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 9781611483741, 9781611484267, 161148426X, 1611483743

Table of contents :
Contents
Acknowledgments
Introduction
Scotland’s Fantastic Physics: Energy Transformation in MacDonald, Stevenson, Barrie, and Spark
The Other Otherworld: Didactic Fantasy from MacDonald and Lindsay to J. Leslie Mitchell
Allegory and Cruelty: Gray’s Lanark and Lindsay’s A Voyage to Arcturus
Speculative Nationality: “Stands Scotland Where it Did?” in the Culture of Iain M. Banks
Between Enlightenment and the End of History: Ken MacLeod’s Engines of Light
The Cosmic (Cosmo)Polis in Naomi Mitchison’s Science Fiction Novels
Nonviolence, Gender, and Ecology: Margaret Elphinstone’s The Incomer and A Sparrow’s Flight
Past and Future Language: Matthew Fitt and Iain M. Banks
Scottish Poetry as Science Fiction: Geddes, MacDiarmid, and Morgan’s “A Home in Space”
Brave New Scotland: Science Fiction without Stereotypes in Fitt and Crumey
Alba Newton and Alasdair Gray
Bibliography
Index
About the Editor and Contributors

Citation preview

Scotland As Science Fiction

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Aperçus: Histories Texts Cultures a Bucknell Series Series Editor: Greg Clingham Aperçu (apersü). 1882. [Fr.] A summary exposition, a conspectus. Relations among historiography, culture, and textual representation are presently complex and rich in possibilities. Aperçus is a series of books exploring the connections between these crucial terms. Revisionist in intention, Aperçus seeks to open up new possibilities for humanistic knowledge and study, and thus to deepen and extend our understanding of what history, culture, and texts have been and are, as these terms are made to bear on each other by new thinking and writing. Titles in the Series Critical Pasts: Writing Criticism, Writing History ed. Philip Smallwood History and Nation ed. Julia Rudolph Europe Observed: Multiple Gazes in Early Modern Encounters ed. Kumkum Chatterjee and Clement Hawes Beyond Douglass: New Perspectives on Early African American Literature ed. Michael J. Drexel and Ed White The Patient ed. Kimberly Myers and Harold Schweizer Masculinity, Senses, Spirit ed. Katherine M. Faull Freedom of Speech: The History of an Idea ed. Elizabeth Powers Scotland As Science Fiction ed. Caroline McCracken-Flesher

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Scotland As Science Fiction

Caroline McCracken-Flesher

Lewisburg: Bucknell University Press

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Published by Bucknell University Press Co-published with The Rowman & Littlefield Publishing Group, Inc. 4501 Forbes Boulevard, Suite 200, Lanham, Maryland 20706 www.rowmanlittlefield.com Estover Road, Plymouth PL6 7PY, United Kingdom Copyright © 2012 by The Rowman & Littlefield Publishing Group, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, including information storage and retrieval systems, without written permission from the publisher, except by a reviewer who may quote passages in a review. British Library Cataloguing in Publication Information Available Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Scotland as science fiction / [edited by] Caroline McCracken-Flesher.    p. cm.   Includes bibliographical references and index.   ISBN 978-1-61148-374-1 (cloth : alk. paper) — ISBN 978-1-61148-426-7 (pbk. : alk. paper) —   ISBN 978-1-61148-375-8 (electronic)   1. English literature—Scottish authors—History and criticism. 2. Science fiction, Scottish—   History and criticism. 3. Literature and society—Scotland—History. 4. National characteristics,   Scottish, in literature. 5. Literature and history--Scotland. 6. Scotland—In literature.   I. McCracken-Flesher, Caroline. II. Title.   PR8676.5.S33S36 2011   823'.08762099411—dc23 ™

2011031545

The paper used in this publication meets the minimum requirements of American National Standard for Information Sciences—Permanence of Paper for Printed Library Materials, ANSI/ NISO Z39.48-1992. Printed in the United States of America

Contents vii

Acknowledgments

1

Introduction CAROLINE McCRACKEN-FLESHER

15

 cotland’s Fantastic Physics: Energy Transformation in S MacDonald, Stevenson, Barrie, and Spark CAIRNS CRAIG

29

 he Other Otherworld: Didactic Fantasy from MacDonald and T Lindsay to J. Leslie Mitchell J. DERRICK McCLURE

43

 llegory and Cruelty: Gray’s Lanark and Lindsay’s A A Voyage to Arcturus IAN DUNCAN

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 peculative Nationality: “Stands Scotland Where it Did?” S in the Culture of Iain M. Banks JOHN GARRISON

67

 etween Enlightenment and the End of History: Ken B MacLeod’s Engines of Light GAVIN MILLER

85

 he Cosmic (Cosmo)Polis in Naomi Mitchison’s Science T Fiction Novels CARLA SASSI

101

 onviolence, Gender, and Ecology: Margaret Elphinstone’s N The Incomer and A Sparrow’s Flight ALISON PHIPPS

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Past and Future Language: Matthew Fitt and Iain M. Banks JOHN CORBETT

133

 cottish Poetry as Science Fiction: Geddes, MacDiarmid, and S Morgan’s “A Home in Space” ALAN RIACH

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Ap e rçu s

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Brave New Scotland: Science Fiction without Stereotypes in Fitt and Crumey LISA HARRISON

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Alba Newton and Alasdair Gray MATTHEW WICKMAN

185

Bibliography

191

Index

195

Notes on Contributors

vi

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Acknowledgments THIS VOLUME DERIVES FROM A SPECIAL SESSION HOSTED IN

2007 by the Modern Language Association (MLA). That session, “Future Spaces, Scottish Places,” argued that in Scotland, a culture under pressure to sustain itself in the present against the past has produced a literature of the future. From the interplay of Scotland’s political anxieties with her cultural heritage and the work of her scientists, Scottish science fiction imagines a differential tomorrow expressed through the overdeterminations of place, the uncertainties of time, the slippages of language, and the multiplicity of the self. This literature at times runs ahead of the curve for science fiction, and today shows the potential to remap the genre. At the MLA, in ground-breaking work, Cairns Craig, Matt Wickman, John Garrison, and John Corbett demonstrated how Scotland’s circumstances have produced a literature of displacement that challenges the genre’s norms. To the MLA, and to them, this book owes particular thanks. The move from session to book was facilitated by Greg Clingham, the most adventurous of editors. It is our pleasure to work with him as Bucknell University Press goes from strength to strength. Thanks, too, to Alan Riach, a thoughtful reader who expanded the vision of this book, and to Alan MacGillivray, for his generous support as a writer of and thinker about science fiction. As for Duncan Jones and Gwen Enstam of the Scottish Writing Exhibition and the Association for Scottish Literary Studies, my deep thanks to them for keeping us all up-to-date with the ever-breaking wave of Scottish science fiction.

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Caroline McCracken-Flesher

Introduction

THOUGH CINEMATIC ALIENS PILE UP ON THE WHITE HOUSE

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lawn, and monsters show a fatal attraction to a dwindling colonial power centered in south Britain, science fiction criticism typically considers its subject global in practice and universal in aspiration. This is a position of paradox—and therefore worthy both of the fictions of science and of our investigation. What might we say to a genre that by scientific transformation projects itself across other times and spaces, yet seems fixated on the North Atlantic linguistic margin, and whose criticism simultaneously and assertively divorces it from such geographical and political parameters? This book finds answers in Scottish science fiction. Superficially, this nationally marked literature is subsumed by the terms both of the universal and the global. Considered part of anglophone science fiction because British, Scottish science fiction is thus “universal,” but as “not English,” it perversely cannot rise to the level of “global.” Scotland has hosted two World Science Fiction Conventions (1995 and 2005), has a long tradition of writing at the margins between worlds, and at this date boasts at least two of science fiction’s top sellers: Iain M. Banks and Ken MacLeod. Even Batman, insofar as he manifests science fiction, has gone to Scotland (twice), and battled a robotic Nessie.1 Bonnybridge

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lays claim to being the UFO capital of the world. Yet criticism of Scottish science fiction, and work to understand why this small nation of 5 million people contributes so largely to a major genre, remains sparse. It is Scotland’s difference that matters. Resisting the homogenizations of the “universal” and “global” that have brought their land American nuclear submarines in the Holy Loch, British Trident missiles at Faslane, and all the disposal problems contingent on Scotland’s very own fast breeder reactor at Dounreay, the most interesting Scottish science fiction authors do not dwell on the future against the past, or against the rest of galactic civilization—the clichés of much mainstream genre writing. Rather, through a subtle blend of science and fantasy, they focus on the possibilities generated at the margins between and in the alternate spaces that slip beyond these too-easy oppositions. Scotland as Science Fiction suggests that this oddly imperial yet strangely subaltern literature, positioned both inside and outside the grand literary and critical narratives of the genre, thus operates as a form of criticism at once geographic and political, scientific and literary. It is, indeed, resistant not just to “universal” and “global” simplifications, but also to the pressure of “science fiction” as a determinative mode of writing. Though supposedly irrelevant because they are Scottish, these distinctively Scottish fictions of science disturb our putative futures and, within this book, help us to address a gap in the history and theory of the genre. The gap is wide, for it encompasses—or perhaps swallows—the whole idea of the nation, any nation, as source or subject for science fiction. Istvan Csicsery-Ronay, Jr., has worked hard to outline the problem. In his most recent book, he agrees that functionally, “SF is undeniably a predominantly Anglo-American genre.”2 The Seven Beauties of Science Fiction (2008) works from the premise that this genre undergoing consolidation necessarily takes its tone from “the cultural power of U.S. hyper-modernism and the technoscientific ideology that undergirds its cultural hegemony.” What this leaves out is “Other national traditions of scientific fantasy” that are “legitimate cultural expressions and, indeed . . . possible alternate lines along which the genre may develop.” Worse, as Csicsery-Ronay previously indicated in his 2002 article

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“Dis-imagined Communities,” this is an intractable problem: “Given the exuberance and excess of the science fictional imagination, it would be significant if some powerful contemporary institutions were ignored or excluded from the sf megatext. . . . [Nation], with its complex history and implications, is so rarely explored in sf’s thought experiments that one might conclude that it has been rejected as something that cannot exist in any future.”3 Thus notably, in 2008, Csicsery-Ronay can still only gesture to the problem. Perhaps this is because the omission of nation is founded in the philosophy of science fiction itself—or at least, in the philosophy of the genre as it is known to us through its Anglo-American avatars. CsicseryRonay observes, in 2002: sf has traditionally viewed itself as a genre that transcends nationality and nationalism. . . . This globalizing imaginary is based on a notion of history and historical innovation that systematically, though unconsciously, ignores the role of nationality in the development of individual consciousness, to the extent that sf cannot imagine a future society in which

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nationality has any significance. This “postnationalist”—or antinational— orientation forms the basis for some of the most powerful world-construction models in the genre’s treasury, models that disavow national particularity. (“Dis-Imagined Communities,” 218)

The problem is exacerbated by the fact that science fiction’s narrative of its own development is necessarily founded in technology. Strong arguments that science fiction as a genre advances with the colonial imperative of the nineteenth century yield to the driving force of empire: worldly—and otherworldly—dominance depends on the hegemonies of scientific and technological innovation. John Rieder helpfully expresses the synergy between technology, empire, and science fiction. He writes: “[The] dominance of steel and coal in the second phase of the industrial revolution is also inseparable from the building of the world-wide railroad system, and the rocketing exportation of heavy machinery from the industrial core countries.”4 Here we find the science for the fiction. Then “the period’s improvements in communication and transportation bound the world economy more tightly together, [but] also marked

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out ever more clearly the boundaries separating the developed world from the undeveloped one” (Rieder, 28). Empire and its others develop along the lines of technologic creativity—perhaps more properly, through technological resources and access. As the nineteenth century gave way to the twentieth, “The most spectacular form of the widening difference between the developed and undeveloped nations was their military technology.” Given a science fiction audience “clustered in the technically advanced sector,” we might extrapolate that the discourse of science fiction is at once imperial and situated in the no-man’s land of technology. The point is only the more obvious in that Rieder begins by founding the imperial impulse of science fiction in “the Copernican shift from a geocentric to a heliocentric understanding of the solar system . . . because [it] radically changed the status of other worlds in relation to our own” (1). He then tracks forward through “the marvelous journeys to other worlds written in Galileo’s seventeenth century.” The outward drive of empire is linked with science and technology in a pervasive assumption of “progress.” And of course, the problem is increased when scientific advancement is overwritten by imperially deployed theories about evolution. Whole swathes of the world can be left behind in the fictions of scientific expansionism. This uninterrogated forward logic poses a particular difficulty for places such as Scotland, specifically because the Scotland of the science fiction era par excellence (nineteenth and twentieth century) has been powerfully theorized as “out of history.” In 1603, the historic rivals Scotland and England joined in a Union of Crowns: James VI of Scotland packed his bags and headed south to become James I of England. Then in 1707, with England fearing the return of a Catholic monarchy, they joined in a Union of Parliaments. That is, first the court left, and then the politicians. In the void that ensued, Scots recurrently battled for self-determination—often coded as a return to what is lost. This has too easily been read as a turn toward the past and away from everything signaling modernity. And certainly, Scottish song resonates with the plaint that exiles “come back again,” while outsiders typically prefer their Scots wrapped in the plaid of a distant century. Cairns Craig suggests that caught in this matrix of nostalgia, Scotland for long years has stood conceptually incapable of progress:

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Scotland As Science Fiction Not having a culture or a history which is shaped exactly like those of a major European culture (whose are, except the major cultures?), not having conformed to the pattern of those cultures whose ‘progress’ is taken to define progression itself, we are only the echo of real events, real achievements, real creations that have already occurred somewhere else—somewhere that is by some magical transformation also the world. Or, as in the case of the Scottish Enlightenment, or Scottish achievements in science and engineering, they are presented as having nothing to do with being Scottish.5

Worse, “to lose the sense of history is to live in a vacuum where all process has apparently ceased. In such an environment narrative collapses, and the arts of narrative are bound, therefore, to be problematic” (Craig, 34). What, then, has Scotland to contribute to science fiction? Inherently backward, lacking a distinct science, and thus failing to rise to “progress,” Scotland, apparently, cannot even articulate within the acceptable codes of fiction. It has no story to tell. Yet in the discussions of science fiction origins, Scotland might claim priority—perhaps not as first in science or story, but as always pre-postmodern. Veronica Hollinger and Joan Gordon note that the genre “provides an ideal site from which to explore the liminal, the brink, the verge, the frontier, the edge.”6 But situated at the breaking edge of history that is progress, science fiction is both grounded in the problems of its day, projecting the future against the past, and haunted by the possibility that the present has already run beyond literary and human control:

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The cautionary ‘post’ in postmodern represents both our hesitation to let go of the past/present and our anxiety that we are, in fact, on the other side of irrevocable change. . . . We verge on both postsubjectivity and posthumanity. (Hollinger, 3)

This growing anxiety about living imaginatively beyond our human relevance and perhaps even our recognizable existence, a problem for today’s science fiction, only goes where Scots, by historical necessity, have boldly gone before. Post-Union Scots, as now “British” and no longer unproblematically “Scottish,” have had three hundred years’ practice at being on both sides

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of time, yet left behind by what is supposed to be progress. They manage to be both -colonial and post-.7 In the nineteenth century, with scientific advances that began to complicate the idea of defined space (see Craig), and yet invested in empire, Scots were visibly out-of-step with a world riding the tide of nationhood—1848 was the year of revolutions informed by the nationally constructive works of Walter Scott, but not for Scotland. In the twentieth century, at the peak of an industrialism more rapid and substantial than England’s, they were more out of date because they were more recent. When, into the 1930s, they sought political selfdetermination through the industrial masses of “Red Clydeside,” they were considered old-school communists rather than a first wave of modernity (that only much later crested in Czechoslovakia and Poland). So even when Scots assertively joined in the 1950s explosion of magazine science fiction through Nebula—provoked by Britain’s nuclear ventures on distant colonial properties—fans quarreled over whether Scotland’s imagined futures, too, were necessarily belated and provincial.8 This twisting binarism of post/colonialism has actually rendered Scotland’s recently acquired devolution problematic (1999). The prospect of renewed Scottish difference and power playing through a parliament has been complicated by adjusted loyalties. Is Scotland regaining political self-determination because, as different, it poses a challenge to imperial ideas of the unified and universal—a resistance to the present from the past that is “futures forward”? Or is Scotland merely indulged according to the incidental functions of global power? As different in colorful but unthreatening ways—all kilts and economic depression— does the nation fall subject to grand narratives of progress which can afford the window-dressing of devolution because it means nothing in terms of actual power and Scotland’s independent progress? Today, postand -colonial narratives contend across a term, “devolution,” that points simultaneously to freedom and a separate progress, and to a backward evolution. Caught in a vexed present and with no idealizable future, Scots find themselves articulating a compromised space subject to an uncertain temporality. Yet as they seek to work out their own fictions of being—to deal with being “on the other side of irrevocable change,” in Hollinger and Gordon’s terms—Scots, Craig suggests, posit “values which stand out-

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side of history as we define it: not after history, or before it, but beyond it” (Hollinger, 3; Craig, 224). This is where Scotland stands crucial to our understanding of science fiction, though often oblique to conventional ideas of the genre. Scientific or not, Scottish fictions imagine places and times elsewhere that embody the perplexity of a culture inevitably located in the present but perhaps crumbling toward “modernity.” Scottish fictions that by their projections in place and time often turn out to be scientific fulfill the primary criterion for science fiction as outlined by Darko Suvin. This is “a literary genre whose necessary and sufficient conditions are the presence and interaction of estrangement and cognition, and whose main formal device is an imaginative framework alternative to the author’s empirical environment.”9 Indeed, by wrestling for generations with im/possible futures (given Scotland’s intractable situation), and playing them out in distant spaces and times that are also places defined by current anxieties, Scotland foregrounds science fiction as a strangely geological and layered phenomenon. Perhaps we should not be surprised, then, that Jules Verne aligns his 1877 Les Indes noires according to a distinctly Scottish sense of place. His underground city runs beneath Loch Katrine (made famous by Walter Scott’s romances), and is accessed through the seams of a coal mine.10 Nor should we wonder that Alasdair Gray’s Lanark lies beside/under/ over Glasgow, or that Matthew Fitt pursues the temporal disjunctions forced by “realities” that can only be virtual. At the same time, it is important to remember that Scotland has offered up major narratives for the fiction of displacement that is science, however much the facts essential to those stories have been appropriated and recast according to the imperatives of empire. Dolly the sheep (1995–2003), cloned at the Roslin Institute, enjoys a long ancestry of Caledonian experiment and invention. Nineteenth-century Scottish science was renowned, whether from the practices of the Edinburgh anatomists that led to reconsiderations of the human as machine (we might think of Robert Knox, and his transcendental anatomy), or James Clerk Maxwell’s science of energy that pointed to differential space. The steel revolution cited by Rieder builds from the entrepreneurial spirit of that prototypical Scottish lad of parts, Andrew Carnegie; from Carnegie’s railroads to the pathways illuminated by the “lighthouse

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Stevensons”—direct ancestors to that inveterate wanderer Robert Louis Stevenson—Scottish technology carved the world into new spaces and transformed the notion of travel in place into a triumph over time. Nor should we forget that the Celtic Otherworld has contributed much more than blarney wherever men “boldly go.” Before science fiction, Thomas the Rhymer was only the best known Scot to spend an instant with the fairies and years outside the “real” world. Realities both simultaneous and strangely out-of-step play forward through Scotland’s dislocated culture into the alternate spaces of the fantastic fiction that is science. Scotland’s folk culture has always known the risks and ventures possible for those who turn sideways to the sun. The problem for today’s science fiction, say Hollinger and Gordon, is “less to extrapolate a far future than to keep up with a permanently mutable present, to live up to its reputation as a literature of change” (Hollinger, 2). At a moment when change seems exponential, but improvement dubious—when “progress” fractures along the fault lines of temporality and ethics—Scotland too feels the pull of global imperatives. Superpowers fiddle while the globe begins to burn, and Scotland burns too. Yet it has something to offer. From that “other side of irrevocable change,” Scotland has laid out routes at least to literary survival (Hollinger, 3). Although to be ahead in a devolving world (like Scotland) is to be more sorely embroiled in the im/possibilities extrapolated from the present, Scottish science fiction writers show that to be overtaken by time is also to figure as persistent. There is another side to irrevocable change. And it is worked out in innovative science fiction such as Naomi Mitchison’s Memoirs of a Spacewoman, Iain M. Banks’s “Culture,” and Greg Michaelson’s The Wave Singer. Istvan Csicsery-Ronay notes that “It is difficult to imagine something that one does not care about” (“Dis-Imagined Communities,” 236). Today, science fiction writers in dominant/technological places overconfidently define their genre while barely recognizing other traditions—whether of literature or of science fiction. This may contribute to the strange dearth of criticism about Scottish science fiction and science fantasy for a national literature historically acknowledged to lead internationally through authors like Robert Burns, Walter Scott, Naomi Mitchison, Muriel Spark, and Irvine Welsh. Still, with the

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notable exceptions of Colin Manlove, Alan MacGillivray, and Gavin Miller, Scots living at the cusp between past and future themselves have preferred not to theorize their science fiction. Perhaps that is because they enact their criticism in literature. The disconnect, between “universal” perspectives and smaller places, traditions, and practices, Csicsery-Ronay worries, will only get worse, for elites increasingly see themselves “as potential internationals or singleton multinationals” (237). Yet there are grounds for optimism: “Tens of millions of people will move across borders of nation-states and find their loyalties divided, their vision of the future clouded.” It may be that such complicated allegiances will mean a multiple yet localized sensibility, and bring a wider understanding of science fiction tomorrow. Yet conversely, it might “seem that only the technohistorical center will have a future.” What, Csicsery-Ronay wonders, will other writers and readers do? Will they still want to write science fiction, which means using “the tools of hegemony”? “So far,” he concludes, “we have seen only the science fiction futures of the nations that think they are empires. We must wait to see whether the nations who think they are nations will imagine different futures.” Of course, we already can posit an answer—one not in line with the desires of dominant powers and literatures, but nonetheless to the good of both center and periphery. Because as progress falls back on itself, readers, writers, critics, and philosophers alike can follow the routes mapped to alternate spaces by Scots long ago caught within, and thus already nimble manipulators of, the fictions of science and society.

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In the chapters that follow, experts on science fiction and on Scottishness map the varieties of Scotland’s speculative literature. The book begins with two essays that mark the scientific and Scottish foundations for a literary genre as it is distinctively yet variously enacted in Scotland. Cairns Craig leads the way, showing how a specifically Scottish science of energy, posited against Newton’s science of force, opened alternate spaces for imagination. If energy inevitably dwindles, where does it go? For a nineteenth-century Scotland fading not just in physical but perhaps in political and cultural energy, one answer seems to be into the alternate spaces made possible by literature. Thus Craig tracks the

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anxieties of energy dissipation, but also the operations of “Maxwell’s demon” in allowing the sideways places and possibilities of George MacDonald’s Phantastes, Robert Louis Stevenson’s Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, and even J. M. Barrie’s Peter Pan. Such transferences of an energy not only physical but also social allow Muriel Spark to project her characters from the death of the past to the overheated spaces of the literary future. By contrast, Derrick McClure suggests that such spaces have always been available through the phenomenon of the Celtic Otherworld. Works by George MacDonald, David Lindsay, and James Leslie Mitchell [Lewis Grassic Gibbon] show alternate spaces in past and future always open even to those who resist the (supposedly) nostalgic drift of celticism. A literary and cultural trope foregrounds exchange, allowing other worlds and future places. From Phantastes to A Voyage to Arcturus, and from Three Go Back to Gay Hunter, MacDonald, Lindsay, and Mitchell demonstrate the possibilities of shifting in place. In so doing, they displace and enact the disturbing emphases of contemporary reality—religious and ethical, moral and “modern.” Incidentally, they evoke additional gendered and racial anxieties for today. But more importantly, they interrogate the philosophical conundrums that arise for an identity suddenly out-of-step with the supposed present. Then Ian Duncan unites scientific and other worlds to discuss the mediating power of a strongly Scottish allegorical sensibility. In Lindsay, modernism’s anxieties about the tensions between synaesthetic form (with its unpredictable, joyous transferences between senses and worlds), and the stern moralities of a past that may be yet to come, produce a conflicted text and point to an uncertain future—one that echoes through Alasdair Gray’s Lanark. The meeting of science and fiction is always grounded in the specific and only uneasily productive for either reality. Yet science fiction (as Scottish) “is part of the larger story of allegory in western literature.” John Garrison and Gavin Miller indicate how such uneasinesses nonetheless allow a rescripting of pasts and presents. For Garrison, Iain M. Banks’s novels of “the Culture” undermine all limit terms and systems by the play of difference and multiplicity together. A Scotland politically uneasy fractures along the lines of its difference: presents

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and pasts; persons and places. Such apparent decline cannot spawn nostalgia for wholeness, for “purity” becomes irrelevant. In this other world, nationality projects a speculative future that avoids the restrictions of singular identity. The Culture functions as a vast constellation of difference, where “identity” requires fluidity. For Miller, Ken MacLeod pushes the critique of late capitalism even further. If Scotland notoriously could not have a present because out of history, MacLeod retrieves the progressive trajectory of the Enlightenment project. But he does so not by a return to Hume or Smith. Rather, inverting a story by Arthur C. Clarke where science, properly enacted, brings about the end of Buddhist time, MacLeod suggests that, with nothing truly “past,” because everything is always recast, the future is a place of transpersonal and even trans-species memory. Here, difference is not an issue; rather, what matters is the disagreement over ideas. And thus, although the stars might go out for Clarke, they flash on and time moves forward for MacLeod in the lights of multiplying spaceships. For Naomi Mitchison, difference and disagreement go hand in hand, but thereby produce new realities both global and local. Carla Sassi notes how Mitchison developed her futurist critique through and against a tradition of education. Liberally and scientifically educated, but crashing up against the gendered paramaters of early twentiethcentury schooling, Mitchison cultivated the imperial ideals and perspectives of her time, yet complicated them through gender. Her novels embrace and wrestle with the attitudes of a “benevolent” and scientifically advanced imperialism. They can simultaneously hint of reactionary elitism, and nonetheless privilege the local, the specific, the subordinate. In Mitchison, thereby, we constantly experience the shock of the new: ecocriticism, othernesses that make today’s debates about sexual mores completely redundant, a glocal culture—all far ahead of their time. This is the Mitchison that Ursula Le Guin has recognized as “one of the great subversive thinkers and peaceable transgressors of the twentieth century.” To Alison Phipps, however, Mitchison does not go far enough. She is still inscribed in the masculine dynamic of science fiction. Phipps identifies an alternate feminist route to the future that requires neither the technologies that allow space ships, the idealized transpersonal memories

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of MacLeod or Banks, nor the empathetic and creative bodies of Mitchison’s scientist heroines. In recent Scottish science fiction by women, Phipps notes a turn from violence and technology (which seem aligned, as in Rieder) through political and feminist issues that reach beyond Scotland, but that are informed by local circumstances. Margaret Elphinstone, writing at a time when Scotland’s global relations have increased its nuclear threat, today manages to go back to a better future. Drawing on a Scotland where signs point to earlier times yet are remade in the future, she imagines a post-apocalyptic world where the words to describe a damaged past have lost their meaning. In this context, the past is not the site of loss; the future is not a mere extension of previous mistakes. Now, some dreadful things from the past mercifully cannot be expressed—they are no longer accepted into language—even if they are done. And some crucial things will always be said, for their importance lies beyond words. This nonviolent future resonates between the unspeakable past and a difference still to come that lies too deep easily to be told. By contrast, for John Corbett and Alan Riach, Scottish linguistic difference allows the alienating effect that is the future. Pasts and futures are always negotiating through a language oddly placed between a lost past and an unavailable (English) present. To Corbett, through the linguistic negotiation available to a nation both Scottish and British, recent Scottish writers of science fiction attempt not to express but to estrange. An oddly surviving Scots, in Iain M. Banks’s Feersum Endjinn or Matthew Fitt’s But ‘n’ Ben A Go-Go, is yet only part of a complex and internationalized soundscape. Indeed, the language of Feersum Endjinn is debatably Scots/cockney. Porous and malleable, Scots models not the fetishizations of nostalgia, but a surrender and a sacrifice of distinct language (or essential identity) that allows the reworking that is a future. Alan Riach shows how Edwin Morgan accomplishes such a reworking. Fearing the loss of Scots, Hugh MacDiarmid complained that Scottish writers working in English might as well be Martians; Edwin Morgan brings Martians and men together in a transformative space at once Scottish and astonishingly different—the space of poetry. If futures are inevitably the product of transformation, then literature, poetry, Scots, are sites and opportunities for speculation. They project us to the fullness of otherness that is of the inner as well as the outerworld.

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What futures are possible? Lisa Harrison, building on the idea of a future oddly expressed through a language supposedly in decline (Fitt), and folding in Andrew Crumey’s bricolage of literary forms, suggests that the future is always here, a formation not so much of science as of language and literature. Scotland manifests a “futures forward” mentality, demonstrating through the fractured, critiqued, and reworked linguistic signs of nationhood that circumstances can be survived: we can survive change, and survive as change. Indeed, science fiction, as Darko Suvin has argued, is in the fullest sense of the term a “form” of alternative history—a form that Scotland with an uncertain future, three different languages, and an assertively constructive literature, has always known how to model (Suvin, 6 and 76–110). Which brings us to Matthew Wickman’s consideration of Alasdair Gray’s Lanark and A History Maker. With its distinct science and its place apparently outside the progresses of literary history, Scottish science fiction is a distorting lens that moves literature beyond the inevitabilities of Newtonian science, or the proscriptions of a Modernism that (in the person of Hugh MacDiarmid) often queried both the role and the articulation of the nation in a future so linked to a past. Rewriting Newton, rewriting Modernism, Scots rewrite the genre of science fiction, and thus of all our literary futures. As Cairns Craig says, “the fundamental trajectory of the modern Scottish novel has not been within the narrative of history, but between history and its other, between the mapmaker’s map and an ‘otherworld’ where space has different dimensions.”11 Perhaps Scottish literature is, inevitably, science fiction, and as such, a model for other places, and future spaces.

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Notes 1.

Leigh Brackett and Edmond Hamilton, “The Lord of Batmanor,” in Detective Comics 198 (DC Comics, August 1953).

2.

Istvan Csicsery-Ronay, Jr., The Seven Beauties of Science Fiction (Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University Press, 2008), 11.

3.

Istvan Csicsery-Ronay, Jr., “Dis-Imagined Communities: Science Fiction and the Future of Nations,” in Veronica Hollinger and Joan Gordon, eds., Edging into the Future: Science Fiction and Contemporary Cultural Transformation (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2002): 217–37, see 218.

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Ap e rçu s 4. John Rieder, Colonialism and the Emergence of Science Fiction (Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University Press, 2008), 28. 5. Cairns Craig, Out of History: Narrative Paradigms in Scottish and English Culture (Edinburgh: Polygon, 1996), 11. 6. Veronica Hollinger and Joan Gordon, eds., Edging into the Future: Science Fiction and Contemporary Cultural Transformation (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2002), 4. 7. See Caroline McCracken-Flesher, “Thinking Nationally/Writing Colonially? Scott, Stevenson, and England,” Novel: A Forum on Fiction 24.3 (Spring 1991): 296–318. 8. Nebula Science Fiction ran 1952-59, edited from Glasgow by Peter Hamilton. See the Web site at: http://nebulasf.atspace.com/index.html, and the “Guided Missives” page. 9. Darko Suvin, Metamorphoses of Science Fiction (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1979), 7–8. 10. Jules Verne, Les Indes noires (sic, 1877). In Britain, published as The Child of the Cavern (1877). The novel’s alternate titles include The Underground City. Currently available as The Underground City, trans. Sarah Crozier (Edinburgh: Luath, 2005). Ian Thompson’s foreword to this translation notes that two Verne plots are set in Scotland, and three others pass through it, furthermore, “Verne delighted in populating his novels with Scottish characters, invariably cast in a heroic mould” (ix). 11. Cairns Craig, The Modern Scottish Novel (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1999), 241.

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Cairns Craig

Scotland’s Fantastic Physics: Energy Transformation in MacDonald, Stevenson, Barrie, and Spark

THE TERM “THERMODYNAMICS” WAS FIRST INTRODUCED INTO

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scientific vocabulary in 1859 in a book titled Manual of the Steam Engine and other Prime Movers, written by Scottish engineer and physicist Macquorn Rankine (1820–1872). By the start of the twentieth century, this theoretical account of the workings of the steam engines which transformed Victorian Britain had proved so useful that it had gone through seventeen editions.1 Rankine’s work was made possible, however, by collaboration and debate between a remarkable generation of Scottish scientists whose experiments and theories would not only revolutionize industrial technology but inspire fantastic versions of the workings of the natural world and some of the most enduring and influential “science fantasies” in the English language. Rankine’s account of what he described as the First and Second Laws of Thermodynamics was developed on the basis of work done by William Thomson (later Lord Kelvin, 1824–1907), Professor of Natural Philosophy at Glasgow University. From the late 1840s, Thomson had been debating with physicists across Europe the reasons that made it impossible to build a perfect “thermo-dynamic engine”—one that could turn all of its heat input into an equivalent output in terms of work. A perfect engine, Thomson suggested in 1849, was one “such

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that, whatever amount of mechanical effect it can derive from a certain thermal agency; if an equal amount be spent in working it backwards, an equal reverse thermal effect will be produced.”2 The impossibility of such reversibility implied the violation of one of the fundamental assumptions of Newtonian physics, in which every force produces an equal and opposite force. In thermodynamics, however, there was no such equality: every action involved loss, and an outcome whose energy value was less than its input. Under the law known as the “conservation of energy”—which meant that energy could never be destroyed except by an act of God—the dissipated heat had not disappeared, but it was lost to humanity: it could never again be converted into a source of useful work. For William Thomson, the “known facts with reference to the mechanics of animal and vegetable bodies” indicated that the material world was necessarily subject “to the dissipation of mechanical energy,” and that “[any] restoration of mechanical energy, without more than an equivalent of dissipation, is impossible.”3 The earth, therefore, could provide a habitation for humankind for only a limited period of time. Eventually there would come “a state of universal rest and death, if the universe were finite and left to obey existing laws.”4 Thomson’s essay “On the Age of the Sun’s Heat,” from which these words derive, was published in Macmillan’s Magazine, edited by David Masson, later the first Professor of English Literature at the University of Edinburgh, and for Masson no “man into whose mind this idea of the exhaustibility of the Sun’s Heat, and consequently of the force energizing our system, had once entered, could ever think a thought about anything whatsoever that should not, in shape and colour, be influenced by that idea!”5 The new physics was codified in 1867 in the Treatise on Natural Philosophy written by Thomson and his opposite number at the University of Edinburgh, Peter Guthrie Tait (1831–1901).6 The Treatise set out to replace “Newton’s Principia of force with a new Principia of energy.”7 A universe of fixed entities colliding with one another with an equal transfer of force (which was still the image presented by John Tyndall in his famous Belfast address to the British Association for the Advancement of Science in 1874)8 was replaced by one in which “physical change is merely a transformation of indestructible energy.”9

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“Natural philosophy”—as physics was still called in the Scottish universities—became the study of the “possible transformations of energy,” and the necessary losses involved in those transformations.10 Scottish science in the 1850s and 1860s produced a conception of the universe in which, as Macquorn Rankine described it as early as 1852, “all forms of physical energy, whether visible motion, heat, light, magnetism, electricity, chemical action, or other forms not yet understood, are mutually convertible; that the total amount of physical energy in the universe is unchangeable, and varies merely its condition and locality, by conversion from one form to another, or by transference from one portion of matter to another.”11 Despite its radical challenge to Newtonian physics, it was not Thomson and Tait’s Treatise that was to inaugurate the post-Newtonian era, however, but a treatise published six years later by Tait’s former schoolfellow at Edinburgh Academy, and Thomson’s most dedicated collaborator, James Clerk Maxwell. Maxwell’s Treatise on Electricity and Magnetism (1873) is the work which, as his recent biographer, Basil Mahon, describes it, “changed everything.”12 If Thomson’s combination of mathematics and physical experiment allowed him to achieve major technical feats such as laying the first transatlantic cable, Maxwell’s mathematics and natural philosophy were to establish the laws which made possible the modern world—the world in which “electricity, magnetism and light” are simply transformations of the same “energy.”13 As Einstein acknowledged on the centenary of Maxwell’s birth, the Scot’s work was not only the foundation of his own discoveries, but constituted the most radical reshaping of our understanding of the world since the seventeenth century:

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Before Maxwell, Physical Reality, in so far as it was to represent the processes of nature, was thought of as consisting in material particles, whose variations consist only in movement governed by partial differential equations. Since Maxwell’s time, Physical Reality has been thought of as represented by continuous fields, governed by partial differential equations, and not capable of any mechanical interpretation. This change in the conception of Reality is the most profound and fruitful that physics has experienced since the time of Newton.14

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The world of Victorian Scotland in which these scientists worked is still regularly represented as one which failed to sustain the intellectual achievements of the “Scottish Enlightenment,”15 yet if there is one period in which Scotland really did create the modern world it was the 1850s and 1860s, when the new energy physics laid the foundations of everything that we know as modernity. Victorian Scotland is also regularly represented as having failed to maintain the literary achievements of Burns and Scott and, in particular, of having failed to produce any equivalent of the great realist novelists who dominate nineteenthcentury European literatures.16 But it was precisely the nature of the “real” that the Scottish science of energy had set in doubt, and the most innovative Scottish writing was focused on exploring the apparently fantastic consequences that flowed from its experiments. Thus as early as 1858, in Phantastes, George MacDonald was envisaging a world in which the solid forms of material reality dissolved: Looking out of bed, I saw that a large green marble basin, in which I was

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wont to wash, and which stood on a low pedestal of the same material in a corner of my room, was overflowing like a spring; and that a stream of clear water was running over the carpet, all the length of the room, finding its outlet I knew not where. And, stranger still, where this carpet, which I had myself designed to imitate a field of grass and daisies, bordered the course of the little stream, the grass-blades and daisies seemed to wave in a tiny breeze that followed the water’s flow; while under the rivulet they bent and swayed with every motion of the changeful current, as if they were about to dissolve with it, and, forsaking their fixed form, become fluent as the waters.17

MacDonald confronts his readers with a world in which the substantial “form” of things has become as “fluent as the waters” and in which artificial forms (patterns in carpets) can be conduits for the emergence of their biological equivalents. In this universe physical forms are, as Rankine had suggested, simply the ephemeral structures of a dynamically changing pool of energy. MacDonald’s work is recognized as the origin of modern fantasy both by exponents such as C. S. Lewis and critics such as Colin Manlove,18 an innovation which is often attributed to MacDonald’s reading

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in German fairy tale. But MacDonald had been trained in science at the University of Aberdeen, where the professor of natural philosophy was David Thomson, a cousin of Michael Faraday’s. David Thomson, during the 1840–1841 session at his previous post at Glasgow University, introduced William Thomson (at the time a student who assisted him with his lectures) to Faraday’s work.19 For many years, MacDonald envisaged a future for himself as a teacher of science rather than a divine,20 and his beliefs about the soul were shaped by the theory of the “conservation of energy”: “The very fact that anything can die, implies the existence of something that cannot die; which must either take to itself another form, as when the seed that is sown dies, and arises again,” he wrote in Phantastes (Phantastes, 178). The narratives of MacDonald’s fantasies are structured by the ways in which anything can “take to itself another form,” so that the world of material reality is haunted by the forms from which it has emerged, and prophetic of the forms into which it will be translated: Now and then, when I look round on my books, they seem to waver as if

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a wind rippled their solid mass, and another world were about to break through. Sometimes when I am abroad, a like thing takes place; the heavens and the earth, the trees and the grass appear for a moment to shake as if about to pass away.21

The book, as MacDonald conceives it, is not witness to a world of “solid mass,” as in the realist tradition, but prophetic of “another world,” whose energy is “about to break through.” That the possibilities of such “another world” are in no way antipathetic to the nature of energy science can be seen from the fact that one of that science’s most enduring—and perturbing—legacies is a fantasy character that came to be known as “Maxwell’s Demon.” The name was bestowed by William Thomson because the purpose of this imaginary character was to undermine the inevitability that Thomson attributed to the laws of thermodynamics. Maxwell’s “demon” is a molecule-sized creature who sits between two containers of gases, one hotter than the other. The temperature of the gases is a function of the velocity of the particles of which it consists, but in any gas there will be particles that are faster (hotter) or slower (colder) than the overall average. The demon

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operates a shutter that permits particles to pass between the two containers but only allows the fastest from the cooler container and the slowest from the warmer container to be exchanged. As a consequence, heat (the average speed of particles) “flows” from the cooler to the warmer chamber, reversing the necessity of the second law, revealing it to be a statistically likely but not necessary outcome of the exchange of particles between environments of different temperatures. It was an experiment that there was no possibility of testing, but it was the beginning of what we now know as “chaos” theory—the operation of systems so complex that their outcome cannot be predicted in advance, and which thereby appear to defy the traditional laws of physics. Maxwell’s “demon” is a fantasy, but one which allows us to conceive of a different kind of reality than that implied either in nineteenth-century materialistic science propounded by scientists such as Tyndall or in the universal consistencies envisaged by Thomson’s thermodynamics. Maxwell regularly used such fantasies to help him develop those mathematical equations which could accurately predict the workings of the physical world: thus he envisaged atoms as fluid “vortices” which, as they turned, allowed electrically charged particles to “flow” through the interstices between them. This he accepted “may appear somewhat awkward” and could not be assumed to be “a mode of connexion existing in nature”; nonetheless “any one who understands the provisional and temporary nature of this hypothesis, will find himself rather helped than hindered by it in his search after the true interpretation of the phenomena.”22 Maxwell’s theories were to be adapted into an enormously influential scientific fantasy in The Unseen Universe or Physical Speculations on a Future State, published in 1875 by Macmillan. The authors were Peter Guthrie Tait (coauthor in the Treatise of Natural Philosophy) and Balfour Stewart (1828–1887), one of the leading British experts in thermodynamics. The Unseen Universe went through six editions within its first year of publication and seventeen editions in all before 1886. The book was founded on the transformative implications of the new physics: Whereas . . . matter is always the same, though it may be masked in various combinations, energy is constantly changing the form in which it presents itself. The one is like the eternal, unchangeable Fate or Necessitas

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Scotland As Science Fiction of the ancients; the other is Proteus himself in the variety and rapidity of its transformations. . . . energy is only of use to us solely because it is constantly being transformed. . . . the only real things in the physical universe are matter and energy, and that of these matter is simply passive, it is obvious that all the physical changes which take place, including those which are inseparably associated with the thoughts as well as the actions of living beings, are merely transformations of energy.23

Those transformations would end, however, in the ultimate dissipation of all energy in a condition of entropy, since it is “absolutely certain that age after age the possibility of such transformations is becoming less and less; and, so far as we yet know, the final state of the present universe must be an aggregation (into one mass) of all the matter it contains, i.e., the potential energy gone, and a practically useless state of kinetic energy, i.e., uniform temperature throughout that mass” (Unseen, 91-92). Nonetheless, Tait and Stewart attempted, using Maxwell’s demon as a model, to reverse those consequences of the new physics and to envisage a universe in which energy, instead of being simply dissipated, was somehow re-collected into an alternative source of potential activity:

