The Early Days of a Better Nation

Monday, April 13, 2020

Lockdown gigs

I'm in Gourock, writing a space opera trilogy set in Gourock. That wasn't my pitch to the publisher, it's my pitch to myself, the marching song of these books. In the end there'll be very little of Gourock in it. But Gourock is science-fictional already. The world was changed from here, more than once. Every so often you see a nuclear submarine. They'll be in the trilogy.

Submarines also feature in a novella that's coming out sometime in the next month or two: Selkie Summer, from NewCon Press. Some years ago, between book contracts, I started writing a paranormal romance as an exercise, leaving it half-finished when the awaited boat came in. An online publisher showed interest in it as a novella, and was happy to wait until I'd finished The Corporation Wars. When I completed the novella two years ago, it was still front-loaded with an opening more suitable for a longer work, and for that and other reasons it didn't quite make the cut. I tinkered with it some more, and passed it to Ian Whates, who liked it and helpfully suggested further improvements. And after many vicissitudes, including a last-minute page-proof realisation that a Skye summer sunset was about an hour and a half later than I'd originally written, it's good to go! I'm very happy with the book's editing and production, and downright thrilled and delighted with Ben Baldwin's cover.

I'm not sure if Selkie Summer meets the criteria for paranormal romance, but it's still about a young woman who falls for a paranormal entity. It's set in a contemporary Scotland much like ours, except that certain paranormal entities definitely exist and this is taken for granted as a fact of natural history. Partly as a consequence, there is no Skye Bridge.

It was due to be launched by me and Ian at Cymera 2020, which has now been cancelled (though it has some online content, and will have more, so keep checking it out). Meanwhile, you can hear me reading from the opening chapter in the online version of Edinburgh's monthly science fiction and fantasy cabaret, Event Horizon.

Another event that has had to move online is the Edinburgh Science Festival. I was honoured to be asked to give a short talk on a non-religious topic at the Festival's traditional St Giles service. I happened to have just read a book that got me thinking about contingency, Corliss Lamont's Freedom of Choice Affirmed, so I freely chose to talk about that. And as the contingencies we all know worked out, it's now online here.

Finally, a plug for a project I'm proud to have contributed to: the just-published Edwin Morgan Twenties, a set of five selections of twenty poems by the late great Makar, with introductions by Jackie Kay, Liz Lochhead, Ali Smith, Michael Rosen and me. You can buy the set for the bargain price of £16 (UK post free) or pick and mix.

'Space and spaces', the one I wrote the introduction to, brings together many of Morgan's science fiction and space poems -- and one or two that make a more metaphorical use of 'space' to brilliant effect. Like the other selections it's a mere £4 (UK post free) and is available here.

UPDATE 14 April 2020: Selkie Summer is due to be published 19 May 2020 and is now available for pre-order from NewCon Press.


So looking forward to Selkie Summer, Ken!

And congratulations on being part of the Edwin Mogan Twenties publications! Very exciting.

Thank you, Unknown!

It's 20 years since I was last in Gourock, rather than bypassing it. I'm re-reading The Sky Road after almost as long and noticed you calling out "the great imperialists, Churchill and Mountbatten and Johnson". The first time round I would have assumed Lyndon B Johnson but now I've got to ask about your prophetic powers foreseeing the rise of little Alec B instead?

Definitely LBJ :-)

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