Marc Laidlaw

Marc Laidlaw (born August 3, 1960) is an American writer of science fiction and horror, and a former writer for the video game company Valve. He is perhaps most famous for writing Dad's Nuke and The 37th Mandala, and for working on Valve's Half-Life series.[1]

Marc Laidlaw
Born (1960-08-03) August 3, 1960
Laguna Beach, California, United States
Alma materUniversity of Oregon
GenresScience fiction, horror, video games


Laidlaw was born and raised in Laguna Beach, California. He attended the University of Oregon, where he tried, and was discouraged by, punched card computer programming. He wrote short stories and his first novel, Dad's Nuke, was published in 1985. This was followed by several more novels over the next decade, but he worked as a legal secretary in San Francisco for a living.

Laidlaw had played computer and arcade games, but was not intrigued until he played Myst (1993). He obsessed over Myst and bought a new computer so that he could play it at his San Francisco home. He wrote The Third Force (1996), a tie-in novel based on the world created by the Gadget computer game. His favorite PC game is Thief: The Dark Project.[2]

Working with game designers led him to feel that he wanted to help design an actual game. He joined Valve while they were developing their first game, Half-Life (1998), and worked on the story and level design. After working on further Half-Life games. He announced his departure from Valve in January 2016, stating the primary reason for his departure was his age, and planned to return to writing his own original stories.[3]

On August 25, 2017, Laidlaw published a work titled "Epistle 3" which details the storyline of Half-Life 2: Episode Three he envisioned during his time working at Valve.[4] On Twitter, in response to a question about whether "Epistle 3" was intended as an official continuation of the Half-Life story, he stated, "At this point I'm operating strictly in a fan capacity."[5]


Laidlaw has also written dozens of short stories.

He has a series about a bard named Gorlen, who has been cursed with a Gargoyle hand:

  • Dankden (October/November, 1995, Fantasy and Science Fiction Magazine)
  • Catamounts (September, 1996, Fantasy and Science Fiction Magazine)
  • Childrun (August, 2008, Fantasy and Science Fiction Magazine)
  • Quickstone (March, 2009, Fantasy and Science Fiction Magazine)
  • Songwood


Year Title
1998 Half-Life
2004 Half-Life 2
2006 Half-Life 2: Episode One
2007 Half-Life 2: Episode Two


  1. Half-Life: Counter-Strike (PC)
  2. "Valve Software Interview : Marc Laidlaw". Gaming Nexus. Retrieved 2019-11-19.
  3. Kerr, Chris (January 8, 2016). "Half-Life writer Marc Laidlaw leaves Valve after 18 years". Gamasutra. Retrieved January 8, 2016.
  4. Laidlaw, Marc (Aug 25, 2017). "Epistle 3".
  5. Marc Laidlaw [@marc_laidlaw] (August 25, 2017). "At this point I'm operating strictly in a fan capacity" (Tweet). Retrieved August 28, 2017 via Twitter.
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