Robert Charles Shearman (born 10 February 1970) is a multiple-award winning English writer of short stories, stageplays, radio dramas, and television.
He was, back in the day, a reasonably well-accomplished playwright, with his controversial early work Easy Laughter being staged by Francis Ford Coppola himself, as well as netting Shearman the honour of being the youngest person ever to be made Resident Dramatist of the Royal Theatre in Exeter. Despite this, however, he is still probably best known today as the guy who re-introduced the Daleks to Doctor Who.
To the slightly more anorak Doctor Who fan, he is responsible from some of the greatest stories from Big Finish's Doctor Who audio plays (and some even claim serious contentions for greatest Who stories in general), including "The Holy Terror", "The Chimes of Midnight", and "Jubilee", the latter of which he loosely self-adapted in the aforementioned re-introduction is the Daleks.
However, he would consider both of these to be a case of Magnum Opus Dissonance (although he is by no means bitter about this fact). Where his passion truly lies is in the medium of short story. He has expressed dismay that short stories are not taken as seriously as novels, and hopes to redefine the format. His collections are often very deliberately stricter so that they tell a subtle thematic story when read in order, somewhat reminiscent of The King in Yellow in that they are almost loose novels themselves. His latest work, We All Hear Stories in the Dark, in addition to being a massive multi-volume Doorstopper that takes after the Arabian Nights, takes this idea to its logical extreme, using a ‘choose your own adventure’ format with countless possible paths whose overarching story changes meaning based on which order you read the individual short stories in the book in.
His style is considered to be rather difficult to define, blending the mundane and absurd such that you’re not sure where one ends and the other begins. What’s weirder than a story about a man who goes to hell and is forced to be roommates with Adolf Hitler’s pet dog? A story with that premise, that actually has the reader emotionally invested in the characters! He also has a propensity for taking anything and everything up to eleven. What’s more horrific than a story about two year old becoming pregnant through divine conception? Her foetus also being pregnant! His controversial early work, Easy Laughter, a Christmas story, starts off as a fairly Black Comedy, but nomoreso than the average sitcom that runs on Cringe Comedy, but eventually reveals itself to set in a world with a very, very twisted spin on You Mean "Xmas".
- Absurdism: Occasionally, put generally he prefers to take absurdist tropes and Deconstruction them by playing them utterly straight, with all that would entail in real life.
- Awful Wedded Life: Love this trope perhaps a bit too much for a (theoretically) happily married man. You’d be incredibly hard-pressed to find any two people in any sort of "romantic" relationship who don’t actively despise each other more than anyone else else in the world.
- Bad Santa: Shows up in Cold Snap, just before things start to get... weird...
- Biting-the-Hand Humor: His Doctor Who audio play Jubilee is a massive Take That! at the Daleks as a brand, calling them out for downplaying the very real and very human horror of Fascism. Deadline also presents itself as a rant by a Self Insert Character all about how Doctor Who (sorry, Juliet Bravo) ruined his career as a promising playwright, although that one’s more tongue-in-cheek.
- Comically Missing the Point: An early Doctor Who fan audio he did features a mindwiped Doctor trapped in a cliche crappy sitcom by an Eldritch Abomination. When he regains his memories, he immediately starts begging the entity to let him return to his travels in time and space. The entity presents him with... an equally cliche and crappy Sci-Fi, complete with arming him with an oversized ray gun. He is NOT happy, to say the least.
- Creator's Oddball: Despite being probably his most familiar work to general audience, his 2005 Doctor Who episode Dalek is incredibly conventional by his standards, although it contains elements of the Black Comedy and emotional drama for which he is known.
- Crosses the Line Twice: Twice is not enough. His horror fiction loves to positively ‘’dance on'' the boundaries between dark humour and genuine horror, often switching between the two multiple times in a single sentence.
- Everybody Lives: Does this quite a bit by horror writer standards, but this usually just means they end up suffering a Fate Worse than Death.
- Explain, Explain... Oh, Crap!: Well, the ten-foot long spider isn’t on the bedroom ceiling any more, and I’m looking around either side of me and can’t see an- oh God
- Giant Spider: Shows up early on in Custard Cream. Things quickly go pear-shaped after that.
- Lighter and Softer: Madalyn Morgan and Love Among the Lobelias almost feel like bedtime stories, a far cry for the misery and horror he usually takes ghoulish delight in.
- Literal Metaphor: The couple in Pangs really did give their hearts to each other. And they have to swap back when they get divorced.
- Magnum Opus Dissonance: He isn’t resentful, but would associate himself more with his short story anthologies than his work on Doctor Who.
- Mood Dissonance: Many of his short horror stories will oftentime describe viscerally horrible events in an evanescent stream-of-consciousness.
- Old Shame: A minor example with his playwriting career. He doesn’t hate them, but acknowledges that his writing style was then still finding its feet.
- Second-Person Narration: Unusually, uses this trope in stories with clearly defined characters obviously not intended to ‘stand in for’ the actual reader.
- Signature Style: Loves taking absurd scenarios and using them to tell surprisingly raw and human stories. A favoured setting of his is a World Limited to the Plot based upon genre cliches, typically going hand in hand with another of his favourite tropes, the "Groundhog Day" Loop.
- Squick: Shows up from time to time. Granny’s Grinning and Custard Cream should especially never be read on the same day as eating.
- Timey-Wimey Ball: His Doctor Who scripts have a fondness for this trope rivalling the Trope Namer.
- Womb Horror: a two year old pregnant with a pregnant foetus? Yeah, "horror" is putting what happens in One More Bloody Miracle After Another lightly. Of course, YMMV on whether such a situation Crosses the Line Twice.
- You Mean "Xmas": Easy Laughter still just calls it Christmas, but it celebrates the successful extermination of the Jewish Race. Played for dark laughs.