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The law of gravitation assures us that any displacement which takes place in the very heart of the earth will be felt throughout the universe, and we may even imagine that the same thing will hold true of those molecular motions . . . which accompany thought. For every thought that we think is accompanied by a displacement and motion of the particles of the brain, and . . . we may imagine that these motions are propagated through the universe. (Unseen, 156)

This unproven and untestable “mind-experiment” allows Tait and Stewart to posit that the dissipated energy of our intellectual activity is actually gathered up in an alternative dimension of the universe, which they identify as the “invisible body” of our future selves: [Each] thought that we think, is accompanied by certain molecular motions and displacements in the brain, and part of these, let us allow, are in some way stored up in that organ, so as to produce what may be termed our material or physical memory. Other parts of these motions

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Ap e rçu s are, however, communicated to the spiritual or invisible body, and are there stored up, forming a memory which may be made use of when that body is free to exercise its functions. (Unseen, 159)

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Thus the ultimate dissipation of our own physical existence can be compensated through its survival in the “unseen universe” by “supposing that we possess a frame, or the rudiments of a frame, connecting us with the invisible universe, which we may call the spiritual body” (Unseen, 159). No fundamental contradiction exists, therefore, between the new science and the traditional Christian conception of the afterlife—indeed, the transformation of the universe into a Protean series of changing shapes for the same packets of energy makes the eventual transformation of that energy into a purely “spiritual” existence after death—as George MacDonald believed—more, rather than less, likely. This “fantasy” produced by two of the most prominent scientists of the day shows how deeply challenging the new energy science was to traditional conceptions of the “real,” and how it might reinforce apparently “pre-scientific” or “mythic” modes of thought. A long opening chapter to The Unseen Universe provided the history of humanity’s belief in the immortality of the soul, a history underpinned by the work of Scottish theologian and anthropologist William Robertson Smith, who had been a student of Tait’s at Edinburgh. By placing their theories in this tradition, Tait and Stewart implied a fundamental conformity between ancient myth and modern science. One of Robertson Smith’s fellow students at Edinburgh University was Robert Louis Stevenson, whose Jekyll and Hyde (1886) exploits the possibilities of energy science to create what has become one of the most enduring of modern myths, precisely because it is a myth about the consequences of science. Stevenson’s scientific training led to one of his earliest publications being about energy —”On the Thermal Influence of Forests”24—and the entropic nature of the universe as conceived by Thomson’s thermodynamics is vividly presented in the cityscapes through which the characters of Jekyll and Hyde move: Mr Utterson beheld a marvellous number of degrees and hues of twilight; for here it would be dark like the back-end of evening; and there would be a glow of a rich, lurid brown, like the light of some strange conflagra-

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Scotland As Science Fiction tion; and here, for a moment, the fog would be quite broken up, and a haggard shaft of daylight would glance in between the swirling wreaths. The dismal quarter of Soho seen under these changing glimpses, with its muddy ways, and slatternly passengers, and its lamps, which had never been extinguished or had been kindled afresh to combat this mournful rëinvasion of darkness, seemed, in the lawyer’s eyes, like a district of some city in nightmare.25

The city is decaying toward what David Masson had described as that “indistinguishable equilibrium of ruin” which is the outcome of entropy.26 Like Jekyll attempting to maintain the virtues of his “higher” being, the energy the city expends on lamps cannot prevent—indeed will only hasten—the “rëinvasion of darkness.” As Allen MacDuffie has argued, Stevenson’s story involves an apparent defiance of the irreversibility of energy expenditure as demanded by the laws of thermodynamics: “[to] dream of perfect reversibility is to dream of a world in which events don’t matter” because actions have no consequences.27 A transformation with no loss of energy is what Maxwell’s “demon” implied but at the very moment when Utterson and Jekyll’s servant Poole enter his locked chamber on the final night, “the kettle with a startling noise boiled over,” underlining the inescapability of the dissipation of energy (Jekyll and Hyde, 49). By his transformation into Hyde, Jekyll appears to be able to provide himself with a source of immediate energy greater than that to which he has access in his own being, and with the right to commit acts which he can entirely discount once the transformation is reversed. This reversibility, however, is an illusion, for with each expenditure of Hyde’s energy Jekyll’s future energy resources are being consumed. That is why, toward his end, Jekyll comes to think of “Hyde, for all his energy of life, as of something not only hellish but inorganic,” as though “the slime of the pit seemed to utter cries and voices; that the amorphous dust gesticulated and sinned; that what was dead, and had no shape, should usurp the offices of life” (72). To resist being transformed involuntarily back into Hyde, Jekyll comes to require not only “a double dose” of his potion but “a great effort as of gymnastics” (71). The energy which Hyde expends leaves Jekyll “a creature eaten up and emptied by fever, languidly weak in both body and mind,” because it is an energy which does not add to life but subtracts from it,

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an energy whose terminus, like entropy, is not order but disorder, not action but death (71). It was the inevitability of such an outcome that Maxwell’s demon apparently set in doubt, and it is Maxwell’s demon that J. M. Barrie adapted into the reality-defying figure of Peter Pan. Like the demon, Peter is the guardian of the shutter that keeps two spheres separate—in this case the sphere of Edwardian London and the sphere of the Neverland. At Peter’s invitation, however, certain particles—certain children—are allowed to cross from one sphere into the other, thus renewing the energy of the Neverland at the expense of the domestic sphere from which they escape: “[Mrs Darling] dreamt that the Neverland had come too near and that a strange boy had broken through from it. He did not alarm her, for she thought she had seen him before. . . . But in her dream he had rent the film that obscures the Neverland, and she saw Wendy and John and Michael peeping through the gap.”28 This continual transfer of new energy safeguards Peter’s experience of the Neverland from the entropy which haunts his adversary, Captain Hook: Smee: I have often noticed your strange dread of crocodiles. Hook (pettishly): Not of crocodiles but of that one crocodile. (He lays bare a lacerated heart) The brute liked my arm so much, Smee, that he has followed me ever since, from sea to sea, from land to land, licking his lips for the rest of me. Smee (looking for the bright side): In a way it is a sort of compliment. Hook (with dignity): I want no such compliments; I want Peter Pan, who first gave the brute his taste for me. Smee, that crocodile would have had me before now, but by a lucky chance he swallowed a clock, and it goes tick, tick, tick, tick inside him; and so before he can reach me I hear the tick and bolt. (He emits a hollow rumble) Once I heard it strike six within him. Smee (sombrely): Some day the clock will run down, and then he’ll get you.29

The crocodile that has already begun to consume Hook, like the Hyde who consumes Jekyll, is indicative of the irreversibility of energy dissipation which Peter, like Maxwell’s demon, is able to defy only by bringing the energy of each new generation of children to recharge the Neverland with the dynamism of a fresh imagination and a new adventure.

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Barrie had been a student of Masson’s, and from Masson he had learnt that the highest form of literature was not the realism aspired to by Victorian novelists but the romance revealed by Shakespeare’s late plays: “We see not why, in prose, there should not be much of that mighty licence in the fantastic, that measured riot, that right of whimsy, that unabashed dalliance with the extreme and the beautiful, which the world allows, by prescription, to verse. Why may not one in prose chase forest-nymphs, and see little green-eyed elves?”30 Romance was more true to reality than simple mimesis of the “real,” a truth reinforced by energy science in its undoing of the substantiality of the material world. It was a view that Stevenson supported against Henry James in his essay “A Humble Remonstrance”: Life is monstrous, infinite, illogical, abrupt and poignant; a work of art, in comparison, is neat, finite, self-contained, rational, flowing and emasculate. Life imposes by brute energy, like inarticulate thunder; art catches the ear, among the far louder noises of experience, like an air artificially made by a discreet musician. A proposition of geometry does not compete

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with life; and a proposition of geometry is a fair and luminous parallel for a work of art. Both are reasonable, both untrue to the crude fact; both inhere in nature, neither represents it.31

Stevenson’s refusal of the art of “representation” and his commitment to the higher truth of artifice was at one with Clerk Maxwell’s conception of science as providing working models rather than certain truths. It was a view which did not receive proper acknowledgment from twentieth-century Scottish critics, thrilled to the notion that “romance” was an evasion of reality. And yet, in MacDonald, Stevenson, and Barrie romance was precisely not an evasion of reality but the means by which it was possible to express in literary form the reality of a universe very different from the ordinary reality which realist fiction attempted to represent. The “reality” of realism was, in fact, an illusion; the deeper, the more “scientific” reality could only be expressed, like Maxwell’s Demon, in a mode that set realism aside and used the techniques of fantasy. This awareness has continued to be central to the Scottish tradition of the novel in the twentieth century. In Phantastes the protagonist

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is threatened by his shadow, because “it was no longer confined to one position in regard to myself” but “moved round, and came in front of me” (Phantastes, 66); in Peter Pan, Peter’s shadow becomes disconnected and has to be sewn on by Wendy (Peter and Wendy, 90–91); and the motif reemerges in Muriel Spark’s The Hothouse by the East River (1973). Here, the central character, Paul, observes how his wife’s shadow is “cast on the curtain, not on the floor where it should be according to the position of the setting sun from the window bay behind her.”32 And the wife’s name is Elsa, implying that she, like Maxwell’s demon, lives somewhere else, situated between alternative thermodynamic universes: “Are you cold?” he says. “These air-conditioners are too old. They aren’t right.” “They can be treacherous,” she says. “Elsa,” he says, “do you feel chilly? Why don’t we get a modern system?” She laughs out of the window. . . .

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“The temperature touched a hundred and one degrees at noon. The highways have buckled.” (Hothouse, 7–8)

Elsa sits between hot and cold, reversing the direction of the sun’s energy, because, like the world envisaged by Tait and Balfour in The Unseen Universe, she has defeated her death in World War II by projecting her energy forward from the 1940s to the superheated Manhattan of the 1960s. She has not arrived in eternity but in a world which is the “home of those whose minds have been dead, bearing the scars of resurrection” (9). What connects Elsa directly to the earlier phase of Scottish fantasy writing is the fact that her son is putting on a production of Peter Pan. In Elsa’s alternative world, however, Barrie’s fantasy about the child who never grew up is reversed, and the children are played by old crones: On the wall a poster announces the show Peter Pan—UNEXPURGATED, followed by a list of the cast. This is flanked by numerous large stills of the play. An aged baby-faced Peter Pan with his elfin cap holds up to his old lips with knobbly fingers a grandiose horn. (92–93)

The ancient cast turns Barrie’s whimsical version of the dream of reversing the dissipation of energy into an emblem of its impossibility. But Elsa and

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Paul and their friends are nonetheless there in the audience at the play, the energy of their dreams from the 1940s casting them forward into a future they had imagined reaching, but which is becoming too hot and too hellish even for them to survive in. Science fantasy or fantasy science? Like the demon, some of the best of Scottish writing has sat between them, refusing to accept the reality to which realism would commit us.

Notes 1. Crosbie Smith, The Science of Energy: A Cultural History of Energy Physics in Victorian Britain (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1998), 150. 2. William Thomson, Mathematical and Physical Papers (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1882–1911), 118–19. 3. William Thomson, “On a universal tendency in nature to the dissipation of mechanical energy,” Philosophical Magazine (series 4), 4 (1852): 304–6, see 306; quoted in Crosbie Smith and M. Norton Wise, Energy and Empire: A Biographical Study of Lord Kelvin (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989), 499–500. 4. William Thomson, “On the age of the sun’s heat,” Macmillan’s Magazine, 5 (1862): 388–93, see 388; quoted Smith and Wise, Energy and Empire, 500. 5. David Masson, Recent British Philosophy: A Review, with Criticisms, including some Comments on Mr. Mill’s Answer to Sir William Hamilton (London: Macmillan, 1865), 225.

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6. William Thomson and Peter Guthrie Tait, Treatise on Natural Philosophy (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1867). 7. Quoted Smith and Wise, Energy and Empire, 352, 353. 8. Tyndall quotes Democritus on atoms as believing that, “The only existing things are the atoms and empty space; all else is mere opinion. The atoms are infinite in number and infinitely various in form; they strike together, and the lateral motions and whirlings which thus arise are the beginnings of worlds.” This, says Tyndall, is “a fair general statement of the atomic philosophy as now held.” From Tyndall’s Address Delivered Before the British Association Assembled at Belfast, with Additions (London: Longmans, Green, 1874): http://www.victorianweb.org/science/science_texts /belfast.html. 9. P. G. Tait, “Thermo-Electricity,” Nature 8 (1873): 122–3. See Smith, Science of Energy, 170. 10. Smith, Science of Energy, 170. 11. William Macquorn Rankine, paper read to the British Association for the Advancement of Science, 1852, subsequently published in the Philosophical Magazine; quoted in Crombie Smith, Science of energy, 142. 12. Basil Mahon, The Man Who Changed Everything: The Life of James Clerk Maxwell (Chichester: John Wiley & Sons, 2003). 13. Mahon, 2. 14. Albert Einstein, “Maxwell’s Influence on the Development of the Conception of Physical Reality,” in James Clerk Maxwell, A Commemoration Volume 1831–1931 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1931), 66-73, see 71.

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Ap e rçu s 15. See, for instance, T. C. Smout, A Century of the Scottish People 1830–1950 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1986), and Christopher Harvie, Scotland and Nationalism: Scottish Society and Politics to the Present (London: Routledge, 1998). 16. Tom Nairn’s account of Scottish culture is driven by the issue “of those missing Zolas and George Eliots, those absent Thomas Manns and Vergas.” See The Break-up of Britain: Crisis and NeoNationalism (London: NLB, 1977), 157. 17. George MacDonald, Phantastes, 1858. References are to Phantastes and Lilith (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1964), 19. Subsequently referred to as Phantastes. 18. Colin Manlove, Scottish Fantasy Literature: A Critical Survey (Edinburgh: Canongate Academic, 1994), 83. 19. Smith and Wise, Energy and Empire, 108–9. 20. See William Raeper, George MacDonald (Tring: Lion Books, 1987), chs. 8–10. 21. George MacDonald, Lilith: A Romance, 1895; references are to its publication with Phantastes (above), 420. 22. James Clerk Maxwell, “On Physical Lines of Force,” Philosophical Magazine (March 1861): 161-75; quoted in Mahon, The Man who Changed Everything, 104. 23. Peter Guthrie Tait and Balfour Stewart, The Unseen Universe or Physical Speculations on a Future State, 3rd ed. (London: Macmillan and Co., 1875), 81–82. Referenced in text as Unseen.

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24. Robert Louis Stevenson, “On the Thermal Influence of Forests,” originally read before the Royal Society of Edinburgh, 19 May 1873; rpt. in Miscellanea, The Works of Robert Louis Stevenson. See Tusitala Edition, vol. 26 (London: William Heinemann, 1923), 79–96. 25. Robert Louis Stevenson, Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2004), 26. Subsequently referred to as Jekyll and Hyde. 26. Masson, Recent British Philosophy, 228-29. 27. Allen MacDuffie, “Irreversible Transformations: Robert Louis Stevenson’s Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and Scottish Energy Science,” Representations, 96 (Fall 2006): 1–20; see 6. 28. J. M. Barrie, “Peter and Wendy,” in Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens, and Peter and Wendy (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1991), 77. Subsequently referred to as Peter and Wendy. 29. J. M. Barrie, Peter Pan or The Boy Who Would Not Grow Up (London: Samuel French, 1928), 29. Subsequently referred to as Peter Pan. 30. David Masson, Essays Biographical and Critical, Chiefly on English Poets (Cambridge: Macmillan, 1856), 473. 31. Glenda Norquay, ed., R. L. Stevenson on Fiction: An Anthology of Literary and Critical Essays (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1999), 81–91; see 85. James’s essay was “The Art of Fiction.” 32. Muriel Spark, The Hothouse by the East River (New York: Viking Press, 1973), 5. Subsequently referred to as Hothouse.

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J. Derrick McClure

The Other

Otherworld: Didactic Fantasy from MacDonald and Lindsay to J. Leslie Mitchell

AMONG THE TRAITS WHICH EMERGE WITH NOTABLE FREQUENCY

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in Scottish literature are a keenly-honed intellectual approach to philosophical questions, an indulgence in lively and sometimes fantastic flights of imagination, and a strongly-emphasised and often uncompromisingly stern moral outlook. When these three ingredients combine, as in the works of George MacDonald, David Lindsay, and James Leslie Mitchell [pseud. Lewis Grassic Gibbon], the result can be a highly individual and unmistakably Scottish brand of didactic fantasy. As this chapter will argue, all three bring to their imaginative writings a didactic impetus, foregrounding passionately-held philosophical convictions— convictions, however, which are starkly unlike and in some respects irreconcilable with each other. The following consideration of the differences as well as the resemblances among three of the most distinguished Scottish novelists of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries will, it is hoped, demonstrate how they provide classic illustrations of Scotland’s contribution to the elusive genre of speculative fiction. The fantasies of MacDonald, Lindsay, and Mitchell resonate (both positively and negatively) with the idea of an Otherworld visibly rooted in Celtic tradition. The Celtic aspect of Scottish identity was differently evaluated by the three writers: MacDonald embraced his Celtic

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heritage; Lindsay, by contrast, insistently maintains that the red-haired Highlandman Hugh Drapier (in Devil’s Tor) is intrinsically of a lesser breed than his blonde Nordic cousin Ingrid Fleming; and Mitchell blamed the Celts for bringing a stratified society to Scotland and initiating the destruction of the Picts.1 Yet all three exploit the notion of a magical otherworld in close proximity to the known world, which, as characteristically in Celtic lore, can be reached by a short physical or mental step. In MacDonald’s Phantastes (1858), the hero’s bedroom is transformed as he watches into a woodland scene; the interstellar voyage in Lindsay’s Voyage to Arcturus (1920) is (as will be argued) a metaphor for a changed perception of the world we know; and Mitchell’s Gay Hunter in the novel of that name (1934) reaches another time by a dream experiment.2 Such alternative times and places have a notably Scottish appearance: the Highland landscapes which MacDonald, Lindsay, and Mitchell knew intimately stimulated their imagination to the extent of appearing as a setting for many of their fictional scenes. The enchanted forests and stony hillside paths in Phantastes, and the other world as first glimpsed through the mirror in Lilith (1895)—“a wild country, broken and heathy. Desolate hills of no great height, but somehow of strange appearance, occupied the middle distance; along the horizon stretched the tops of a far-off mountain range; nearest me lay a tract of moorland, flat and melancholy”3—are very easy for Scottish readers, and even readers accustomed to artistic representations of Scotland, to visualize. In Mitchell’s Three Go Back (1932), the distant volcanoes are “like the whin-burnings on a summer day in Scotland,” and the snowcapped hills “matted and clogged with forest. . . . Pines and conifers and firs” give Atlantis a Scottish coloring to the degree that Clair, the lead character, breaks out singing “Oh, ye’ll take the high road, / And I’ll take the low road, / And I’ll be in Scotland afore ye.”4 Even the strange and terrifying landscapes of Tormance in Lindsay’s Arcturus can, in some cases, be seen as Scottish in their inspiration, evoking the most forbidding crags of the Highlands exaggerated as in a dream: the cliff path to the Gap of Sorgie where Maskull first hears the mysterious drumbeats is recalled at the end in the “immense perpendicular cliff of black rock” where he hears them for the last time (Arcturus, 27; 290).

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Much more important than this superficial connection, however, is the fact that in these authors the quasi-Scottish otherworlds are settings in which the characters undergo a process of moral and spiritual education. Scottish folklore abounds in fanciful and supernatural tales, and their influence on Sir Walter Scott, James Hogg, Robert Louis Stevenson, and J. M. Barrie, to mention only the greatest, is well recognized.5 But it is in MacDonald, Lindsay, and Mitchell that the fantastic imagination is most strikingly and successfully combined with an overt didactic purpose. It is, of course, idle to speculate on the extent to which these authors conceived their books specifically as vehicles for the expression of their beliefs, or wrote with the intention of moving their readers to conscious examination of the thoughts underlying the fiction—especially if we remember that C. S. Lewis, on whom MacDonald’s influence was profound and gratefully acknowledged, denounced as “pure moonshine” the assumption that he wrote the Narnia stories to teach children about Christianity.6 With all three writers, however, an integral part of the reading experience is a forceful and inescapable confrontation with the philosophical ideas that underpin their writing. In this respect the authorial practice of MacDonald, Lindsay, and Mitchell is more like that of Hogg in The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner (1824; arguably the seminal work for the genre, at least in its Scottish development), than it is like that of, say, Stevenson in “Thrawn Janet” (1881). Whereas Stevenson is content in this instance to write an excellent supernatural story purely for its own sake, central to Hogg’s novel is a questioning and an exposure of the theological foundation and the moral and psychological implications of the Calvinist doctrines of predestination and the elect. A full appreciation of MacDonald, Lindsay, and Mitchell similarly entails at least some measure of understanding of their philosophical assumptions. Questioning and answering—an intellectual journey as well as a physical and spiritual one—is integral to MacDonald’s imaginative fiction. Phantastes opens with Anodos’s speculations on what he will find in his father’s room: “Perhaps. . . . Perhaps I was to learn. . . . Perhaps I was to find. . . .” And his encounter with the fairy lady from the outset takes the form of a dialogue in which his ignorance is revealed: “Is that all the philosophy you have gained in one-and-twenty years?” (16;

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17). As the hero proceeds on his journey the questions accumulate. At first they are deceptively light-hearted, as in his search for information about fairies and flowers (ch. 3), but soon they become more probing and disturbing, as in the passage where (in an unexpected reversal of the expected roles of innocent traveler and denizen of the new realm) the Beech lady questions him about how she will fare in his world (38). Anodos’s encounter with the Alder lady sets him pondering on “How can beauty and ugliness dwell so near?” (53–54; 55), and this leads rapidly to a crucial stage in his journey toward knowledge and understanding: the episode in which, after witnessing the conversation of the farmer’s family on the fairy world, he decides, though only temporarily, that he does not believe in it (ch. 7). The combination of overtly-asked questions with the wonder and curiosity which the events of the book naturally arouse, and with the stirring of the imagination which they cannot fail to prompt, inescapably draws the reader into Anodos’s quest. In Lilith, the fantasy per se is much stranger and more disturbing, the questions raised starker and more daunting, and the entire atmosphere more bleak and forbidding.7 Most importantly, the questioning process itself is more persistent. For instance, Vane’s realization that “if I walk to the other side of that tree, I shall walk through the kitchen fire” implies that his house and the world in which he now finds himself are not adjacent but simultaneously present (Lilith, 203). This causes the hero, and with him the reader, to question at the very outset the reality of space, time, and contiguity, and thus of personal identity. “Two objects,” Vane asserts, “cannot exist in the same place at the same time!” “Can they not?” the Raven challenges (204). Then, as the book progresses, the Raven’s oracular utterances provoke Vane into exclaiming: “Enigma treading on enigma! . . . I did not come here to be asked riddles,” only to be countered with “Indeed you are yourself the only riddle. What you call riddles are truths, and seem riddles because you are not true” (226). Even at this stage in the novel, the questions proclaim far deeper uncertainties than those in the earlier book. And at the end of the same chapter, an extraordinary passage embodies the impossibility of conveying the experience with which the author, in the person of his narrator, is grappling: “I am indeed often driven to set down what I know to be but a clumsy and doubtful representation of the mere feeling aimed at, none of the commu-

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nicating media of this world being fit to convey it, in its peculiar strangeness, with even an approach to clearness or certainty” (227). As Dante in the Paradiso repeatedly refers to the impassable distance between what his words can convey and what his experience actually was, MacDonald leaves the reader in no doubt that the journey recorded in this book is one in which all assumptions of whatever kind are to be stripped away, in a questioning which will reveal the helplessness of all human thought. The comparison with Dante is a lofty one, but it would not have daunted MacDonald. In At the Back of the North Wind (1868), he evokes a child’s near-death experience through overt comparisons with Dante’s account of the Earthly Paradise (Purgatorio XXVII and XXVIII) and—another unexpected bracketing—Hogg’s “Kilmeny,” the story of a girl who returns from “she knew not where” (1813).8 In much simpler terms than he uses in Lilith (appropriately for a book intended to be read by children), he makes a similar statement: “I could know nothing about the story except Diamond had told it; and why should not Diamond tell about the country at the back of the north wind, as well as about his adventures in getting there? Because, when he came back, he had forgotten a great deal, and what he did remember was very hard to tell” (North Wind, 88). In a procedure that is both audacious and profoundly disturbing, MacDonald writes as if the authorial “I” accepted Diamond’s and Kilmeny’s experiences as fact, or more precisely, as if Diamond and Kilmeny, like Dante, had historical existences, and all three had experienced the life of the soul after bodily death and returned to speak of their recollections to the extent that this was possible through the medium of ordinary language:

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I will tell you something of what two very different people have reported, both of whom knew more about it, I believe, than Herodotus.9 One of them speaks from his own experience, for he visited the country; the other from the testimony of a young peasant girl who came back from it for a month’s visit to her friends. The former was a great Italian of noble family, who died more than five hundred years ago; the latter a Scotch shepherd who died not forty years ago. (88–89)

That is, the “I” of this novel and James Hogg in “Kilmeny” are relating second-hand experiences they heard about from others, Dante is relating

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an experience of his own, and—all doubts about communicating them notwithstanding—the three experiences actually happened and are of the same kind. It is surely the seriousness with which MacDonald regarded his vocation as a writer that encouraged him to claim for himself and Hogg the license to attempt the Dantean task of bringing his readers into imaginative contact with the afterlife, albeit on a much smaller and more limited scale. A further level of complexity is added when the authorial “I,” like Dante, appears as an actual character in his text: “It was very soon after this that I came to know Diamond. I was then a tutor in a family whose estate adjoined the little property belonging to The Mound. I had made the acquaintance of Mr. Raymond in London some time before, and was walking up the drive towards the house to call upon him one fine warm evening, when I saw Diamond for the first time” (North Wind, 273). The character’s name is never mentioned, and he is assuredly no more the real George MacDonald than the “James Hogg” character in the Confessions is the real James Hogg. Still, the effect of the proceeding is to give a powerful reinforcement to the reader’s probably unaccustomed obligation to consider the issues of physical mortality and spiritual immortality with which he is being confronted. In Lindsay’s writings, too, the questions come steadily throughout the narrative and lead the reader across difficult philosophical ground. The first sentence of dialogue in Arcturus is a question, albeit a laughably trivial one: “Do you smoke? . . . No? Then will you take a drink?” (1). Serious questions, however, both asked by the characters and implied by the events, arise at once. Mrs. Trent complains, if lightheartedly, when asked where she “picked up” Maskull and Nightspore—those incidental visitors who will become protagonists traveling in space—”But this is a cross-examination” (5). Yet notably, the query is never answered, and as the story progresses and changes from the apparently naturalistic and lifelike events of the opening chapter (setting aside the séance) to full-blown fantasy, its significance begins to emerge. This initial placing of Maskull and Nightspore, and subsequently Krag (intruder, then pilot into space), among a company of realistically presented individuals in an ordinary setting resonates as would the arrival of Everyman to join the Canterbury Pilgrims. That is, the difference between two distinct and

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incompatible narrative modes is being ignored, and the question is never answered because, as we gradually realize, it refers to an impossible and indeed nonsensical situation.10 This is one of many devices Lindsay exploits throughout the novel to make us wonder how far we can trust the narrative itself, much less find answers to the questions that the events seem to pose.11 The trick of retrospectively causing the reader to confront episodes of which the significance was not appreciated as they were presented is applied with reference to a key factor in the interpretation of the book. On the surface, Arcturus, like Phantastes and Lilith, is a pilgrimage novel, and a reader’s expectation is that the protagonist will experience successive trials and revelations which cumulatively increase his wisdom and understanding of himself and the universe. This familiar literary form is inverted in Arcturus: Maskull’s learning consists of the loss of one illusion after another until his journey ends in death. But this too is a deception, for Maskull and Nightspore are aspects of a single personality—one the visible “persona,” equipped by normal desires and inclinations and conditioned by social training to live in the world as it presents itself, and the other the self at the core which must ultimately confront and overcome a reality from which all comforting illusions are gone. Several mysterious episodes from earlier in the novel (the voice at the Starkness observatory from which they voyage forth, the visionary reenactment of the séance with Maskull as the apparition, the spectral procession in the Wombflash Forest where Maskull is killed by Krag and Nightspore strides on unmoved), all clearly portentous but portentous of exactly what being as yet unrevealed, now prove to have been almost direct statements of this. The corollary for all these portents is a still more devastating inversion of the assumption that the story seems to have not only invited but taken for granted, namely that the fantastic adventures Maskull has undergone have taken place in a world as “other” to normal life as Anodos’s fairy world (and not, like it, within touching distance of the world we know, but light-years away). These adventures actually present and comprehensively demolish what are for most people the assumptions on which their lives are based—assumptions regarding the positive value, or at the very least moral innocence, of such things as human

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love, devotion to art, and upholding of ethical principles or religious faith. Lindsay’s final picture represents a “horrible war” calling for “the bloodiest blows,” in which victory is uncertain and the positive force is identified as “Pain”—and the last word in the book is darkness (301–2). Thus, this book invites C. S. Lewis’s description as “shattering, intolerable, and irresistible” not simply for the almost unmatched imaginative power that Lindsay has brought to it, though that is startling enough by any standards.12 Rather, Lewis addresses the shock with which we recognize in the world of Tormance a mirror, if a wildly distorting one, of our own, and witness in this mirror the merciless exposure of all that we had seen as valuable. This is no doubt why there is no return to Earth at the end of the novel, and also—another enforced reevaluation of a previously-witnessed event—why the actual voyage to Arcturus is treated with such surprising perfunctoriness. Of course, Lindsay is not unique in endeavoring to give literary form to the belief that the world as we know it is a tissue of illusion, but few, if any, have adopted such a radical method of presenting it. Lindsay’s bleak and austere vision, presented with a ruthless honesty and clarity of thought, though far from despairing, is very different from MacDonald’s unshakeable faith in Christian redemption; yet though Lindsay was no orthodox member of the Church of Scotland, his intellectual rigor and willingness to confront difficult philosophical questions is one of the legacies of the Presbyterian Kirk that survives in Scotland to this day, long after the Kirk itself has lost the place in Scottish society which it once held. MacDonald’s Christian conviction that the ultimate victory lies with God represents a fundamental distinction between him and Lindsay, for whom there is no straightforward equation of good and evil with each of two opposing supernatural forces and for whom redemption, though capable of being achieved, is not simply offered as a gift. Yet the Christian and the non-Christian novelists share the spiritual toughness of the Scottish Presbyterian tradition, and MacDonald is in no way behind Lindsay in the moral courage or the literary force with which he confronts the deadly struggle between good and evil: for example, in the terrifying sequences describing Lilith’s purgation. Mitchell, for his part, is even further removed than Lindsay from any religious orthodoxy; yet the moral integrity and intellectual clarity

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that underpin his imaginative visions are, no less than with his predecessors, of a piece with the Scottish tradition in which he wrote. He too fully shared Lindsay’s revulsion at the moral degradation and squalor so frequently visible in human life. He wrote as a Diffusionist, believing not only that agriculture, the fundamental cultural development which made civilization possible, had “diffused” from a single center in the Nile Valley, but that civilization as it developed and spread had resulted in a progressive decline in societal health and degradation of the human spirit. His words in a letter to Helen Cruickshank, “I am so horrified by all our dirty little cruelties and bestialities that I would feel the lowest type of skunk if I didn’t shout the horror of them from the house-tops,” state something, though only a part, of the view of the world expressed in Nightspore’s vision from the tower at the end of Arcturus.13 Mitchell had no sympathy with religious beliefs: his essay “Religion” in Scottish Scene is a masterpiece of hostile polemic, however many counterarguments could be leveled at it from historical, psychological, social, anthropological, or even theological standpoints. Yet, though unlike MacDonald and Lindsay his concern was not with a transcendent reality, a degree of moral passion to match theirs is seen in his urgent concern with the possible redemption of mankind by its own endeavor from the steadily growing corruption into which historical (and manmade) errors had driven it.14 In Mitchell’s fiction, accordingly, the struggle is played out on a human level without recourse to the supernatural, either as an imaginative device used for literary effect or as a set of forces or entities whose actual existence is assumed as background to the stories. To describe Three Go Back and Gay Hunter as science fiction would require a fairly broad interpretation of the term: time travel had been established as a device of science fiction by H. G. Wells in The Time Machine (1895), but whereas Wells’s traveler is a scientist who has invented an actual machine for the purpose of exploring the future, Mitchell is content to land his travelers in the distant past through a natural convulsion in the physical world that breaches the space-time continuum or (even less “scientifically”) in the distant future through a thought-experiment that works better than expected.15 His two so-called “science fiction” novels are, in these terms, not science fiction at all—and they are clearly not fantasy as exemplified

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by Phantastes or A Voyage to Arcturus since, once the travelers have been deposited in their new time period, nothing happens that defies the laws of nature as we know them. However, in the Scottish manner of Hogg, MacDonald, and Lindsay, the books demonstrate the use of fantastic situations to speculate about issues potently relevant to the world in which we live. In Three Go Back and Gay Hunter, the quasi-scientific device of time travel is the means by which Mitchell depicts the contrast (as he imagines it) between mankind in an unspoiled state of nature and mankind corrupted by civilization: as in Wells’s The Time Machine, an imagined remote period pointedly illustrates the faults of our own. Surprisingly enough, however, in Mitchell’s novels the world of the distant past and that of the distant future are remarkably similar. In the first book, mankind is still in the state of natural innocence, and in the second he has happily reverted, after the cataclysmic collapse of civilization, to this state. If Wells saw the class division of his own time as portending a fissiparation of mankind into Eloi and Morlocks, this prediction receives an interesting reinterpretation from Mitchell: in his imagined future history, the revolt of the “Sub-Men” was the beginning of the sequence of conflicts that escalated into the destruction of the technological world. Yet though Three Go Back and Gay Hunter ultimately convey a message of hope, and the vigor and panache of the writing and the vivid evocations of the worlds in which the characters find themselves wandering naked impart a bracing and uplifting quality to the reading experience, the picture presented is (superficially at least) far from encouraging. The human species once lived in a state of innocence and freedom and has it within itself to attain this again; but for most of recorded history, here and now, and into the realistically foreseeable future, the world merits Gay’s thoughts in chapter 1: What a world! Hell ‘n’ blast, what a world!—as Daddy used to say in moments when it vexed him overmuch. The cruelty, the beastliness, the hopelessness of it. . . . All the poor folk labouring at filthy jobs under the gathering clouds of war and an undreamed of tyranny—what had they to live for? . . . Those children of hers—would they escape the wheels and wires of life any more than the children of others? Or their children there-

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Scotland As Science Fiction after, and so on and on, till the world was one great pounding machine, pounding the life out of humanity, making it an ant-like slave-crawl on an earth turned to a dung-hill of its own futilities. (Gay Hunter, 15)

And likewise at the end of Three Go Back, the characters having experienced the untrammeled freedom of Atlantis and now finding themselves inexplicably transported back to their own age, Keith exclaims: “All this—God, we can never endure it again, Clair! Beyond this house there are the towns and the filth and the stench. . . . it would kill us after—after that” (Three, 193). And in Gay Hunter, it appears that from the starting point of the real-life present the human condition has grown steadily more appalling, prior to the reattainment of the innocent natural state. Mitchell’s narrative and imaginative skill are well illustrated in the gradual accumulation of hints at a mighty technological civilization now almost entirely obliterated, first by its self-destruction and then by the erosion of even its ruins with the passage of time. The degradation of art as well as the misapplication of science is dramatically evoked by the cliff-face carvings that are “the foulest thing ever emerged from the diseased mind of men”—a spectacle of which Mitchell fortunately does not describe the specifics—and the complete purgation of the human species from the state in which this could be created is gracefully conveyed by the fact that Gay’s companion Rem, from the perspective of his people’s regained innocence, is unable to recognize the carvings as representational of anything at all (Gay Hunter, 54). The hope conveyed in these novels inheres in the learning that the characters are shown to have acquired from their experiences. In Three Go Back, the time travelers begin as victims of the civilized world, leading lives founded on the basic and scarcely recognized principle of accommodation to its inherent and inescapable corruption; at the end, the two survivors of the time-jump determine to confront the world to which they have returned with the knowledge that its condition is not beyond remedy. “We can’t desert the world—we’ve no right to. . . . Not while there are still Neanderthalers alive—in generals’ uniforms. Not while they can still lie about the everlastingness of rich and poor and innate human ferocity” (ellipsis original; Three, 194).16 And though the ending of Gay Hunter—deliberately?—contrasts with this in carrying no suggestion that Gay will devote her future life to crusading for the ideals

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of the age of innocence against the evils of the world as it is, a comforting conclusion is provided by her realization of the inextinguishable spark of goodness in human nature and human society, and with it the hope that men “might yet, as in all the world, build them a life that would never know the nightmare of the Hierarchs. . . . Frightened? Afraid? Hopeless? When there were still pity and kindliness in her world, humour and love and irony?” (Gay Hunter, 184). Still, if Mitchell never loses sight of the capacity of mankind to transcend the degraded state at which civilization has arrived, his overall picture (throughout his work and not only in his two science-fiction novels) is of a few exceptionally gifted or fortunate individuals who are able to escape the prevailing moral and physical squalor. Nightspore’s query in the final episode of Arcturus, “Do all men escape from that ghastly world . . . or only I, and a few like me?” is clearly answered in Mitchell’s work as well as in Lindsay’s (ellipsis in original; Arcturus, 292). And though MacDonald differs from them in believing that salvation will finally be attained by all, his recognition (again, not only in his fantasies) of the fearful conflicts which must be fought to their conclusion before the final victory is manifest and clearly expressed. It is in this respect, indeed, that the most certain connection between the three writers is recognizable. All of them apply to their work a brilliant and far-ranging imagination, capable of evoking otherworld scenes ranging from the utmost beauty to the utmost horror, and all of them have a moral purpose in writing that they convey with impressive power and conviction. But more important than these factors is the common realization to which they direct their readers: namely that of the terrible spiritual danger inherent in any casual acceptance of the world in what all three would describe, though with different overtones, as its “fallen” state. All three novelists guide their readers through arduous and daunting journeys of intellectual and spiritual exploration, leading to a conclusion regarding the human condition that requires a high degree of moral courage to confront in its full implications—essentially the same conclusion in each case, despite the different and even irreconcilable philosophies underpinning their work. Their joint contribution to imaginative fiction lies in their demonstration of its unique potential for this purpose.

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Notes 1. David Lindsay, Devil’s Tor (London: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1932), ch. 20. See J. B. Pick, “A Sketch of Lindsay’s Life as Man and Writer,” in J. B. Pick, C. Wilson, and E. H. Visiak, The Strange Genius of David Lindsay (London: John Baker, 1970), 7. See also James Leslie Mitchell, “The Antique Scene,” in Scottish Scene, 1934. Since Mitchell published the works discussed in this chapter under his given name, he will be referred to as Mitchell, not by his more familiar pseudonym of Lewis Grassic Gibbon, throughout. 2. George MacDonald, Phantastes (1858), in Phantastes and Lilith (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1964), 19. See Cairns Craig, in this volume, for a reading of this scene through the transformations of Victorian energy science. David Lindsay, A Voyage to Arcturus (1920; Edinburgh: Canongate, 1992), 37–38 and 301–2; Gay Hunter (1934; Edinburgh: Polygon, 1989), 17. These texts are hereafter referred to as Phantastes, Arcturus, and Gay Hunter, respectively. 3. George MacDonald, Lilith (1895), see Phantastes and Lilith (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1964), 192–93. Hereafter referred to as Lilith. 4. J. Leslie Mitchell, Three Go Back (1932; Edinburgh: Polygon, 1995), 23, 31, 54. Notably, the first American edition (New York: Galaxy, 1932), does not include the reference to the Scottish whin (21). Future citations will be from the Polygon edition, referred to as Three. 5. Consider, for instance, Wandering Willie’s tale in Sir Walter Scott’s Redgauntlet (1824); James Hogg’s “Kilmeny” (1813, in The Queen’s Wake) and Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner (1824); Robert Louis Stevenson’s “Thrawn Janet” (1881); and J. M. Barrie’s Peter Pan stories (1904, 1906, 1911).

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6. “Sometimes fairy stories may say best what’s to be said,” New York Times Book Review, Children’s Book Section, 18 November 1956; reprinted in Of Other Worlds: Essays and Stories by C. S. Lewis, ed. Walter Hooper (London: Geoffrey Bles, 1966), 36. 7. Phantastes (1858) and Lilith (1895) stand at the beginning and the end of MacDonald’s life as a writer, and the later book embodies a far more terrible struggle with the fears and doubts aroused by the thought of death than the earlier. See George MacDonald, by David S. Robb (Edinburgh: Scottish Academic Press, 1987), for a rare argument that this shows neither a loss of faith nor a loss of mental balance on MacDonald’s part. 8. George MacDonald, At the Back of the North Wind (1868; New York: Signet, 1986). Henceforward referred to as North Wind. James Hogg, “Kilmeny” (1813 in The Queen’s Wake), see James Hogg: Selected Poems and Songs, ed. David Groves (Edinburgh: Scottish Academic Press, 1986), 22–30; 23. 9. Herodotus is mentioned in the first paragraph of the book for his writing on the land at the back of the north wind: “I do not think Herodotus had got the right account of the place” (North Wind, 7). 10. Compare the episode of Chastity with the Soutar and the Tailor in Sir David Lindsay’s 1552 Ane Satyre of the Thrie Estaitis, where an original and brilliantly successful humorous effect is obtained by exploiting the incompatible co-existence of real and allegorical characters. 11. See further, J. Derrick McClure, “Language and Logic in A Voyage to Arcturus,” Scottish Literary Journal 1:1 (1974): 29–38. 12. C. S. Lewis, “On Science Fiction,” in Of Other Worlds: Essays and Stories, 59–73, see 71. 13. Letter dated November 8, 1933, National Library of Scotland MS 26109, quoted in William K. Malcolm, “Shouting Too Loudly: Leslie Mitchell, Humanism and the Art of Excess,” in A Flame

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Ap e rçu s in the Mearns, eds. Margery Palmer McCulloch and Sarah M. Dunnigan (Glasgow: Association for Scottish Literary Studies, 2003), 76–88. 14. James Leslie Mitchell, “Religion” (1934); publ. in Smeddum: A Lewis Grassic Gibbon Anthology, ed. Valentina Bold (Edinburgh: Canongate, 2001), 152–67. 15. J. W. Dunne’s An Experiment with Time (1927) expounded the simultaneous existence of past, present, and future and the consequent illusory nature of our perception of time as linear, providing ideas for Mitchell, J. B. Priestley, Aldous Huxley, and others. 16. The presence of the Neanderthalers, sub-human brutes against whom the beautiful CroMagnards have to defend themselves in fierce combat, has been seen as a weakness in the book, contradicting the essential theme of the unspoilt innocence of primitive human society. For discussion see Douglas F. Young, Beyond the Sunset (Aberdeen: Impulse, 1973), esp. 46–51.

