something I commented to him, occasionally – it made him the perfect reviewer, as any film he watched would have his rapt attention throughout. He also knew his way around the subject and told me that it helped to fill his days.

When Rod had back problems last November, his brother told me Rod wouldn’t be able to get up for a few months. Rod surprised me and did so in a week or so, but only for a few hours at a time, demonstrating that Scots resilience to keep going. I also hoped that he also liked the fact that we would discuss other subjects as well and I could always endeavour to make him smile over the Net.

To suddenly find him gone is a loss to us all.

Rod MacDonald died on 17th April 2016 and I miss him already.

Geoff Willmetts


19th April 2016

Brief addendum from Stephen Hunt: Rod was a lovely guy and we all miss him here. You can read his archive of reviews and pieces at

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