[GUEST POST] Chris Kelso on 5 Scottish SF Writers Who Might Just Blow Your Mind

Chris Kelso is a writer, illustrator and editor. His books in addition to The Black Dog Eats the City include: Schadenfreude (Dog Horn Publishing), Last Exit to Interzone (Black Dharma Press), A Message from the Slave State (Western Legends Books), Moosejaw Frontier (Bizarro Pulp Press), Transmatic (MorbidbookS). He recently edited Caledonia Dreamin’ – Strange Fiction of Scottish Descent with Hal Duncan and is the co-creator of the anti-New Yorker, Imperial Youth Review. Learn more and follow Chris at his website, Goodreads, Twitter and Facebook.

5 Scottish SF Writers Who Might Just Blow Your Mind

by Chris Kelso

There has been something of an SF revival in Scotland recently. Writers here, as anywhere, come together for critique workshops, groups such as the Glasgow SF Writers’ Circle. Here’s a wee list of Scotland’s brightest exemplars that are on the verge of going supernova.

Hal is one of the most prolific and accomplished figures working in the genre today bar none, he’s also one of the most controversial and divisive. The release of a Hal Duncan book will either have hard-core admirers mewling with delight or prompt his groaning detractors to start penning maledicta for their latest online smack-talk.

He’s something of an old hand when it comes to plumbing the depraved depths of human experience and he often employs non-linear narratives to his mythos (just to make things really difficult). Duncan’s literary output is habitually challenging, but (to my mind) it’s also more genuinely rewarding than most SF today.

At the end of his dazzlingly stylish experimental saga Vellum I guarantee you’ll be left saturated in its strange sweet and sour sap. In fact, I defy anyone not to think about it for days subsequent to initial reading – as satisfying a trudge through the scrublands as Naked Lunch or any of Samuel Delaney’s queer-themed novels.

First off, if you have even a passing interest in contemporary science fiction, you’ll have seen that Neil Williamson was all over the latest issue of Interzone (issue 252), and when Interzone devotes almost half its content to one author you’ll also know they ought to be taken seriously!

While his short fiction has been doing the rounds for quite a while now (and always viewed with universal approbation), Neil has just released his debut novel The Moon King which is already being hailed as modern SF masterpiece. He also just happens to be the nicest, most unassuming man in the world, ever.

A darling of the indie presses, Thompson’s work is frequently lavished with superlatives and his short fiction/poetry can be found featured in as many mainstream literary publications as it can fantasy. His novels, such as Apoidea, have also been subject to a great many accolades throughout his career – he’s been shortlisted for the BFS Best Newcomer Award, the Grolsch/Herald Question of Style Award in 1989, won second prize in the Neil Gunn Writing Competition in 2007 and nominated for an Edge Hill Prize…and all this from someone who is a full time architect!

His books range in variety of topic but never wane in terms of quality. Whether Thompson is experimenting in pulp, traditional science fiction, communicating serial killer monologue, discussing quantum mechanics or particle entanglement, he is an undeniable master of his craft.

Thompson is a real ‘writer’s writer’, already loved and admired in the enclaves colonised by underground-SF enthusiasts, but one that will be surely revered on a broader scale in the years to come.

Scotland’s answer to Ursula Le Guin? You heard it here first!

Logan’s writing covers a comprehensive spectrum of themes, from reality and folklore, to lust, loss and a more esoteric take on sexuality and gender.

Logan is literary editor of The List and aside from publishing her short fiction, poetry and non-fiction across the literary landscape (her work has even been broadcast on BBC Radio 4, displayed in galleries, and translated into French, Japanese and Spanish), she also writes a regular column on the X-Files for The Female Gaze.

Her book The Rental Heart and Other Fairytales is destined to become a genre classic…

The Scots don’t just excel tucked away in the niche’ wee crannies of science fiction either, take Gary Gibson’s 8 sprawling novels – including his stunning The Shoal Sequence trilogy. Another British Fantasy Society nominee, Gibson has been set in the mould of Peter F. Hamilton, but his execution is arguably more accessible and pleasurable. His next galaxy hopping series is about to kick off with the release of first instalment, Extinction Game – which is astonishing given how young he is!

At the moment Gibson is probably the best kept secret in epic, high concept space opera today, but if there’s any justice in the world he’ll soon to be as celebrated as the other heavyweights in his field.

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