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Ian Duncan

Allegory and

Cruelty: Gray’s Lanark and Lindsay’s A Voyage to Arcturus

IT IS ONE OF THE PECULIARITIES OF THE TWENTIETH-CENTURY

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Scottish novel that its experimental masterpieces, David Lindsay’s A Voyage to Arcturus (1920) and Alasdair Gray’s Lanark (1981), are both hybrid works of allegorical fantasy that narrate a journey through another world. In Lindsay’s novel Maskull explores the bizarre ecosystems of Tormance, a planet orbiting the double suns of Arcturus; in Gray’s, Lanark gropes his way across Unthank, an infernal or perhaps purgatorial version of Glasgow, where he lived under the name of Duncan Thaw. In both novels the protagonist must suffer physical metamorphosis (Thaw succumbs to dragonhide, Maskull grows and sheds new sensory organs) and death (at the end of Maskull’s journey, at the beginning of Lanark’s). If alien worlds, mutant bodies, and fantastic technologies belong to the repertoire of science fiction, the plots of Lanark and A Voyage to Arcturus draw on an older, allegorical story, that of the pilgrim’s progress. The combination of allegory and science fiction may strike us as perverse—the symptom of a developmental anomaly in modern Scottish literature, the “Scottish belatedness” analyzed by Tom Nairn.1 After all we tend to think of allegory as a metaphysical, pre-modern, indeed pre-fictional literary mode, made obsolete by the rise of that thoroughly secular genre, the novel. Science fiction, conversely, flaunts its status as

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the novelistic form most fully (if literal-mindedly) committed to imagining modernity, outstripping history in the other direction. I shall argue in this chapter that these Scottish novels reveal the genealogical link between allegory and science fiction, and use that link to articulate the relationship between their own aesthetic form and modern conditions. Works of genuine philosophical seriousness, Lanark and A Voyage to Arcturus help us understand how the story of science fiction is part of the larger story of allegory in western literature. More overtly than Lindsay’s space flight to another planet, the posthumous setting of Gray’s Unthank establishes an allegorical relation between the parallel narratives of Lanark’s fantastic pilgrimage and Duncan Thaw’s Bildungsroman. “Reading Lanark involves the reader in a secularised version of typological methods of reading the Bible,” Cairns Craig has argued, “for we have to read Thaw’s life as prefiguring Lanark’s and Lanark’s as a postfigural fulfilment of Thaw’s, while, at the same time, reading the novel with Lanark’s life as preceding and prefiguring Thaw’s, since Book 3 precedes Books 1 and 2.”2 Toward the end of the novel the author enters his own fiction and tells Lanark: “You are Thaw with the neurotic imagination trimmed off and built into the furniture of the world you occupy”; while Thaw, in turn, is a “tougher and more honest” version of the author himself.3 A footnote protests that “the plots of the Thaw and Lanark sections are independent of each other and cemented by typographical conveniences rather than formal necessity” (Lanark, 493). But as Craig points out, the note obfuscates “the extent to which a whole methodology of reading has been developed simply on the basis of the typographic contrivances by which various books have been cemented together to form the Bible. In a world ruled by a typographic God, the distinction between typographic and formal necessity is irrelevant” (Modern, 182). The protest, in short, reinforces rather than decouples the allegorical linkage between the parts and registers of Gray’s book by drawing the reader’s attention to its status as a printed book, a work of information technology formally conditioned by its historical roots in the Protestant Reformation. The case of A Voyage to Arcturus seems less clear-cut, although the work’s critics have been attentive to what one of them calls its “inescapably allegorical” character.4 In Gray’s novel, Lanark and Thaw (and, by

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his own testimony, the author) are versions of the same figure, translated into different symbolic registers. In contrast, the bewildering identityswitch between Maskull and Nightspore that constitutes the final metamorphosis of A Voyage to Arcturus takes place on a singular narrative plane, where it marks a simultaneous fission and implosion of the protagonist rather than his analogical doubling: Maskull nodded, and kept quiet for some time. He rested his face on his arm. “Where’s Nightspore?” he asked suddenly. Krag bent over him, with a grave expression. “You are Nightspore.” The dying man closed his eyes, and smiled.5

Who is Nightspore—the startled reader asks—that he should so abruptly usurp the narrative role filled by Maskull for nearly three hundred pages? In an earlier, more conventional discontinuity, the novel leaves behind the London and Scotland of its opening chapters, never to resume that real-world setting. In the last chapter the story does return, however, to a version of the tower from which Maskull and company had set off for Arcturus in chapters four and five. In confirming the tower as the portal between real and visionary worlds, this return reveals it to be (as towers conventionally are) the place or topos of allegory itself. The transfigured Nightspore looks out upon a universe stripped of the veil of realistic (i.e., novelistic) representation, exposed as an abstract, geometric dynamism of forms and relations. What the allegory reveals is obvious, since it is relentlessly explained as an ethical theme—the rejection of pleasure, the embrace of pain—by characters within the novel. At the same time, it is obscure, in that the ethical explanation falls short of the distinctive literary qualities—the originality, or rather the unforgettable visionary weirdness—of A Voyage to Arcturus. I will suggest that the allegory’s true content is the aesthetic reduction to form, rather than the ethical theme attached to that reduction; while the dissonance between obscurity and obviousness belongs to a greater order of dissonance to which Lindsay’s art aspires, ultimately unsuccessfully.6 If A Voyage to Arcturus remains mysterious, it is partly because it remains critically neglected. In this chapter I will focus on A Voyage to

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Arcturus rather than Lanark, since the latter has been the object of a lot of scholarly attention, some of it distinguished, over the past quartercentury. While Gray’s novel has been justly praised as a modern Scottish classic, Lindsay’s retains, at best, the cult-book status awarded it when it was revived by Colin Wilson in the 1960s.7 It is not mentioned at all in Craig’s The Modern Scottish Novel (the most comprehensive critical treatment of the field to date), and it is barely mentioned in the most recent histories of Scottish literature.8 To state the case baldly, A Voyage to Arcturus fits neither the official narrative of Scottish modernism nor the formal parameters of the novel. It is still shackled by the generic bonds (of allegory, science fiction, and fantasy) that critics applaud Lanark for having transcended—no doubt because the voyage through the afterlife, unlike the voyage to another planet, has traditionally served as the narrative of transcendence. Once upon a time (seven hundred years ago), in Dante’s Divine Comedy, the voyage through the cosmos and the voyage through the afterlife were the same. The descent to Hell is a journey to the center of the earth, and Purgatory, an undiscovered island on the far side of the world, provides Dante with the launch pad for his heavenly flight. There is no distinction in Dante’s universe between physics and theology—or rather, physics is a branch of theology, which supplies the philosophical foundation of the poem’s allegory. Allegory is the literary technique that locks all phenomena, events and processes, all space and time, into a unified meaningful system. The Copernican revolution—which coincided with the Protestant reformation—disjointed the scientific structure of the universe from its spiritual structure. Science fiction, an eventual byproduct of that disjointing, is allegory’s weak, secularized descendant. It offers the journey to another world and the vision of the future as purely material—technological and political—speculations. Science fiction’s post-Dantean precursors, the seventeenth-century Lucianic voyages to the moon, reduced allegory to satire; that reduction would be perfected in the voyages of Swift’s Gulliver (1726), which are no less fantastic for their taking place on this world, not long before the remaining blanks in the map are filled in. A strong vernacular version of spiritual allegory flourished, meanwhile, in dissenting Protestantism— in the new scientific age, but not of it. Christian’s journey, unlike

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Dante’s, does not chart the late-seventeenth-century physical universe of the author of The Pilgrim’s Progress, since the rejection of that universe, prefiguring its destruction, has become a condition of the individual soul’s salvation. The Pilgrim’s Progress (1678) was immediately and lastingly popular in Scotland, where Bunyan’s Puritanism no doubt made his masterpiece especially congenial. Scottish novels, from Walter Scott’s The Heart of Mid-Lothian (1818) and James Hogg’s Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner (1824) to George Macdonald’s Phantastes (1858) and John Buchan’s Mr Standfast (1919), variously imitate it and allude to it. If both A Voyage to Arcturus and Lanark narrate their protagonists’ otherworldly journeys as versions of the pilgrim’s progress, Lindsay’s novel comes more rigorously to grips with the model of Puritan allegory. Commentators have noted the work’s extreme—Manichean, Nietzschean, Gnostic—declensions of a home-grown Calvinism.9 Tormance is a radically dualistic world, subject to the contending light spectra of “two suns, of different natures” (Arcturus, 63). Maskull’s journey reproduces the form of the Calvinist plot of justification, with its succession of spiritual stages, each of which annihilates the one before. The antinomian intensity of the quest demands not only Maskull’s rebirth, marked by physical transmutation, but the destruction of nearly everyone he meets along the way, their reprobate status confirmed by the appearance of the “vulgar, grinning mask” of Crystalman, false god of the sensual world, at the moment of their death (102). The novel closes with the stringent rejection of a universe infected with the pleasure principle, eternally at war with the pristine reality of Surtur (alias Krag), who announces on the very last page that his familiar name on earth is “Pain” (302). How can such a revelation inform any plausible program of conduct—barring a turn to serial murder, like Hogg’s justified sinner, or self-flagellation, like the votaries of an extreme monastic sect? The oddity is only in part ethical. It is also structural: the doctrine of pain has already been disclosed to Maskull halfway through his quest, making the ensuing hundred and fifty pages largely redundant, if we are to take this revelation as the point of the book. “I wrap myself in pain,” Hator, the ancestral sage of Sant, is reported to have boasted, as a prophylactic from the lures of pleasure (Arcturus, 139). The debate between Hator’s disciple

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Catice and Spadevil, apostle of a rival creed, quickly locks into an impasse. “To hate pleasure brings pride with it. Pride is a pleasure,” argues Spadevil: “To kill pleasure, we must attach ourselves to duty” (146). But duty, comes Maskull’s realization, is no more than “a cloak under which we share the pleasure of other people” (148). Both asceticisms smuggle pleasure back in by another door, according to a recognizably Nietzschean critique. The impasse stalls the ethical progress that has structured Maskull’s journey through Tormance so far. His first encounter, with the “blessed spirit” Joiwind and her husband Panawe, takes place on a moreor-less Christian moral terrain of love as charity (73); but Maskull isn’t fit to stay here, and he sets off on his quest, which the reader may be excused for thinking will be towards a realization of “love and wisdom” (71). Those principles soon fall by the wayside as Maskull traverses, next, a country of the will as a faculty beyond good and evil, in which Maskull finds himself caught in repeated acts of domination and violence. (In one of his most brilliant inventions, Lindsay makes the setting for this stage a chaotic landscape of pure flux and accident, of boom-and-bust geological metamorphosis.) The next term in the series, duty, fails to subsume the will into an authentic rejection of pleasure, as we have seen. “I am wading through too much blood,” Maskull complains at the novel’s halfway point: “Nothing good can come of it” (150). He must go on with his journey. The immense detour that occupies the second half of the book no longer unfolds the stages of a discernible ethical progress, before it loops back to a reassertion of the doctrine of pain in the final pages. The uselessness of that final ethical revelation impels us to look elsewhere to understand the logic that drives the story. By far the most striking narrative pattern in A Voyage to Arcturus is the articulation of the stages of Maskull’s journey through a series of bodily transformations in which he acquires new organs, limbs, and senses. Maskull’s metamorphoses, as they change his sensory apprehension of reality, establish the aesthetic—more than the ethical—as the dominant register of the novel’s interest. They provide for its most celebrated effects, such as the evocation of an extraterrestrial color spectrum: The sense-impressions caused in Maskull by these two additional primary colours can only be vaguely hinted at by analogy. Just as blue is

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Scotland As Science Fiction delicate and mysterious, yellow clear and unsubtle, and red sanguine and passionate, so he felt ulfire to be wild and painful, and jale dreamlike, feverish and voluptuous. (Arcturus, 49)

Walking with Joiwind, Maskull’s new organs perceive the atmosphere around him: “This mighty sense-symphony stirred him to the depths” (56). Much later, he watches the rise of Tormance’s second sun: “Just as the principal character of an ordinary dawn is mystery, the outstanding character of this dawn was wildness. It did not baffle the understanding, but the heart. . . . It agitated and tormented him, like the opening bars of a supernatural symphony” (288). The recurrent synaesthetic theme may remind the reader of the otherwise incidental appearance of Mrs Jameson, sister of the enigmatic Montague Faull, in the opening scene of the novel. “She had been playing Scriabine,” the narrator observes, “and was overcome” (2). The Russian virtuoso pianist and composer Alexander Scriabin (1872–1915) was the most famous proponent of synaesthesia as the basis for a modernist Gesamtkunstwerk in the early decades of the twentieth century. Influenced by the Theosophists and Russian Symbolists, Scriabin worked out an elaborate system of associations (at once scientific and mystical) between color and musical tonality. In the last years of his life he began composing an enormous multi-media work called the Mysterium, involving music, dance, colored lights, and perfumes, the performance of which (taking place over the course of a week in the foothills of the Himalayas) would bring about the end of the world.10 Scriabin is the only modern artist mentioned in A Voyage to Arcturus. The reference to him, and the séance that occupies the opening chapter, evoke a fin-de-siecle, early- or proto-modernist aesthetic—historically preceding the revolutions of the modernist avant-gardes—as the matrix of Lindsay’s art.11 The séance is staged (controversially) as an aesthetic performance: Mrs Trent has decorated the room to look like “the Drury Lane presentation of the temple scene in the ‘Magic Flute’” (Arcturus, 6), and a hidden orchestra plays music from Mozart’s opera. At the climax of the show Krag bursts in and strangles the astral manifestation, the figure of a beautiful, enigmatically smiling young man. “The guests were unutterably shocked to observe that its expression had changed from the

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mysterious but fascinating smile to a vulgar, sordid, bestial grin, which cast a cold shadow of moral nastiness into every heart” (12-13). “Moral nastiness,” in other words, is an aesthetic effect: a glimpse, as in one of James Ensor’s paintings, of the skull beneath the skin of La Gioconda. This epiphany—shattering the illusion, breaking up the show—fixes the modernism of Lindsay’s enterprise. In one of the most elaborate of the later adventures in A Voyage to Arcturus, Maskull accompanies Gleameil to the island of Swaylone. She is drawn there by the tormenting but irresistible music of Earthrid, whose playing is “able to conjure up the most astonishing forms, which are not phantasms, but realities” (Arcturus, 173). It is the art of an extreme formalism: “What themes are in common music, shapes are in this music” (191). And its effects are challenging: “To see beauty in its terrible purity, you must tear away the pleasure from it” (183). Other men create beautiful tones “on account of the delight they cause,” Earthrid explains: 50

Therefore their music-world is based on pleasure; its symmetry is regular and charming, its emotion is sweet and lovely . . . But my music is founded on painful tones; and thus its symmetry is wild, and difficult to discover; its emotion is bitter and terrible. (ellipsis original, 187)

Music so sublime destroys its auditors. First Gleameil and then Earthrid himself are torn apart by its agonizing force. The island’s terrible music provides the closest analogue within the novel for its own aesthetic practice. It is an acoustic distillation of the unrelentingly cruel and bloody plot of A Voyage to Arcturus, hailed by Harold Bloom as “the most sublime and spiritually terrifying deathmarch in all of fantastic literature.”12 “Pleasures may harmonise,” says Earthrid, but “[p]ains must clash; and in the order of their clashing lies the symmetry” (Arcturus, 187). That painful symmetry corresponds with the order of reality: “If Shaping’s [God’s] plans had gone straight, life would have been like that other sort of music. . . . But as it has turned out, real life resembles my music and mine is the true music” (187). Earthrid’s brief dissertation on his art looks not only to the work of Scriabin (who experimented with dissonance), but beyond it, toward a more radical aesthetic in which dissonance actually constitutes the artistic

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order, the “symmetry.” And here we may begin to interpret the allegory of A Voyage to Arcturus, which yields not so much a novelistic analogue to Scriabin as the attempt, in novelistic terms, to transform itself from an art like Scriabin’s to an art more like (say) Arnold Schoenberg’s. The ethical drive of Maskull’s progress is subordinate to—a byproduct of—the novel’s aesthetic drive towards a more advanced modernist symmetry founded upon dissonance, bitterness, pain. The most lucid articulation of such a goal is to be found in the greatest critical monument to modernist aesthetics, the posthumously published Aesthetic Theory of Theodor Adorno. Dissonance, writes Adorno, “is the technical term for what ordinary language and aesthetics call ugliness.”13 It is a critical index of the autonomy of art under modern conditions. “[T]he autonomy art gained after having freed itself from its earlier cult function and its derivatives depended on the idea of humanity. As society grew less humane, art became less autonomous,” corrupted into offering an illusory, nostalgic refuge from the alienating forces of modernity.14 Art must therefore defend its autonomy by mounting a critical resistance to the aesthetics of the pleasure principle (such as beauty and harmony), which would reconcile us to modern conditions by disguising their brutal reality. Aesthetic autonomy, in other words, manifests itself in the ugliness and cruelty of the modern artwork:

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Art’s own posture, Nietzsche says, is one of cruelty. In all artistic forms, imagination cruelly excises something from a living whole, be it the body of language, of sound or of visual perceptions. The purer the forms and the higher the degree of autonomy of art, the more cruel they are. On the other hand, any demand for a less cruel and more human stance—which is simultaneously a demand to create art in conformity with the taste of one’s potential audience—would, if were heeded by the artist, simply water down the quality of his work because it would mean tinkering with the law of form. As art ‘works on’ things, it represses them. The ritual of dominating nature lives on in play. This is art’s original sin. It is also art’s permanent protest against morality which punishes cruelty with cruelty. . . . Cruelty is a result of the self-reflection of modern art, which despairingly realizes that it would find itself in the role of a henchman of the powers that be, if it were not cruel but conciliatory instead.15

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Cruelty is thus an essential, intrinsic quality of art, as it expresses the inevitably violent imposition of form upon nature. Modern art converts that cruelty into an ethical and political stance when it insists on a violent rather than conciliatory relation between aesthetic form and a modern reality based on the naturalization of cruel social relations. In this way, like the music on Swaylone’s island, Lindsay’s cruel and painful art affirms the autonomy of aesthetic form and claims, at the same time, its mimetic fidelity to modern conditions. The more extravagant and monstrous Lindsay’s allegory becomes, the more accurately it renders modern life—and the more defiantly it upholds its status as a work of art, as a set of purely formal relations. Given the connection between aesthetics and sexuality in the sensory apparatus of the human body, we should not be surprised to find the drive toward form assuming a sexual theme in the penultimate stage of Maskull’s pilgrimage, following his adventure on Swaylone’s island. In another of the novel’s astounding tours de force, Maskull climbs through Matterplay, a hot zone of pure generation in which primal energy precipitates itself into form and substance. There he encounters Leehallfae, the phaen, a being “neither man nor woman, nor anything between the two, but . . . unmistakably of a third positive sex”— necessitating the grammatical coinage of a new pronoun “ae” (Arcturus, 205). The utopian possibilities conjured around the phaen (such as a sexual enjoyment that is not tethered to a dualist economy of pleasure and pain) are extinguished, however, when Maskull presses on into the alpine zone of a “hard passion” where “men are called to women by pain, and not pleasure” (240)—the zone, that is, of a ferociously exaggerated sexual dimorphism. The aesthetic allegory and the imperative of binary sexual formation clench together in the tragic destiny of Sullenbode: “not a woman,” in her primordial manifestation, “but a mass of pure sex” (252)—a familiar, if hyperbolical, type of fin-de-siècle vampire.16 (Sullenbode’s lips, “like a splash of vivid will on a background of slumbering protoplasm,” recall the portentous figure of Mrs Trent, with her “lips so crimson and full that they seemed as if bursting with blood,” in the opening chapter [253; 4]). The love between Maskull and Sullenbode, cruel and therefore authentic, carves her out of her amorphous larval state into the high aesthetic—that is, tragic—

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condition of “a living soul,” “the kingliest of all women” (256; 257). The cost is predictably dire. Sullenbode becomes one more corpse littering the wake of Maskull’s progress. “You women are a sacrificing lot” (259), he mutters, as though in embarrassment at having stumbled onto so ethically gruelling a terrain: “You love the sacrifice for its own sake” (264). Sullenbode’s fate, sealing the impossibility of sexual relations in this grim world, belatedly glosses the meaning of Maskull’s other (“real”) name: Nightspore, a nocturnal emission. Meanwhile—as the virtuoso of “sacrifice for its own sake”—Sullenbode, more than Maskull, fulfils the logic of formal autonomy. In the end, A Voyage to Arcturus does not realize that formal autonomy. The insistence of its ethical ideology—the mutation of a residual but still vigorous and recalcitrant Calvinism—blocks the narrative’s drive toward a more radical modernist aesthetic. The traditional Calvinist distrust of the imagination and denial of the autonomy of art, bearing a conviction of art’s irremediable corruption by pleasure, are powerful enough to disable the project of a thoroughgoing, dissonant or pain-based formalism. The fantastic trappings of the alien world of A Voyage to Arcturus, more bizarre than in any precedent (and in most subsequent) works of “science fiction,” effectively displace a modernist alienation at the level of literary form. The closing vision from the tower reveals the universe as a regulated motion, a “dance,” of abstract forms: a “gigantic, luminous sphere” in which “tiny green corpuscles” clash with “whirls of white light” (Arcturus, 296-98). This Kandinsky-like abstraction is at the service of—it merely illustrates—a gratingly explicit summary of the novel’s metaphysical “theme,” in Krag’s disclosure of his earthly title (“Pain”). The abstraction signals, in other words, a crushing reduction of form to content. The subduing of the aesthetic allegory of A Voyage to Arcturus to a far less interesting ethical allegory issues in a final disappointment—a decisive decoupling of our reading from any pleasure, even from the perverse pleasure that Lindsay’s narrative has trained us to find in its gaudy procession of cruelties.

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Notes 1.

Tom Nairn, The Break-Up of Britain: Crisis and Neo-Nationalism (London: New Left Books, 1977), 114–18 and 94–95.

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Ap e rçu s 2. Cairns Craig, The Modern Scottish Novel: Narrative and the National Imagination (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1999), 182. Henceforward cited as Modern. 3. Alasdair Gray, Lanark: A Life in Four Books (London: Granada, 1982), 493. Future references to this edition will be given in the text. 4. Kathryn Hume, “Visionary Allegory in David Lindsay’s A Voyage to Arcturus,” Journal of English and Germanic Philology, 77 (1978): 72–91; see 77. 5. David Lindsay, A Voyage to Arcturus (Edinburgh: Canongate Classics, 1992), 291. Future references to this edition will be given in the text. 6. The most systematic account of the novel’s ethical allegory is provided by Kathryn Hume, who interprets “an experiential hierarchy based on the series Pleasure, Pain, Love, Nothing, and Something, each representing a necessary stage in Enlightenment.” See “Visionary Allegory in David Lindsay’s A Voyage to Arcturus,” 73. 7. Colin Wilson, “Lindsay—A Voyage to Arcturus” in Eagle and Earwig: Essays on Books and Writers (London: John Baker, 1965), 128–61; see also C. Wilson, J. B. Pick, and E. H. Visiak, The Strange Genius of David Lindsay: An Appreciation (London: John Baker, 1970).

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8. The new Edinburgh History of Scottish Literature reports translations of A Voyage to Arcturus into French, German, Dutch, and Japanese between 1975 and 1980; as a Scottish novel however it is invisible. See Paul Barnaby and Tom Hubbard, “The International Reception and Literary Impact of Scottish Literature of the Period since 1918,” in The Edinburgh History of Scottish Literature: Volume 3, Modern Transformations, New Identities (from 1918), ed. Ian Brown (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2007), 34–41, see 34–35. In Scotland’s Books: The Penguin History of Scottish Literature (London: Penguin, 2007), Robert Crawford grants a paragraph to A Voyage to Arcturus only to note its distance from the “National Renaissance” contemporaneously launched by Hugh MacDiarmid (544–45). 9. See, for example, Douglas Mackey, “Science Fiction and Gnosticism,” Missouri Review 7: 2 (1984): 112–20; Harold Bloom, “Clinamen: Towards a Theory of Fantasy,” in Bridges to Fantasy, eds. George E. Slusser, Eric S. Rabkin and Robert Scholes (Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1982), 1–20. 10. See Malcolm Brown, “Skriabin and Russian ‘Mystic’ Symbolism,” Nineteenth-Century Music 3:1 (July 1979): 42–51. 11. For a discussion of this matrix (lacking, however, any reference to Lindsay) see Alex Owen, The Place of Enchantment: British Occultism and the Culture of the Modern (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2004). 12. Bloom, “Clinamen: Toward a Theory of Fantasy,” 1. 13. T. W. Adorno, Aesthetic Theory, trans. C. Lenhardt, ed. Gretel Adorno and Rolf Tiedemann (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1984), 68. 14. Adorno, Aesthetic Theory, 1. 15. Adorno, Aesthetic Theory, 74. 16. For the type see Bram Djikstra, Idols of Perversity: Fantasies of Feminine Evil in Fin-de-siecle Culture (New York: Oxford University Press, 1988).

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John Garrison

Speculative

Nationality: “Stands Scotland Where it Did?” in the Culture of Iain M. Banks

IN MACBETH, WHEN MACDUFF RETURNS FROM ENGLAND, HE

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asks Ross, “stands Scotland where it did?” Ross replies “Alas, poor country! Almost afraid to know itself” (Macbeth, 4.3.164–66). What might this interchange signify? If we take MacDuff’s query to truly question whether Scotland might have physically moved, then what does Ross’s reply suggest about the interrelation between self-knowledge, self-identification, and geography? If Scotland changed its geographical position, where would it go? To imagine the country physically changing location sounds like a science fictional scenario. To imagine the country changing into something unrecognizable—an undiscovered country—implies a radical shift in how it understands itself. Might either scenario be imagined in the form of a Scotland no longer contiguous with England but rather attached to stranger shores, even those close by shores of continental Europe? Today, MacDuff’s question resonates as still open and still relevant. In May of 2007, Scotland and Britain celebrated the 300-year anniversary of the formalization of their union. During the same year, the Scottish National Party (SNP), which campaigns for an independent Scotland, won the largest number of seats of any party, and its leader was elected First Minister. Six months earlier, a portentous opinion

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poll conducted by The Scotsman newspaper announced that a majority of Scots favored independence, and a poll by The Daily Telegraph determined that 59 percent of English voters support Scotland becoming independent from the United Kingdom.1 Tom Nairn argues that Britain “would rather fall apart than cease being itself through reform,” going as far as to suggest that “all the societies of this heirloom state [will] find themselves driven towards the true salvation of exit.”2 But what form might this exit take for Scotland? If MacDuff were searching for Scotland today or in our near future, toward what direction might Ross point him? How would the nation now, to borrow Ross’s words, “know itself”? Citing survey data indicating that the majority of Scots see independence as inevitable, Nairn suggests that if “something is inevitable in a reasonably foreseeable future, would it not be best to anticipate it now, or as soon as possible?”3 In the fall of 2009, the SNP announced a bill that would appear in 2010 and would consider a possible referendum on Scottish independence. As of this writing, the bill is not expected to pass, nor would it be legally binding if it did. Scotland seems to face in several possible future directions at once, each marked by shifting degrees of uncertainty. Scotland seems to pull in the direction of independence, of breaking away from Britain, but is yet held in stasis by the gravitational pull of history. Under the most prescient of conditions, possible worlds (whether future or otherwise) can of course only be considered in speculative terms. However, one of the many uses of science fiction includes rendering visible the terms by which possible worlds might be defined. In the case of Scottish author Iain M. Banks, one such possibility realizes the creation of a post-scarcity civilization simply called “the Culture.” Banks’s work as a mainstream literary author, under the name Iain Banks, has received significant critical attention as realist literature embodying aspects of the “Scottish novel,” while his science fiction work has been under studied in this regard. Notably, however, Cairns Craig cites a passage from one of Banks’s realist novels, The Crow Road (1992), to suggest that the “fundamental trajectory of the modern Scottish novel has not been within the narrative of history, but between history and its other, between the mapmaker’s map and an ‘otherworld’ where space has different dimensions.”4 The Crow Road and other realist texts

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described in Craig’s important survey, The Modern Scottish Novel, support his claim here and echo MacDuff’s notion that Scotland might move outside normative cartography. Yet it may be time to open the aperture of the lens through which we view the Scottish novel to move beyond overtly realist depictions of Scotland and include its science fictional ones as well. In this chapter, I argue that the Culture’s encounter with an empire called Azad offers a fruitful analytic for examining the current stance of Scotland in relationship not only to Britain but also within the broader geopolitical imaginary continually redefined by globalization, multiculturalism, and transnationalism.5 In Iain M. Banks’s science fiction novels, the Culture represents a vast interstellar community where advanced technology provides nearly limitless material goods, sustenance, housing, and other comforts for every member.6 This civilization has largely eliminated notions of property and fear of death, as its inhabitants have overcome disease and are extremely long-lived. They thrive in a totally egalitarian, stable society without the use of any form of force or compulsion, except in extreme cases.7 Difference expresses the commonality between diverse kinds of citizens who inhabit the Culture, for their citizenry encompasses many diverse races, genders, and species, in addition to both living and artificial intelligences. Homogeneity in the Culture emerges from a vast constellation of difference, thereby creating opportunities for expanded notions of democracy. The very nature of the Culture undoes traditional claims to essential, discrete identity categories that are becoming blurred even in our contemporary global society. The seamless diversity inherent in the Culture’s vast democracy embodies—to alter Pheng Cheah’s phrase used to describe the de-territorializing of national identities in our own world—a form of “speculative nationality.”8 Culture citizens claim membership in a shared, interstellar nation-state, but the shared characteristics of members are so diffuse as to be spectral. In one of Banks’s novels that feature the Culture, The Player of Games (1988), master game player Jorneau Morat Gurgeh undertakes a diplomatic mission to the neighboring empire of Azad in order to compete in a highly-specialized game, also called Azad. Success in the tournament determines social status and rank among the citizens of Azad, and the best player needs to compete numerous times to move through

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levels and up rungs of a ladder to challenge the emperor of Azad himself. The reader is never told entirely how the game operates, but it involves playing on multiple boards with biotech pieces that simulate social situations. The game seems to involve tactics that mirror both Azadian everyday exchanges and also martial encounters between armed forces, and requires players to enact their own political and philosophical beliefs. Gurgeh slowly immerses himself in Azadian society in order to better understand the dynamics of the game, yet he remains tethered to his home in the Culture. He carries with him a bracelet that is a replica of the orbital space structure on which he lives. Most members of the Culture live on traveling starships and look down upon those living on orbitals as provincial. The bracelet thus calls attention to Gurgeh’s rootedness and to the fact that, combined with his ability to navigate Azadian ideologies, it ultimately allows him to advance a hybrid approach and to succeed at the game of Azad. This element of Banks’s novel parallels the operations of so-called “tartan politics” where the “celtification” of Scottish identity plays an important role in galvanizing Scottish political power. Caroline McCracken-Flesher argues that Scottish political “power, through the encompassing myth of tartanry, is potentially of a new nationalism, oddly not one narrowly ethnic but playful, expansive, inclusive.”9 As ambassador from the Culture, Gurgeh claims power by simultaneously grounding himself in a national identity (as a citizen of a particular orbital in the Culture) and claiming citizenship to the broader nation of the Culture that itself is defined by a lack of discrete, shared characteristics. As a citizen of a vast multitude, he can both draw confidence from his status as an equal, and also establish his own identity from his particular home, interests, and personal history. In order to compete effectively, Gurgeh carefully studies both the rules of the game (of Azad) and the social dynamics of the empire (of Azad). In the language of the novel’s empire, the term “Azad” can be used to describe any machine or system. In our own world, the name “Azad” suggests an attempt to expand, control, and encompass everything from A to Zed, which I posit may even be Banks’s criticism of Reagan-Thatcher politics of expansion and domination. Gurgeh finds understanding Azad challenging, especially given its restrictive strata of

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gender identities and rigid class hierarchies; its poverty; its governmentsponsored racism in the form of eugenics; and its negative attitudes toward technology. Gurgeh is particularly struck by the way reproduction in the empire requires three static genders: “a male, carrying the testes and penis. The middle one is equipped with a kind of reversible vagina, and ovaries. The vagina turns inside out to implant the fertilized egg in the third sex.”10 Azad’s three-gender system strikes Gurgeh as rigid in comparison with the fluidity of identity in the Culture, where male pregnancy is possible and where citizens often change gender several times during their lifetime. Indeed, Azad’s system deploys rigid schemes of control, where the middle or apex sex holds all the power by managing the flow of goods and resources—which happens to constitute the flow of life. This apex sex—neither entirely female nor male—occupies the dominant caste position in society. Below it, men serve as soldiers, while women carry and birth children. This suggests a labor-focused gender economy where body functions and gender attributes align to structure the larger social value system. Those who engage in necessary activities for the continuation of the empire—fighting to kill citizens of enemies or birthing additional citizens—are more expendable than those who control and enable their destructive or reproductive activities. In the capitalist logic of scarcity and disposability, those who control production necessarily limit access to power. In comparison, the Culture’s limitless resources render the notion of restricting power obsolete. This optimized equilibrium and parity expresses itself at the level of the Culture’s shared language:

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one personal pronoun to cover females, males, in-betweens, neuters, children, drones, Minds, other sentient machines, and every life-form capable of scraping together anything remotely like a nervous system and the rudiments of language (or a good excuse for not having either). (Player, 121)

The educational drone from the Culture that accompanies Gurgeh describes Azad’s fixed gender identities and schemes of dominance as “perverse and wasteful” (91). The use of these two terms suggests that, for the Culture, gender and other identity systems have both a moral (“perverse”) and economic (“wasteful”) aspect to them. Gurgeh’s disdain for the wastefulness of Azad’s identitarian systems suggests that

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economies best operate when resources are dynamically aligned to meet needs and also that much more open, fluid systems lead more readily to democracy. On the side of the Culture, the needs of the post-scarcity economy’s citizens are defined as pleasure and happiness. On the side of the empire, happiness is regulated through scarcity and differential allotment. Indeed, Azadians are not incapable of changing sex or reproducing via other means. Rather, these activities are not allowed. As one drone explains, when Gurgeh asks why those in the empire of Azad do not change sex: “One thing that empires are not about is the efficient use of resources and the spread of happiness; both are typically accomplished despite the economic short-circuiting—corruption and favoritism, mostly—endemic to the system” (91). The gender restrictions simply instantiate the limitations of Azad. From the perspective of the Culture, Azad—and the ideals of empire for which it stands—is outmoded and inefficient. Indeed, the novel shifts from referring to the empire of Azad as “Azad” to simply referring to it as “the Empire.” Thus, the novel explicitly sets up its central competition as one between the open, multivalent tenets of culture and the restrictive, oppressive tenets of empire. The empire of Azad embodies what Fredric Jameson has described as “the anarchy and violent crime (as well as . . . the conspiratorial networks and jobless futures) that lurk just beneath the surface of capitalism.”11 In both Jameson’s and Banks’s views, scarcity drives traits like dominance and ownership that are alien to the citizens of the Culture. The novel names only two games played in the Culture: “stricken” and “possession.” The names here (and the ambiguous rules and procedures) suggest that fear and property have been isolated into the realms of play within the Culture. These chaotic or negative elements of society are made irrelevant or relegated to the status of the unseen along with the technology that enables limitless resources. It is only in encounters with less advanced societies, such as Azad, that the technology becomes visible and, as Christopher Palmer argues, the Culture acts upon “the links between technology, destruction, waste, and expenditure.”12 The tournament within Azad is analogous to a form of war, where different ideologies play out at an individual level. While the “game” of Azad embodies the predator/prey relationships in the empire’s society, “play” in the Culture relegates these aggressive behaviors

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to a realm where they can only be an act, performance, or temporary role that a player takes on. This reading suggests models of dominance and oppression begin—or at least are expressed—at the level of individual interaction. As the novel progresses, Gurgeh is surprised at how effectively he is able to move up through the ladders of the game of Azad and eventually compete one-on-one with the Emperor. At first, Gurgeh is overwhelmed by the superior player in the game of Azad: The Emperor had set out to beat not just Gurgeh, but the whole Culture. There was no other way to describe the use of his pieces, territory and cards; he had set up his whole side of the game as an Empire, the very image of Azad. (Player, 340)

Gurgeh realizes that his overall approach to the game has involved a “net, a grid of forces and relationships, without any obvious hierarchy or entrenched leadership” (341). In this dynamic, Gurgeh is always reacting, always in retreat from the viciousness of empire. However the turning point in the game comes when Gurgeh redirects the philosophical stances of the Culture as an offensive against the empire. Playing the game as an aggressive version of the Culture proves incrementally more strategic and successful. By hybridizing the attitude of empire with the philosophy of the Culture, Gurgeh facilitates a necessary interaction to demonstrate, at last, the superiority of one system over the other. In line with Barthes’s notion that there is no pure form of writing uninflected with cultural and historical influences, the Culture cannot compete in its “purest” form. It must express itself in the available context of the game of Azad in order to successfully engage—and ultimately defeat— the empire.13 If Azad is analogous to the empires of late capitalism in our era, where can we locate the Culture in contemporaneity? To answer this question, I posit that the Culture emblematizes a highly advanced version of Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri’s formulation of “the multitude.” Under these political theorists’ re-definition of Machiavelli’s and Spinoza’s formative uses of the term, the multitude is something new. It offers an immediate and realizable geopolitical horizon for communities and individuals in our own world who seek a new, more egalitarian

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model for global nationality. The multitude is, in their words, “composed of innumerable internal differences that can never be reduced to a unity or a single identity—different cultures, races, ethnicities, genders, and sexual orientations; different forms of labor; different ways of living; different views of the world; and different desires. The multitude is a multiplicity of all these singular differences.”14 This version of the multitude places a positive value on the breakdown of identity categories and national barriers, suggesting that the widest forms of diversity and densest web of linkages between individuals may embody new communities. The description here also disrupts the barriers of differences, collapsing diverse individual traits into a single noun—multitude—just as the Culture does into a single pronoun (which the reader is not told). These forms of breakdown or disruption can take on a negative valence in discussions of the future of Scotland, where arguments often favor increased national cohesion and affirm bonding between citizens based on shared ancestry. Cairns Craig has argued that if “the novel is indeed an index of national consciousness and the national imagination, then the regularly asserted failure of the Scottish novel (as opposed to the success of individual Scottish novelists) can be seen simply as the reflection of the ongoing failure of Scottish culture as a whole—or, rather, the failure of Scottish culture to be whole.”15 Such an assertion may hold true. However, Banks rewrites such a formulation by being a profoundly Scottish novelist writing Scottish novels that depict a civilization marked in no way by discernible Scottish characteristics. Banks’s own Scottishness productively disperses into the forms of life imagined in the Culture, an all-encompassing (non)nation-(non)state. Hardt and Negri’s formulation of the multitude constitutes an emerging form of democratic diversity—different from previous notions of “the masses” or “the working class.” The list of included identity categories here, and their implied interrelationships, recall Banks’s description of the egalitarian category of Culture citizen that is used to denote its many constitutive entities. In both visions of this new way of cultural being, the individuation of participants plays a critical role in the construction of a common society. In both the Culture and the multitude, commonness emerges based on the very shared condition of diversity.

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While the Azad seek to draw restrictive borders to define social status and roles, the Culture offers extreme degrees of choice. Egalitarianism emerges from the Culture’s forms of life themselves, rather than from policing actions deployed by a regulating governmental body. And as with the Culture, it is the very way of life in the multitude that will build the new nation: “The multitude is a diffuse set of singularities that produce a common life; it is a kind of social flesh that organizes itself into a new social body.”16 Thus, the multitude constructs itself from existing lines of relationship, even from those inherent in our own real-world empires that it seeks to subvert. In Banks’s Culture, drones, Minds, humans, and other species do not behave according to laws enforced by an external regulatory system. Rather, social norms are generated and reverberate through the indisputable logic of shared “good manners.” Similarly Hardt and Negri see emergent forms of production as critical to realizing the multitude as economies move away from being measured in strictly material terms to include “the production of communications, relationships, and forms of life.”17 And whereas the empire’s modes of cultural production and reproduction entrench their oppressive social strata, class identities, and lines of force—with the game of Azad itself serving as a limiting mode of production, a self-organizing system—this expansive and inclusive conversation is the stuff from which the Culture is made. This vision of the multitude offers a bridge between the farreaching egalitarian futures imagined in Banks’s Culture novels and the current state of Scotland’s futurity. Scotland, though united with England in the present moment, has sustained independence in the forms of its own education system, legal system, and the existence of the Church of Scotland. Each of these play a role not only in evincing ways in which Scotland remains separate from Britain, but also in shaping how citizens operate distinctly within the country’s culture. The country has profoundly remained a node of difference within a larger whole. Were Scotland to, for example, independently join the European Union (EU), it would extend itself into a broader network of singular units that reflect the constellation of differences expressed in Hardt and Negri’s vision of the multitude. While one of the chief concerns about Scotland’s ability to realize independence and join the EU involves the

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country possibly not being able to compete in global financial and capital markets, new forms of production and innovations in relationships between nations may yet provide unforeseen solutions. In this moment, a possible future for Scotland gestures toward the multitude just as Banks’s science fiction offers a distant embodiment of the new democracy. In fact, Scotland may already represent a Culture-like democracy that shares characteristics with the multitude. A 2009 survey found that while no more than 5 percent of nonwhite people in England describe themselves as English, 42 percent of nonwhite people in Scotland willingly declare themselves Scottish. 18 The Economist suggests “that is because Scottish nationalism is not ethnic but civic,” echoing the ways in which pronouns in the Culture’s language articulate no ontological claim to species or race but rather affirm a parity based in shared adherence to good manners.19 While a single pronoun, gender switching, orbital space habitats, and sentient machines may not be in Scotland’s immediate future, Banks’s science fiction could play a productive role in charting Scotland’s social progress. It strikes me that the motto associated with the anti-globalization movement, “Another World is Possible,” invokes a strong connection between social movements and imagined worlds. The rallying cry associated with the Zapatista movement, “Exigíd lo imposible” (Demand the impossible!), implies even more directly that reaching the desired outcomes of liberation requires moving beyond hegemonic logics. Perhaps the answer to MacDuff’s query of “Stands Scotland where it did?” lies in questioning to what entity Scotland stands in relation. Its first step in reorientation may be to stand in relation to the EU rather than simply the UK. However, Banks takes an even more farreaching stance, not only in his science fiction but in his very signature. In a letter (written by Banks and presented online by a fellow Scottish science fiction writer, Ken MacLeod), he does not limit his address to simply name, street, county, and country. Rather he reaches toward citizenry in a larger community when he writes his return address as name, star, planet, and town: With best wishes for the future, Iain M Banks (Sun-Earther Iain El-Bonko Banks of North Queensferry)20

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The author’s own claim to national identity and location, like the gameplaying strategy of his protagonist, playfully connects the very local to the galactic horizon. Banks’s Scotland stands geographically where it always has, but its identity stands conceptually within a much larger context.

Notes 1.

Hamish MacDonell, “Vital Gains Forecast for SNP in Swing from Labour,” The Scotsman. November 1, 2006, http://news.scotsman.com/scottishnationalparty/Vital-gains-forecast-for -SNP.2823212.jp and Patrick Hennessy and Melissa Kite. “Britain Wants UK Break Up, Poll Shows,” The Daily Telegraph, November 26, 2006, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news /uknews/1535193/Britain-wants-UK-break-up-poll-shows.html

2.

