I’m taking inspiration from Book Week Scotland for this Sci-Fi Month post, and focusing on Scottish authors who write science-fiction. I’m also going to plug the Book Week Scotland Reading Dare because it manages to be both fun, helpful and inspirational (one of them is ‘Go into a library and ask the person behind the counter what their favourite book is and borrow it’ and I have to say good luck with that one in certain libraries. I never cease to be surprised at how many library staff don’t read for pleasure). Clicking on the images below will bring you to the Goodreads page for the book or series.
A self-described polymath, Alasdair Gray is best known for his artwork, but has written several novels (and plays and poems and everything else you can think of). Lanark has been on my to-be-read list since I moved to Scotland but I’m tempted to try one of his other novels first as they’re all far shorter. Experimental and often beautifully illustrated, Gray’s work challenges, well, everything really.
I didn’t realise that sci-fi poetry was a thing until I came across Edwin Morgan. The book I’ve linked to above features sci-fi poetry from a range of UK authors as Morgan’s have never been brought together in one volume. A sample of Where Rockets Burn Through can be downloaded here, and includes Morgan’s ‘A Question’.
Gary Gibson is one of those authors whose books I see everywhere, yet I’ve still never read anything by him. If I’d known how much The Apocalypse Duology sounded like Fringe, I’d have picked it up ages ago!
Grant Morrison has written a lot of sci-fi stuff involving superheroes – he just loves tinkering with alternate realities – but I’ve chosen to highlight his non-Marvel/DC work. We3 has been on my wishlist for years so I really must make more of an effort to read it.
Iain M. Banks
Confession time: I have never read a book by Iain M. Banks. I’ve read one book by his non-sci-fi alter-ego Iain Banks, but despite having had him on my radar for decades, I have yet to pick up one of his sci-fi titles. I’m a bit ashamed, to be honest.
I can’t count the number of people who’ve told me to read The Panopticon (whose unreliable narrator makes the genre categorisation of the book iffy at best), but I somehow ended up reading The Sunlight Pilgrims (a more clear-cut sci-fi novel) first. Given that it’s one of the best books I’ve read this year, I really am going to have to pick up The Panopticon. If only so Scottish people can stop looking appalled when I say I’ve not read it (ditto: Iain Banks’ The Wasp Factory).
Until I started researching for this post, I hadn’t even realised that Julie Bertagna was Scottish.
Continuing the trend of this post, I haven’t actually read anything by Ken MacLeod. If I’ve learned anything putting this together, it’s that I’ve read a pathetically small amount of Scottish sci-fi. (I’ve also learned that it’s quite difficult to get posts to look the way you want them to with WordPress, but I mostly already knew that one.)
This kind of sci-fi doesn’t attract me at all, but I have to admire the success of Lisanne Norman’s Sholan Alliance series.
I absolutely love the sound of The Long Way Back. Flipping British colonialism on its head is a good starting point for any story, but the way Bennett has framed her plot device here is genius. The Furious Masters sounds like a really interesting combination of genres, but it doesn’t light my fire to quite the same degree as The Long Way Back.
What if, after you’ve saved an alien planet from total destruction, you return home and no one believes you? Like Grant Morrison, Mark Millar has written plenty of sci-fi tinged superhero adventures, but his original tales tend to have an interesting spin on the tropes that make up the sci-fi genre.
I’ve not read these, though I’ve seen them around. If you’ve made it this far in the post, you won’t be surprised by that… Worst sci-fi reader ever!
It sounds like Naomi Mitchison’s sci-fi mixes feminism and gender politics with space exploration and first contact with an alien species to fantastic (if slightly dated) effect, and I am itching to get my hands on Memoirs of a Spacewoman in particular.