Tom Nairn and Paul James, Global Matrix: Nationalism, Globalism, and State-terrorism (London and Ann Arbor, MI: Pluto Press, 2005), 174. For an interesting discussion of the Scottish parliament’s role in bolstering the drive towards independence and the national spirit of Scottishness, see David McCrone, “Scotland and England: Diverging Political Discourses,” in Liberty and the Search for Identity: Liberal Nationalisms and the Legacy of Empires, ed. Iván Zoltán Dénes (Budapest and New York: Central European University Press, 2006), 21–36.

3.

Nairn, 174.

4.

Cairns Craig, The Modern Scottish Novel: Narrative and the National Imagination (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1999), 241. Hereafter, Modern.

5.

I do not mean this argument to simply say that the relationship between the Culture and the empire of Azad is directly analogous to the relationship between Scotland and Britain. Rather, I am interested in how Banks’s imagined history of the Culture/empire encounter, written during the height of Thatcherite politics, expresses anxieties about and solutions for issues at work during the period. In this, I follow Tolkien’s assertion about allegory: “I cordially dislike allegory in all its manifestations, and always have done so since I grew old and wary enough to detect its presence. I much prefer history, true or feigned, with its varied applicability to the thought and experience of readers. I think that many confuse ‘applicability’ with ‘allegory’; but the one resides in the freedom of the reader, and the other in the purposed domination of the author.” J. R. R. Tolkien, “Foreword,” The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (New York: Houghton Mifflin, 1965), 7.

6.

The Culture is featured in Consider Phlebas (1987), The Player of Games (1988), Use of Weapons (1990), Excession (1996), Inversions (1998), Look to Windward (2000), and Matter (2008). Banks does write other science fiction (under the same nom de plume, Iain M. Banks) that does not include the Culture.

7.

For an excellent discussion of Culture mores, as well as its utopian and dystopian qualities, across Banks’s science fiction, see David Horwich. “Culture Clash: Ambivalent Heroes and the Ambiguous Utopia in the Work of Iain M. Banks,” Strange Horizons, January 21, 2002, http://www .strangehorizons.com/2002/20020121/culture_clash.shtml.

8.

Cheah’s term is “spectral nationality.” I alter it to encompass those nationalities as yet only imagined in science, or “speculative,” fiction. See Pheng Cheah. Spectral Nationality: Passages of Freedom from Kant to Postcolonial Literatures of Liberation (New York: Columbia University Press, 2003).

9.

See Caroline McCracken-Flesher, “A Tartan Politics? Couture and National Creativity in the New Scottish Parliament,” Scottish Studies Review, 3.1 (2002): 110–21, esp. 110. See also, Gordon

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Ap e rçu s Macleod, “Identity, Hybridity, and Institutionalization of Territory: on the Geohistory of Celtic devolution,” in Celtic Geographies: Old Culture, New Times, eds. David C. Harvey, Rhys Jones, Neil McInroy, and Christine Milligan (London and New York: Routledge, 2002), 53–68. 10. Iain M. Banks The Player of Games (New York and London: Orbit Books, 2008), 91. Hereafter, cited as Player. 11. Fredric Jameson, “Fear and Loathing in Globalization,” in his Archaeologies of the Future: The Desire Called Utopia and Other Science Fictions (London and New York: Verso Books, 2005), 384–92, see 386. 12. Christopher Palmer, “Galactic Empires and the Contemporary Extravaganza: Dan Simmons and Iain M. Banks,” Science Fiction Studies, 26.1 (March, 1999): 73–90, see 78. 13. See Roland Barthes, Writing Degree Zero, trans. Annette Lavers and Colin Smith (1953; New York: Hill and Wang, 1977). 14. Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri, Multitude: War and Democracy in the Age of Empire (New York: Penguin Books, 2005), xiv. 15. Craig, Modern, 21-2. 16. Hardt and Negri, 349. 17. Hardt and Negri, xv.

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18. “Islam in Tartan; Scotland’s Muslims,” The Economist, May 7 2009: http://www.economist.com /world/britain/displaystory.cfm?story_id=13611699. 19. Ibid. The article further notes a “study by academics at Glasgow University found that 49% of white Scots showed some degree of Islamophobia (fears about national identity or economic resentment), compared with 63% of English whites.” 20. Iain M. Banks, “A Few Notes on the Culture,” posted to the science fiction newsgroup rec.arts.sf. Reposted at http://www.vavatch.co.uk/books/banks/cultnote.htm.

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Gavin Miller

Between

Enlightenment and the End of History: Ken MacLeod’s Engines of Light

THE PUBLISHING CAREER OF KEN MACLEOD (1954– ) BEGAN IN

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1995 with The Star Fraction, a novel written at the urging of his friend, Scottish novelist Iain Banks. As MacLeod acknowledges, his first novel was a public apprenticeship: “I made it up as I went along . . . and then had to rewrite it to make it into something that anybody else could make sense of.”1 Despite this rather inauspicious beginning to his career (The Star Fraction is almost incomprehensible), Macleod is now one of the most commercially successful Scottish science-fiction writers of the post-Banks generation. This chapter discusses MacLeod’s Engines of Light trilogy, and the way in which it revalidates ideals of Enlightenment, while also challenging the contemporary view that we now live in a “post-historical” age. Engines of Light promotes the conception of Enlightenment advanced by Immanuel Kant in his 1784 essay, “An Answer to the Question: What Is Enlightenment?” in which the Prussian philosopher defines Enlightenment as “mankind’s exit from its self-incurred immaturity. Immaturity is the inability to make use of one’s own understanding without the guidance of another.”2 In MacLeod’s trilogy, the human race remains in a state of immaturity because of the “gods,” alien intelligences who try to enforce an ahistorical stasis (akin to a high-tech Middle Ages) by

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limiting the availability of technology, particularly for light-speed travel. Although Kant would not have opposed theism in itself, Engines of Light clearly correlates enlightened autonomy with the overthrow of “godgiven” limits on the scientific understanding of the natural world—a world that is, in the superstitious view, always subject to the will of the deity. In this sense, MacLeod’s trilogy is in the spirit of Kant’s claim (in the Critique of Judgment) that “liberation from superstition is called enlightenment.”3 A further element of MacLeod’s pro-Enlightenment agenda is the trilogy’s implicit defense of ideological difference and debate. Unlike contemporary “post-historical” thinkers such as (temporarily, at any rate) Frances Fukuyama, MacLeod in his trilogy insists that there are potential alternatives to liberal capitalism—and he does so, in what is only superficially a paradox, by reveling in the weirdness of alternative belief systems such as UFOlogy and creationism. Both these aspects of the trilogy—its promotion of scientific rationality, and its skepticism toward post-historicism—have a Scottish resonance: eighteenth-century Scottish intellectual life was among the wellsprings of the Enlightenment, while Scotland’s recent political devolution from the British state may be understood, at least in part, as a “post-historical” assertion of cultural distinctiveness. The first volume of Engines of Light, Cosmonaut Keep (2000), interlaces two stories. A first-person narrative relates the adventures of Matt Cairns, an IT consultant from an alternative near-future Edinburgh, during events that ensue when a space station belonging to the communist European Union makes “first contact” with an advanced alien intelligence inhabiting a cometary body. Matt eventually gets onboard the space station, where he oversees the construction of a light-speed starship drive based on plans provided by the aliens. During a test of the drive, the station and crew are propelled to an entirely different part of the galaxy, 100,000 light-years distant, and 100,000 years in the future. The other, third-person narrative in Cosmonaut Keep concerns events many centuries later in this new location, the “Second Sphere.” The cosmonauts are late arrivals, for it has been gradually populated over millennia by humans abducted from Earth by so-called “saurs.” These dope-smoking reptilian aliens, which resemble the grey aliens of UFO-

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logy, cooperate with intelligent giant squid, the “krakens,” who monopolize starship navigation. Directing all these species are the “gods,” comet-inhabiting alien intelligences who enforce the Second Sphere’s peaceful stasis. The narrative traces the successful attempt by Gregor Cairns, from one of the so-called “Cosmonaut Families” descended from the original cosmonauts, to break the krakens’ monopoly by designing a navigation computer that can successfully control the Cosmonauts’ own starship, the Bright Star (as the space station is renamed). Cosmonaut Keep ends with Gregor listening to Matt Cairns’s narrative. Like the other original cosmonauts, Matt is effectively immortal thanks to lifeextending drugs that he consumed on Earth; he accompanies Gregor as they leave their home planet, Mingulay. Dark Light (2001) takes place on the planet of Croatan, the first port of call for Matt and the Bright Star. He encounters the “sky people,” a seemingly Stone Age society living in a valley bordering Rawliston, the planet’s main city. The sky people are the planet’s aboriginal abductee population, preceding by centuries European colonists taken from the Americas (who style themselves “Christians” in opposition to the “heathen” natives). Much of Dark Light deals with the socioeconomic modernization unleashed on Croatan by the collapse of the krakens’ trade monopoly. Matt, a fellow cosmonaut called Volkov, and their saur ally, Salasso, also contact a rebellious god. It explains that another non-Terran species, a peculiar mixture of ape and octopod, was active in the original Earth system before being expelled by the gods. The saurs were in fact created by the intervention of this species in Terran evolution. The final volume, Engine City (2003), concerns the arrival of these octopods, the “Multipliers,” in the Second Sphere. While Matt and his associates agree to peacefully share territory with them, Volkov flees to Nova Terra, the central planet of the Second Sphere, where he provokes in response a program of breakneck social modernization. Nova Babylonia, the planet’s hegemonic city, soon becomes a space-faring nuclear power, renaming itself as “New Babylon,” and successfully repelling a wave of migrating (or “invading”) Multipliers. Matt, Salasso, and his Multiplier allies, however, manage to organize a peaceful coup on New Earth, and then to infect the population with the Multipliers’ microscopic offspring. These beings symbiotically inhabit the human body,

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and render it effectively immortal. Engine City ends, though, with the execution of Matt, Volkov, and Salasso by the post-revolutionary New Babylonian government for their earlier “theicide” of a god hostile to the Multipliers. The central aim of MacLeod’s trilogy is to promote the great “unfinished project” of Western modernity. His opposition to those who question the grand narratives of Western progress is apparent in the allusiveness of the final sentence in Engine City, which draws upon—yet also challenges—the closing line of Arthur C. Clarke’s 1953 short story, “The Nine Billion Names of God.” Clarke’s story tells of a Tibetan monastery engaged in enumerating the many names of God, a task in which it has been engaged for three centuries. The monks believe that once they complete this task then God will bring the world to an end. The head lama anticipates that “it would take . . . about fifteen thousand years” if they were to continue by hand, but that, by hiring an electronic computer and printer, they can finish the job in a “hundred days.”4 The story ends as two U. S. computer scientists hired alongside the computer steal away from the lamasery, convinced that there will be reprisals once the project is finished, and the world steadfastly refuses to end. Yet they find that their confidence in their Western cosmology is entirely misplaced: “Look,” whispered Chuck, and George lifted his eyes to heaven. (There is always a last time for everything.) Overhead, without any fuss, the stars were going out. (Clarke, 422)

MacLeod’s trilogy, by contrast, ends with a revised version of Clarke’s closing sentence. In the final chapter of Engine City, a Multiplier containing the memories of the recently executed Matt, Salasso, and Volkov looks upwards from the surface of New Babylon to see a sky in which “new lights” appear as overhead, “quietly, without any fuss, the starships were coming in.”5 “The Nine Billion Names of God” clearly delights in mocking Western rationality. The superstitious Tibetans are perfectly correct in their expectation that the world will end. The scientists, on the other hand, assume that the monks’ prophecy will be falsified, and are far more worried about possible reprisals from aggrieved and anomic Tibet-

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ans. Indeed, the tale casts the scientists as cultural imperialists. George, one of the engineers in Tibet, is described as “staring morosely at the distant mountains whose names he had never bothered to discover,” while his colleague, Sam, patronizingly refers to the “cute English accent” of one of the monks (Clarke, 419; 420). Clarke’s symbolism also hints that the Western scientists’ optimism is far from a universal rational claim, but is rather a faith-like byproduct of their Christian cultural and religious inheritance: as the engineers flee the monastery, George sees in the distance their “battered old DC3” which lies “at the end of the runway like a tiny silver cross” (Clarke, 421). By revising Clarke’s closing sentence, MacLeod clearly asserts that man will triumph over the gods, and that technology (symbolized by the starships) will defeat mystic irrationality. Indeed, the metaphor of light overcoming darkness apparent in the final words of Engines of Light provides a recurring motif throughout the trilogy. Such figurative Enlightenment is apparent in the trilogy’s title, in the name of the Cosmonauts’ ship (the Bright Star), in the eventual “Bright Star Cultures” that develop in symbiosis with the Multipliers, and also when Volkov explains experimental science to Nova Babylonia, and sees “enlightenment dawn” (Engine City, 35). The Enlightenment that dawns in Engines of Light is not—as Clarke might have wished—Buddhist awakening, but instead a recapitulation of Western Enlightenment. The Enlightenment symbolism therefore coheres with a storyline that tells of a new age dawning in the Second Sphere. MacLeod’s trilogy recapitulates—in its far-off futuristic setting—the waning of the Middle Ages, and the beginning of the modern era. Engines of Light traces the beginning of a future modernity in the Second Sphere, a fictional world which—with its demographic stasis, restricted trade routes, mercantilism, and authoritarian modes of learning and education—parallels the popular view of the medieval period as the “Dark Ages.” The Second Sphere strikes Matt as a world “in which a broad scope for talent and ambition is ultimately constrained by limits defined as physical. There’s a great chain of being, almost, from the gods down through the krakens and saurs to the humans.”6 Within this recapitulated medieval cosmology (of the kind analyzed by Arthur O. Lovejoy), MacLeod imagines an intellectual life in which the highest knowledge is that handed down

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by the Gods—a tradition authorized by revelation.7 Furthermore, as the Cosmonaut Avakian explains, even the living knowledge that the Bright Star brought from Earth has ossified into scriptural authority, much as Classical learning putatively became rigidified in medieval Scholasticism: “All that twenty-first-century state-of-the-art information that got downloaded from the ship . . . —it’s still being reprinted, in big leatherbound volumes. Most of it is still incomprehensible, and what they do understand they dogmatise” (Dark Light, 102). I have argued elsewhere that Scottish science fiction typically restores progressive history to a national literary tradition characterized, as Cairns Craig has shown, by a temporality that is ahistorical, unchanging, or cyclical.8 As might be expected, MacLeod’s science fiction also participates in this writing of Scottish literature “back into history.” In The Sky Road (1999), for instance, he presents a future in which radical Greens have led the world, and Scotland specifically, into a society where scientific investigation has congealed into dogmatic tradition, and social change is largely absent. Earth is “bogged down” in a “dark age,” in which spacecraft are built not with advanced research and development but “with skills handed down from master to apprentice.”9 This looks a lot like the nostalgia Craig laments. But MacLeod’s fiction repeatedly reworks the story of such a stagnant society into one of “progress”: the society undergoes a transition to a new age of rapid intellectual, technological and social change. In Learning the World (2005), for example, this template patterns the story of an encounter between migrating human colonists, who have lived for centuries in a static shipbound society, and a rapidly modernizing planet of highly intelligent chiroptera (“bats,” to the layperson). Engines of Light is therefore quite consonant with the rest of MacLeod’s work. MacLeod, though, wants to do more than merely revalidate modernization by replaying Western history in the defamiliarized and far-off setting of the Second Sphere. He also wants to plot what he regards as a modern route through the contemporary politics that surround issues of cultural preservation and extinction. As Kwame Anthony Appiah explains, we have become aware in our increasingly globalized world of the “perishability of actual cultures.”10 What may result in response is a “preservationist ethic” in which “[a]ssimilation

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is figured as annihilation.”11 Such a preservationist ethic is apparent in Engines of Light, when James Cairns explains that the Cosmonaut Families are part of “a new thing in the Second Sphere. All the people in this sector were . . . delivered . . . from Earth or the solar system after the rise of capitalism.”12 The cultural spirit of the Cosmonauts, explains James, is their “instability,” and this he sees as threatened by the pre-capitalist ethos promoted by “Nova Babylonia’s benevolent sway”: “What makes us unique, what makes us ourselves, will be lost” (Cosmonaut Keep, 119). James’s anxiety that his culture will be “assimilated” drives his plan to build human-piloted starships; by becoming “the trading people of the Second Sphere and beyond . . . we will maintain our independence” (119; 120). However, despite the consequences of James’s plan (which are clearly valorized in Engines of Light), MacLeod’s trilogy is ultimately rather skeptical of cultural preservation. This becomes apparent in Dark Light’s restaging of the colonial encounter between Europe and the Americas in the juxtaposition of the Christians and the sky people. “Stone,” one of the sky people, explains the Christian missionary impulse that led his society, in response, to its current preservationist principles: “When the Christians first came here . . . [they] won over many of the sky people, but those they won over became lost and sad and did not thrive, because they had lost all the teachings of their forefathers and they knew not where to put their feet” (Dark Light, 120). The Bright Star arrives, however, and the outward ripples of its onboard learning eventually inform what Matt thinks of as “the sky people’s version of liberation theology” (170). Stone explains further: “Christopher Dawson was a young man who was preparing to be sent to preach to the sky people, and he studied these new doctrines, and he was inspired to go among the sky people to learn their ways, not to try to make them change them. . . . he said that the sky people did not need to become Christians to reach the sky father” (120). The result is a liberation theology, or perhaps more exactly, an “indigenous theology” in which the sky people see themselves as striving towards the same God as the Christians, but via their own manifestations of the divinity. Despite Stone’s preservationist ethic (“we very deeply believe that different societies should walk in different paths” [Dark Light, 170]), there is something rather inauthentic in the supposedly traditional

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path walked by the sky people in their other-worldly Native American reservation. Although they are ostensibly a Neolithic people, their technology seems limited merely by a taboo on metal tools and materials. Consequently, they use traditional crafts to create devices that would only occur to a modern mind versed in such topics as aerodynamics, structural mechanics, and the theory of gases. Dark Light, for instance, begins with Stone testing a hang-glider built from material such as “the paired humeri of an eagle,” “hand-woven silk,” and “tensed bamboo,” all speciously authenticated by the guarantee that “no metal tool had touched it” (2). This vein of faux Neolithic technology continues with the sky people’s “stone-age” hot-air balloons, and eventually their construction of space suits from ceramics for an expedition on the Bright Star to a cometary god. The sky people’s technology, pressing Stone Age materials into modern forms, provides a metaphor for their culture as a whole, which re-assembles their traditions within a framework that is already essentially modernized. Stone’s “self-conscious Stone Age civilization” is, he admits, “an artifice, maintained by conscious holding on to old ways and conscious holding back in adopting new ones” (Dark Light, 2; 169). Yet what he does not admit is that this very artificiality means that his society is as modern as that of neighboring Rawliston. The sky people are not so much pre-modern traditionalists as modern fundamentalists, meeting Anthony Giddens’s definition as preserving a “tradition which self-consciously sets itself against modernity, but which at the same time takes on modern qualities and quite often uses modern technologies.”13 The “spirits of the ancestors” consulted by the sky people’s shamans are, for instance, contained in a “sacred book,” viz., “Christopher Dawson’s Autochthonous Hill Tribes of New Virginia: A Preliminary Anthropological Study” (47). The sky people’s traditions are not primarily maintained in acts of collective ceremony, but rather via the “institutional reflexivity” defined by Anthony Giddens as “the regularised use of knowledge about circumstances of social life as a constitutive element in its organisation and transformation.”14 Furthermore, much like Native Americans who encourage the building of casinos on their land, the sky people, in their eventual decision to attack the neighboring “Christian” society, enact merely another negotiation with their own modernity. The sky people

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recognize that their territory will present an alternative trade route for the new human-navigated starships (which do not need to land at sea), and that this will threaten Rawliston’s monopoly on interstellar trade. Rather than wait to be invaded on a pretext, they decide to attack first to avoid being forcibly annexed to their neighbors. The resulting political situation is a partnership between the sky people and a new revolutionary government in Rawliston, an alliance that—as MacLeod makes clear—marks the hybrid mingling of Christian and sky people cultures, rather than their separation and preservation. MacLeod’s subversion of the preservationist ethic is relatively clear in the confrontation of the sky people and the Christians. It is developed further, and with greater subtlety, by the side effects of the Multipliers’ longevity treatment, which depends upon them parasitically infecting the treated individual in order to “hack” their genetic code and to perform running repairs. Any human who accepts the Multiplier treatment also receives new memories. A Multiplier explains that “[we] can make you live long [sic], by changing the instructions of your body. To do that we must read them. By reading them we read your memories, and they can be shared among us, and will be among some of us until our line dies” (Engine City, 149). As Matt explains after he receives the treatment, “you remember things that never happened to you. . . . I can remember doing things, without thinking that I did them” (Engine City, 197). This new form of transpersonal memory, by which an individual can directly remember the experiences and actions of past individuals, provides MacLeod with a novum that makes literal the contemporary discourse which reconfigures history as the memory of an identity group. As Kerwin Lee Klein explains, in this new jargon of history, “memory becomes a subject in its own right, free to range back and forth across time, and even the most rigorous scholar is free to speak of the memory of events that happened hundreds of years distant or to speak of the memory of an ethnic, religious, or racial group.”15 MacLeod’s literalization of collective memory has science-fiction precedents that help to clarify its significance. Whitley Strieber’s 1987 volume, Communion: A True Story, also presents racial memory as a reality, as he tells of the psychological aftermath of his repeated abduction and occasional anal probing by a variety of mysterious humanoid entities. As

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Walter Benn Michaels explains, Strieber speculates that what he took to be personal memories of his childhood may “in fact” be really memories of Babylon from a previous life.16 A similar motif, Michaels points out, may be found in “Greg Bear’s science fiction novel Blood Music” (1983 and 1985), which “imagines the restructuring of blood cells so as to enable them to perform a kind of memory transfer, first from father to son . . . and then more generally.”17 Although both of these texts make literal the idea of collective memory, for Benn Michaels they do so with a far more cosmopolitan aim than historical texts that speak of the “memory” of an ethnic, religious, or racial group: “In Communion and Blood Music, the emergence of ‘racial memory,’ of a history made almost literally universal, unites us all”;18 “the moment in which the past can be remembered actually marks the disappearance of nationality.”19 A similar unifying, cosmopolitan (and indeed cross-species) collective memory appears in the side effects of the Multipliers’ treatments. This universal memory (or history-cum-identity) inhabits, for instance, the Multiplier that contains the memories of Volkov, Matt, and Salasso, and which at the end of the trilogy looks up to see how overhead, “quietly, without any fuss, the starships were coming in” (Engine City, 369). When read with an eye for its fundamental story of modernity regained, Engines of Light may seem a straightforward hymn to Enlightened rationality. Such a reading certainly coheres with MacLeod’s reaction against his upbringing as the son of a Presbyterian minister on Lewis, an island in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland. In this formative milieu of Scriptural literalism and inerrancy his parents praised, for instance, his reading of “creationist critiques of evolution.”20 MacLeod’s resistance to this culture presumably inspired his first juvenile short story to be about “a young man in an intensely religious family who is convinced that religion is an alien imposition on humanity.”21 Nonetheless, there are some peculiar twists to MacLeod’s promotion of Enlightened rationality, as becomes apparent in a scene where he resignifies the Scottish built and natural landscape as a stock literary location of futurity, rather than a manifestation of nostalgic romanticism. In Cosmonaut Keep, a starship containing krakens, saurs, and human traders arrives outside the castle (the titular “Keep”) inhabited by the

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quasi-aristocratic Cosmonaut Families. James Cairns—a descendant of Matt Cairns, and thus an extraterrestrial diasporic Scot—watches as “gravity skiffs” (flying saucers) descend from the starship, “rocking like falling leaves, to the grassy ridge of the long hill that sloped down from the landward face of the castle” (Cosmonaut Keep, 9). The ensuing arrival of the human merchants and their accompanying saurs resembles a mass return of UFO-abductees to tourist-trap Scotland: “the dozen or so skiffs had extended and come to rest on spindly telescoped legs; in their underside hatches opened and stairladders emerged. . . . Each gave forth two or three saurs, twice or thrice that number of humans; about a hundred in all walked slowly up the slope and on to the smoother grass of the castle lawns” (9). The interior of the Keep, where the merchants’ arrival is duly celebrated, is filled with appropriately modified versions of the bric-a-brac, such as suits of armor and stuffed big game, found on display in Scotland’s stately homes and castles: “Antique space-suits stood in artfully placed ambuscade niches,” while the walls are “covered with carpets and tapestries, oil paintings of members of the Cosmonaut Families, heads and hides of dinosaurs, and decoratively arranged displays of the light artillery with which these gigantic quarry had been sportingly slain” (11). MacLeod explains further the imaginative reworking of Scotland in Mingulay, the world first settled by the Cosmonauts: “the planet Mingulay, like the island it’s named after, exists somewhere off the west coast of Scotland. . . . And the cigar-shaped motherships found their place in my mind’s eye from the sight of two great constructions hanging above the sea: the Forth bridges.”22 By using such a setting, MacLeod hopes to subvert a science-fiction convention which confines the future to certain zones of Western society: “There are entire bodies of work set in LA, or in London, and nobody calls them parochial. The reason why I use these hills and streets is not lazy familiarity. It’s because these places, these named and actual places, are where I first imagined the future, and where I return in dreams.”23 By imagining the future in the planetary equivalent to the Western Isles of Scotland, MacLeod resists what Carl Abbott calls “the common trope of ‘seeing the future in California’”— the trope by virtue of which, for instance, Terminators are deposited in Los Angeles rather than Linlithgow.24

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MacLeod’s account of the merchants’ arrival at Mingulay refers to nineteenth- and twentieth-century Scottish engineering, but any reader of the relevant passage is likely to miss the supposed association of the starships with the Forth Bridges, and instead note that the future arrives in Scotland via the pseudo-scientific phenomenon of flying saucers. Curiously, despite its manifesto of progress from a future Dark Ages into a new era of Enlightenment, much of Engines of Light playfully contradicts contemporary scientific ontologies. Like Clarke’s “The Nine Billion Names of God,” a text which Engines of Light otherwise repudiates, MacLeod’s trilogy delights in subverting consensus reality. Rather than engage in sober, scientifically legitimated extrapolation, MacLeod dreams up a Second Sphere of reality that substantiates and connects anomalous phenomena of the kind recorded by Charles Fort (1874–1932) and by later “Fortean” researchers (including Arthur C. Clarke himself, in popular British TV programs such as Arthur C. Clarke’s Mysterious World). The list of mysterious phenomena and speculative hypotheses confirmed and elaborated by the Second Sphere is lengthy. It includes: UFOs (“gravity skiffs”); grey aliens (the “saurs”); alien abductions and mysterious disappearances (the Roanoke colony in New Virginia are taken to Croatan); giant squid (the “kraken” who navigate the starships); the aquatic ape hypothesized by Alister Hardy (the socalled “selkies” encountered by Gregor and Elizabeth Cairns); sasquatch and yeti (the “gigants” of the Second Sphere); alien technology on Earth; creationism (the Multipliers intervene in evolution to create the saurs); James Lovelock’s Gaia hypothesis and Pierre Teilhard de Chardin’s “noosphere” (Nova Terra develops a conscious mind); and the existence of Lovecraftian “Elder Races” preceding the rise of homo sapiens. Even the seventeenth-century opponents of Newton are vindicated, for in the Second Sphere comets may really be “a signal from an angry God warning He will strike and bring disaster.”25 The rationalist philosopher of science Karl Popper conceded “that science often errs, and that pseudo-science may happen to stumble on the truth.”26 In MacLeod’s fictional world, twentieth-century pseudoscience has had the good fortune to stumble upon the truth of UFOs, grey aliens, and a host of other seemingly unjustified beliefs. But why should a text like Engines of Light, which tirelessly promotes modernity,

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Enlightenment, and rationality, furnish a world in which pseudoscience is vindicated? Engine City provides an intertextual hint as to how one may begin to resolve this paradox. In order to destabilize the hegemonic government of New Earth, Matt proposes to make them “doubt their concept of reality” by recreating the so-called “flying-saucer flaps” of twentieth-century Earth (Engine City, 204). This psychological warfare is described by Matt as “[g]uerrilla ontology,” a phrase coined by the counter-cultural guru Robert Anton Wilson, coauthor of The Illuminatus! Trilogy (1975) (Engine City, 204). The “Operation Mindfuck” of The Illuminatus! Trilogy seemingly inspires Matt, who bellows “Fuck with their heads!” as he announces his war of guerrilla ontology against New Earth (Engine City, 204). Some biographical and cultural evidence may give clues as to why MacLeod should be inspired to deploy guerilla ontology against his own readership in order to “fuck with their heads.” Although phenomena such as UFO belief may be (legitimately) decried as pseudo-science, there can be no doubt that a world in which UFOs really were extraterrestrial visitations would be very different from the one in which most of us believe we live. This is why, in both MacLeod’s own life, and Scotland more generally, UFOs have appeared as a harbinger of a different world. To the teenage MacLeod in the mid-1960s, UFOs appeared in prolonged fantasies of escape from Lewis: “At the age of about twelve or thirteen I elaborated a daydream around the flying saucer contactee stories I had just discovered. . . . The daydream wasn’t a sexual fantasy— the woman from the flying saucer didn’t do anything, except take me away.”27 MacLeod was not the only Cold War Scot with such a vivid anticipation of extra-terrestrial contact. In the 1950s, the small group that would later found the New Age Findhorn community in northeast Scotland were resident in the Scottish town of Forres. Steven Sutcliffe records how “the group made regular visits to the local beach in case spacecraft might land there,” while there were also allegedly “[t]wo unsuccessful landing attempts by UFO craft beside the hotel.”28 Whether for MacLeod or the proto-Findhorn community, saucer mythology was manifestly at odds with the dominant beliefs of their social context. For MacLeod, the context was one of conservative Protestant Christianity. For the proto-Findhorn community, the context was the Atomic Age

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of “nuclear competition and the space race between the US and the former USSR in the late 1950s”—which may explain why, despite its seemingly inauspicious beginnings, Findhorn is now both a “spiritual community . . . helping to unfold a new human consciousness” and a pioneering eco-community.29 The most productive way to understand MacLeod’s guerilla ontology is to see it as something like a stonemason’s wedge driven into a monolithic contemporary world-view in which U.S. capitalist democracy has declared itself the only effective political order, and in which socio-political alternatives have been banished to the realms of putative pseudo-science, where they must languish alongside UFOs, grey aliens, and sasquatch. That U.S.-style liberal democracy is the ideological victor on the world stage (if not quite yet the actual victor) is the burden of books such as Francis Fukuyama’s The End of History and the Last Man (1992), which posits “the complete absence of coherent theoretical alternatives to liberal democracy.”30 However, as Roger Luckhurst explains, there is always in MacLeod’s fiction some real ideological alternative to the dominant order: MacLeod “construct[s] scenarios in which any mode of totality is subjected to subversion—whether it comes from free-market capitalist anarchy, the coercive socialist state or the collective or individualistic modes of libertarianism.”31 Such a thesis sets MacLeod at odds with our contemporary “post-historical” world as described (skeptically) by Michaels: history “ended (in 1989) because the Soviet Union, as a distinctive ideological entity, collapsed, and, insofar as the Cold War was imagined . . . as a war between beliefs—between liberalism and socialism—its end made ideological disagreement and political argument obsolete.”32 The supposed “post-historical” world is one in which “ideological differences have been replaced by differences that should be understood on the model of cultural or linguistic differences.”33 This is a world in which, for example, “no one in the United States understands the war against terrorism as a war against Islam. . . . We treat religion on the model of a culture, which is to say, we treat people who belong to other religions not as if they have false beliefs but as if they have different identities. Religious belief as belief . . . is replaced by religion as a kind of identity.”34 The inevitability of triumphant capitalism, and the end of ideological difference, is of course belied by the alternative history that

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MacLeod presents in Cosmonaut Keep, in which Scotland (the “Scottish Republic”) becomes part of the Soviet-controlled European Union after “the so-called ‘imported revolution’ that followed our defeat in the war” (Cosmonaut Keep, 27; 34). In Engines of Light as a whole, MacLeod’s vindication of pseudo-science (be it UFOlogy or—putatively—Marxism) revives the excitement of genuine intellectual disagreement between ideas rather than cultural or historical difference between identities. Like Marxists, libertarians, and radical greens, those who believe in UFOs, Sasquatch, and creationism are not primarily laying claim to an identity. Though, no doubt, there are social categories for such persons (e.g., the “UFOlogical community”), they are primarily disagreeing about the nature of the world and what exists within it, rather than asking that their cultural difference be respected. There are, then, two distinct agendas in the social and intellectual values promoted by Engines of Light as it seeks to take up a position somewhere between Enlightenment and the End of History. The first agenda is a defense of modernization and Enlightenment against forces that MacLeod clearly regards as regressive, such as the contemporary ethic of cultural preservationism. MacLeod seems to regard preservationism as essentially false consciousness: there is nothing to preserve in a world in which, as the allegory of the sky people and Christians suggests, all cultures are now already modernized. On the other hand, while Engines of Light presents modernity as desirable, it also resists the contemporary ideology which claims that there can be no real and rational sociopolitical alternatives to liberal capitalism. The Second Sphere’s delightful pseudoscience challenges its readership to take seriously beliefs as beliefs, rather than as forms of cultural difference: the UFOlogist—like the Marxist, libertarian, anarchist, or theocrat—has primarily an ideology, and not an identity. MacLeod fears the dissolution of intellectual disagreement by the invisible censoring power of modern identity politics, just as Kant, over two hundred years ago, defended Enlightenment against more obvious forms of suppression: “For this enlightenment . . . nothing more is required than freedom . . . But I hear from all sides the cry: don’t argue!”35 The result of these two agendas in MacLeod’s Engines of Light is a science-fiction trilogy that valorizes rational autonomy and technological progress, while also reveling in a carnival of Fortean phenomena.

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Notes 1. Ken MacLeod, “The Profession of Science Fiction, 64: Seeing through the Atmosphere,” Foundation: the International Review of Science Fiction 36, no. 99, Spring (2007): 8. Hereafter referred to as “Profession.” 2. Immanuel Kant, “An Answer to the Question: What Is Enlightenment?” in What is Enlightenment? Eighteenth-Century Answers and Twentieth-Century Questions, ed. James Schmidt (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press), 58–64, see 58. 3. Immanuel Kant, Critique of Judgment, trans. Werner S. Pluhar (Indianapolis: Hackett, 1987), §40. 4. Arthur C. Clarke, “The Nine Billion Names of God,” in The Collected Stories (London: Victor Gollancz, 2000), 417–22, see 417; 418. Hereafter cited parenthetically in the text. 5. Ken MacLeod, Engine City (London: Orbit, 2003), 369. Hereafter cited parenthetically in the text. 6. Ken MacLeod, Dark Light (London: Orbit, 2002), 244. Hereafter cited parenthetically in the text. 7. Arthur Oncken Lovejoy, The Great Chain of Being: A Study of the History of an Idea (Cambridge, MA: Harvard, 1936). 8. Gavin Miller, “Scottish Science Fiction: Writing Scottish Literature Back into History,” Études Écossaises 12 (2009): 121–33; Cairns Craig, Out of History: Narrative Paradigms in Scottish and English Culture (Edinburgh: Polygon, 1996).

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9. Ken MacLeod, The Sky Road (London: Orbit, 2004), 281. 10. Kwame Anthony Appiah, The Ethics of Identity (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2005), 130. 11. Appiah, 130 12. Ken MacLeod, Cosmonaut Keep (London: Orbit, 2001), 119. Hereafter cited parenthetically in the text. 13. Anthony Giddens and Christopher Pierson, Conversations with Anthony Giddens: Making Sense of Modernity (Cambridge: Polity Press, 1998), 130–31. 14. Anthony Giddens, Modernity and Self-Identity: Self and Society in the Late Modern Age (Cambridge: Polity, 1991), 21. 15. Kerwin Lee Klein, “On the Emergence of Memory in Historical Discourse,” Representations 69 (2000): 127–50, see 136. 16. Walter Benn Michaels, The Shape of the Signifier: 1967 to the End of History (Princeton and Oxford: Princeton University Press, 2004), 133. 17. Benn Michaels, 133–34. 18. Ibid. 134. 19. Ibid. 135. 20. MacLeod, “Profession,” 5. 21. MacLeod, “Profession,” 6. 22. Ibid. 11. 23. Ibid. 13.

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Scotland As Science Fiction 24. Carl Abbott, Frontiers Past and Future: Science Fiction and the American West (Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 2006), 122. 25. See Imre Lakatos for information on the prevalence of superstitions regarding comets among Newton’s contemporaries: Imre Lakatos, The Methodology of Scientific Research Programmes: Philosophical Papers: Volume I (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1978), 5. 26. Karl Popper, Conjectures and Refutations: The Growth of Scientific Knowledge, 5th ed. (New York: Basic Books, 1962), 33. 27. MacLeod, “Profession,” 5. 28. Steven Sutcliffe, Children of the New Age: A History of Spiritual Practices (London: Routledge, 2003), 66. 29. Ibid. 66. Also, http://www.findhorn.org/whatwedo/vision/vision.php. 30. Francis Fukuyama, The End of History and the Last Man (London: Penguin, 1992), 70. 31. Roger Luckhurst, “British Science Fiction in the 1990s: Politics and Genre,” in British Fiction of the 1990s, ed. Nick Bentley (Oxford: Routledge, 2005), 89. 32. Benn Michaels, Shape of the Signifier, 78. 33. Benn Michaels, 80. 34. Ibid. 170. 35. Kant, “Enlightenment,” 59.

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Carla Sassi

The Cosmic

(Cosmo)Polis in Naomi Mitchison’s Science Fiction Novels

WITHIN NAOMI MITCHISON’S VAST AND POLYMATHIC PRODUC-

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tion, science fiction represents a small, problematic, and yet highly interesting body of work, testifying to her outstanding narrative and visionary skills, as well as to her vocation as a “time traveler”—more famously expressed in her historical fiction, from The Corn King and the Spring Queen (1931) to The Blood of the Martyrs (1939) and The Bull Calves (1947). It is possibly accurate to state that Mitchison started her career not, as convention goes, as a writer of historical fiction but as a science fiction writer, in response both to her own studies (she had started out as a scientist, beginning a Science degree at Oxford) and to the breeding experiments with mice she held in collaboration with her brother, the biologist and geneticist J. B. S. Haldane, in pre-War days.1 Her obscure and by now almost untraceable play Saunes Bairos: A Study in Recurrence (1913) is set in a remote past—“so remote that anything can happen”—and is about an imaginary country in the Andes where priests, in a highly organized way, practice eugenics.2 While the play—Mitchison’s first printed work— displays a much less structured scientific approach than her later writing, it contains references to the same set of eugenical ideals and scientific experiments that were then absorbing her and her brother—genetic selection, in vitro fertilization, and gene manipulation—and which surfaced

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again in her three science fiction novels: Memoirs of a Spacewoman (1962), Solution Three (1975), and Not by Bread Alone (1983).3 The centrality of the scientific imagination in her work was highlighted by Mitchison herself in her later years: “I have always hung around on the edge of science, but could never have made a good scientist because my imagination has always been too wild.”4 Praised by Ursula Le Guin, who described Mitchison as “one of the great subversive thinkers and peaceable transgressors of the twentieth century,” and by a scholar of the caliber of Darko Suvin, Mitchison’s science fiction—her Memoirs in particular—has reached almost iconic status within feminist science fiction.5 And yet it has largely failed, until recent times, to attract the attention of Scottish Studies critics, possibly on the grounds that Scotland, as a physical setting or as an autonomous linguistic-cultural entity, is here almost totally absent. Mitchison’s foremost concerns firmly lie instead with (inter)planetary issues: gender equality, bioethics, equal distribution of food and resources across the world, communication across cultures as well as with subhuman (animal or alien) forms of life, just governance. Not only does she eschew Scottish nationalist issues but, as we shall see, she seems in general firmly intent on questioning the nation as a viable sociopolitical model for the future, foregrounding instead a critical “regionalist” approach. The present chapter, focused on Mitchison’s three science fiction novels, aims to demonstrate that their powerful globalizing vision is in fact undermined by a cryptic “local” agenda, as much as her support of advanced transformative technologies (genetic manipulation, hybridizations between human and sub-human forms of life) is counterbalanced by a conservationist approach, aimed at preserving biodiversity and at protecting individual species and their specific habitats. Fantastic planets and aliens or sophisticated future technologies thus become the stage onto which a strikingly complex and rich field of tensions is projected. Mitchison claimed that “we cannot just go blind for the good; we have to zigzag there through a series of dilemmas and choices.”6 Her science fiction seems indeed mainly interested in portraying such moral “zigzagging”—the dialectic process through which we make moral choices— more than providing a definitive answer to any central ethical question.

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As we shall see, much of this “zigzagging” is articulated within the conflicting and intersecting discourses of polis/cosmopolis, local/global.

Ethicizing the Global: From Plato to (Post) Empire Mitchison’s three science fiction novels cover quite different scenarios but a very similar thematic territory. Memoirs is a first-person narration by Mary, a space explorer who travels across several worlds to make contact with and gather evidence of non-Terran forms of life: as a xenobiologist and an expert in communications she is able to relate empathically to the different sub/nonhuman species she encounters, to the extent of having sexual intercourse with a Martian and bearing a child from him/her (Martians are in fact bi-sexed), and of hosting and parenting an alien “graft” (an unintelligent life form) on her thigh. Solution Three and Not by Bread Alone, published respectively after a gap of twelve and twenty-one years from the first novel, and influenced by Mitchison’s concerns with African and global humanitarian emergencies, are entirely set on the Earth and do not evoke alien forms of life, dealing with a not-too-distant future whose technological/scientific basis is already clearly visible in the author’s present.7 Solution Three envisions a future society governed by an ethically driven elite, where homosexuality is the norm and heterosexual practices are considered deviant and held in contempt, even though they are not against the law, and where human cloning has replaced sexual reproduction. Not by Bread Alone focuses on the problem of world hunger, solved in an almost present future thanks to a globally organized distribution of foods derived from genetically modified organisms which, however, threaten biodiversity and local ways of life. Beside a common set of biological/biotechnological themes, which will be discussed later, the three novels share a markedly cosmopolitan attitude: their setting is global, their focus is primarily on the multilateral issues of just world governance and, within this context, the ethics of relation to the other (human, alien, or animal). Such themes are akin to those Mitchison developed in her historical novels and political writings along realistic lines—the ideal of a just society is consistently traceable in all her work. However, because “science fiction is about the possible-but-not-real,” and because it involves not only a spatial and

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temporal displacement but also a specific form of estrangement produced by the introduction of a “novum” that still relies on our cognitive logic, it provides a writer with an extraordinarily flexible instrument for social/political critique. The writer gains a great degree of freedom to envision a radically new social order—freedom from society’s conventions and taboos, and possibly also freedom from his or her own proclaimed ideals.8 In this sense, as Joanna Russ has pointed out, science fiction is indeed “a mode rather than a form (a form would be something like the sonnet, the short story etc.). It is, basically, anything that is about conditions of life or existence different from either what typically is, or was, or whatever was or is. . . .”9 As a writer of science fiction Mitchison shapes a vision that while obviously related to her mainstream work, also questions many of its assumptions and opens up to new imaginative paths. To borrow the words of the narrator of one of her short stories, focused on scientific experiments aimed at altering human perception: “somehow a new perception of the known world would appear, something immeasurably different from the delicacies of colour vision or of musical appreciation, so different from mere hearing. Something totally unexpected. Different.”10 The ideological and figurative matrix for Mitchison’s future global societies seems indeed to be at the crossroads between the just society envisioned in Plato’s Republic and a quite conventional (post)imperial vision, combining an ethic of care and service with a politics of expansion and/or control through scientific inquiry and geographical exploration. Mitchison had read the Republic at the age of fifteen and claimed that it shaped her subsequent political vision—as Ruth Hoberman observes, formally excluded from education and yet steeped in a highly educated family environment, she was “immersed in a culture at once hers and not hers, [and] she imagined herself one of Plato’s Guardians.”11 Such an early impression might have been reinforced in the pre-War Oxford years through the Haldane siblings’ friendship with Aldous Huxley, whose Brave New World provides a memorable parody of Plato’s Republic (interestingly Brave New World also shares a number of themes—surrogate motherhood among them—with Memoirs).12 As for the imperial theme, it is worthwhile to remember that even though the British Empire had started its decline by the early decades of the twentieth

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century, its ideology was still in play in Mitchison’s formative years, and destined to be so for many decades, especially among the ruling classes and the intellectual elite to which her family belonged. The Haldane family (both her father and her brother were academics at Oxford), even though free-thinking and strongly agnostic in inspiration, no doubt partook of this ideological atmosphere.13 Indeed, as Donna Haraway has observed, Mitchison’s “grand view of the universe [was] from a rich, imperialist, intellectual culture . . . [it was her] birthright.”14 Furthermore, a conflation between the Platonic and the imperial ideals was made readily available to her through the well-known and immensely influential work of Benjamin Jowett (1817–1893), Fellow of Balliol College and subsequently Vice Chancellor of the University of Oxford, who had just a generation before committed himself to “the conscious creation of Platonic guardians for Britain and its empire” and set his heart to make “Plato an English classic.”15 The Platonic ideal of the city ruled by philosopher-kings and with a tripartite division in social classes is a cryptic political model underlying many of Mitchison’s writings, where occasional Platonic references surface: for example, her vision of her much admired friend Linchwe, newly nominated Chief of the Bakgatla in Botswana (a tribe for whom she would soon become honorary “Mother”), was that “he may be the nearest thing that exists today to Plato’s dream of a philosopher king.”16 However, it is in her science fiction novels that Mitchison’s Platonic ideal finds its most articulated expression, free from the pressure of her socialist aspiration to a classless society, with the envisioning of different utopic global societies, all governed by an “aristocracy”—an elite of scientists who take in their hearts and in their hands the future of humanity. While informed and reason-based debate is constantly practiced by the “just rulers,” their conduct and decisions, as well as the functioning of the societies over which they preside, are dependent on a superior moral code to which they constantly refer: ethics and politics are coterminous in Mitchison’s science fiction as much as in Plato’s Republic. Outside the elite, humans or aliens are depicted as consistently inferior in terms of (moral) understanding, and yet they are cared for and treated with the utmost respect. Mitchison’s imagined future societies are not democratic, as collective good here is entrusted exclusively to

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the civic virtue of the “guardians,” who enforce it not so much through imposition as through gently persuasive strategies. In Solution Three, for example, people live concentrated in “mega-cities” which “welcomed everyone equally,” irrespective of nationality or ethnicity and are governed by a Council whose “Code” (not the laws—here called the “Policy”—but the superior ethical code which informs them) was created by the worshipped founding father and mother of the new global order—referred to as “He” and “She” (30). Not by Bread Alone follows a very similar pattern: the world is cared for (rather than strictly ruled) by PAX, a global organization which has humanitarian aims. PAX arranges to distribute food freely to all peoples and, to such an end, engages with genetic experimentation and modification of food production. However the Board—made up of an elite of scientists—finds that the Corporation (involved in the commercial side of the organization) is operating self-interestedly, ultimately betraying the original mission of PAX, and thus starts a process of scientific and moral revision of its policy and strategies. It is, however, in Memoirs that the most strikingly complex Platonic figuration is to be found. One of the planets visited by Mary and her fellow explorers is inhabited by caterpillars, earthly and simple creatures who seem naturally happy and take delight in what is presented as the highest expression of their social/cultural life: “bog wallowing”—a sort of collective sexual encounter marked by the creation of beautifully colored patterns through their visceral excretions. Their happiness, however, is abruptly brought to an end by the arrival of huge butterflies who turn against them armed with the sole power of burning moral reprobation: The wretched caterpillars curled up or crept aside, the colours paled, the eye spots dimmed . . . we were also aware of the attackers, the whirl and flurry of wings, the colours beyond anything I have ever perceived on any planet of any sun, the antennae stiff and pointing like weapons of offence, the legs glittering and jointed as strange armour might have been. (92)

The butterflies obviously represent the perfect stage, the goal of a caterpillar’s life, hence their moral scourging by the “burning of their blame. . . . Hideous, inescapable guilt and disappointment” at a pleasurable activity which (as the novel reveals later) leads to the formation of crippled wings and thus prevents the achievement of perfection (99).

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Plato’s myth of the cave can be easily traced in this fantastic evocation (which is nonetheless rich in scientifically-credible, entomological details), especially in its distinction from a false and real knowledge, as well as in the idea of a moral duty binding the “guardians” to a role of leadership and authority. Plato’s idea of a naturally hierarchical society as well as his belief in a form of pure knowledge, to be found in the realm of Ideas rather than in the material world, blend in quite naturally with the imperial code of care and service, in the name of a superior (civilizing) mission— Mitchison’s legacy of an Edwardian childhood and of an upper-class background. The imperial vision is extraordinarily powerful in Memoirs, which reproduces the gaze of the Victorian anthropologist/biologist/ explorer in Mary’s approach to other worlds. Several passages in the novel stage effectively the imperial traveler’s attitude of dominance and feeling of superiority towards the natives deconstructed for us by Louise Pratt in Imperial Eyes, as well as the feeling of a “planetary consciousness . . . marked by an orientation toward . . . the construction of global-scale meaning through the descriptive apparatuses of natural history.”17 The collusion between scientific discourse and the imperial worldview is often very evident in Mary’s accounts of contact with forms of extraterrestrial life, inferior to humans and yet scientifically interesting. Mary is quite explicit at times: “I would put myself into intimate relation with an unintelligent form of life. Could one go lower? Yet at the same time I was aware that it was also an exciting and novel piece of research” (52). This is indeed reminiscent of a Darwinian approach to the nonEuropean other, regarded as inferior and yet investigated as an exciting anthropological object. In a few instances the imperialist outlook appears overwhelmingly explicit, as when she describes the growing relationship of “affection” binding her to the alien graft implanted on her thigh. The act of naming the graft and also the choice of a name resonant with colonial implications in the following passage would indeed make a budding postcolonialist jump with excitement: “I found myself thinking endlessly about the graft. . . . I could not think about it without a name, and I named it to myself with splendid inappropriateness, Ariel. I had a feeling it was part of me, in the same way that Ariel and Caliban are part of Prospero” (53).

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A post-imperial vision prevails instead in the two later novels. These seem to offer a figuration of Mitchison’s plea for a revision of the Commonwealth—as an international agency that can provide economic aid to underdeveloped countries, and as a global community where ideas and knowledge can circulate fruitfully among its members. Here, Mitchison forecasts, Great Britain is destined to lose its supremacy.18 Both Solution Three and Not by Bread Alone picture a global community which seems to function along the lines of this proposed revision of the Commonwealth. The emphasis is not so much on governance as on humanitarian issues: “The Board was totally non-political, for nobody in their senses could say that feeding the hungry was a political act when it was so clear to the whole Board that it was a moral one” (Not by Bread Alone, 110). At the forefront stands that urge to distribute resources and food equally, and to relieve the world from wars, hunger, and injustice, which haunts Mitchison’s writings after her encounter with Africa. The conquering gaze of the Victorian explorer marking Memoirs here gives way to one of care and “love.” As in the words of one of the Councillors in Solution Three: “one must learn to understand even alien institutions and to love the individuals who compose them” (52). Love and care are inscribed in the Code, aimed at suppressing violence in all its sundry, subtle expressions, laid down by “Him” and “Her,” the two unnamed founders of the new global order in Solution Three. They are inscribed within the fulfillment of the dream to feed the world in Not by Bread Alone, after “millenia [sic] of human misery, of starving children, kwashiarkor, Oxfam photographs to wring the heart, blindness and brain damage” (61). And yet, a hegemonic relation among different regions of the world is often implied in both novels: here indeed, borrowing Pratt’s words, “planetary consciousness . . . is a basic element constructing modern Eurocentrism, that hegemonic reflex that troubles westerners even as it continues to be second nature to them.”19 In Solution Three, for example, Ulan Bator is meaningfully represented through a powerfully imperialist cliché—an “Oriental” despotic region defying and destabilizing the peace-making efforts of the world Councillors (102). In short, Mitchison’s vision hovers dangerously between a version of “empire lite”—in the definition of Michael Ignatieff a hegemonic centre without colonies, “a global sphere of influence without the burden

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of direct administration and the risks of daily policing”—and a genuine (if only expressive of an imperialist “planetary consciousness”) attempt to ethicize the global through a politics of truth and morality, generated and promoted by scientific discourse acting as a “lingua franca” among the leaders of the new order.20

The Worldly Web: Localizing Scientific Discourse Scientific discourse generates an epistemology of sameness—that objective and truthful knowledge that alone, in Mitchison’s view, can ensure the establishment of a cohesive and ethical global community: not only can scientific knowledge be shared across cultural and ethnic borders, but scientific practice can generate global cohesiveness by eroding difference, as inscribed in nature or as constructed in culture. The practice of hybridization, for example, whether through spontaneous intercourse/ crossing or genetic manipulation, often referred to in Mitchison’s science fiction novels in “progressive” terms, unsettles deeply preset biological and cultural models leading to the creation of more widely compatible individuals—be they humans, animals or plants. Eventually it gives rise—in line with recent theorizations—to a “global mélange.”21 In a biological context, genetically modified plants improve on native species— they are stronger or more productive—and allow the definitive solution of world hunger for Not by Bread Alone. In Memoirs Mary gives birth to the haploid “not entirely human” child Viola, a hybrid progeny (fathered by a Martian), who later becomes a mother herself and who attracts her mother’s love to a higher degree than her “normal” siblings (67; 15). In a social/cultural context, the pivotal role of “hybrids” is highlighted in Not by Bread Alone by an Australian Aboriginal character, who refers to her mixed-blood fellow countrymen as the “bridge people,” those who “can slip out from whiteness and the ancestors know them” (Not by Bread Alone, 101). Furthermore, communication itself inevitably involves hybridization, as xenobiologist Mary knows only too well—there is no such thing as a stable identity, she explains in Memoirs, as “it will be altered by the other forms of life with which one will be in communication, and . . . these bio-psychical alterations must be accepted” (Memoirs, 18). Scientific discourse, however, is not an exclusively leveling/globalizing factor: the pull toward the global, calling for radical change,

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is counterbalanced in the three novels by a subtle retrieval of the local, which can take the shape of a nostalgic/conservative gaze toward the past, or of an innovative re-vision of the global as a worldly web—a constellation of (world) cultures, as opposed to a homogeneous monoculture. An extreme example of the conservative/nostalgic gaze is represented in Solution Three by the replacement of sexual reproduction (which obviously entails exchange of genes) with the fixity of cloning exclusively from the two founders of the new order—a way of securing genetic perfection but also of “freezing” the present into a static bond with the past. Of the ethnic/cultural background of the founding father and mother of this “brave new world” we are only told that “She” comes from Shetland and is white with blonde hair, while “He” is African and black—yet, this is enough to evoke the memory of a different order, when human beings still lived in a “local” dimension. The fleeting reference to Shetland in the text generates indeed a nostalgic pang—the memory of a lost sense of belonging and of rootedness (possibly a projection of Mitchison’s ancestral home in Orkney): “I like the pictures of Her Mum,” one of the surrogate mothers says, “teaching in that funny little school on the island. And outside seagulls and grass and little flowers. And ever so dark in winter!” (Solution Three, 32). This is indeed the call of the local, of a “home” defined in terms of bond with family (the maternal) and with place, subtly undermining the grand globalizing project implemented by “Solution Three”—that of peopling the world with perfect replicas of the perfect couple. Nostalgia is in fact inscribed in the Clones’ inevitable imperfection: All had the same serious look, the pale complexion and thin nose; all were slightly but not disablingly myopic. These Shetland copies who had never seen the voes and cliffs except in screen pictures, had never heard the real birds screaming above the waves! (112)

As pointed out by Donna Haraway, posthuman bodies (cyborgs, clones, androids, aliens, and hybrids) are both troubling and potentially empowering: in the above passage the Clones, whose identity is purely genetic, indeed reveal at the same time the fragility and the resilience of place-bound identities.22 The novel, in fact, closes with the envisioning of a “Solution Four.” This significantly gestures toward a return to

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meiotic reproduction (“we can’t afford to let too many genes slip out. In case there was need some time”), and also toward a new relationship to space and place, evoked in the desire of one of the protagonists, the heterosexual ‘“Professorial” Myriam, for a small personal garden where she can grow flowers herself—in stark contrast to the mega-city luxurious public gardens, a globalized “non-place” (154; 159). Myriam leans over the balcony of her new flat and describes what she sees for the first time as her place—she describes it “un-scientifically,” in terms of impression on her senses, as well as mnemonically, through the almost magical listing of the names of trees: She was examining the tall trees first, taking in the leaf shape, the rustle, the slight turn from upper to lower leaf colour as the wind stirred them. In leafless winter one would see down to the winter bulb drifts. She murmured tree names: “Linden. Plane. Walnut. Hornbeam. Rowan. Aspen. Lovely names, aren’t they!” (159)

The novel ends with Myriam’s hopeful question: “will the new, smaller cities that are being planned all have gardens like this?” (160). Indeed this signals not a return to the old order (impossible as undesirable) but a radical re-thinking of the global in the light of a re-evaluation of the local. The return of the local is to be traced also and above all in Mitchison’s engagement with biodiversity. In Memoirs, Mary’s evaluation of biodiversity is mainly taxonomic, that of a Victorian explorer recording minutely the different forms of life of the cosmos. However, if as a xenobiologist she investigates life forms with some detachment, her personal approach is often one of sheer delight in and, as we have seen, even “desire” toward the different forms of life that she encounters. Also Solution Three at the end shifts from a worldview centered on selection and exclusion (cloning) to one focused on preserving the infinite possibilities of life forms on the planet (Solution Three, 154–55). Yet the most passionate and articulated defense of biodiversity can be found in Not by Bread Alone, where the policy of genetic selection and manipulation implemented by PAX is resisted by several ethnic groups/regions around the world. The preservation of native species is, in fact, strictly bound to the preservation of native ways of life and cultural expressions:

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it is through the rituals of food-making and food consumption, more than through other cultural practices, that communities substantiate their deep relationship with their territory—flavor and smell, color and texture of food are home. It is, for example, the experience of taste, smell, touch, sight—universals that are also culturally elaborated—that evokes synesthetically the lost world of the northern European “antimorphogenesis movements,” which fiercely oppose PAX food policies: Do you remember the taste of our own strawberries, the Singa Sengane, ah, they melted in the mouth! Or do you remember the berry picking expeditions into the mountains, cloudberries, cranberries, blueberries, part of our lives and our parents’ and grandparents’. . . . Soon enough we’d have our skis out again, but there was the memory of the sun on our backs as we stooped over the berry bushes between the carpets of reindeer moss, the sparkle of the red in our baskets, the scented shimmer of the blue. (Not by Bread Alone, 108–9) 96

The most effective and meaningful opposition to PAX, however, is that staged by a tribe of Aborigines in northern Australia: “Primitive people actually wanting not to be fed! Not to get into the benefit circle of PAX” (134). A few members of the Board join them, side with them, and eventually obtain that their region, Murngin, becomes a “control area,” independent of PAX influence. This is not just about rejecting PAX GM food in favor of native plants and animals, it is “a new way of thinking about the natural world. It is an enormous idea which could, itself, spread, developing its own science” (154). This new way of thinking, in fact, is largely what Not by Bread Alone strives to represent: the novel foregounds, with anachronistic precision, the concern with the threat of extinction of native/local forms of life codified in the UNorganized Rio Earth Summit in 1992, which promoted not a “conservationist, species-based model” but rather an “increasingly ecological, or systems-orientated, perspective . . . [aiming] to reframe local conservation issues in the language of global biodiversity.” 23 The very concept of biodiversity, therefore, is quintessentially glocal and Mitchison’s pioneering appraisal of this concept appears to be, especially in this last science fiction novel, indeed ahead of her time. It is not, in fact, the nostalgic European vision, crystallizing the local into a self-contained, fixed

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image, but the revolutionary “new idea” stemming from the Aboriginal experiment, that closes the novel and ushers (we may infer) into a radically new order—a worldly web, where global is local and local is global. This pioneering ecocritical/glocal vision seems to be the most powerful legacy of Mitchison’s science fiction. It can of course be claimed that these novels accommodate the two impulses that shaped all her career as a writer and an essayist—an ethical global conscience, and a militant local/Scottish agenda. Mitchison, in fact, like her Scottish Renaissance fellow writers, is a “vernacular cosmopolitan,” whose work tends “rather to problematise and unsettle the conventional practices of nationhood, and to define new ‘categories,’ than to follow in the readymade footsteps of traditional definitions.”24 Nowhere as much as in these novels, however, do such impulses interact and get into an equally fruitful dialogue—nowhere does Mitchison get so near to such a radical and ante-litteram representation of a changing globality. The source of this vision may be traced in the very genre in which it is inscribed. As Darko Suvin observes, utopia operates

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[by] an explicit or implicit comparison of its imagined community with the author’s environment, by example or demonstration. At the basis of all utopias is an open or hidden dialogue, a gesture of pointing, a wideeyed glance from here to there, a ‘traveling’ shot moving from the author’s everyday lookout to the wondrous panorama of a far-off land in space or time.25

It is indeed in the estranging context of science fiction that Mitchison’s “zigazagging” between global and local issues can generate such a highly organic picture. Her envisioning of a glocalized world is an anticipation of that new order theorized and called for in very recent times by, among others, Gayatri Spivak, who has spoken out in defense of multilingualism (cultural diversity) against Anglophone globalism, and of critical regionalism against global mono-culture and conventional nationalisms. Spivak’s plea for “a new world round the corner” where “literary imagination can continue to de-transcedentalize the nation and shore up the redistributive powers of the regionalist state in the face of global priorities”26 seems indeed to take up and extend the Australian Aborigines’ challenge in Mitchison’s last science fiction novel.

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Notes 1. J. B. S. Haldane (1892–1964), like his sister, benefited from the extraordinary liveliness of the Oxford intellectual scene in the early decades of the twentieth century: they shared interests with a wide circle of friends, which included scientists and writers, among whom Julian and Aldous Huxley, D. H. Lawrence, John and Lewis Geilgud. He established himself for pioneering work in biochemical genetics, and as a creative writer. See Haldane’s Daedalus Revisited, ed. Krishna R. Dronamraju (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1995), 4–9. 2. Naomi Mitchison, Saunes Bairos: A Study in Recurrence: a Play in 3 Acts, a Prologue and Epilogue (Np. np., 1913); Isobel Murray, Scottish Writers Talking 2: In Interview (East Linton: Tuckwell, 2002), 70. 3. Dronamraju, op. cit. 7; Mitchison, Memoirs of a Spacewoman, 1962 (London: The Women’s Press, 1985); Solution Three, 1975 (New York: The Feminist Press, 1995); Not by Bread Alone (London: Marion Boyars, 1983). 4. Mitchison, Introduction to “Words,” in Despatches from the Frontiers of the Female Mind: An Anthology of Original Stories, ed. Jen Green and Sarah Lefanu (London: Women’s Press, 1985), 164.

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5. For Le Guin, see back cover of Solution Three; for Darko Suvin, see “Science Fiction Parables of Mutation and Cloning as/and Cognition,” Biotechnological and Medical Themes in Science Fiction, ed. Domna Pastourmatzi (Thessaloniki: University Studio Press, 2002), 139–51. For a feminist reading of Mitchison’s science fiction, see Sarah Shaw, “Monstrous Sex: The Erotic in Naomi Mitchison’s Science Fiction, “ Michigan Feminist Studies, 16 (2002): 141-68. For a questioning of Mitchison’s feminist parameters see Gavin Miller, “Animals, Empathy, and Care in Naomi Mitchison’s Memoirs of a Spacewoman,” Science Fiction Studies 35:2 (2008): 251–65. 6. Mitchison, The Moral Basis of Politics (London: Constable, 1938), 343. 7. Mitchison claimed that Not by Bread Alone is not a science fiction novel as it is about “something which might happen” (Murray, op. cit. 108). In the foreword she explains that “the action of [the] book starts perhaps some twenty years from now and goes on for another generation or so.” In this period she has assumed “the formation of an autonomous Aboriginal State in Northern Australia, extending eastward along the northern coast to include some of what is now Queensland territory.” 8. Joanna Russ, ‘‘Reflections on Science Fiction—An Interview with Joanna Russ,’’ Building Feminist Theory: Essays from QUEST (New York and London: Longman, 1981), 243. “Novum” stands for the scientifically plausible novelty which distinguishes science fiction from other genres, e.g. Fantasy—a concept introduced and discussed by Darko Suvin in Metamorphoses of Science Fiction. 9. Russ, op. cit. 243. 10. Mitchison, “Words,” op. cit. 168. 11. Ruth Hoberman, Gendering Classicism: The Ancient World in Twentieth-Century Women’s Historical Fiction (Albany: State University of New York, 1997), 25. 12. Mitchison, personal communication, 1985, in Dronamraju, op. cit. 12. 13. Jenni Calder, The Nine Lives of Naomi Mitchison (London: Virago, 1997), 7. 14. Donna Haraway, “Otherworldly Conversations, Terran topics, Local terms,” in Biopolitics: A Feminist and Ecological Reader on Biotechnology, ed. Vandana Shiva and Ingunn Moser (London: Zed Books, 1995), 69–92; see 87–88.

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Scotland As Science Fiction 15. See Hoberman, op. cit. 25. Quoted in M. F. Burneyat, “The Past in the Present: Plato as Educator of nineteenth-century Britain,” in Philosophers on Education: New Historical Perspectives, ed. Amélie Oksenberg Rorty (London: Routledge, 1998), 353–73; see 364. 16. Mitchison, “Installation of an African Chief,” The Scotsman, 14 April 1963, quoted in Calder, op. cit. 230. 17. Mary L. Pratt, Imperial Eyes: Travel Writing and Transculturation, 2nd. ed. (London: Routledge, 2008), 15. 18. Mitchison, The Africans: From the Earliest Times to the Present (London: Blond, 1970), 213–15. 19. Pratt, op. cit. 15. 20. Michael Ignatieff, Empire Lite: Nation-Building in Bosnia, Kosovo, and Afghanistan (London: Vintage, 2003), 2. 21. See, among others, Jan Nederveen Pieterse’s seminal study Globalization and Culture: Global Melange (Lanham, Md: Rowman & Littlefield, 2004). 22. See Donna J. Haraway, Simians, Cyborgs, and Women: The Reinvention of Nature (London: Free Association Books, 1991). 23. Greg Garrard, Ecocriticism (London: Routledge, 2004), 158. 24. Carla Sassi, Why Scottish Literature Matters (Edinburgh: Saltire Society, 2005), 115. 25. Darko Suvin, Positions and Presuppositions in Science Fiction (Kent, OH: Kent State University, 1988), 33.

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26. Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, Nationalism and the Imagination (London: Seagull, 2010), 58.

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Alison Phipps

Nonviolence,

Gender, and Ecology: Margaret Elphinstone’s The Incomer and A Sparrow’s Flight

DURING THE 1980s SCOTTISH FICTION WAS UNDERGOING SOME-

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thing of a renaissance. Authors on the rise included James Kelman, Alasdair Gray, Liz Lochhead, and Tom Leonard, each politically placed, resistant to the destruction of Scottish urban communities under Margaret Thatcher’s Conservative Government, and laying foundations for the development of a distinctively contemporary Scottish literature. Their themes of feminism, gender, and place; their voices of love, longing, and anger; their politics, realism, and fantasy offered divergent possibilities for Scottish fiction. Scottish literary science fantasy offers a crucial site for exploring alternative futures. In particular it traces the “structures of feeling”—what Raymond Williams terms “social experiences in solution”—experiences which have not yet been “precipitated,” and are therefore not yet to be described as belonging to “an habitual past tense.”1 Moreover, by its generic and formal imperatives, this fiction enables the imagination to play away from all present injustices and their realist distillates, and to consider magical possibilities of worlds emerging, changing, and hidden from view. One Scottish writer to emerge at this time, writing what I term fictions of nonviolence within the genre of science fantasy, was Margaret Elphinstone.

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Fictions of Nonviolence During the 1960s and 1970s the roots of violence in injustice were firmly identified and the writings of liberation theologians, inspired by Marxism, postcolonialism, and the black liberation movements, began to articulate a nonviolent vision and methods. This movement is articulated in the work of Paulo Freire (The Pedagogy of the Oppressed), in Helder Camara’s Spiral of Violence, in the ever-resonant speeches of Martin Luther King Jr., and in the work of liberation theologians such as Gustavo Gutiérrez and Leonardo Boff.2 Feminism was structurally allied to this as a liberatory movement. But during the Thatcher-Reagan years, when Margaret Elphinstone’s first novels were written, those working for human liberation in any of its forms were marked both by an almost naïve freshness of belief in the possibility of reversing Camara’s spiral of violence, and also by dark moods of despair. Camara explained: Everywhere, as well as an inert majority and an extreme left and extreme 102

right who clash with one another in a shifting balance of violence and hatred, there are minorities who are well aware that violence is not the real answer to violence; that, if violence is met by violence, the world will fall into a spiral of violence; that the only true answer to violence is to have the courage to face the injustices which constitute violence. (Camara, 54–55)

Thus fictions of nonviolence, for my purposes here, are fictions that strive to demonstrate an ordering of society and human/ecological relations that can work to overcome endemic violence. Fictions of nonviolence are emphatically not simply fictions where violence is not mentioned or not present. On the contrary, they carefully acknowledge the destructive force of the spiral of violence, but work through the imagination to script other possibilities for human/ecological relations than those rooted in what Walter Wink terms “the myth of redemptive violence.”3 Elphinstone’s early novels offer a distinct contribution to this genre of science fantasy: she maintains that forces of destruction can only be entertained through myth, for the reality contains too much despair, and her works tilt the world in nonviolent directions, offering alternatives to the questions that pour forth as part of the structure of feeling in times of upheaval.

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Context and Fictions of Nonviolence So what happens when reality is unbearable, when oppressive versions of truth are writ large across society and there is no hope of political change in sight? After the Falklands War, Chernobyl, the stationing of Cruise and Pershing Missiles in Scotland, failed attempts at Scottish devolution, and the unveiling of a neoliberal Cold War project of globalization and consumer capitalism, it appeared that the alternative politics of the 1960s and 1970s had been abandoned. Margaret Elphinstone’s nonviolent response to this context comes in the form of her first two novels: The Incomer (1987) and A Sparrow’s Flight (1989).4 These are works of science fiction (fantasy), “novels of a future” (as in the subtitle for Sparrow), and both offer very different futures to those that appeared to be unfolding out of neoliberal global capitalism and out of what Boaventura de Sousa Santos terms hegemonic globalization, the arms race, and environmental destruction.5 Neither of Elphinstone’s first novels, however, is a work of angry 1970s style Agit-Prop, nor do these works follow the despairing trajectories of urban grit that may be found in works by James Kelman, Alasdair Gray, and later Janice Galloway. Yet in their otherworld critique, the novels do not return to the fairy folk writings that tell of Celtic mists and mysticisms, either. Instead, Elphinstone offers her own counterscript to the Thatcherite 1980s—one rooted in the resources of medieval writings (Chaucer, Gawain and the Green Knight, Bede), and in the liberation, peace, feminist, and ecological theologies developing in her moment. Her novels of a future are returns to a pre-Enlightenment, pre-Romantic past which is shaped theologically and offers a serious lament for the present together with a vision of alternative worlds. Nonviolence, for Elphinstone, begins in lament and imagining other worlds, past and future. These worlds listen in on the literature of George Mackay Brown and Neil Gunn. And today they are finding wider consideration in Scottish creative writing (in works by Kathleen Jamie and Andrew Greig, for example), and in alternative Scottish consensus politics concerning nuclear disarmament, ecological transition towns, economic equality, and devolved power. This chapter discusses Elphinstone’s scripting of alternatives for social life, the pressures producing such hopeful counterscripts of fiction,

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and her consequent unusual interventions in the genre of sci-fi. Science fiction offers a unique venue for the enunciation of alternative, mythic worlds—worlds of nonviolence and ecological simplicity, worlds where violence against women is the ultimate destructive act, rather than a commonplace of domestic reality. Here, we consider the pre-Enlightenment valence of Elphinstone’s first two novels, and their theological and anthropological dimensions, to show how they connect both to the author’s own biography and to the wider political and ecological realities of the eighties. Elphinstone, it will emerge, produces resources of hope and freshness through what I shall term a “fiction of non-violence,” and thus impacts the wider genre.

Feminist Science Fiction Antecedents and Nonviolence

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Margaret Elphinstone was not the first feminist writer in Scotland to work with the genre of science fiction. Naomi Mitchison might be considered an antecedent, as might the later American writer, Ursula K. Le Guin.6 (Mitchison’s Memoirs of a Spacewoman came out in 1962; Le Guin’s The Left Hand of Darkness in 1969). The Scot, Mitchison, is notable for grounding historical and science fiction writing in recognizable historical and mythic events. Her first novel, The Conquered (1923), was set in Roman Gaul; her second, Cloud Cuckoo Land (1925), in Ancient Greece during the Peloponnesian War; The Corn King and the Spring Queen (1931) takes place in 228 B.C., on the shores of the Black Sea. These novels also explore sexuality. Mitchison’s science fiction, such as Memoirs of a Spacewoman, reflects this interest. It is not filled with intergallactic battles. Rather, women are leaders and sexual intercourse between humans and aliens results in hermaphrodite children. Indeed, Mitchison’s We Have Been Warned (1935), with its treatment of rape and abortion, not to mention its socialist commitment, particularly to reproductive rights for women, was subject to censorship. Further, Mitchison played out her social and sexual politics through rural advocacy, particularly for island communities, and for her home in rural Carradale. That is, Mitchison represents one kind of feminist science fiction from the 1960s and 1970s which engages with gender, violence, rape, and emancipation and thus lays down utopian tropes with which Elphinstone was to engage in the 1980s.

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Elphinstone certainly favors island communities (in A Sparrow’s Flight [1989], Islanders [1994], The Sea Road [2000], Hy Brasil [2002], Voyageurs [2003], and Light [2005], for instance); she too offers fluid portrayals of socially accepted sexualities (although she is less interested in sex as androgynous or hermaphrodite), and presents women in leadership positions. But Elphinstone is yet quite different. Elphinstone’s science fantasies portray violence as anything other than alien and convey a living knowledge of its entirely destructive effects on the fabric of human and ecological relations. Her portrayals of gender and sexuality suggest social orderings which have grown as a response to the outlawing of such sexual and ecological violence. Elphinstone brings strong feminist themes of nonviolence to the Scottish science fiction of the 1980s as her own, distinct contribution.

Margaret Elphinstone Margaret Elphinstone’s first two novels offer both an echo of history, and a clear and confident statement of the structure and organization of societies founded on principles of nonviolence. In both novels we are concerned with travelers and in particular with the character of Naomi, the fiddler. Naomi deepens her resonance through her visits to places “of a future”—which are also recognizable as places of our own present—even as her music brings newness in the places where she stays and plays. Thus Ian Campbell describes Elphinstone’s characters as ones who “often travel over huge distances: her world is one of expanding vision, an attempt to connect to a half-understood natural world, to understand the perplexities of human characters in affection as well as danger and stress.”7 What is that world? In both The Incomer and A Sparrow’s Flight, Elphinstone presents a matriarchal society, with the woman the head of the household and autonomous in her choice of sexual partners. Sexuality is as varied as spirituality, occurring across a spectrum of sexual preference, which changes as relationships change and evolve. Male desire does not lead to inevitable intercourse. Women choose their sexual partners and homosexuality is as common as heterosexual relationships. In this context, rape is both unknown, and a key term. It is both unimaginable and socially destructive. When it occurs, as it does,

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terribly, in The Incomer, then the entire social and cosmic fabric is rent asunder. It is the fundamental taboo—a crime literally unthinkable for the Clachanpluck society—and leads to dizzying chaos and an undoing of the order of things. Elphinstone not only imagines worlds where violence toward the self and in the domestic and community contexts has been rendered unimaginable, in her worlds it cannot be rendered in language or structure. Thus in The Incomer, Emily struggles for words, as well as meaning, after the ultimate taboo of rape has threatened her cosmologies and the foundations of her whole world—the village of Clachanpluck: “There was a rape.” . . . “All I know is I know nothing. I’ve never even used the word. They taught us it was unmentionable, a horror out of the past it was sacrilege to name. The threat of it never touched me for a moment. I can’t grasp what it means. How can we live on our own terms if such a thing is real? 106

Who are we, if this can happen to us?” (The Incomer, 174)

Here, then, we find a continuation of the feminist concerns elaborated by Mitchison and science fantasy. These concerns are present, too, in work by feminist liberation theologians and philosophers, as they strive to offer a space in which to imagine other futures for women, men, and sexuality than those traditionally offered by male science fiction and fantasy writing. In the last three decades, liberation theologians have worked to articulate theologies of nonviolence. Walter Wink, Ched Myers, Sallie McFague, Alistair McIntosh, Luce Irigarary, and Dorothee Soelle have all worked to offer nonviolent theological understandings for phenomena ranging from violence towards the self (suicide, self harm) to domestic, gender-related, and inter-generational violence, to violence toward the earth—in the economy and the violence which is expressed as the present of war.8 In Elphinstone, we also find a way of showing that the concerns, while palpably feminist, encompass the damage that violence does towards the self, towards the earth—to men. As Irigarary suggests, dialogically: “You strike, knock, cut, wound, rub raw this living body to rediscover the source of life. . . . Do not strike so hard, you are paralysing her, stopping her flow. Those blows are only aimed at you.”9

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To describe Elphinstone’s novels as fictions of nonviolence and to do so by drawing on liberation theology, rather than turn to the immediate Scottish literary scene, or the influence of post-structuralism—though these are obviously present in the works—is to follow Elphinstone’s own stated commitment to Quakerism. This lends both the subject and spiritual drama to her later novel Voyageurs, but it is present, informally, in the structuring of her first novels. In 1651, George Fox, founder of the Society of Friends, initiated the Quaker Peace Testimony: I told [the Commonwealth Commissioners] I lived in the virtue of that life and power that took away the occasion of all wars. . . . . I told them I was come into the covenant of peace which was before wars and strife were.10

The Testimony then finds its place in the Advices and Queries for Quakers: 31. We are called to live “in the virtue of that life and power that takes away the occasion of all wars.” Do you faithfully maintain our testimony that

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war and the preparation for war are inconsistent with the spirit of Christ? Search out whatever in your own way of life may contain the seeds of war. Stand firm in our testimony, even when others commit or prepare to commit acts of violence, yet always remember that they too are children of God. . . . 39. Consider which of the ways to happiness offered by society are truly fulfilling and which are potentially corrupting and destructive. Be discriminating when choosing means of entertainment and information.11

That is, the roots of Elphinstone’s nonviolent science fiction reach well before her generic predecessors, and even her theological contemporaries; they are shared historically and up to the present day by religious communities of a nonviolent practice. Elphinstone offers, then, not simply an outworking of the themes of second wave feminism, but rather an enfleshing of nonviolent antecedents in the interestingly ambivalent, prophetic women characters of science fantasy.

Nonviolent Ecological Science Fiction In science fiction it is usual to find a technological ploy to make possible material interactions otherwise unknown to human kind. In

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Elphinstone’s novels, however, there are no devices for time travel—no “ansibles” as in Le Guin, allowing for instantaneous communication; no high carbon technologies, like space ships, which have suddenly made life much easier for women, as in Mitchison. Where science fiction writers can be accused of buying into the “labor-saving device” promises to liberate women from the domestic sphere that are the currency of high modernity’s utopianism, Elphinstone stops a long way short of such seductions. It is as if Elphinstone has dug herself and her characters back into the earth in order to re-imagine their humanity. From a standpoint in the early twenty-first century, we might say she writes “low carbon” fiction. She is concerned with a nonviolence that includes nonviolence in relation to the earth, what Abram terms the “more-than-human field.”12 Humus, of course, has the same root in Latin as human, just as Adamah, in Hebrew, also means earth. And here we can register Hannah Arendt’s critique of Marx in her careful distinction made between work and labor. For Elphinstone, as for Arendt, labor is bound to a pleasurable cycle of production and consumption: planting, harvesting, consuming, resting. Labor is not alienated; work is the alienation. In Arendt, “The fertility of the human metabolism with nature, growing out of the natural redundancy of labor power, still partakes of the superabundance we see everywhere in nature’s household.”13 The blessing or the joy that Arendt recognizes in labor is the human way to experience the sheer bliss of being alive which we share with all living creatures, and it is even the only way men, too, can remain and swing contentedly in nature’s prescribed cycle, toiling and resting, laboring and consuming, with the same happy and purposeless regularity with which day and night and life and death follow each other. In both The Incomer and A Sparrow’s Flight the nonviolent fictional world is one where the violent lessons of an extreme poisoning of the land have been learned by those now able to return to work their lands after years of exile. Nowhere is it stated what the poisoning has been, but in A Sparrow’s Flight we find Thomas and Naomi experiencing utter horror at the discovery of a black sticky substance which marked out a way across the hills from “[before] the world changed” (Sparrow, 84). Tarmac, steel, cities all are subjects of taboo, fear, representing death and

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destruction and the rawness of memories about a poisoned, obliterated land. In the context of A Sparrow’s Flight, the journey is from what could be Lindisfarne across the Pennines to Watendlath, Cumbria, with its views out to the Solway—the locus of today’s British nuclear power. One character, tellingly, insists: You may think our world better than theirs, but the people are no better. We only have less power to harm, that’s all. . . . They built a fortress on the coast, on the far side of the empty lands, and within it they pursued a kind of sorcery. It was a way of taking power from the earth—that’s how I’ve heard it described. You know that there is power which is freely given—the powers of earth and water, fire and air, which were gifts given to people at the beginning. This power was not a gift. It could only be taken by destroying those elements which are the source of life. And it was clearly evil. But at that time, just before the world changed, people were no longer concerned about life. (Sparrow, 84)

As Walter Wink, the biblical scholar of nonviolence himself, said in the 1980s:

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The atom has become our shadow. We have invested it with our darkness, and now it rears up like an independent force, intent on our extermination. We brought to the elements of the world a request: give us the power of massive, unimaginable death. And our request has been granted. We are become death. (Wink, Unmasking, 136–37)

For Elphinstone’s readers, Sellafield is only small step away from Chernobyl (1986), Three Mile Island (1979), or Fukushima (2011)—memory locates it as the site of a future/past poisoning of the Scottish borderlands. Indeed, in Elphinstone’s work, the expression “bombed back to the stone age” is imaginatively worked through in the two novels’ historical sensibilities, with their protagonists’ obvious learning from and movement beyond a time of disaster for life on earth. The Incomer and A Sparrow’s Flight are both set in a future where Arendt’s philosophy of labor and the logic of a post-nuclear age act to render them recognizably historical. Thus things which for the contemporary reader are familiar objects are subject to almost Brechtian Verfremdung or distanciation when they are discovered. In A Sparrow’s Flight this is perhaps best

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exemplified when Naomi finds a perplexing object in the back room of Linnet’s homestead: there was a . . . strange wooden device . . . that had a kind of shelf half way up, with a close-fitting lid. Naomi lifted the lid carefully, and nearly dropped it again. There were teeth underneath. A row of yellowed teeth, interspersed with strange black patterns, as if someone had written out a secret spell. (Sparrow, 143)

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It is not that familiar objects from the contemporary world do not exist in Elphinstone’s fictions, it is just that their place in society has been re-ordered, post-holocaust. Cities, steel, tarmac, pianos, guns, musical notation all exert a different agency to the one we readers know. This different agency results from the different orderings required for human survival “after the world changed” (83). However, in this fiction of nonviolence, the temptation to violence is present as a leftover from the past—and violence exerts its own, telling force. In The Incomer there is a forest, a circle of women, a rapist with a gun, and a death—suicide, we suspect. The gun is old: “There’s no craft for making such a thing as that left in the world,” says George (Incomer, 185). So the challenge for Elphinstone’s characters is to unmake the violence and put the weapon beyond use. Thus: He took the gun back from George, and stepped away from him. He swung his arm right back in one strong movement, and flung the thing far out, so it went spinning over the loch, falling with a small splash into shimmering water. (185)

This is Elphinstone’s challenge to her contemporary readers, too, reflecting those historical challenges of Quakerism, and the contemporary movements of feminism, peace, and environmentalism, all of which were offering a counterscript to the dominant reality in Scotland.

Elphinstone’s Nonviolent Feminist Science Fiction To create her low-carbon science fiction worlds, where liberation of women from violence does not equate, necessarily, with liberation from the earth or the domestic field, Elphinstone exercises a meticulous discipline with regard to historical sensibility, and also to linguistic detail.

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For instance, in describing her practice as a writer of historical fiction, Elphinstone shows her attention to the traps that are found in contextual metaphor: Proverbs and metaphors—especially dead ones—are a minefield. I remember removing “not by a long chalk” from my 1812 novel at the final proof stage. It comes from billiards, and is first recorded in the 1840s. That was a narrow escape.14

In writing fiction inspired by past manuscripts but situated in a science fictional future, Elphinstone needs to imagine anthropologically what life would be like for her characters if the laws were nonviolent, if the ordering of gender relationships were nonviolent, if the relationship to the earth was non-exploitative, if rape was the ultimate taboo—right through to the utterance of that life. And language turns out to be singularly significant in the reimagination of futures past. When, in The Incomer, the inhabitants of Clachanpluck are told of the rape, it is by the sounding of the bell. With the bell we hear the words from the seventh-century Scottish Cain Adomnain.15 Adomnán’s Law of the Innocents is a law for the protection of noncombatants, especially women. It is, according to Gilbert Markus “the earliest surviving law that can be said to be in some sense Scottish . . . a law whose main aim was the protection of women—and to a lesser extent other ‘innocents,’ children and clerics—from violence” (Markus, 2). It is told, in the Cain Adomnain, that Adomnán’s Law was resisted by kings who rose up to kill Adomnán on this account but that Adomnán “did not carry a sword with him into battle, but the bell of Adomnán’s Anger, that is, the bell of Adomnán’s table” (Markus, 13):

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The bell of truly miraculous Adomnáin has laid waste many kings. Each one against whom it gives battle one thing awaits: it has laid them waste.

As well as laying waste strongholds, Adomnán’s bell had laid waste kings in defense of women, bringing them to belief. Women, then, from the time of Adomnán were contractually free. So the Cáin Adomnáin is the first law arranged for women in heaven and earth (Markus, 14).

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Thus in Elphinstone’s reimagining: Then she heard it too. A faint repetitive tone, low but resonant. It rang out again, and then again, louder. “It can’t be,” said Davey. . . . The bell pealed again, louder, and another answered it from the other end of the village. . . . “Davey find the bell.” “Where?” “In the storeshed, At the back. I’m coming.” . . . . . . A third bell joined the two, from another part of the village. . . . And another tone. The bell from her own house, low and clear, resounding across the yard so that the kitchen walls seemed to hold the sound and to vibrate to it. There was a wild pealing outside now. Bells all over the village, ringing out, pealing wildly together in panic, or in warning. Emily seized her jacket and flung open the door, and cannoned straight into Bridget. “What is it? Bridget, oh, what is it?”

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“Rape,” said Bridget. “There’s been rape.” (The Incomer, 158)

Elphinstone rings out the bell of Adomnán’s Anger. That is, these two novels of a future return to moments in the past when the play between violence and nonviolence, the material relationship of people to the earth and to technology, was different— lower-carbon, less massified; when distances were covered on foot or horseback, coracle or canoe, and there was no possibility of scaled-up speed. Specifically, the world of these novels is inspired by early Scottish and English manuscripts. It draws imaginatively on the AngloSaxon Chronicle, descriptions in Bede, rulings from Adomnán, ninth abbot of Iona—all of which formed part of Elphinstone’s university studies in Durham. Fictions of nonviolence then, but where the understandings of nonviolence are not those of second wave feminism alone, but are woven together with rich veins of nonviolent thought from history, religion, and myth. The contemporary situation of the 1980s (and which clearly continues on through the present times) saw writers such as Irigarary naming the symbolic and material violence to which women are subject:

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Scotland As Science Fiction Because of this dependency, woman is submitted to all kinds of trials: she undergoes multiple and contradictory identifications, she suffers transformations of which she is not aware, since she has no identity, especially no divine identity, which could be perfected in love. Quite apart from any explicit violence on the part of men (incest, rape, prostitution, assault, enslavement) woman is subjected to a loss of identity which turns love into a duty, a pathology, an alienation for her. (Irigarary, Elemental Passions, 2)

In Elphinstone’s first novels this situation has led, within memory, to the destruction of the known world. The curse of the Cain Adomnain has come to pass: the land has been laid waste; children are stillborn; the soil poisoned; fish have left the rivers; crops have withered. As the Anglo Saxon Chronicle puts it in an oft repeated sentence: “in that year. . . . there was a total eclipse of the sun.” But because Elphinstone’s world bears the consequences of this past with horror for what was possible, what was made possible in cities—by roads, tarmac, and the violent exploitation of women, children, the land—her science fantasies, while recognizable from the historical manuscripts and tales, are ordered in such a way as to give protection to women. Thus her logical outworking of the Cain Adomnain constitutes a society where the protection of “innocents” is woven into the fabric and language of every household. For Elphinstone, science fiction places violence against women as the ultimate taboo, and offers alternatives for the ordering of social, legal, and material life. In her protagonists and their society, lessons can be learned and enacted even from a poisoned and violent past.

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Conclusions: Science Fiction and Nonviolence In a published conversation about her 2009 novel The Gathering Night, Elphinstone reflects on the difficulties she experiences as predominantly a writer of historical fiction in making choices about what the actual historical record of the day suggests: Fiction allows one to explore characters from the inside; one is imagining all the time what it is like to be them. Of course it’s speculation—the real people from the past are dead; we can only reconstruct their inner worlds from the external evidence that they have left behind them. That’s where

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Ap e rçu s the research comes in, and I hope that none of my fictional characters think, say or do anything that a person of that time couldn’t have thought, said or done. As a novelist, not a historian or archaeologist, I’m free to explore the spaces between the evidence—the unrecorded thoughts and dreams of past people—but I think fiction, in its own way, can be just as true to the evidence as any other kind of narrative.16

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Thus, in her two earliest novels Elphinstone uses science fiction as a vehicle for writing nonviolent fiction. These are fictions of nonviolence which work as science fiction in order to enable worlds to be created where the lessons of violence have been learned. The alternatives offered, through myth, history, feminism, and liberation theology, allow varieties of nonviolent philosophy and theology to take hold imaginatively as well as politically. Through science fiction, Elphinstone is free to explore the evidence of what is feared, and what is often the subject of science fiction writing, the world after the holocaust—the world after the world as we know it. That is, the “spaces in between the evidence” are spaces opened out, for Elphinstone, by the peace and civil rights movements, by a newly emergent feminism, by the formulation of what nonviolent resistance means in practice as well as in philosophical and theological terms. Given the resonance of America’s civil rights and peace movements, the student demonstrations of 1968, the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa, and the Velvet Revolutions of 1989 in Eastern Europe, it is perhaps surprising that fictions of nonviolence are so rare. What is clear is that in these two early novels of nonviolence, Elphinstone is doing something different from earlier Scottish writers such as Gunn and Mackay Brown, and from her contemporary Scottish writers. Nor are her novels simply feminist reorderings of the balance of gender power— she differs, too, from science fiction predecessors like Mitchison and Le Guin. Whilst similarities can be identified between these various writers and Elphinstone, her novels make a distinctive intervention in science fiction as consciously nonviolent. That this should emerge in Scotland in the 1980s is unsurprising given the stationing of Europe’s largest arsenals of nuclear weapons in Holy Loch and Faslane, and given the simmering frustrations and per-

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vasive sense of a missed opportunity in the failed Scottish devolution vote of 1979. That Elphinstone would side step second wave feminist worrying about equality of consumption or sexual liberation to focus on imagining worlds where characters may live in intentionally nonviolent ways traces directly to her Greenham Common protests, her writing as a gardener, and through her Quaker faith and practice. These concerns may indeed bear familiar tracings of the 1980s but they remain refreshingly resonant and urgently necessary with science fantasy proving to be effective in offering novels of a nonviolent future. Bringing to the genre her unique historical, theological, and linguistic sensibility, in the early 1980s Elphinstone emerges as a politically and mythically engaged writer with a distinctly fresh resource for hope in Scotland and beyond—the nonviolence of feminist science fiction.

Notes 1.

Raymond Williams, Marxism and Literature (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1977), 133, 134, 128.

2.

Paolo Freire, The Pedagogy of the Oppressed, 1968 (London: Continuum, 2000); Helder Camara, Spiral of Violence, trans. Della Couling (London: Sheed and Ward, 1971); Gustavo Gutiérrez, A Theology of Liberation: History, Politics and Salvation, 1971, trans. Caridad Inda and John Eagleson (Maryknoll: Orbis, 1973); Leonard Boff, Saint Francis: A Model for Human Liberation, trans. W. Diercksmeier (New York: Crossroad, 1982).

3.

Walter Wink, Engaging the Powers: Discernment and Resistance in a World of Domination (Minneapolis: Fortress, 1992), 13–31, and see 11.

4.

Margaret Elphinstone, The Incomer (London: The Women’s Press, 1987); A Sparrow’s Flight (Edinburgh: Polygon, 1989).

5.

Boaventura de Sousa Santos, “Globalización contrahegemónica y diversa,” Diversidades 1: 11–24; The Rise of the Global Left: The World Social Forum and Beyond (London: Zed Books, 2006).

6.

Susan M. Squier, “Naomi Mitchison: The Feminist Art of Making Things Difficult” (Afterword) Naomi Mitchison, Solution Three (New York: The Feminist Press, 1995), 161-183.

7.

Ian Campbell, “Disorientation of Place, Time and ‘Scottishness’: Conan Doyle, Linklater, Gunn, Mackay Brown and Elphinstone,” The Edinburgh History of Scottish Literature, vol. 3 (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2007), 106–13.

8.

Walter Wink, Naming the Powers: The Language of Power in the New Testament (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1984); Unmasking the Powers: The Invisible Forces that Determine Human Existence (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1986); Engaging the Powers: Discernment and Resistance in a World of Domination (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1992). Ched Myers, Binding the Strong Man: A Political Reading of Mark’s Story of Jesus (Maryknoll: Orbis, 1988). Sallie McFague, Metaphorical Theology: Models of God in Religious Language (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1982); The Body of God: An Ecological Theology (Minneapolis: Fortress, 1993); Life Abundant: Rethinking Theology and Economy for a Planet

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Ap e rçu s in Peril (Minneapolis: Augsburg Fortress, 2002). Alistair McIntosh, Soil and Soul: People Versus Corporate Power (London: Aurum Press, 2001); Hell and High Water: Climate Change, Hope and the Human Condition (Edinburgh: Birlinn, 2008); Rekindling Community: Connecting People, Environment and Spirituality (Bristol: Green Books, 2008). Luce Irigarary, Elemental Passions, trans. Joanne Collie and Judith Still (New York: Routledge, 1992), henceforth referred to as Elemental Passions; L’oubli de L’air: Chez Martin Heidegger (Paris: Les Editions de Minuits, 1983). Dorothee Soelle, The Silent Cry: Mysticism and Resistance (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2001). 9. Luce Irigaray, Elemental Passions (London: Athlone, 1992), 18. 10. George Fox, An Autobiography, ch. 4. Online, The Religious Society of Friends, http://www .strecorsoc.org/gfox/ch04.html. 11. Advices and Queries: The Yearly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends in Britain (London: The Religious Society of Friends in Britain 1995), 8–9. 12. David Abram, The Spell of the Sensuous: Perception and Language in a More-than-Human World (New York: Vintage, 1997), 9. 13. Hannah Arendt, The Human Condition (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1958), 106. 14. “Margaret Elphinstone in Conversation,” online: http://bookhugger.co.uk/2009/08/author -panel-historical-fiction/. 15. Gilbert Markus, Adomnan’s Law of the Innocents (Kilmartin: Kilmartin House Trust, 2008).

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16. “Margaret Elphinstone in Conversation,” op cit.

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John Corbett

Past and Future

Language: Matthew Fitt and Iain M. Banks

LANGUAGE HAS LONG BEEN A CORE CONCERN OF SCIENCE FIC-

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tion. This concern is manifest in many ways, from the political satire of Newspeak in George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949) to the obsessive fandom that gives rise to the Klingon Language Institute (www.kli .org), with its attendant dictionary, linguistic guide to the warrior ethos, and even its translation of Hamlet.1 Studies of the interface between linguistics and science fiction include Peter Stockwell’s exploration of the poetics of the genre, and Walter Meyers’s history of communication between humans and aliens, a theme whose scope and complexity allow for endless variation.2 Demonstrating that men really are from Mars and women from Venus, some authors have yoked alien linguistics to feminist politics. The Scottish writer Naomi Mitchison’s liberated heroine, who converses with sexually ambiguous Martians through intimate body language (Memoirs of a Spacewoman [1962]), stands in contrast to the downtrodden female linguists of Suzette Haden Elgin’s Native Tongue (1984) and The Judas Rose (1987), who create Láadan, a secret language with the transformative potential to resist the conceptual constraints of patriarchal oppression. At times, the practical issues raised by communication with alien species arise only to be sidestepped by,

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say, the invention of the Universal Translator in Star Trek, or its comic counterpart, the Babel Fish, in Douglas Adams’s The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (BBC Radio 4, 1978). Some works of science fiction are largely or entirely composed in forms of language that deviate from standard English as part of a narrative strategy designed to situate the reader in a defamiliarized or alien culture. Nadsat, the Anglo-Slavic argot of Anthony Burgess’s A Clockwork Orange (1962) immerses the reader in a post-Cold War youth culture of ultra-violence, while the semi-phonetic, archaic Kentish dialect used in Russell Hoban’s Ridley Walker (1980) prompts the reader to inhabit the perspective of a child living in a post-apocalyptic England reconceptualized as “Inland.” This chapter considers the contrasting narrative strategies of two Scottish science fiction authors, Iain M. Banks and Matthew Fitt, both of whom adopt and extend the tradition of linguistic experimentation to embrace narratives in reinvented, Scottish-accented English and synthetic broad Scots. While in an early novel, The Bridge (1986), a psychodrama set in the present day, Banks used urban Scots to express the barbaric id of the comatose protagonist, in his futuristic fable, Feersum Endjinn (1994), he largely adapts English, albeit with some Scottish traces, to convey the idiosyncratic mindset of the character of Bascule.3 By contrast, Matthew Fitt in But n Ben A-Go-Go (2000) deposits his readers in a future where broad Scots, far from being a dwindling minority language, is the dominant written and spoken medium.4 While both Scottish authors construct quite different narrative media to express their visions of the future, the shared outcome of their experimentation is a dialogue between the linguistic conventions and cultural presuppositions of pulp genres and high modernism. The Scots language sits uneasily in the company of future languages such as Newspeak and Nadsat, which are adapted, sometimes hybridized varieties of English. Scots signifies the old, traditional language of childhood and past generations. The lyrics to the first verse of “The Auld Scotch Sangs,” written and composed by G. W. Bethune and J. F. Leeson, epitomize a sentimental, nostalgic stance toward Scots that is the antithesis of science fiction:

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Scotland As Science Fiction O sing to me the auld Scotch sangs I’ the braid Scottish tongue, The sangs my father wished to hear, The sangs my mither sung, When she sat beside my cradle, Or croon’d me on her knee.5

It is not only rural Scots that symbolizes the past rather than the future. Caroline Macafee’s case study of contemporary language in Glasgow argues that modernity is the cause of the decline of traditional Scots in urban settings. Since the Scots vocabulary of presses (cupboards), and sapple (soapy lather) is associated with a disappearing material culture, often stigmatized by its association with poverty, English has become the language of the present and future.6 Anne Donovan’s short story “The Tartan Initiative,” set in the near future at a time when elderly Scots speakers are sent into schools to bear witness to their linguistic traditions, clearly articulates the desire of a changing community to dispense with the tongue that both united it and symbolized its adverse living conditions:

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These weans shrug aff their parents’ lives like last season’s replica shirt. Even the wans whose faimlies have come here fae places of war, or famine or torture don’t seem tae haud it in their bright eyes, their strong bodies, their high fives. Their classrooms are warm and bright, nae chalk dust driftin across the flair or the smell of wet anoraks steamin on radiators.7

To project a vibrant Scots-speaking community into a fictional future is, therefore, an act of will that is both political and counterintuitive. Even in the twentieth-century renaissance of modernist poetry in Scots, the literary synthesizers who sought to reinvent the language looked to the past as a template for the present. When Hugh MacDiarmid [C. M. Grieve] called on his fellow Scots-language writers to avoid Burns and post-Burnsian sentimentality, he sought inspiration in the yet more distant past, in the poetry of the mediaeval makar, William Dunbar. “Plastic Scots,” the modern, synthetic medium of the new makars, all too soon required apologetic support from even its most ardent practitioners, such

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as the classicist Douglas Young, while in poems such as “On a Raised Beach” (1934), MacDiarmid himself turned to a poetry composed in an English spiked with abstruse scientific terms.8 If the Scots tongue is inconveniently coded as a medium of the past, a further disincentive to writing science fiction in Scots is the perceived or actual incomprehensibility of the written language. Whereas readers might be expected to cope with narratives in adapted English, or a sequence of short Scots lyrics, extended prose in dense broad Scots represents a risk that few commercial publishers are prepared to take. Entire science fiction novels in Scots are therefore rare and difficult to obtain. Iain W. D. Forde’s The Paix Machine (1996) was self-published, while Fitt’s But n Ben A-Go-Go was distributed by a small, independent publisher, Luath Press of Edinburgh. A brief extract from Forde’s novel demonstrates the challenges faced by prospective readers, despite the authorial reassurances: 120

Ken ye onie sciens feiktioun? Ye wul eith raicogneise a guid pairt o the follaein. A seymlie knawlege o clessik mythologie’l gie ye anither hieze ti yeir onnerstannin wi mebbies a saut o histor intilt. Fur aw at the space quyne telt me wesna nyow. Fowk hed kent aw alang about it.9

Not surprisingly, given that the imagined reader needs to be conversant with science fiction, classical mythology, a touch of history, and unremittingly dense Scots, Forde’s novel has never achieved a wide distribution or readership. Matthew Fitt, by contrast, is a significant cultural activist, poet, novelist, translator, editor, and publisher. Fitt has long been committed to bending genres in the interests of revitalizing interest in literary Scots. Neither is he afraid of blending populism and high culture. He came to early prominence in an anthology called The New Makars (1989) by “versionizing” Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven” into Scots, and he has more recently worked with fellow writer James Robertson to develop the Itchy-Coo imprint of “braw books for bairns o aw ages,” a series that includes a Hoose o Haivers (2002), a retelling of Ovid’s Metamorphoses by Fitt, Robertson, and Susan Rennie.10 Fitt also translated into Scots Alan Grant’s graphic novel Kidnappit (2007), illustrated by Cam Kennedy, and based on the novel by Robert Louis Stevenson.

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In the millennial year of 2000, Fitt published But n Ben A-Go-Go, which, if not the first science fiction novel in Scots, can nevertheless claim to be the first cyberpunk novel in the language that has attained a reasonably wide readership. Set in 2090, some years after God’s Flood has reduced Scotland to a series of island parishes known as Port, But n Ben A-Go-Go tells the story of Paolo Broon and his hunt for the man who has infected his comatose wife, Nadia, with the deadly sexuallytransmitted virus, Sangue de Verde, or Senga. The plot, however, is largely a pretext for Fitt to lead his readers on an exuberant, satirical journey into a looking-glass Scotland where, for example, private prisons for rich convicts are effectively luxury hotels run by multinational corporations of American origin: Inverdisney wis a maximum security jyle for millionaires. It restrained in ben its strang concrete waws a deevil’s ensemble o convicted corporate pauchlers, taxlowpers, snecklifters an a wheen ither piratical characters that had siller posed in affParish accoonts aroon the globe, an offices fou o shairp-nebbit lawyers back on Port tae administrate it. The inmates,

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aw o them lifers, were cried ‘guests’ an resided in penthoose apartments, looked efter by an entourage o itinerant chefs an bidey-in barstaff. The fantoosh prison brochure bummed up its echteen hole gowf course, olympic pool, grouse-shootin glen an virtual hoorhoose. An if the guests ever foond the regime at Inverdisney owre sair, they could ayewis pey for a fortnicht’s transfer tae a similar prison complex at Disney Alp or at Lake Walt in the Brazilian Highlands. (But n Ben, 20–21)

To the eye unaccustomed to Scots prose, Fitt’s narrative presents a challenge equal to that of Forde; however, for those who persevere with it, there are many pleasures also on offer.11 Linguistically and conceptually much of Fitt’s energy is released by a process of compounding. This compounding is evident in proper nouns like Inverdisney, and common nouns and noun phrases that situate the reader in an oddly familiar, oddly estranged universe of corporate pauchlers (corporate thieves), taxlowpers (tax-dodgers), snecklifters (lock-picks), bidey-in barstaff (resident barstaff), and virtual hoorhooses (virtual brothels). A more abstract level of compounding is evident in the kind of cultural clashes that superimpose Disneyworld on a contemporary debate on privatizing prison services in

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Scotland, or that allude to iconic Scottish leisure activities such as golf and grouse shooting in the same sentence as cybersex. Of course, the compounding of disparate elements has long been recognized as a staple of science fiction: Peter Stockwell cites Darko Suvin’s characterization of science fiction as predicated on “cognitive estrangement” before elaborating on how the genre delivers this defamiliarization:12 It takes the world as we understand it, and presents it back to the reader in an alternated form which is recognizable but estranging. The form of this estrangement is occasionally linguistic and stylistic (as when fiction features alien languages or other special effects) but most commonly operates at the conceptual level.13

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But the “special effect” of estranging language is only one of several points of comparison between But n Ben A-Go-Go and fellow Scot Iain M. Banks’s Feersum Endjinn. Compared to Forde and Fitt, Banks is an author with an international reputation and a large following, both for his science fiction novels and his more “mainstream” fiction. In Feersum Endjinn, Banks’s vision of the future presciently combines the world-connecting promise of the Internet with the conceit that, if we can decode the human genome and construe it as a mathematical formula, then humanity can be understood as information. And information can be recorded, linked up, digitized, recombined and, up to a point, preserved. In the multiverse of Feersum Endjinn, all but the elite are connected electronically, and upon death, everyone’s biological information is captured. People are then reconstituted in a digitized (or rather “encrypted”) form in a virtual environment known as the crypt. In the crypt, time passes at a different rate from the base reality, and people can live and die a further seven times before the information that constitutes their selfhood becomes corrupted and they begin to run down into ever more fragmented beings, merged with birds, animals, and insects in the deeper and more chaotic levels of the virtual environment. In base-reality, some “tellers,” like the child Bascule, are able to connect with the crypt. Banks’s novel continues a fascination for hidden realities that Cairns Craig (in this volume) suggests is typical of Scottish speculative fiction. Fitt’s virtual environment, VINE, and Banks’s crypt

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share a spiritual godfather in Balfour Stewart and Peter Guthrie Tait’s philosophical explorations in The Unseen Universe (1875). Bascule’s story is one of four narratives that are woven through the novel; it is the only first-person narrative, and its form corresponds in some respects to what Michael Halliday has described as an “antilanguage”: An anti-language is the means of realization of a subjective reality: not merely expressing it, but actively creating and maintaining it. In this respect, it is just another language. But the reality is a counter-reality, and this has certain special implications. It implies the fore-grounding of the social structure and social hierarchy.14

Bascule’s anti-language identifies him as a member of a subculture that stands apart from mainstream society and its linguistic conventions. What characterizes Bascule’s anti-language? Writing in 1994, Banks is particularly prescient with regard to the forms of digital communication that were about to wash over the planet:

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I doan no whot u no ov whot a tellir duz but now mite b as good a time as eny 2 tell u if u doan no (them that duz can haply skip thi next 5 or 6 paragrafs & get bak 2 thi storey). Basikly, a tellir fishiz in2 thi kript & pools out sum ole boy or girl & asks them qwestyins & ansirs there qwestyins. Issa kinda ½ archilojikil reserch & ½ soshil wurk if u want 2 look @ it coldly & r happy 2 ignoar whot peepil col thi spiritul side ov it. (Feersum, 49)

Bascule self-describes his spelling as “phonetic,” and it does characterize him as a Cockney speaker, or, arguably, a speaker of the Scottishinflected equivalent, “Jockney.”15 His labio-dental fricatives (f/v) correspond to RP alveolar or standard Scots dental fricatives in words like panfir (“panther”). However, the phonetic representations are inconsistent: “what” is variously spelled as what, whot and wot for example, which leaves open to question whether Bascule pronounces the initial consonant as the English semi-vowel /w/ or the Scots fricative /hw/. Moreover, the presence of symbols such as & and @, as well as the substitution of numbers for words and parts of words (2, 1nce and ½ for “to,” “once” and “have” respectively), suggest texting more than phonetic

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transcription. Ultimately, Bascule’s anti-language constructs him as that most alien of creatures, a young teenager. Stockwell ascribes the use of nonstandard languages to the strategy of estrangement that marks out much science fiction; however, in the hands of Scottish authors the linguistic game playing carries additional weight. In Fitt’s case, the mere fact of imagining a future where Scots is the everyday medium of spoken and written communication is, as noted earlier, a political act. Although Canadian-born James Doohan, and latterly English-born Simon Pegg might have incarnated stereotypical aspects of the Scotsman in space while playing the role of “Scotty” in the Star Trek television programs and films, the chief engineer on the Enterprise was a lonely linguistic fossil in a universe that spoke largely standard American with occasional diversions into Shakespearean English.16 In Fitt’s future, presumably as a result of the global catastrophe, Scots is once again in the ascendant. To bend his chosen medium to the demands of late twenty-firstcentury life, Fitt has to adopt many of the strategies identified by Derrick McClure in his account of the Scots synthesizers of the twentieth century—modernist poets like Hugh MacDiarmid, Sydney Goodsir Smith, and Douglas Young.17 We have already noted Fitt’s compound neologisms: for example, the hero, Paulo Broon, is described as a cyberjanny (virtual porter). McClure identifies three other ways in which the Scots modernists extended their vocabulary, and examples of all of them can be found in Fitt’s narrative: 1. figurative extension, as in the coining of dykelowper (“ditch-jumper”) to express the notion of homosexual: “Fae his CC suite on the tap flair o the But n Ben, Broon wid wale which quines, louns or dykelowpers he wanted tae seduce” (But n Ben, 149) 2. sound symbolism, as in the following onomatopoeic term: “He tried no tae budge, maintainin a pus o stane in spite o the whap-whappin in his lugs fae the recent lowp in pressure.” (74) 3. borrowings and calques (literal translations of a term from another language into Scots), here from Russian and German: “But it wisna the croose clan o millionaire provosts sookin malts and claret on the decks o their mountain-tap executive dachas which nipped Paolo.

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Nor the canty ubercless o lawyers an pus surgeons wi Californian masseuses en suite twenty-fowre oor a day tae smoor coconut ile aw owre their spuggie necks.” (44) In his flamboyant adoption of linguistic strategies favored by the modernist makars, Fitt signals that his futuristic Scots is also a literary creation, a lingua franca synthesized from a mixter-maxter of geographical, historical, and imagined varieties. Scots expressions, some recognizable from songs of the south-west (langsyne: “long ago” from Robert Burns’s “Auld Lang Syne”) and the north-east (heelstergowdied: “cartwheeled” from Hamish Henderson’s “The Freedom Come-All-Ye”) sit cheek-by-jowl with lexis that still forms a staple of the urban vernacular (boaked, “vomited”), when Paolo battles a rival, Lars, in a virtual environment, VINE: The day had langsyne heelstergowdied oot o control. . . . Lars immediately boaked in his lap. (64)

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However, in one major respect, Fitt’s fictional Scots is far removed from the modernist project to revive literary Scots in the twentieth century, namely in its unabashed populism. MacDiarmid, and most of his fellow Scots poets from the 1920s through to the 1970s, treated contemporary popular culture in Scots, from music hall to kailyard, with scepticism that tipped into contempt. In the essays contributed to The Scottish Educational Journal in a series titled “Contemporary Scottish Studies,” MacDiarmid regularly insists on the value of the highbrow, and on the intellectual poverty of what Robert Angus referred to as “the confessed mass-producer of fiction.”18 In a review of an anthology of northeastern dialect poetry, Swatches o’ Hamespun, MacDiarmid rejects the popular sentimentalism of the vernacular apologists and argues: Unhappily, Scots has kept humble company so long that it has not only suffered impoverishment in its vocabulary, but contracted associations too homely, too trivial, sometimes too vulgar for high poetry. If it is to be used again for that purpose, at least on a grand scale, it must break these low associations and form new.19

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If the Renaissance movement was successful, it was in reclaiming high poetry for Scots language users. However, in forming “new associations,” the modernist makars placed most popular genres beyond the bounds of serious writers in Scots. For genre fiction, new associations remain to be forged. Fitt’s Scots science fiction can be distinguished from Forde’s in that it actively embraces and absorbs popular references. The title of his novel and the surname of its hero allude unmistakably to the cartoon family, The Broons, whose escapades have graced the pages of the Sunday Post since 1936. An extended family, residing in Glebe Street and speaking a distinctive Scots, the Broons escaped their urban environment once a year to go on holiday to a two-roomed cottage referred to as “the but and ben.” By appropriating the Broons’ but and ben, and making it a fabulous villa, home to the novel’s villain, Paolo’s father, Diamond Broon, Fitt compounds popular and elite Scots culture, reclaiming literary Scots for genre fiction. Where MacDiarmid saw Scots expressing “the suppressed elements of Scottish psychology,” Fitt’s use of the Scots language interrogates cultural constructs that are inherently “Scottish.”20 His hero’s given name, Paolo, alongside the explicitly multicultural references to such as the Rigo Imbeki Medical Center, which lies “high up on Montrose Parish,” or the Favela Copenhagen, reject the essentialism often alleged to be at the heart of the Scottish modernist project.21 Fitt’s hero traverses a hybridized landscape that is post-modern in its literary affiliations as much as its geographical features. If Scots as a literary medium is to survive then it must be as something other than the unique expression of the psychology of one people. Fitt’s vision of the future offers Scots as a transforming and transformative element in an ongoing cultural fusion. Banks’s Feersum Endjinn is also part of an ongoing conversation with modernism, this time represented not so obviously by MacDiarmid as by T. S. Eliot. References to Eliot’s The Waste Land, and in particular the section “Death by Water,” are evident in the titles of the first and ninth of his Culture novels: Consider Phlebas (1987) and Look to Windward (2000).22 While the title of Feersum Endjinn is not an obvious allusion to one specific text, it is a collocation that has a relatively high incidence and appears, for example, in Impressions and Comments (1914), the pub-

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lished journals of the British sexologist and social reformer, Havelock Ellis, in an entry for 26 June 1913: Yet I cannot escape the contagious disease of Modernity, and I choose to be whirled through the most delicious and restful scenery in the world, at the most perfect moment of the year, in three hours (including the interval for lunch) in a motor ’bus, while any stray passengers on the road, as by common accord, plant themselves on the further side of the nearest big tree until our fearsome engine of modernity has safely passed. It is an adventure I scarcely feel proud of.23

Quotations, allusions, and iconic collocations all have a strategic function in popular genres. In his discussion of the use of Shakespearian quotation in films as diverse as Se7en, Schindler’s List, and Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, John Drakakis argues that explicit allusion to literary figures such as Shakespeare destabilizes the traditional boundaries between high and popular culture. Genre fabulists such as Banks cite Eliot’s lines to elevate their own work, but such quotations also act as a tractor beam, dragging the canonical texts into the popular arena that their authors and champions might affect to despise. In Drakakis’s words:

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We have come a long way from the notion of Shakespeare as authority, as legitimator of cultural experience. Indeed “Shakespeare” now is primarily a collage of familiar quotations, fragments whose relation to any coherent aesthetic principle is both problematical and irremediably ironical. He is one of a number of instances in which the simulacrum has become a material “reality,” in the same way that fiction is now not an escape from the real but a historically specific encounter with it.24

For Shakespeare, we can also read Eliot or MacDiarmid. The “fragments shored against the ruins” of The Waste Land are re-imagined in Banks’s novels as the multiple, deteriorating, digitized virtual selves existing in an imagined future. Eliot’s own tissue of quotations—including Forster’s “only connect”—acquires a deeper level of irony in the context of the interface between base reality and the crypt. As Bascule explains: Iss ver difficult 2 explain what its like when u go that deep in thi kript, but if u can imagine bein in a sno storm, flyin in a fik snowstorm, onli thi

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Ap e rçu s sno is multi-colurd & sum ov it seems 2 b cumin @ u from evry angil (& each sno-flake seems 2 sing & hum & sizil & hold littl flashin images & hints ov faces in it & as they go past u heer snatchiz ov speech or music or u feel a emoshin or fink ov a idear or consept or seem 2 remembir sumfink) and if 1 ov thi sno-flakes hits u in thi I u r suddenly in sumbudy elses dreem & its a effort 2 remember who thi hel u r, wel if u can imagine xperyencin oll that when u r feelin a bit drunk & disoreyented then thas a bit like whot iss like, cept wurse ov course. & weerder. (Feersum, 77)

If the spirit of Scottish modernism and an echo of MacDiarmid’s voice invade Banks’s multiverse it is, ironically, in the standard English third-person narratives of Feersum Endjinn, which frequently employ neologisms and the kind of semi-opaque technical jargon reminiscent of the opening lines of MacDiarmid’s “On a Raised Beach.” Here, Banks describes the vegetation clinging to the walls for the ruined space elevator which holds much of the population of the Earth: 128

The plant-mass babilia, unique to the fastness and ubiquitous within it, coated all but the smoothest of vertical surfaces with tumescent hanging forests of lime-green, royal blue and pale, rusty orange; only the heights of scarred wall closest to the more actively venting fissures and fumaroles remained untouched by the tenacious vegetation. (12-13)

The jargon-infused English of MacDiarmid’s later poems also anticipates the King’s voyeuristic survey of the experiences of his subjects: . . . then the King dipped into minds elsewhere in Serehfa; a peruker in a tower-roof terrace-town, crouched over her latest extravagant creation; a cliometrician carrelled half-asleep in a bartizan high on the east fifth level; a moirologist petitioning in the sacristy of the northern upper chapel; a funambulist reaping babilia on the pyramid spur of a shell-wall tower. Prosaic. (Feersum, 69)

The language of Banks’s and Fitt’s science fiction narratives can therefore be seen as appropriating for popular culture two aspects of Scottish high modernism. First, Fitt extends the Lallans project that sought to revitalize Scots for the twentieth century by 150 years, in the

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process stripping the Scots tongue of its inward-turning essentialism and reenergizing it with a dollop of cultural transfusions. Second, Banks appropriates and updates MacDiarmid’s vision of a world-language, encompassing scientific and vernacular registers, in part to express the range of experiences to be found in his futuristic cosmos. Banks’s appropriation of modernism, however, moves beyond Scotland to include T. S. Eliot. In part, this wider casting of the intertextual net is related to Banks’s status as a popular novelist with an international reputation. While some of his “mainstream” novels engage explicitly with Scottish themes and Scottish locations—The Bridge and The Crow Road (1992) are perhaps the most obvious—his science fiction novels speak to a readership probably defined more by age and gender than national affiliation. Yet appropriation of Eliot is a maneuver earlier practised by MacDiarmid himself in A Drunk Man Looks at the Thistle (1926; “T. S. Eliot—it’s a Scottish name—”),25 and Banks’s fascination with alternate universes and the ordeals and transformations undergone by the self are of course longstanding concerns of Scottish folktales, which are also alluded to in the fairy-tale elements of Feersum Endjinn (see McClure in this book). A comparison of Fitt and Banks recalls an earlier discussion of the nation’s “most imaginative prose writers”—MacDiarmid asserts that:

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The greatest of these is Norman Douglas; the other two are F. W. Bain and Kenneth Grahame. The last two might as easily be Martians as Scots, so far as all the superficial elements of their work is concerned.26

It might be argued that Feersum Endjinn, for all its virtues, betrays little evidence of Scottishness, while But n Ben A-Go-Go has Scottishness in spades. However, despite their superficial differences, the two novels share much—in their engagement with technology and its ambivalent potential to transform the self; in their concern with global catastrophe (God’s Flood versus the Encroachment, a cosmic event that will obliterate all trace of humanity, even in its digitized and encrypted forms); and in their exuberant adoption of non-standard languages to convey idiosyncratic mindsets in an estranged environment. Most of all, however, the novels are alike in their argument with literary modernity, in their citation and reworking of MacDiarmid and Eliot in particular.

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Drakakis observes that, in popular genres, through the quotation of and allusion to high culture: . . . cultural icons are both fetishized and at the same time deployed in resistance to fetishization, history becomes that pluralist, multiform trace of discontinuous, conflicting practices in which the variable elements of power cohere, disperse and are reconstituted.27

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In But n Ben A-Go-Go the key icon “fetishized and deployed in resistance to fetishization” is the Scots language itself. The formulaic plot and paper-thin characters exist only to project the Scots tongue into a future where, given its recent historical trajectory, it should surely have died out. Its continued existence is asserted and celebrated only in a context of cultural hybridity and the denial of essentialism. In the end, as Paolo disposes of his dead wife’s body, he cheers himself up by “whustlin a cantie auld samba melody” (But n Ben, 206). In Feersum Endjinn the polyvocal ventriloquism of writers such as Eliot in The Waste Land is redeployed to celebrate and resist the obliteration of the self in the postmodern era of virtual connectivity. Toward the novel’s conclusion, one of the equally paper-thin protagonists is called upon to save the day by sacrificing his final virtual incarnation at the request of an “angel”: The angel lowered its head, its gaze still fastened on him. “You can give us your soul, Alandre,” it said, and Sessine felt something quail within him. “What?” he said, crossing his arms. “Aren’t we being rather metaphysical?” “It is the most meaningful way to express what we’d ask of you.” “My soul,” he said, hoping he sounded sceptical. The angel nodded slowly. “Yes; the essence of who you are. If you are to help us, you must surrender that.” “Such things may be copied.” “They may. But is that what you want?” (Feersum, 239)

For Banks, surrender and sacrifice of the self remain, as in The Waste Land, the means of securing the future. In linguistic terms, surrender and sacrifice entail acknowledgment that your contribution to a dialogue will be appropriated by your listener, reworked and rephrased in a way that, in the words of Banks’s angel, is “more you than anybody else,

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but not you.” The literary languages of high modernism in English and Scots may be guaranteed futurity in large part by surrendering to the conversations afforded by their appropriation in popular genres such as science fiction.

Notes 1. Marc Okrand, The Klingon Dictionary (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1992); Marc Okrand, Klingon for the Galactic Traveler (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1997); Lawrence Schoen, The Klingon Hamlet (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2000). 2. Peter Stockwell, The Poetics of Science Fiction (London: Longman, 2000); Walter Earl Meyers, Aliens and Linguists: Language Study and Science Fiction (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1980). 3. Iain M. Banks, Feersum Endjinn (London: Orbit, 1994). Hereafter referenced as Feersum. Banks writes science fiction as Iain M. Banks, and otherwise writes as Iain Banks. 4. Matthew Fitt, But n Ben A-Go-Go (Edinburgh: Luath, 2000). Hereafter referenced as But n Ben. 5. J. F. Leeson. and G. W. Bethune, “O Sing to Me the Auld Scotch Sangs” (London: John Blockley, 189). See also http://nla.gov.au/nla.mus-vn3572355. A recording of John McCormick singing this song is available online at http://www.archive.org/details/TheAuldScotchSongs. 6. Caroline Macafee, Traditional Dialect in the Modern World: A Glasgow Case Study (Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang, 1994).

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7. Anne Donovan, “The Tartan Initiative” in Scotland 2020: Hopeful Stories for a Northern Nation, ed. Gerry Hassan, Eddie Gibb, and Lydia Howland (London: Demos, 2005), 78–87, see 87. 8. Douglas Young, “Plastic Scots” and the Scottish Literary Tradition: An Authoritative Introduction to a Controversy (Glasgow: William MacLellan, 1947). 9. Iain W. D. Forde, The Paix Machine (Scotlandwell: Fons Scotiae, 1996), 27. 10. Itchy-coo: Braw Books for Bairns o Aw Ages. http://www.itchy-coo.com. 11. Christine Robinson, Matthew Fitt’s But n Ben A-Go-Go (Glasgow: ASLS Scotnotes, 2005) offers an accessible guide to the novel and its language. 12. Darko Suvin, Metamorphoses of Science Fiction: On the Poetics and History of a Literary Genre (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1979), 4. 13. Peter Stockwell, “Schema Poetics and Speculative Cosmology,” Language and Literature 12.3 (2003): 255. 14. Michael A. K. Halliday, “Anti-Languages,” American Anthropologist 78.3 (1976): 252–71, see 576. 15. Jane Stuart-Smith, Claire Timmins, and Fiona Tweedie, “‘Talkin’ Jockney’? Variation and change in Glaswegian Accent,” Journal of Sociolinguistics 11.2 (2007): 221–61. 16. John Drakakis, “Shakespeare in Quotations,” in Perspectives/Litteraria Pragensia: Selected Papers from the Second British Studies Conference, Prague 18–20 October 1996 (British Council/Charles University, Prague, 1997), 57-74; revised version in Studying British Cultures: An Introduction, ed. Susan Bassnett (London: Routledge, 1997), 152–72. 17. J. Derrick McClure, “The Synthesisers of Scots,” in Minority Languages Today, ed. Einar Haugen, J. Derrick McClure, and Derrick Thomson (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1981), 91–99.

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Ap e rçu s 18. Hugh MacDiarmid, Contemporary Scottish Studies (1926; Edinburgh: Scottish Educational Journal, 1976), 111. 19. MacDiarmid, Contemporary Scottish Studies, 82. 20. MacDiarmid, Contemporary Scottish Studies, 83. 21. Eleanor Bell, Questioning Scotland: Literature, Nationalism, Postmoderism (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2004). 22. For an extended consideration of these novels about the Culture, see Garrison in this volume. 23. Havelock Ellis, Impressions and Comments (London: Constable, 1914), 104. 24. Drakakis, “Shakespeare in Quotations,” 73. 25. Hugh MacDiarmid, A Drunk Man Looks at the Thistle, ed. Kenneth Buthlay (Edinburgh: Scottish Academic Press, 1987), 30. 26. MacDiarmid, Contemporary Scottish Studies, 108. 27. Drakakis, “Shakespeare in Quotations,” 73–74.

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Alan Riach

Scottish Poetry

as Science Fiction: Geddes, MacDiarmid, and Morgan’s “A Home in Space”

THE GENRE OF SCIENCE FICTION IS NORMALLY ASSOCIATED

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with narrative prose, but the intellectual, sensual, and linguistic exploration of possible new worlds for sensitive apprehension is an artistic act perhaps best exemplified in poetry. In a distinct strand of Scottish poetry, specific works may be seen to contribute significantly to the broader tradition of science fiction and deserve wider recognition within that generic story. The argument of this essay is that if the premise of science fiction is to imagine a world different from the one we normally inhabit, that premise has activated some of the most radical Scottish poets at least since the 1890s, overlapping with but reaching beyond generic categorization. In the late twentieth century, Edwin Morgan (1920–2010) self-consciously deployed science fiction conventions, but the methodology of envisioning alternative worlds has its significant precedents in Scottish poetry preeminently in work by James Young Geddes (1850– 1913) and Hugh MacDiarmid (C. M. Grieve, 1892–1978). Edwin Morgan’s poem “A Home in Space,” from his 1979 volume Star Gate: Science Fiction Poems, is the quintessential depiction of the rootless, wandering, restless instinct that seemed native to many children of the 1960s. The astronauts described in the poem, at a crucial moment

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of decision, cut off contact with the earth-base and set out into the unknown, charting an unpredicted drive to a deep-space destination, and declaring categorically that their interest is not to be grounded or earthed but rather to be exemplary explorers and exponents of exploration: . . . they launched themselves outwards— outwards in an impeccable trajectory, that band— that band of tranquil defiers, not to plant any— any home with roots but to keep a— a voyaging generation voyaging, and as far— as far as there would ever be a home in space— space that needs time and time that needs life.1

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Science fiction informs many of Edwin Morgan’s poems and is a crucial trigger for the kaleidoscopic vision of Sonnets from Scotland (1984). This key volume brings that “voyaging generation” to a determined but constantly shifting focus on Scotland, the nation, its people’s past and unrealized potential. We shall come back to that. But if Morgan represents the culmination of a tradition of science fiction in Scottish poetry, we could begin it in the late nineteenth century, with the work of James Young Geddes, a contemporary of Jules Verne (1828–1905) and H. G. Wells (1866–1946). Geddes worked and lived in the industrial city of Dundee, active in local debating societies and Burns clubs. He became baillie of Alyth in the 1880s, keenly aware of local issues about land access and sanitation, serving on various school boards and police boards and in civic duties, and wrote for The Dundee Advertiser, engaged by international questions of labor and health while deploring the sentimental kailyard writers then popular in Scotland and internationally. To counter their dominant version of a small-town, benign, unambitious, and unionist Scotland, Geddes advocated a Scottish cultural renaissance. His three books of poetry—The New Jerusalem (1879), The Spectre Clock of Alyth (1886) and In the Valhalla (1891)—are astonishing works.2 There is a simple, direct sense of moral value in their descriptions of social conditions, and despite his comprehensive vision of factory life, his ethical authority

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comes through implicitly, and is never banal or overstated. The social morality in his poems is reminiscent of William Blake’s “London.” There is a sense of the visual and nightmarish, nocturnal, industrial cityscape explicitly suggesting in its intensity and ferocity Dante’s Inferno. And there is a radical development in poetic form. Geddes had read the great American poet of democratic idealism, Walt Whitman (1819–1892), not only identifying with his political vision of social justice, but also adapting his radical poetics, the long line, reaching out like an incantation, building anger and indignation up as it keeps it in check, just under the surface of pictorial descriptions. He is clearly outraged at injustice but he is an optimist. For Geddes, progress is possible and he is fundamentally good-humored, unlike some of his Scottish contemporaries and predecessors—Robert Buchanan (1841–1901) or James (“B. V.”) Thomson (1834–1882), say. So this is a poetry that comes directly from the social vision of Burns, in that tradition of imagining social justice, but it is also in tune with Whitman’s radical new poetics. This in turn is connected with the radicalism that was very much in the character of Dundee. Various figures publicly declared their commitment to social reform in eighteenth-century Dundee and ended up in Botany Bay. There are statues to two of Scotland’s great political radicals in Dundee’s Reform Street: George Kinloch (1775–1833) and Robert Rintoul (1787–1858). Because science fiction is defined by its commitment to imagining radically different worlds, it is valuable to bring these figures into our survey. We should also keep in mind how those two great social visionaries of the late nineteenth century, the famous Charles Rennie Mackintosh (1868–1928) and less well-known but equally significant Patrick Geddes (1854–1932), were committed to re-imagining what society might be—whether through architecture, town planning, or education—unshackled by commercial convention, religious habit, and social hierarchy. James Young Geddes’s major poems begin with The New Jerusalem, a satire on religious piety where Heaven is described with lovely scenery and central heating in the houses, but everything is controlled by smug, self-righteous bureaucrats. This was followed by The New Inferno, where

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Satan takes us on a tour of a Hell in which industrialism has actually created a heaven for laboring people. We pause at the open gates: Here rust ran riot; Keys rotted in their locks; hinges could turn no more, Half eaten through and worn; while bolts were headless left. Upon the archway overhead there still remained Some letters curiously engraved, carved by some deft Infernal workmanship. These forms a time retained Our saints deciphering them, until they spelt out “Hope.” Saint looked at saint: just then the stranger chanced to grope With memory ’mongst his classic stores, “I have it now.” Cried he, “so Peter smooth your troubled wrinkled brow, The word now seen before me is the last one left Of Dante’s famed inscription. Good omens multiply. Lead on, no more from Hell I feel inclined to fly.”3 136

But a footnote ominously reminds us of the obliterated words: “All ye who enter here abandon Hope.” These poems may not be strictly in the “Science Fiction” genre, but we might bear in mind that Dante’s Inferno was the primary source for a science fiction classic of 1976: Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle’s Inferno. In The Spectre Clock of Alyth, the town councillors and city fathers are as run down as the public clock itself, yet there is surprising optimism about the idea of mechanical and industrial progress, and this links Geddes forward to the disposition of Edwin Morgan. This is not easy optimism, though. In “The Second Advent,” he imagines Christ returning to Dundee, where, predictably, he is condemned by the established church. There is also an astonishing poem called “The Farm” that uses Whitman’s long, variable line to dark effect, presenting a decent couple dreaming of using the profits from their pub to buy an idyllic farm. The line draws out the weary movement toward the utter failure of their dream. It is exhausting rather than exhilarating— Whitman reversed, a tragic vision of frailty and diminishment. Geddes’s greatest poem is “Glendale & Co”—again using the Whitman line but in a tense, focused, passionate condemnation of what capitalism is, when uninformed by moral conscience. Company reports,

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statistics, surveys—Whitman’s lists—are brought into play as the company of Glendale is shown to be a vast city in itself, whose factories “cover acres” and whose effects are poverty, slums, horrific squalor, and dehumanizing deprivations. Mr. Glendale may seem decent enough, but he is part of the great machine that alienates owners and workers. Geddes presents hallucinatory visions of capitalism at work in late-nineteenth-century industrial Scotland that turn the subjects of his poems into horrific science fiction firmly grounded in the reality of Dundee. Their political and moral authority, their spectacularly visual immediacy and dramatic vocal control, are astonishing. This is not conventional science fiction genre writing, but truly radical poetry employing the techniques of exaggeration, visionary imagination, social enquiry, and moral judgment with which many readers have latterly become familiar through the science fiction genre. Geddes’s poetry demonstrates clearly how intimately connected a familiar genre might be to a completely engaged, highly literary production that has had a relatively small readership and deserves serious and extensive revaluation. This is a poetry immediately responsive to material conditions of economic and social injustice but rejecting documentary or “realist” approaches in favor of an opening-up of the imagination, to consider what a better world might be. If the principle of cosmic justice is called up here, or called into question, it might be argued that this opens the road for similar engagement with such moral questions in, for example, both the “mainstream” fiction and the science fiction of Iain Banks. I am not saying that Banks read Geddes, but that Geddes can be read as a contributor to the genre of science fiction through the pioneering work of his serious, yet exhilaratingly inventive, imagination. The poetic and political drive of the major Scottish poet of the twentieth century, Hugh MacDiarmid, was based on a sharp-edged questioning of the world around him with the fiercely burning vision of a better one in mind. He did not accept the status quo and he wrote and acted as if he could help bring about a revolution in mundane reality and intellectual and imaginative life. His own imagination evidently overlaps with science fiction’s classic genre trope, “What if?” For example, in his little book Albyn: or Scotland and the Future (1927), and his essay “Scotland in 1980” (1929), he takes the idea of what current cultural

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trends in the 1920s might portend, for the worse and for the better.4 In his poems, too, science fiction elements are evident. “The Changeful World” from Second Hymn to Lenin and Other Poems (1935) begins: Earth has gone through many great changes. Why should it now cease changing? Would a world all machines be as strange as That in which the saurians went ranging?

Asserting that he would not care if he never saw a tree, bird, beast, or flower again, he admits that he cannot understand why anyone should believe in an afterlife in “a land where none of these can be found / Any more than in yonder sun.” However, the poem is not a castigation of religious orthodoxy, nor an evocation of pre- or post-historic society, but an affirmation of life’s changing forms and a confirmation of trust in the unthinkable changes life brings, ending: But who from sperm to maturity

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Has come need have no fear To leave his further course to whatever Arranged that incredible career!5

The industrial city produced one Blade Runner–like evocation of twilight urban sounds, in “In the Slums of Glasgow” from the same volume. The poem is also in praise of life’s variety and abundance and its visionary sense of a spiritual presence inhabiting all material things in their manifest diversity is linked to the intimate evocation of a couple lying down to rest at the end of a working day, in one of these slums. The connection is startling. This is how the poem ends: Now the great babel of Glasgow dies away in our ears, The great heart of Glasgow is sinking to rest, Na nonanunno nunnono nana nananana nanu, We lie cheek to cheek in a quiet trance, the moon itself no more still. There is no movement but your eyelashes fluttering against me, And the fading sound of the work-a-day world, Dadadoduddadaddadi dadadodudadidadoh, Duddadam dadade dude dadadadadadodadah.6

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Some of MacDiarmid’s short stories, too, should be noted in passing: “The Black Monkey” (1909) derives from Conan Doyle, H. G. Wells, and Stevenson’s Jekyll and Hyde, and “The Frontier” (printed from an undated manuscript in the National Library of Scotland) is a meditation on the meaning of the invisible borderline between nations when a man is caught in a blinding fog, wandering across the unidentified wasteland. Quasi-supernatural stories like “A’body’s Lassie” (1927), “Maria” (1927), “The Visitor” (1927), and “The Stranger” (1934), with characters either on the point of death or apparently returned from the dead, arguably occupy the horror genre rather than science fiction, but these are not far distant from each other, while “The Scab” (1932) describes an area of wilderness that threatens to expand and cover the entire earth, rather like a J. G. Ballard scenario (such as in the novels The Drowned World [1962], The Drought [1965] and The Crystal World [1966]). “A Scottish Saint” (1936) presents a character in the Glasgow slums who revolutionizes the society around him.7 These stories are written very much from the imagination of a poet, rather than a fiction writer, with greater regard for atmosphere, abstract questions, and dramatic moment than for characterization and extended narrative complexity. MacDiarmid’s most extensive foray into science fiction poetry is in his translation of the book-length poem Aniara: A Review of Man in Time and Space, by Harry Martinson (1904–1978). Martinson’s long poem was first published in Sweden in 1956 and was revised as a libretto by Erik Lindegren (1910–1968), which formed the basis of an eerie, haunting opera composed by Karl-Birgher Blomdal (1916–1968), first performed in Swedish in 1959.8 It was adapted into English by Elspeth Harley Schubert, then turned into free verse in 103 “songs” by MacDiarmid, and published in 1963.9 It is a central work of the Cold War, imagining a post-nuclear apocalyptic earth, polluted by atomic explosions, from which mankind is leaving in swarms of spaceships to colonize other planets, for “Earth must have a rest / for all her poisons” (Aniara, 1). The giant spaceship Aniara, housing eight thousand people, swerves to avoid an asteroid, is knocked off course, and passes “the point of no return,” heading into deep space beyond known galaxies, through unimaginable time, as the population of the earth dies off and,

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ultimately, the population on board the spaceship, too, dies off (4). It is a vast, dreadfully pessimistic dystopian vision, and thus a highly unusual component of MacDiarmid’s generally optimistic and affirmative oeuvre. That MacDiarmid took on the role of co-translating it says something important about his engagement with the nuclear age and may be considered alongside his anti-nuclear writings elsewhere, such as “The Unholy Loch.”10 A related work of 1948 is the anti-nuclear play Uranium 235 by Ewan MacColl, to which MacDiarmid contributed an introduction. The play opens with the Firewatcher’s poem: This is the hour When death is rationed out, When iron eggs, fruit of some monstrous coupling in Hell Are hatched in blood.11

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MacDiarmid supported the anti-nuclear position enacted by the play and embraced by MacColl, taking part in the famous Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament rally, standing shoulder-to-shoulder with Bertrand Russell in Trafalgar Square, in London, on 18 February 1961, and addressing the crowd of around 20,000 people. His position underscores every line of his translation of Aniara, as in Song 79, Earth, where “the jewel of our solar system” is all “white shrouds”: . . . God and Satan hand in hand from a defiled and poisoned land past plains and mountains fled the face of man; the King of Ashes. (Aniara, 105)

Aniara begins in despair and ends in total annihilation. The travelers are the antithesis of Edwin Morgan’s tranquilly defiant voyagers of “A Home in Space,” and the entropic, run-down inanition that overtakes them all is at the opposite end of the tonal spectrum from the intrinsic optimism of curiosity that fuels Morgan’s science fiction poems and his imagining of poems like spaceships, exploring unknown regions. For Martinson in MacDiarmid’s version, moments of lucid memory poignantly evoke the vivid pleasures of an earth that can never be revisited. For example, in Song 72, there are “glimpses of Karelia” (the

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landscape made familiar in the orchestral tone-poems of the great Finnish composer Sibelius): like a blue streak between tree-trunks, like the paling summer waters in the June-translucent twilight when an evening scarcely deepens ere the cuckoo sends his flute-like invitation to sweet Aino to swathe veils of mist about her, rise above the summer waters, go towards the soaring smoke wreaths, come to meet the cheerful cuckoo ’midst Karelia’s murmuring winds. (Aniara, 97)

However, such rare lyrical moments enact the narrator’s early admission that the passengers “still cling to habits of our time / on Earth” while they journey inexorably away from it, into the terrifying “empty sterile universe” (Song 7, Aniara, 9; Song 10, Aniara, 13). There are thousands of souls on board and we meet some of them as characters. In the early Songs there are evocations of frenzied indulgence in fashionable dances and parties, reminiscent of what Martinson said was the original source of his vision: an account he read as a boy of the sinking of the Titanic. Martinson recollected that his childhood sense of the event was “The world’s largest ship has sunk with all the people of the world on board.”12 But the poem is an adult’s condemnation of the extent to which technology and vanity has outweighed human goodness. It stands as a warning. In the Godless twentieth century, Martinson noted, “eternity has become synonymous with total emptiness. Life has become a journey that just comes to an end.”13 In Song 13 we read:

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Slowly we realize the space we travel in is a different kind to what we always pictured in our minds when the word “space” caught our imagination on earth—it dawns upon us now the extent to which we are cut off must be far greater than we first feared (Aniara, 16-17)

And in Song 17, we are advised: “The man who is space-conscious seldom dives” (Aniara, 22). Aniara is an immense dive into the depths of intergalactic emptiness. Song 25 begins: “The sarcophagus bears us quietly on” (Aniara, 28). We hear of the destruction of Earth, the slower

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death of all the arts and the withering of sympathy, until finally the narrator brings the whole downbeat epic to a close in Song 103: I turn the lantern low, enjoining stillness. Our tragedy has ended. But with the right of travellers down the ages, I have told our tale, a vision in galactic night. With unabated speed towards the Lyra the goldonda droned for fifteen thousand years, like a museum filled with bones and artefacts, and dried herbs and roots, relics . . . (Aniara, 129-30)

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And all the travelers are “transformed once more to blameless dust… / impervious to the sting of bitter stars, / lost and dispersed in oceans of Nirvana” (130). The most “space-conscious” of modern Scottish poets, Edwin Morgan, is perhaps the necessary antidote to the tragic space epic of Martinson/MacDiarmid. For Morgan, it is not only that poems can convey science fiction scenarios or narratives, but that the very act of writing poems is a kind of science fiction. “I think of poetry as partly an instrument of exploration,” he says, “like a spaceship, into new fields of feeling or experience (or old fields which become new in new contexts or environments).”14 As Marshall Walker notes, in contrast to the doleful, defensive images offered by Robert Frost (a poem gives “a momentary stay against confusion”), T. S. Eliot (“the whole earth is our hospital”) or Wallace Stevens (“reality is a cliché from which we escape by metaphor”), for Morgan “life and poetry are not to be defined in the negative terms often favoured by other twentieth-century masters.”15 Even so, the poem “Computer Error: Neutron Strike,” in Walker’s words, “graphically faces the supreme peril of modern science in a poem to be set beside Edwin Muir’s ‘The Horses,’ but without Muir’s redemptive conclusion.”16 The poem might be set beside Aniara too, as it evokes the moment of nuclear destruction. This was a real threat and palpable potential event felt intensely in Scotland, especially in Glasgow, Scotland’s most highly populated industrial city, because near to that city, the deep-water Holy Loch was the military base for a num-

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ber of nuclear submarines throughout the 1980s. Also, as a major transatlantic communications point, Glasgow would have been a prime target for a preemptive nuclear strike. The cosmos of Harry Martinson’s poem is post-nuclear holocaust and his space travelers are in flight from the Armageddon of radiation and general death on earth. Morgan’s poem imagines the moment of that strike and its consequences. In this sense, neither poem is science fiction: each is a projection of possibility based on an assessment of actual conditions. But to note this bleak affinity of visions is only to begin to explore Morgan’s plenum, for “Computer Error: Neutron Strike” is in fact the forty-first of the Sonnets from Scotland, and must be considered in its place in the full fifty-one-poem sequence (Collected Poems, 453). We shall come back to this, but first we should take our own voyage through the galaxy of Morgan’s poems and note some particularly bright star-systems and habitable planets. If there is a dialectic of visions in all the poems we have considered so far, it continues through Morgan’s work as a whole, from apocalyptic, end-of-the-world visions to utopian, worlds-of-possibility imaginings: in other words, while the trope of science fiction allows us to consider the worst possible outcomes of modern technology and human motivation, it might also help us to imagine, and to bring about, a better future. This is the essential argument that connects Geddes, MacDiarmid, and Morgan, and that connection can only be understood through an appreciation of what the developing methodology of science fiction can do. It is not merely a commercial genre but a literary mechanism by which to open profoundly serious questions about human imagination, political power, and social organisation. The very first of Morgan’s Collected Poems, “Dies Irae” of 1952, opens in terror—”It was the blaze and maelstrom of God’s wrath”—and through a vivid landscape of “the slow slumbrous clash of arms” and a “searing soundless furnace-fall of sunlight” moves towards its end in a tone of prayer that God may bless the poem and its meditation, gazing upon it “in the endless doom” (Collected Poems, 21–24). For Morgan, the 1950s were difficult years in which he had to process his experience of World War II, when he was a private soldier in the Royal Army Medical Corps in the North African desert, and come to terms with his own homosexuality in a predominantly patriarchal world—as a university lecturer in Glasgow. The inaugural

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poem of the decade was his translation of Beowulf (1952), which memorably delivers a dark, grey, muddy world of bloodshed, monsters, clashing swords and torn flesh, unspoken passions, bottled-up bitterness, the release of violence. However, his first small book of poems, The Vision of Cathkin Braes (1952), suggests a resource of optimism in the locality of his young manhood, bringing together a sense of that specific rise overlooking Glasgow and a quality of envisioning possible futures, to get beyond the darkness. Through the 1960s, Morgan’s poetry changed and developed a new, multi-faceted, experimental character, best exemplified in his breakthrough volume, The Second Life (1968). Science fiction had been an essential component of his boyhood reading through 1927 to 1940, his favorite authors including H. G. Wells, Jules Verne, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Arthur Conan Doyle, and Olaf Stapledon.17 In The Second Life, there are specific poems that occupy the science fiction genre with serious intent. The sound-poem “Spacepoem 1: from Laika to Gagarin” uses words and parts of words from Russian to connect the Sputnik spaceship with the domestic world suggested by the little dog sent up in it: “barkbark! . . . / star! spot! sput! stop! star! sputsput! star!” (Collected Poems, 194). It is worth noting that when the National Museum of Scotland invited him to choose an item to be held there that was quintessentially characteristic of the twentieth century, Morgan selected the recording of Gagarin’s voice coming from outer space. The two most serious science fiction poems of the volume are “In Sobieski’s Shield” and “From the Domain of Arnheim” (Collected Poems, 196-8; 198-99). The first of these is one of the essential poems in Morgan’s ouevre, definitively affirming the need for change as a family unit of father, mother, and son are rematerialized in a distant place, “a minor planet / of a sun in Sobieski’s Shield.” They are changed in some ways (the father has lost a finger, the son has only one nipple, the mother has acquired an “extraordinarily / strange and beautiful crown of bright red hair”), yet they are survivors, adapting to the new world in their “second life” and ready to understand their connectedness to the past, while heading on into the unknown in the closing lines: “are the suits / ready the mineral storm is quieter it’s hard / to go let’s go.” If the poem affirms voyaging, it also enacts continuity, in the effective enjambment

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through each of its five unpunctuated verse-paragraphs: “the barriers are unspeakable we know a little of that / but something what is it gets through it is not / an essence but an energy.” The second poem rises out of a short story by Edgar Allan Poe, “The Domain of Arnheim,” describing the vision of characters who seem to exist invisibly, on an ethereal plane, visiting “earth-angels” who, in Marshall Walker’s words, see “a primitive, earthly people in a state of seeming disorder, naked, singing to drums and trumpets, kissing, ‘burning fires of trash and mammoths’ bones.’”18 However, these apparently primitive people are also survivors, unafraid of the alien visitors. Their courage and energy remain, hauntingly. As Walker says, “Once more Morgan has used the genre of science fiction to express a positive view of the human condition.” From the volume Instamatic Poems (1972), it is worth noting (not so much as science fiction as for its humorous critique of the scientists’ conservative vision of the family) “TRANSLUNAR SPACE MARCH 1972.” This poem describes with ironic detachment the rather clichéd illustration that accompanied Pioneer-10 on its two-year trip to Jupiter (Collected Poems, 224). The title of his next volume, From Glasgow to Saturn (1973), is an appropriate acknowledgment of the range of work in it. “Interferences: a sequence of 9 poems” characteristically makes serious points through playing with garbled spelling—concluding with an increasingly worried count-down to a spaceship taking off: “we do not have lift-off / a hundred and twenty-eighth / wo de nat hove loft-iff” (Collected Poems, 253–57). “Afterwards” presents a stunning, intensely realized post-nuclear disaster landscape and ends with the hope of escape and regeneration, but “The Gourds” describes a surreal encapsulation of the poem’s narrator by a strange yellow gourd, the last line of the poem circling into the first line, thus forming an endless loop of the swallowed voice, heard as if from inside the gourd itself (Collected Poems, 260–61, 261–62). There is a counterpoint of levity in “The First Men on Mercury,” a dialogue recording the richly comic encounter between astronauts from earth and Mercurians, who quickly adapt each other’s language, the astronauts perplexedly, the Mercurians with authoritative wisdom (267–68). They, and readers with them, learn what might be worth considering about linguistic relations and power. It was adapted as a comic strip

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pamphlet of which thirty-two thousand copies were distributed to secondary schools throughout Scotland on National Poetry Day, 8 October 2009.19 “Spacepoem 3: Off Course,” returns to the theme of affirmation, with “the smuggled mouth-organ” supplying something essentially human in “the crackling headphone” and “the space silence”: there is also “the floating lifeline” and “the floating song,” so Morgan’s star-voyagers of “A Home in Space” are perhaps prefigured here (268-69). In The New Divan (1977), “Memories of Earth” also suggests that poem’s band of tranquil defiers as six characters persist in secret meetings to “study how to change this life” by learning from messages recorded on damaged tapes, conveying mysterious images and vague but vital information from an ancient earth they have now left behind (330–40, see 340). The complementary “Space Sonnet & Polyfilla” and “Polyfilla” comprise a surreal exclamation of desire, to ride on milehigh elephants, roll in wet gauze and flaunt lapels of vulcanite (341). “Planets” brings Gustav Holst’s orchestral suite to bear on the nature of a personal, sexual relationship (371). Morgan’s most explicitly science fiction poems are in Star Gate: Science Fiction Poems (1979; Collected Poems, 381-94). There is a range of tones and forms, from “INSTAMATIC THE MOON FEBRUARY 1973” with its photographic immediacy, to the kaleidoscopic vision of “The Worlds,” with its closing conviction that “Time has entered space. / Earth is again the centre / and the favoured place” (383; 383-84). From the humor of “Particle Poems i-vi” through the grim speculation of “Era,” in which humanity is superseded by silicon-based life forms (386-87), and on to the more playful “Foundation,” which lists key items that might go into the future to tell of present life (387), we have noted the courageously open-ended quest to which the astronauts of “A Home in Space” dedicate themselves. But “The Mouth” is a fearful prospect of all life being consumed and digested, a black hole sucking all identity into itself (388–89). “The Clone Poem” delivers its sober message through the comic effect of repetition and in the final sequence, “The Moons of Jupiter,” the trope of unidentified visitors arriving on each of the five satellites and describing their experiences prefigures the narrative procedure of Sonnets from Scotland (1984) (389–90, 390–94, 435–57).

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Arguably, Sonnets from Scotland was the turning point of Morgan’s career. Certainly, in conversation with me he named it his own favorite among all his books. Anonymous interstellar visitors come to Scotland, arriving before time, witnessing a multitude of stories, events, and characters in the trajectory of the nation, from fifty-one oblique and illuminating perspectives, and coming to imagined futures, sometimes terrifying, sometimes wonderfully liberating. The juxtaposition of intensely personal moments and a cosmic context creates a startling, intensely poignant emotional poise, balancing personal feeling, political immediacy, literary and cultural curiosity, and a sense of the significance of Scotland in the vastness of the cosmos. At the end of the last sonnet, “The Summons,” we are told: “a far horn grew to break that people’s sleep” (Collected Poems, 457). In 1979, a majority of people voting in a referendum in Scotland had asserted their wish for devolved political authority and a measure of self-determination; in the general election that same year, a majority in Scotland also voted against the Conservative Party under Margaret Thatcher. The results were a dismissal of these votes: the devolution vote was disqualified and the Conservative Party came to government in the United Kingdom because of the preponderance of votes cast in England. The far horn that ends Morgan’s sequence was to help awaken an incontrovertible authority and desire that would show itself in Scotland in the referendum of 1997 and the reestablishment of the Scottish Parliament at the end of the twentieth century. Here is a very concrete example of how the work of the imagination in the creation of a poetic vision contributes to the real world of political change. We can infer the degree and extent of Morgan’s commitment to science fiction as a genre in which flexibility and malleability of imaginative forms can engage with possibilities in the real world, unconstrained by predetermination or outcomes that might seem inevitable. Therefore Morgan’s playfulness, or gamesomeness, is not merely frivolous or recreational, but part of a larger political process, profoundly earthed in Scotland as an ongoing, unfinished identity, still discovering its history and its potential. Yet if this quality in Morgan is earthed in favored places (Glasgow, Scotland), it is equally capable of abandoning the constraints of that rootedness to voyage and explore—free, but not directionless.

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For most of Morgan’s writing life, then, the conventions of science fiction were self-consciously exploited. However, this is not to categorize Morgan as a science fiction genre author, but rather to see how the essential method of that genre overlaps with and creatively activates the political and moral visions of radical Scottish poets from the nineteenth century on. In this respect, Morgan is working in a definite tradition that is not confined to a single genre but triggers a continuing enquiry into the process and determination of social change. Science fiction modes are less visible in later volumes, although there is a science fantasy aspect to the sequence Demon (1999). In Love and a Life (published as a small book in 2003 then gathered in A Book of Lives in 2007), Morgan offers autobiographical poems reflecting on his own personal experience as he looks back from his eighties.20 It is as if the realistic autobiographical mode has taken the place of the realities of imagination proposed by science fiction. This shift begins most clearly in Hold Hands Among the Atoms (1991), where moving poems of personal loss and loneliness are set beside warning tones as the tectonic plates of Eastern Europe began moving, and there are relatively few playful speculations like “Sunday in East Mars.”21 In Sweeping Out the Dark (1994), “Stein on Venus” begins with a note that a crater on that planet is to be named after the writer. Most poems in the collection are personal, elegies, autobiographical moments, translations.22 In Virtual and Other Realities (1997), imaginary worlds and material fact coincide and the coincidence is noted in “The World of Things Undone”: “The world of things undone has far more matter / than this one.”23 Perhaps the closest we get to science fiction in the later Morgan is the sequence Tales from Baron Munchausen (2005), with its fabulous image of the Baron jumping from one flying cannon ball to another, or the final poem in the sequence Planet Wave, collected in A Book of Lives (2007), set in 2300 AD, with another band of interstellar travelers arriving somewhere far ahead of us, opening the hatch to the unpredicted future.24 Yet the characteristic quality of optimistic curiosity remains. It is most clearly stated in Morgan’s 1975 interview with Marshall Walker, referring to the science fiction classic Last and First Men: A Story of the Near and Far Future (1930) by Olaf Stapledon (1886–1950), like this:

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Scotland As Science Fiction I don’t think it’s entirely irrational that one can have a hopeful or even a very hopeful long-term view of the possibilities of the human race. I think it’s because we’re so flexible. The species that died out were very rigid. The great Saurians were very impressive creatures but they hadn’t the kind of flexibility to master changes in the environment that man has. It seems to me that is the great thing about the human species, it now knows how flexible it is and how much power it can eventually have over a wide range of environments, including non-terrestrial environments. I think it goes without saying that we shall go to other environments and adapt to other environments and adapt to them perhaps even physiologically like in Stapledon’s Last and First Men. I think this is something one must envisage in the long term and so I do quite often think of these long-term processes. I’m quite convinced that we do have a very distant future ahead of us.

Asked then if therefore he will continue to say, “Let’s go,” he gives his affirmation: “I’ll continue to say, ‘Let’s go.’”25 In June 2001, I introduced Edwin Morgan to a setting by Igor Stravinsky for chorus and orchestra of Konstantin Bal’mont’s poem “Zvezdolikii” or “The King of the Stars,” to which I had referred in a poem of my own, written in honor of Morgan’s eightieth birthday.26 He responded immediately with the gift of his own translation of it (now held in my private collection), which is sufficiently Science Fiction to warrant its first publication, with Morgan’s kind permission, in the present volume.

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“Starface” His face was like the sun when the sun is at its peak, His eyes were like the stars before they shatter the sky. Rainbow colours wove and webbed him fleck and streak, Ravishingly robed out for his second life on high. Thunders grumbled round him, reds of raging cloud-race, And seven Great Bears like candles burned right through, And flashing lightning-branches flowered the cliff-face. “You keep the Word?” he asked. We shrieked and wailed, “We do.”

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Ap e rçu s ‘I am first and last” he spoke, echoed by thunder-crack. “Harvest-time” said Starface. “Sickles out. Amen.” Our faith made us get up. Red zigzags made a stack. And seven gold Great Bears led us to the edge of the fen.

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This is a surreal vision of a cosmic moment, a declaration of commitment and intention. It is “Harvest-time” and the sickles need to be in our hands to reap that harvest. Zodiac signs (“Great Bears”) that seem literally, physically present will lead us to the edge of an unknown landscape, “the fen” where the harvest awaits. Yet that unknown “edge” is an astronomical reference as well as a geographical one. The metaphor works both ways. We can imagine the terrain of a real fenland, and we can equally imagine uninhabited zones in interstellar space. This is a poem about optimistic faith, people who “keep the Word,” yet it is also a universal affirmation in a cosmos of eternal change which is not easy or painless: stars will “shatter” the sky, thunders grumble, voices shriek and wail. It seems ultimately a summary affirmation of a process of imagining the world, what people might be, in an illimitable, intergalactic space, and as such, it prompts further consideration of how the genre of science fiction in the articulation of Scottish poetry opens into worlds no commercial category can confine: a good place to begin.

Notes 1.

Edwin Morgan, “A Home in Space,” Star Gate: Science Fiction Poems (1979), in Collected Poems 19491987 (Manchester: Carcanet, 1996), 387–88. Pieces in Collected Poems subsequently referenced in text as Collected Poems.

2.

James Young Geddes, The New Jerusalem and Other Verses (Dundee: James P. Matthew, 1879); The Spectre Clock of Alyth and Other Selections (Dundee: Thomas McMurray, 1886); In the Valhalla and Other Poems (Dundee: John Leng, 1891). See also Valentina Bold, “James Young Geddes 1850–1913: A Re-Evaluation,” Scottish Literary Journal 19.1 (1992): 18–27.

3.

James Young Geddes, The New Jerusalem and Other Verses, 40–41.

4.

Hugh MacDiarmid, Albyn: Shorter Books and Monographs, ed. Alan Riach (Manchester: Carcanet, 1996).

5.

Hugh MacDiarmid, “The Changeful World,” Second Hymn to Lenin and Other Poems (1935), in Complete Poems, 1, ed. Michael Grieve and W. R. Aitken (Manchester: Carcanet, 1994), 558–59.

6.

Hugh MacDiarmid, “In the Slums of Glasgow,” op.cit., 562–65.

7.

Hugh MacDiarmid, Annals of the Five Senses: Stories, Sketches and Plays, ed. Roderick Watson and Alan Riach (Manchester: Carcanet, 1999).

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Scotland As Science Fiction 8. Aniara: Space Opera by Karl-Birgher Blomdal, libretto by Erik Lindegren, 2 CD set, Stockholm, Sweden: Caprice CAP 22016:1–2. 9. Harry Martinson, Aniara: A Review of Man in Time and Space, adapted from the Swedish by Hugh MacDiarmid and Elspeth Harley Schubert, with an introduction by Dr. Tord Hall (London: Hutchinson, 1963). Hereafter, referred to as Aniara. 10. Hugh MacDiarmid, “The Unholy Loch,” Complete Poems, 2 (Manchester: Carcanet, 1994), 1478–79. 11. Ewan MacColl, Uranium 235: A Documentary Play in Eleven Episodes, intro. Hugh MacDiarmid (Glasgow: William MacLellan, 1948), 12. 12. Frederic Fleisher, “Space Poet” [untraced newspaper review]. 13. Frederic Fleisher, op. cit. 14. Quoted in Marshall Walker, Scottish Literature since 1707 (London and New York: Longman, 1996), 304. 15. Ibid. 16. Ibid 17. Edwin Morgan, “Books I Have Read (1927-1940),” in Nothing Not Giving Messages: Reflections on his Work and Life, ed. Hamish Whyte (Edinburgh: Polygon, 1990), 264–72. 18. Marshall Walker, “The Voyage Out and the Favoured Place: Edwin Morgan’s Science Fictions,” in About Edwin Morgan, ed. Robert Crawford and Hamish Whyte (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1990), 54–64, see 60.

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19. Available online through the Association for Scottish Literary Studies homepage: http://www .arts.gla.ac.uk/ScotLit/ASLS. 20. Edwin Morgan, Demon (Glasgow: Mariscat Press, 1999), collected in Cathures: New Poems 19972001 (Manchester: Carcanet, 2002), 91-115; Love and a Life (Glasgow: Mariscat Press, 2006), collected in A Book of Lives (Manchester: Carcanet, 2007), 82–103. Hereafter, Book of Lives. 21. Edwin Morgan, “Sunday in East Mars,” in Hold Hands Among the Atoms (Glasgow: Mariscat Press, 1991), collected in Sweeping Out the Dark (Manchester: Carcanet, 1994), 81. 22. Edwin Morgan, “Stein on Venus,” in Sweeping Out the Dark (Manchester: Carcanet, 1994), 14. 23. Edwin Morgan, “The World of Things Undone,” in Virtual and Other Realities (Manchester: Carcanet, 1997), 61. 24. Edwin Morgan, “My Day Among the Cannonballs,” in Tales from Baron Munchausen (Glasgow: Mariscat Press, 2005), 29–30; “On the Way to Barnard’s Star,” in Planet Wave (1997), collected in Book of Lives, 43. 25. Edwin Morgan, “Let’s go,” in Nothing Not Giving Messages, 54–85, see 84–85. 26. Alan Riach, “The Jungle Books: for Edwin Morgan at Eighty,” in Unknown Is Best (Edinburgh: Scottish Poetry Library, 2000), reprinted in Alan Riach, Clearances (Edinburgh: Scottish Cultural Press, 2001), 56–57.

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Lisa Harrison

Brave New

Scotland: Science Fiction without Stereotypes in Fitt and Crumey

An folk in the real world o the new Scotland maist certainly want tae

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read guid clear Scots prose. Show them new worlds via their ain language, show them it weel an they’ll reward ye. —Matthew Fitt* TAKE A LOOK AT SCOTLAND’S FAMOUS PROTAGONISTS: ADVEN-

turers, romantics, escapists, swashbucklers. They carry the promise of action and story in part through their “speculative cast of mind.”1 It should come as no surprise, then, that many of Scotland’s writers project that mind where Alan MacGillivray’s comment implies—into science fiction. From Conan Doyle’s The Lost World, to David Lindsay’s “Arcturus,” or Naomi Mitchison’s “lamda 771 in the Q series,” Scots range far from home, imagining different realms and distant lands in which to place their creations.2 But what of the writer who imagines the other worlds of Scotland itself? Alongside the fiction of escape in R. L. Stevenson, the fiction of fantasy in J. M. Barrie, and the fiction of romance in Sir Walter Scott runs a line of Scottish writing that innovates science fiction by speculating directly about the immediately-changing world that is Scotland. For Matthew Fitt’s But n’ Ben A Go-Go (2000) and Andrew Crumey’s Sputnik Caledonia (2008), the vehicle of speculative

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science fiction allows the authors radically to reimagine and reconstruct Scotland in wildly different scopes and time periods, and thereby to impact science fiction as a genre.3 Fitt transfigures Scots and Scotland by projecting the nation to a drastically-changed future, asking what could be; Crumey dials back the nation to a politically-charged, socialist past, wondering what might have been. In Fitt’s and Crumey’s aging and regressing of the nation beyond and behind present reality, what do their fictive formulations imply about that present? By creating a future through science fiction, is Fitt actively engaging with Scotland’s past? By reworking the past, does Crumey suggest potentialities for Scotland’s future? Their fictive worlds are Scotland, though not as we know it—they each present a Scotland stripped of cultural stereotyping, thus reformed and redefined through fiction. A projected Scottish future and an alternate Scottish past are used to separate and refract aspects of contemporary Scottish culture, reinventing familiar iconography and extrapolating that which seems new, but which fast becomes familiar. Alan Riach tackles the issue of Scotland’s iconographic past in his Representing Scotland in Literature, Popular Culture and Iconography (2005). The flyleaf shows a DC Comics book: Batman in vivid, slick color—fist raised, grappling with a nameless Scottish Angry Man. We know the man is Scottish: his hair and stance are wild, he wears a garish red tartan, wields a heavy-seeming broadsword, and teeters at the edge of a stone precipice adorned with gargoyles and Celtic stone work while a Scottish saltire waves against an ominously grey sky.4 His inclusion in Riach’s discussion of Scottish representation is obvious—a stereotype on the cover of a comic book, he seemingly manifests in full Scotland’s commodification in popular culture. Riach’s introduction shores up this conclusion: ask students what they think of Scotland, he writes, and they answer “tartan, whisky, heather, wild mountain scenery, and bad weather.”5 While there is a familiarity and comfort in these answers, “there [is] also a sense that such stereotypical images and icons [are] constricting.” The comic—its consumer impact initially reliant on such visual and cultural cues—belies a complexity which Riach further examines. Both Bruce Wayne and his foe, Fergus Slith, bring a complicated Scottish backstory to their conflict. The cover shows the saltire

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flying over both Batman and his erstwhile nemesis, and the balance of power and aggression in their physical stances prompts Riach to ask, “who’s fighting for the flag?”6 The sum total of discerning both visual clues with biographical detail gives no easy answer in decoding Bruce Wayne’s Scottish Connection—the simple truths promised by stereotype are suddenly squeezed beyond their capacity to define. This sense of constriction suggests not just annoyance at such pervasive cultural oversimplification, but the recognition of an actual process of constraint, defining and delimiting a normative imaginative space in which the nation is presumed to exist. The type of collected commodified iconography and cultural representation with which mainstream writing and thus Scottish science fiction contends might be seen as an assemblage of limit terms, isolating the nation even within that literary space. Genuinely Scottish representation may be obfuscated and delimited by reactive faddism. For Scottish science fiction, however, the very nature of the genre grants relative freedom for exploration and play, for here boundaries and limitations of cultural representation are necessarily tested and examined.

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Matthew Fitt’s But n Ben A Go-Go But n Ben A-Go-Go sits squarely in the middle of this imagined space. In a 2001 interview, Fitt addresses the issue that surrounds his fictive world: There are that many stereotypes in the contemporary landscape that can hirple a piece o Scots writin—urban deprivation, rural sentiment, industrial decline. By fast-forritin Scotland intae the future, I wis able tae jouk maist, if not aw, o them. Mibbe I should hae been confrontin these stereotypes heid on. (I certainly feel that they should be addressed.) But I didna try because I needit a clear heid tae deal wi the demands o ma first full-length novel.7

While Fitt denies he explicitly addresses the issues of stereotype in a contemporary landscape, his novel engages specifically with the branding and marketing of an unchallenged Scottish iconography by re-creating his Scotland outside its familiar contexts. The conception of a future Scotland devoid of such stereotypes obliquely calls into question their power to

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define the boundaries of “Scottishness.” Nevertheless, the presentation of an identifiable future Scotland must rely on cultural and iconographic clues, which places Fitt in the untenable position of necessarily choosing piecemeal from the propagation of Scottish signifiers he is attempting to “jouk,”—unless new ones are created. And they are. At the same time as it critiques what Eleanor Bell describes as “limiting accounts of Scottishness,” But n Ben A Go-Go challenges narrative presumption.8 By setting his story in the future, Fitt suggests that there will be distinctly Scottish issues to be dealt with by this living, progressing nation. The novel thus takes on the contemporary fictions of English-driven narrative, and a potentially narrow view of “science fiction,” dealing with content, form, and context in a radically more direct manner than contemporary literary realism. Fitt’s narrative sport secures But n Ben a place in The List’s “100 Best Scottish Novels of All Time.”9 Fitt succeeds in picking a clean and clear vision of Scotland out of the literary and cultural noise by aging the country beyond the aggregation of standard, tartanified visions into a world where the marketability of Scottish culture is all but irrelevant. He extrapolates the nation’s future from the admixture of contemporary culture and its resultant commodification, appropriating and transforming those identifiers which will remain. In But n Ben, he chooses specific cultural references of language and locale available to the general reader in order to outline the Scottish nation he has imagined; he turns Scotland into the center of a cyberpunk, interconnected world by using new language, new Scottish settings, even new weather. The year is 2090, and Scotland is underwater, save the Highlands (now called Drylands), thanks to global flooding.10 In a simple way, imagining the nation at this time and place is a step toward a futures-forward mentality. Bound with the Scots language, But n Ben also reveals a nationhood that has successfully weathered such altered circumstances, living collectively in man-built communities of floating island cities: Port, the maist northerly settlement in a triangle o maritime cantons wi Europoort in the sooth an Berlinhaven in the east, had tholed God’s Flood—an the subsequent decade o wud tropical storms as the world’s climate bubbled an fizzed—athoot muckle loss. Port’s cities, officially

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Scotland As Science Fiction cried Parishes, had jowed an sweeled successfully hauf a century on the roch North Atlantic, thirled firmly at the sea flair wi seeven-hunnermetre-lang alloy cables tae the drooned burgh o Greenock.11

Fitt explores (in an Atwood-ian sense) the limits of what humans must endure.12 Atwood maintains that science fiction “can explore the nature and limits of what it means to be human in graphic ways, by pushing the envelope as far as it will go,” and that it “can explore proposed changes in social organisation, by showing what they might actually be like for those living within them.” In But n Ben, polar melting has raised the average outside temperature in Scotland to 50°C (a whopping 122°F), and the denizens of Port must keep their skin covered from the penetrating sun and depleted ozone layers, as well as carry cancer kits should their skin be exposed. Worse, an HIV-like blood-borne über-virus, called Sangue de Verde, or Senga, perversely decimates the population—carriers must be kept alive (though effectively moribund) in hermetically sealed containers called kists, in order to stop the spread of the disease. Person-to-person contact is gone, and citizens connect via virtual links to the Internet (VINE).

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Like every modern mairried couple, they had ainlie ever lovinly lowped each ither in the safe, Senga-free environs o a virtual bed. He had had nae reason tae think she wisna happy juist cyberwinchin wi him. Nane o his generation really kent for shair but cooryin doon wi yir pairtner’s virtual body wis supposed tae be the same as the auld-fashioned wey. (But n Ben, 18)

As the driving force of the novel, the blood disease Senga is the vehicle used to explore sexual and more general interpersonal relations under unnatural stress. It isolates individuals from intimate contact, reduces sexual intercourse to a virtual simulation, and imprisons the infected within living tombs. These indignities are all suffered, and yet Fitt envisages a mankind both endurable and adaptable, and a Scottish identity strong enough to center the nation within this dystopic vision of the future. Yet Fitt is not merely a Scottish writer engaged in speculative fiction. Through creative linguistic play, Fitt is a writer speculating

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about and innovating the future of his country amidst a backdrop of technology, changed landscape, and radically altered scientific advancement. The most prominent tool in Fitt’s arsenal is the language he uses to engage, explore, and ultimately reduce and absorb the problem of the commodification of Scottish cultural iconography. Like the sheer volume of water of God’s Flood in the world of Port, the language of Fitt’s work dominates and informs every aspect in the novel, making individual (previously commodified) terms faddish and irrelevant. Fitt propels the language of Dunbar and Henryson into a tech-heavy twenty-first-century milieu: the third-person omniscient narration is Scots; the microchip Java 5 in the Internet-driven world of VINE is Scots; the entire world of But n Ben crackles to life through Fitt’s choice of language. Moreover the English introduction to the novel, “How to Read But n Ben A Go-Go,” declares that the Scots-driven narrative needs no glossary of Scots-to-English, no “ready-reckoner at the back of the book to turn to when the going gets tough. Such mini-dictionaries are distracting and often laborious. In addition, they can sometimes be seen as an apology for the Scots words in the text, as if the language was unable to speak for itself.”13 On a surface level, the deliberate use and vitality of the Scots language in the novel counterbalances Bell’s “limiting depictions of Scottishness” by animating the centuries-old language within a cyberpunk future. Indeed, the invention of words such as incendicowp and cyberjanny is a stroke of sparkling creativity (incendicowp: incinerator; cyberjanny: a VINE janitor and heavy-for-hire—one who keeps the cyber-world free of offenders, troublemakers, or those denied access). These words take vocabulary familiar as Scots (cowp, janny), and place them into the fictive world of Port, creating a seamless transition between familiar Scots words and ones newly-minted for But n Ben’s reality. States Fitt, “I had braw fun fusin common Scots words wi World English . . . but I didna feel I wis particularly creatin a future Scots. If onythin, I wis simply ettlin tae bring Scots (in the perceptions o the folk that I thocht micht read But n Ben) intae the present.”14 By creating, or re-parsing these Scots words, Fitt appropriates MacDiarmid’s linguistic inventiveness, effectively launching a future-driven “Synthetic Scots.”

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By inventing and then extrapolating words—again, as in the example of cyberjanny—Fitt leads the reader to interact with the text as a living, mutable language, precisely what he details in “How to Read But n Ben A-Go-Go.” His re-packaging (or re-branding) of Scots in this vocabof-the-future way thus denies the readers the familiarity that might lull even native Scots speakers into lazy, auto-pilot reading. Thus projecting us—sans sure footing—into the Scots language based in the future Scotland of But n Ben, assures Fitt of readers who will not only engage with his text organically, but who will work doubly hard to do so.

Andrew Crumey’s Sputnik Caledonia Where Fitt innovates his future-Scotland through playful linguistic reinventions, Crumey privileges a narrative mash-up within Sputnik Caledonia (2008), often reveling in the bending of multiple narrative genres in his re-direction of Scotland. Crumey’s narrative choices become interpretive footholds for the reader, and the result occupies a liminal space between science fiction, historical fiction, alternate history (alt-history), political tract, and philosophical theory, incorporating aspects of each. Sputnik Caledonia samples quantum mechanics, Many Worlds theory, adolescent fantasy, adult frustration, political paranoia, and Crumey’s own doctorate in theoretical physics in its tripartite narrative of a dystopian British Democratic Republic, book-ended by sections in early-1970s and post-millennial Scotland. Crumey’s narrative choices in Sputnik Caledonia—much the same as Fitt’s linguistic inventiveness in But n Ben—offer the strongest and most accessible tools for readers as they approach his re-contextualizing of Scotland within a possible alternative realm. Narrated partly through 12-year-old Robbie Coyle in the first of the novel’s three sections, Crumey’s Scottish alt-history takes for its impetus the socialist political theories of Robbie’s father, filtered through Robbie’s adolescent but sometimes histrionic imagination:

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Robbie asked him, “Why do some people not like the Russians?” “Because the workers there had a revolution against the capitalists, and one day the Scots’ll get the gether and do the same. We nearly succeeded in 1919, until Churchill sent the army into Glasgow to stop it.”

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Ap e rçu s Then Mr Coyle began to speak of a future socialist paradise in which everyone would be equal, dressed in a classless uniform which sounded to Robbie a bit like the costumes of higher life forms in Star Trek. Money would no longer exist. “Why should one man get paid twice as much as another for doing exactly the same work?” Mr Coyle said. And it was true; when did anybody in Star Trek ever open a wage packet, or put his hand in his pocket in search of change? Come to that, did they even have pockets? In the age of socialism, Robbie realized, such things would no longer be needed. It would be a world without competition or strife, his father promised, with no more war, since there would be no capitalists left to encourage hostilities. 15

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Set in 1970s Scotland, the first section follows Robbie and his family briefly through day-to-day life in the Scottish suburb of Kenzie. Crumey peppers Robbie’s internal flights of fancy with allusions to a boy’s natural curiosity about the world around him—girls, technology, familial and communal connections—while negotiating Robbie’s nameless longing for adventure in the skies. The socialist future which informs the first section, however, is only realized by readers in the second section. Crumey abruptly shifts narrative focus away from Scotland’s 1970s suburbs and the rather likable Robbie Coyle, landing readers in medias res into a different time and place. Still Scotland, this moment features a completely different historical trajectory and is narrated through the perspective of an apparently different character, also named Robert Coyle. The suburb of Kenzie is gone, replaced by the chain-link fence of a security cordon surrounding the perimeter of the Installation. The Installation officially “does not exist. It is on no map and referred to in no document” (Sputnik, 129). Here, both the new character of Robert Coyle and the readers are told, “Right now you are in a non-existent place.” The alienation effect that this narrative shift achieves assures Crumey of a captive audience for negotiating his new setting. As textual footing is sought, readers are prevented from reading on auto-pilot, and Crumey’s narrative choices prompt the reader’s consideration of that which they find unsettling: is this adult Robert Coyle the same as twelve-year-old Robbie Coyle? Is this new context one of his vivid imaginings? Were his

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flights of fancy and obsessive twiddling of radio knobs no daydream, but actually connections to a different, parallel Scotland? No definitive answers are initially forthcoming, but the narrative slyly hints at similarity and difference: Robbie wonders if World War II would have happened if baby Hitler had been smothered in his sleep; professor Kaupff wonders whether a distant star might be a gateway to a parallel universe or mirror world. Sputnik Caledonia regresses Scotland away from the shared comprehension of the last forty years of historical fact, and places the nation into a counterfactual history—a seemingly-parallel world where this alternate Scotland is envisioned as the locus of a new superpower, the British Democratic Republic, in a near forty-year détente with the USSR: The Installation was created over thirty years ago, right at the end of the Patriotic War, when the invading Nazi scum . . . were defeated by the People’s Army. The Central committee knew that . . . Britain needed to have its own nuclear deterrent alongside that of our Soviet allies. (Sputnik,

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130–31)

By stripping Scotland of its actual history and inventing a new and imminently authoritative world context, the middle section of Sputnik imagines a still culturally-identifiable Scotland at the seat of global power. In a 2006 interview, Crumey explicitly discusses the urge to “find . . . things out” via his fiction, and readily offers Sputnik’s bonafides through Hugh Everett’s Many Worlds “interpretation of quantum physics: the idea that every probability exists in a parallel universe somewhere.”16 Parallel universes and infinite probability lie at the heart of the alt-history genre, which treats historical fact and contingency as mutable and immediately available to the choice of creative change. Mainly popularized in mainstream fiction by American writer Harry Turtledove, alt-history fiction relates imagined worlds wherein a point of divergence acts as fulcrum for a host of potential alternate responses or results.17 That is, alt-history fiction relies on readers’ shared, experiential history (usually global) in the telling of an alternative to that history. What if the Nazis won World War II? What if aliens visited the middle of a battlefield?

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The possibility for exploration in this way is limited only by imagination, and, as in Everett’s Many Worlds theory, many seeminglydefinitive historical experiences can be made new by this type of inventive impetus. Exploring the results of arbitrary points of divergence creates innovative, often oppositional, works of fiction which challenge readers to experience the subject in a new way, cut loose of blithe “factual” assurances. In Sputnik, the intertwining of science fiction and alt-history genres allows Crumey the imaginative space to investigate alternatives for Scotland. Readers come to realize that the hinge moment where Scotland (and indeed the world) pivots is at the Cold War’s turn toward nuclear armament and proliferation—when proxy war, technological conflict, and military competition between the Soviet Bloc and the economic powers of the Western world is never assuaged. “Yes, the Bomb,” the brigadier resumed with a tone of nostalgia. “The 162

technological miracle that has maintained world peace for nearly four decades and epitomizes the special relationship between the British Democratic Republic and the USSR. It was a huge undertaking, involving hundreds of scientists and technical workers, secretarial and administrative staff, support personnel. . . . But that was only the start. Nuclear power, chemical weaponry, navigation systems, artificial satellites; all have been developed here. The Installation nowadays is a complete town, totally closed to the outside world. . . . all the people you meet will be involved in the hidden life and work of the Installation in one way or another. The golden rule is that you don’t ask unnecessary questions, and you don’t answer them. Whatever your superiors tell you may, in the interests of security, be a lie—but you can rest assured that it will be a significant lie, told for good reason, because here in the Installation, everything has a purpose. Nothing is accidental.” (Sputnik, 131–32)

The significant lie, with nothing accidental, epitomizes alt-history fiction, and the deliberative choice by Crumey to envision an altScotland in this way borrows significantly from the genre’s guidelines. Technological advancements to the point of world domination give the Installation—and therefore Scotland as its geographical possessor— untapped political clout as the research center and war machine of the

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imagined British Democratic State, and it is this seductive context with which the nation must contend. Thus, as the narrative continues, readers come to understand that this alt-Scotland hinges on power, rather than on the reader’s understanding of Scottish cultural iconography. Crumey’s alt-Scotland Installation, poised at the height of global power, is increasingly defined by that which assures and perpetuates its new authority: military compounds, unexplained experiments, an estranged population, an increasing confusion and paranoia, and an army of scientists and technicians dedicated to advancing the superpower’s nuclear might. Crumey’s narrative experiment reveals the effect of shifting context, from cultural vibrancy, identity, and viability to the Installation’s autonomous authoritarianism, fueled by maintaining global dominance. The dissonance created by the increasingly uncomfortable and untenable context of the Installation’s inexorable movement toward advancement at all costs leads readers to question its alternative potential for Scotland altogether. If the signifiers of power and authority so privileged by this superpower—political and military heft married with obsessive technological advancement—are thus easily stripped, redefined, replaced, and repurposed while they obscure and stunt human interaction, artistic output, and freedom of movement . . . can these signifiers truly define a nation at all? Though the alt-Scotland in Sputnik Caledonia points to a culturallyidentifiable Scottish nation via its Scottish locales, Scots language, certain prickly political asides, and the hyper-realization of Scotland’s engineering and technological promise, the aggregate alternate space Crumey creates is ultimately one of dystopic bleakness made even less satisfying for its expected but unforthcoming panacea. No strife is alleviated, and no greater potential embraced; military and armed conflict seem imminent, and human interconnection, personality, and sympathy are decimated under the dispassionate uniformity and pervasive paranoia of this brave new socialist stronghold. However, Sputnik’s third section returns to the Scotland of the Coyle family, thirty years later, where Scotland’s national vibrancy and culture teems again with healthy potential, and the grim Installation returns back into imagination, only one test of an infinite number of possibilities.

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The removal of the prospect of all-encompassing authoritarian drive seems almost a relief as Crumey interweaves aspects of his first two sections to tie into the third. Not all questions are answered—and indeed, readers still do not quite know who exactly their narrator is—but the third section not only contains but explicitly embraces further potential for multiplicity, alternatives, and continued parallel characterization for this Scotland, even after the Installation: Guy nods like he agrees. Says, “Suppose you were in a world full of evil people. Or rather, a world where the system has made people evil. You get a hold of a weapon, purely by chance. You could use it to kill evil people and start a revolution.” “Go ahead, do it.” “But then you’re a terrorist.” “No, you’re a soldier.” “All right,” says Robert Coyle. “Let’s say we go in my time machine 164

and we find Hitler when he was a baby. Would you pull the trigger on him?” It’s like one of those brainteasers they got in PSHE but the guy looks serious, like he’s really got a time machine. Options: ghost, fraudster, soldier, Time Lord. “Sure,” says the kid. (Sputnik, 539–40)

Speculating a Scotland without Stereotype Alan MacGillivray writes that: Science fiction is the only major literary genre that has as its upfront purpose the intention of speculating about where humanity is heading and how it is going to get there and what it is going to find when it arrives. . . . And if we Scots pride ourselves on being a thoughtful people, a nation with a philosophical tendency, a speculative society, guardians of the democratic intellect, then science fiction ought to come naturally to us as a readymade tool for our fictional expression. If Galt created the idea of the “theoretical history” in his social novels, other Scots writers could be creating “theoretical futures.”18

But MacGillivray laments that although “There are actually some significant Scottish writers rated as producers of science fiction . . . it is usually

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only a minor element within their total output: Arthur Conan Doyle, James Leslie Mitchell, Neil Gunn, James Kennaway, Eric Linklater, George MacDonald, Compton Mackenzie, Naomi Mitchison, and Robert Louis Stevenson.” These works by Fitt and Crumey meet and exceed the requirements of speculative fiction. They engage relations—from intimate and human to national and cultural—but test their resiliency through imagined worlds. One understanding of these alt- or “theoretical futures” might be what Eleanor Bell imagines as “beyondness.”19 Contemporary Scottish science fiction authors transmogrify and reimagine their present, spring-boarding from reality into speculation. For those Scottish writers placing their narrative reimaginings in their own country, Scotland is a new nation, borne from the machine age, adapting to technologicallydriven contexts, and an integral part of the history of modern technology. From this perspective, the simple existence of a culturally-identifiable “Scotland” after such travail evokes a nearly indestructible sense of Scottishness. Whatever contexts may apply to the world at large—whether it be radical global warming or realization of nuclear catastrophe —through the imaginations of Fitt and Crumey, Scotland remains. Changed, yes—but enduring still. There exists in both novels—and indeed in science fiction at large—a deep concern with the relative fragility of humanity amidst the terrifying potentiality of technology and war, of things beyond our human control. But clearly, Fitt and Crumey are not immobilized with anxiety over the resilience of a Scottish identity. The radical and catastrophically-transformed worlds they present not only trivialize such hand-wringing through their examination of larger, more encompassing threats to society, but plainly evince that the nation’s identity cannot help but endure any circumstance—no matter how expansive—as essentially Scottish. This is not to say that Scottish identity avoids examination in both novels—in fact, it is quite the opposite. The innovation of Scottish science fiction, placing a culturally-identifiable Scotland into new technological and historical contexts, reengages with the present by provoking certain responses or questions from readers and critics. The unsettling of readers by the author’s narrative and linguistic choices assures a critical space wherein readers are led further into a considered awareness of

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what they read. For Fitt, the future finds Scotland a technologicallydriven cyberpunk refuge, befitting the accidental luck of the Highlands, geographically placed at an elevation to avoid the deluge of global meltdown. But, if the land itself is eventually to save the bacon of humankind, might readers respect it differently? For Crumey, the reinvention and application of radical politics into the changed history of a nation sees the damaging and unsatisfying effects of that alternate path for both the nation and for the family units in the novel. If Scotland could have been very different with nuclear clout and the realization of radical political thought, is it ultimately unsatisfying to yearn for what might have been? Perhaps the privileging of that power and authority would elide and alter the focus of cultural and national identity. Indeed the very existence of these recreated worlds after global catastrophe indicates the core belief of “futures literacy” for Scotland—the constructive and valuable thinking about futures possibility, as detailed in UK think tank Demos’s Scotland 2020: Hopeful Stories for a Northern Nation.20 The imagined locales of Port and the Installation collectively evince “the rise of the creative age—a long wave of change affecting every sector of the economy, in which competitiveness and wealth have become increasingly determined by the capacity for innovation and creativity. . . . Diversity is vital because it is through combining and colliding new and old that innovation and adaptation occur.”21 Fitt and Crumey, writing within years of each other, freshly exemplify Demos’s type of municipal hopefulness through their novels, and project imagined Scottish examples of just how this long wave of change might work out. Although Eleanor Bell does not concern her argument specifically with the ideology of futures literacy when examining Scotland’s postmodern writers, what she states comes remarkably close to what Scottish science fiction offers: “[an] ethical awareness of what lies beyond conventional conceptions and boundaries of the nation can also be found in contemporary Scottish writing. . . . at a textual level there is often a desire to transgress limiting depictions of the nation.”22 Bell parallels Alan Riach in her examination of the constricting ideologies of Scottish identity, and reiterates the need to confront the nation’s commodification through literature.

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On another critical level, each imaginative glance—both forward and back, through Fitt and Crumey—teems with the inherent, multitudinous possibility vested in Scottish speculative fiction, with regards to the call-to-arms of scholar Alan MacGillivray: A fiction that continually is fixated on poverty is ultimately stagnant and uninspiring; the virtue of the best science fiction is that it has always seen science and technology as the keys that unlock the riches of the earth and that release humanity from an apparently limiting environment. It is for Scottish writers to apply this to their own land. The main need is for a shift in perspective, from a pessimistic inward-looking and backwardfocused stance to an optimistic outward and forward prospect.23

Vital to all these stories is the idea of progress, returning again and again, in so many different ways, to the ideology of what if? and what could be? for Scotland. As MacGillivray concludes: For too long Scottish writing has either ignored the political reality surrounding us, or uttered an unredeemed whine about its unchangeable un-

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fairness or inequality. That will no longer do, and if we can learn from the best science fiction that the systems that enclose us, the ideas that direct our society, are legitimate subjects for informed imaginative analysis and speculation, the healthier will our literary and social climate become. 24

Science fiction and its genres—by nature—defy literary theoretical frameworks, simply by their very imaginative speculation. Science fiction seems to be clearly centered upon and generated by speculation regarding the inextricable relationship between nature and the future of mankind, and this relationship remains at the hearts of But n Ben A-Go-Go and Sputnik Caledonia. Rather than discourage critical analysis, however, the inherently speculative nature of the genre should encourage the incorporation of science fiction into established theoretical frameworks. With regard to Scottish science fiction, the very fact that there is speculation about the nation’s futures is the touchstone for literary analysis. Most importantly, however, the production of this type of specifically Scottish science fiction suggests the ongoing demand for the genre— that there is a Scotland not merely content to turn toward imagined

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possibilities of the nation, but one that is actively hungry for them. If the Scottish science fiction writers and readers are to be believed, unsatisfying and ultimately inconclusive visions of Scotland and Scottish identity seem, finally, to be usurped by a futures-forward Scotland, at the forefront of technological innovation. Through the Scottish exploration of the genre, the future of the nation is never taken for granted but is always available for the author’s imagination, suggesting that there are uniquely Scottish solutions to some of the pressing issues examined by science fiction.

Notes * “Interview with Matthew Fitt,” Scotlit 23 (2000): 8. 1. Alan MacGillivray, “Genres in Scottish Writing: Science Fiction,” The Association for Scottish Literary Studies http://www.arts.gla.ac.uk/scotlit/asls/AmacGillivray.html. 2. Arthur Conan Doyle, The Lost World (1912); David Lindsay, A Voyage to Arcturus (1920); Naomi Mitchison, Memoirs of a Spacewoman (1962; Aylesbury: Women’s Press, 1985), 20.

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3. For Fitt’s biography, see Corbett, in this volume. Andrew Crumey won the Saltire First Book Award, and the Northern Rock Foundation Writer’s Award. He is the former literary editor of Scotland on Sunday, holds a PhD in theoretical physics, and teaches creative writing at the University of Newcastle-upon-Tyne. 4. Alan Grant and Frank Quitely with Matt Hollingsworth and Brad Matthew, Batman: The Scottish Connection (London: Titon Books [DC Comics], 1998). Included in Alan Riach, Representing Scotland in Literature, Popular Culture and Iconography: The Masks of the Modern Nation (London: Palgrave MacMillan, 2005), flyleaf. 5. Alan Riach, “Preface,” Representing Scotland, xv, 4. 6. Riach, 221–22. 7. John Corbett, “Interview with Matthew Fitt,” ScotLit 23 (2000): 7–8. 8. Eleanor Bell, Questioning Scotland: Literature, Nationalism, Postmodernism (London: Palgrave MacMillan, 2004), 5. 9. The List gives Edinburgh’s entertainment listings, and featured the “100 Best Scottish Novels of All Time” in 2005. But n Ben is one of only two science fiction books included, the other being David Lindsay’s A Voyage to Arcturus (see Duncan and also McClure in this volume). A further 100 books called “The Other McCoy,” lists science fiction by Andrew Crumey, Ken MacLeod, and Archie Roy. 10. For the genre of Scottish worlds altered by weather, mixing Scottish tongue-in-cheek-ery, and apocalyptic scientific fact, see Ken McLeod’s “Facing the New Atlantic,” in Scotland 2020: Hopeful Stories for a Northern Nation, ed. Gerry Hassan, Eddie Gibb, and Lydia Howland (London: Demos, 2005), 56–60, or Greg Michaelson’s The Wave Singer (Glendaruel: Argyll Publishing, 2008). 11. Matthew Fitt, But n Ben A Go-Go (Edinburgh: Luath Press, 2005), 11. Hereafter referred to as But n Ben.

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Scotland As Science Fiction 12. Margaret Atwood, “Aliens Have Taken the Place of Angels,” The Guardian Online, June 17, 2005: http://film.guardian.co.uk/features/featurepages/0,4120,1507978,00.html. 13. Matthew Fitt, “How to Read But n Ben A Go-Go,” But n Ben A Go-Go, x. 14. Corbett, “Interview,” 7. 15. Andrew Crumey, Sputnik Caledonia (London: Picador, 2008), 18. Hereafter referred to as Sputnik. 16. Scarlett Thomas, “Andrew Crumey: In the Multiverse, Novels are All True,” The Independent, Books (April 9, 2006): http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/books/features/andrewcrumey-in-the-multiverse-novels-are-all-true-473471.html. 17. Turtledove’s pseudonyms include Eric G. Iverson, Mark Gordian, H. N. Turteltaub, and Dan Chernenko. 18. MacGillivray, “Genres.” 19. Bell, Questioning Scotland, 30. 20. Gerry Hassan, Eddie Gibb, and Lydia Howland, eds. Scotland 2020: Hopeful Stories for a Northern Nation (London: Demos, 2005), 9 and throughout. The nomenclatures of possible “futures” rather than one “the future” is one step in this process. 21. Melissa Mean, “Boho Boffins: Why Cities Need Science and Jazz,” in Scotland 2020, 116–17. 22. Bell, Questioning Scotland, 14. 23. MacGillivray, “Genres.”

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24. MacGillivray, “Genres.”

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Matthew Wickman

Alba Newton and Alasdair Gray

IN ALASDAIR GRAY’S 1994 NOVEL A HISTORY MAKER, KATE DRY-

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hope, mother of the protagonist/narrator and editor of the narrative, remarks that “[p]ostmodernism happened when landlords, businessmen, brokers and bankers who owned the rest of the world had used new technologies to destroy the power of labour unions. Like owners of earlier empires they felt that history had ended because they and their sort could now dominate the world for ever [sic].”1 This is less a definition of postmodernism than an indictment of its place in history, but it actually (albeit tacitly) pays postmodernism a compliment. Channeling the spirit of Borges, Gray/Kate situates it in an odd list of epochs beginning with prehistory and continuing through ancient Egypt and China, Greek and Hindu civilization, the Roman, Jewish, and Christian eras, the Renaissance, and the Marxist period before lighting on postmodernism. But the list actually concludes with “modernism,” which Kate evokes as a synonym for modernity as an era of progress. The passage thus implicitly reprises Jean-François Lyotard’s famous definition of postmodernism as modernism not “at its end but in [its] nascent state.” The postmodern era, Lyotard argues, is characterized by its awareness of the language games and literary conventions through which we create meaning. Modernism, by contrast, represents the point at which we

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begin to take these games and conventions literally, converting them into “grand narratives,” or histories.2 For Lyotard, these are dialectical categories: postmodernism represents our self-consciousness regarding the (modernist) “history” we “make.” Kate, in A History Maker, resumes this dialectic as she comments on the exiguous “simplicity of our modern [historical] divisions” (203). And yet, this also means that, in impugning postmodernism, Kate is actually spitting at her own narrative affect. The episode is fairly typical of Gray, whose ambivalence toward postmodernism has become a hallmark of his work.3 However, this gesture of self-reproach also bears a recognizably Scottish signature. Auto-invective came of age in Scottish modernism’s repudiation of its own past, most memorably in Edwin Muir’s dismissal of Robert Burns and Walter Scott as the “sham bards of a sham nation” and in Hugh MacDiarmid’s screeds against nineteenth-century Kailyard fiction.4 And yet, despite or perhaps because of the energy associated with such conflicted identity, twentieth-century Scottish literature has generated a dazzling array of literary forms—from bold experiments with dialect (e.g., the Scots poetry of Tom Leonard; the computerized lingo playfully employed by Edwin Morgan) and plot (in, say, the crystal gems of Muriel Spark and the free-indirect-discursive rambles of James Kelman) to states of consciousness (like with MacDiarmid’s “Drunk Man,” A. L. Kennedy’s drunk woman [in Paradise], and Janice Galloway’s psychologically-tortured protagonists). A History Maker exhibits several of these hallmarks, fusing Scots dialect with a plot about clannish war games in a high-tech twenty-third-century setting, and mixing earnestness with irony in narrative voices which occasionally seem, if not drunk, then at least a bit loopy (e.g., “in Hegelian terms every book is a thesis to which each and every reader’s reaction—no matter how enthusiastic!—is antithesis and uniquely private. This would turn us into Babylonian chaos or a swarm of solipsistic monads if natural garrulity did not make us chorally symphonic” [140]). Considered against this backdrop, Gray’s/Kate’s conflicted postmodernism looks like the subset of a longer Scottish literary tradition. Of course, this only begs the question of what this tradition is. The tendency with such questions is to think in terms of inclusion and exclusion: what elements does a set like “Scottish literature” contain? But

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here, such thinking poses several problems. For one thing, the boundaries of Scottish (or any national) literature are impossibly porous, not only at its edges (is a writer like J. K. Rowling, born in England but living in Scotland, Scottish?) but also at its presumed center (is even a native Scot Scottish as a writer if the forms s/he is employing have no distinct national provenance?). And for another, (sub)sets with postmodernism as one of their components must account at some level for their own fabrication since postmodernism implies self-consciousness with respect to constructions of type or genre. In other words, to create a set inclusive of postmodernism is to think not only about the element(s) of the set but also about the status of the set qua “set.” And, in a case like Gray’s, when postmodernism appears to be the subset of an indefinite category, Scottish literature, which itself inflects the meaning of that subset (stipulating, for example, that postmodernism in the Scottish literary tradition may be a different cultural phenomenon from postmodernism in, say, American Lit.), then the critical task of defining Gray’s work and its contexts can seem like a hopeless game of shadows, a labyrinth within a funhouse. Then again, perhaps it’s more accurate to say that to attempt such a task with Gray is to engage in a project of science fiction. I say this because to read Gray outside the framework of this tradition is to miss a vital aspect of his work, which has often provocatively immersed itself in the Scottish Question. But determining just what this tradition is requires not only an act of criticism but also one of projection—and on Gray’s part as well as our own. This may partly explain why much of Gray’s best work (e.g., Lanark) has taken the form of science fiction, a medium famous for allegory, fantasy, and other elaborate contrivances of the imagination. Gray’s science fiction, however, is a mixed mode, sharing phenomenological space with other genres like the bildungsroman and, in A History Maker, the epic. Not coincidentally, when Gray published Lanark in the early 1980s, critics like Brian W. Aldiss were arguing that “[i]t is more correct to consider [science fiction] a mode of expression” than “to classify it as a genre, like thrillers, spy stories, romances, and so on.”5 Today, although science fiction is more established as a genre, it remains self-consciously heterogeneous. M. Keith Booker and AnneMarie Thomas observe that the definitions accorded to science fiction

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by pioneering critics like James Gunn and Darko Suvin—who describe it as a form of “literature set in worlds different from our own” and as “a literature of ‘cognitive estrangement’”—characterize fiction of most any stripe. They make the point, in fact, that “the tendency of science fiction to be set in historical periods different from those in which it is written suggests parallels with the subgenre of the historical novel,” which itself bears affiliation with “the realist novel.”6 Realistic and fantastical, past and present, mode and genre—science fiction shares with Scottish literature a kind of obtuse, indefinable quality. At least it does in Gray. But, like Gray’s/Kate’s postmodernism, Scottish literature and science fiction also map themselves onto a much longer history of modernism whose “grand narratives” they self-consciously distort. It is one such distortional (or, to use an aesthetic term, “anamorphic”) chapter of that history which I will address here—an episode that precedes conventional histories of science fiction and which, in fact, is barely “fiction” at all. I am referring here to the figure cut by (and of) Isaac Newton in modernity, particularly in Scotland, and to the significance of that figure to the “sets”—Scottish-literary, (post-) modern, and science fictional—within which Gray works. In essence, “Alba Newton”— Newton in Scotland—helps explain Gray’s place in the long modern, Scottish, and science fictional traditions out of which he works. Today, the limitations of Newtonian physics are well-known. Nonlinear systems describe not only the universe as we presently understand it, but also, and increasingly, the shape(s) of the past.7 And yet, the Enlightenment inflation of Newton to the status of absolute authority has proven plenty resilient in a historical sense, if not in a philosophical one, for Newtonian principles have long informed even their own repudiation.8 This may have been most provocatively the case with the artists and literati of the avant garde, who renounced the Newtonian categories of time and space only to find those categories taking new forms, like a return of the repressed.9 For instance, the Cubist figures created by Picasso and Georges Braque shattered linear perspective, but when František Kupka introduced the first truly nonrepresentational paintings into western art in 1911–1912, he did so via a color theory he adapted from Newton, replete with a series of paintings he called “Newton’s discs.”10 André Breton and Louis Aragon sought to emulate

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the chaotic, nonlinear motions of the mind through the technique of “automatic writing,” which they imagined to be the inscription of the unconscious. But they did so via the medium of the machine, a technology which in the early twentieth century was thoroughly informed by the principles of Newtonian mechanics.11 These dynamics of vestigial Newtonianism correspond with mathematical concepts like manifolds, in which a nonlinear system appears linear in small sections, called neighborhoods. Mathematicians are said to linearize equations when they alter them to make them appear sequential; they implicitly conform here to Lyotard’s definition of modernism as the presentation of “the fact that the unpresentable exists.”12 The presentation of chaos, for example, linearizes chaos; it operates as a manifold of those dissipative systems which describe natural and social phenomena. We recover here something of Kant’s logic relative to Newton: discs, machines, manifolds, linearizations, presentations of unpresentability—what we perceive is at least the persistent appearance of stable rules, of universal absolutes, underlying contingency. From a cultural standpoint, if the equations of Albert Einstein and Niels Bohr explain the (relative and quantum-mechanical) world as it “is,” then the Newtonian model of linear sequencing—that is, of narrative—represents that world to us. This is literally “science fiction,” a narrative form which both estranges and mediates reality; to this extent, science fiction is thus a genre not (only) of the future, but (also) of the past. But for this reason, whenever we differentiate the present from the past, and whenever we imagine the latter as a classical precursor to a postclassical modernity—essentially, whenever we think along a track this linear—we implicitly attest to our continued difficulty in thinking “beyond” Newton. Those stories we tell in which we deem ourselves to have surpassed Newton (for instance, via relativity or quantum mechanics, to say nothing of modernism and postmodernism) are the greatest evidence that we have not. Then again, “we moderns” may not yet be Newtonian enough. This would seem to be the implication of one provocative facet of a Scottish intellectual and literary tradition which appeared most postclassical— most (post-) modern—when it argued in Newton’s—“modernism’s”— defense. Perhaps fittingly, this is a tradition that is discontinuous and

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heterogeneous; it begins during the eighteenth century (if not the late seventeenth), transmogrifies during the nineteenth century, and sporadically recurs during the twentieth. Eighteenth-century Scottish literati were among the first and most important exponents of what we might call a transformative Newtonianism, a modification of Newton’s premises which would eventually take a variety of more garish shapes in the avant-garde and after. For the purposes of my argument, the Scottish priority of fungible Newtonianism is less important than some of the forms which that fungibility took—forms which bear on Gray’s “set” of Scottish literature and its propinquity to science fiction. This dynamic was especially complex—especially “science fictional”—in eighteenth-century Scotland. Universities there, perhaps seeking refuge from the radical fringes of Calvinism, began teaching Newton’s physics in the late seventeenth century, decades in advance of Oxford or even Newton’s own Cambridge.13 John Macqueen further observes that Newtonian ideology found a special resonance in Scotland given that the “Boethian contrast of an orderly material universe with a disordered mankind had always a particular poignancy” in that nation of two “languages and cultures” (and even, after 1707, two polities).14 Unsurprisingly, it was a Scot, John Keill (who graduated from the University of Edinburgh in 1692), who was the first person to lecture on Newton at Oxford. Some two decades later, James Thomson, also a University of Edinburgh graduate (and a student there of Newtonian thought), integrated this cosmography into his influential opus The Seasons.15 Of greatest interest, though, are the ways Scots distorted Newton in the very act of adopting his work, rearranging the relationship between “Newton” and “Newtonianism.”16 Four such instances deserve brief mention. One occurred in the 1730s and 1740s, in the twopronged attack on Newton’s calculus by the Continental followers of Wilhelm Gottfried Leibniz’s model and by the philosopher George Berkeley. Scots became Newton’s most ardent and, in many ways, effective defenders in Europe. For example, Colin Maclaurin, chair of mathematics at Marischal College and then, later (with Newton’s assistance), the University of Edinburgh, grasped the principles of fluxions more rigorously than did Newton himself. He defended the rationality and viability of Newton’s fluxions against Berkeley and the Leibnizians, but

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his voluminous defense of Newton’s calculus actually modified it in a way which approximated the continental method. (For instance, while Maclaurin philosophically defends the geometric affect of Newton’s calculus, his treatise reads more algorithmically than geometrically; he even divides his authoritative Treatise on Fluxions into two volumes, the second of which is explicitly algebraic.17) A little more than a century later, Scottish physicists like William Thomson (Lord Kelvin) and James Clerk Maxwell developed a physics of energy which overthrew the Newtonian physics of force and laid the groundwork for the theory of relativity. And yet, they elucidated this new system on analogy with the Newtonian model (for instance, in the concept of electrostatic “action at a distance”), and peers like Balfour Stewart and Peter Guthrie Tait regarded the “grand law . . . of the conservation of energy” as a reformulation of Newton’s third law of motion.18 The Maclaurin and Thomson/Maxwell interventions into Newtonian thought are fairly direct, sustaining Newton’s legacy in the very process of modifying it. But David Hume’s Treatise of Human Nature presents us with an even subtler instance of distortional Newtonianism. Professing on the title page of A Treatise of Human Nature (1738–1739) “to introduce the experimental method of reasoning into moral subjects,” and then drawing on the analogy of gravity to explain the connection between natural and moral philosophy, Hume famously commences in Book 1 to undo the logic of cause and effect which enables scientific reasoning.19 However, in Book 2, and then again in Book 3, Hume returns to the language of causality (and to the Newtonian physics of force) in explaining how passion and custom fuel the mechanisms of mind and society.20 Operative in these latter sections of the Treatise is thus a causality which is not really causality at all, not in the manner in which Hume analyzes it in Book One. His logical machinery in Books 2 and 3 is more closely akin to associationism—that is, to contiguities of sense and reflection which create chains of virtual causation. Cairns Craig has shown how powerful such virtual causation, forged in the eighteenth century, would be to nineteenth-century thought as well as to the futuristic imaginary of literary modernism.21 But there is another way to imagine the virtual causality—the distorted Newtonianism—of Hume’s Treatise. A causality which is not

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causality at all is a mechanism without any tangible existence; it is a ghost as a machine, an atmospheric or, in more properly Newtonian terms, an ethereal agent. Newton himself believed in such agents, although those who believed in Newton’s laws of planetary motion did not. For them, these laws defined the force of gravity as “action at a distance,” and in doing so displaced the Cartesian system of vortices, which had explained celestial motion as a swirling current of fine matter. Newton’s mathematics disproved Cartesian vortices, but Newton was metaphysically dissatisfied with an utterly empty universe. So he clung to a notion of ether as an indefinite, unquantifiable force.22 A century after Newton, scientists had reimagined ether as a conductor of electricity. This was the vision, for instance, of the nineteenth-century Scottish scientist David Brewster. Trained at the University of Edinburgh, Brewster is perhaps best remembered today for rediscovering the kaleidoscope, but he was most renowned in his own era as the man who invented the dioptric lighting system later associated in lighthouse engineering with Augustin Fresnel. Brewster wrote several books, one of which was a large, two-volume biography of Newton. He also performed experiments on electricity— experiments in which ether was a key theoretical component. This belief in the power of invisible agents extended to a more general faith in the unseen. In 1854, he published a book entitled More Worlds than One: The Creed of the Philosopher and the Hope of the Christian. He opens it by announcing that “There is no subject within the whole range of knowledge so universally interesting as that of a Plurality of Worlds. It commands the sympathies, and appeals to the judgment of men of all nations, of all creeds, and of all times.”23 As evidence, he cites the extraterrestrial convictions shared by Kepler and Brahe and Newton. Hume and Brewster, writing in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries respectively, consolidate two important and proto-modernist constellations of the type of distorted Newtonianism which would become so prevalent in the twentieth century.24 The one clusters primarily around virtual causality, associationism, and by extension energy conduction. Craig persuasively locates this cluster within the nebular region of memory—that is, within the furrows and currents which connect the minds of people who share a similar experience and heritage. Kant’s Newtonian systems here take the form of hard-wired cultural

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networks rather than transcendental absolutes.25 The second constellation Hume and Brewster elicit does not entail memory as much as atmosphere; here, Hume’s ethereal causality and Brewster’s invisible agents refer less to the circuitry within us than to worlds beyond us. If the first grouping is “modern,” the second is “science fictional” in the way we today tend to view that latter genre: in the one the “new” perpetually reconfigures the past according to the latest associative arrangement, while the other imagines a future from what is presently “in the air.” If the T. S. Eliot of “Tradition and the Individual Talent” is an iconic heir of the first, then the Gray of a novel like Lanark (1981) atavistically captures the second. I invoke Lanark here not only because it projects a futuristic Glasgow (in the form of the infernal Unthank), and not only because, in doing so, it gave historical vent to mounting cultural and political energy. (Craig remarks that Gray’s novel served “as the first statement of what was to dominate Scottish writing throughout the 1980s—the effort to redefine the nature of Scottish experience and the Scottish tradition, both to account for past political failure and to begin to build a Scottish culture which would no longer be disabled by a lack of confidence in its own cultural identity.”26) Nor, to be sure, is Gray alone in conjuring atmospheric otherworlds in modern Scottish literature: examples abound, from Iain M. Banks’s gas planet Nasqueron in The Algebraist to the more mundane but evocative “elsewheres” permeating the poetry of John Burnside and Kathleen Jamie. But as modern as Lanark certainly is, the novel’s peculiar brand of science fiction also connects it to the much longer tradition of anamorphic (or distorted) Newtonianism. And it is this latter quality which helps us situate Gray’s work within the (post-) modern conundrum he repeatedly poses. For starters, given that half of Lanark is a bildungsroman about its protagonist Duncan Thaw, the novel reads less like conventional science fiction than like hyperbolic realism—a kind of corollary to Newton’s connection between the “down here” and the “out there,” between the apple falling from the tree and the rings of Saturn. Fittingly, Lanark presents its literary world in terms of physics: in the Epilogue the author-figure proclaims that “the physics of” the book’s fictional “world . . . is made of one thing. . . . Print.”27 In one sense, then, and consistently with the philosophy of the

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avant garde (which generally spurned imitation in favor of autopoesis), the book presents a self-enclosed universe; but it also provides a wideranging “index of plagiarisms” (including Borges, Kafka, Burns, and the contemporary Scottish poet Liz Lochhead, among dozens of others [see 485–99]) which bespeaks a reconfiguration of multiple literary traditions, and not only the Scottish one which it expressly reimagines. This is an anamorphic gesture, one whose world- (i.e., Unthank-) creating aspirations, though not Newtonian, nevertheless evoke the transformative projects of Hume, Brewster, and the avant garde. Most obviously, Lanark distorts and reconfigures Glasgow—a gesture which the novel portrays as significant in itself. “Glasgow is a magnificent city,” says McAlpin, one of Lanark’s characters to Thaw, one of the novel’s two protagonists. “Why do we hardly ever notice that?” “Because nobody imagines living here,” Thaw replies in the novel’s cardinal instance of dramatic irony (243). As he explains, Red Clydeside (“Lenin thought the British revolution would start in Glasgow. It didn’t” [244]) and sectarian violence are not standard artistic fare. But for Gray, the virtual absence (or, as it were, the ether) of cultural inspiration itself functions as a conductor of imaginative energy. And so, without repudiating these traditionally negative images, Gray instead (in a manner evocative of Archie Hind’s Dear Green Place [1966] or Edwin Morgan’s Glasgow Sonnets [1972]) turns them to artistic effect and verbally paints the city as the grim, garishly dystopian, and highly interesting Unthank, a place as alluring to Gray’s readers as it is repulsive to the fictive inhabitants. By breaking the known laws of the literary universe, Lanark’s conflicted—but also transformative—gesture bespeaks a long tradition of Scots-Newtonian form. Or so we might infer from the suggestive opening of Book One, with a young Thaw drawing a picture whose line of horizon seems too straight for the boy’s father. Proceeding to give Thaw a simple lesson in astral physics, Mr. Thaw got a golf ball and a table lamp and explained that the earth was like the ball and the sun like the lamp. Thaw was bored and puzzled. He said, “Do people fall off the sides?” “No. They’re kept on by gravity.” “What’s ga … gavty?”

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Scotland As Science Fiction “Grrrrrravity is what keeps us on the earth. Without it we would fly up into the air.” [121]

The prospects of such departure, of course, sound perfectly enticing to Thaw, whose story eventually concludes with the “annihilating sweetness” of a suicidal drowning (354). At this juncture of his narrative existence, however, Thaw is more taken by the Daedelian possibilities: “And then we would reach the sky?” “No. No,” replies his father: “The sky is just the space above our heads. . . . There is no other side” to it (121). But there is, of course, another side to Gray’s novel. Indeed, Book One is actually the second book in Lanark’s sequence, following the first half of the narrative of the wildly “out there” Unthank. And so, Book One’s discussion of “Grrrrrravity” espouses a kind of Newtonian realism which the narrative’s existence already refutes. Still, Scots-Newtonianism is a generic description which Nastler, the novel’s alleged “author,” or “conjurer,” would probably prefer to the term “science fiction,” seeing that he is emphatically “not writing science fiction! Science-fiction stories have no real people in them, and all [his] characters are real, real, real people!” (497-98). This would include, presumably, the rogue city councilor Monboddo, who implicitly recalls Brewster in proposing that the residents of Unthank begin “sending ships into space,” a place which “is not, we now know, a horrid vacuum but a treasure house which can be endlessly, infinitely plundered” (546). This idea actually corresponds with Thaw’s excursus on Glasgow, a place which, after Gray, was no longer an artistic void either, but became associated in the later 1980s with some of the most exciting new writing in Britain. Gray’s novel thus gazes both forward and aft, capturing both aspects of science fiction—a conventional, “scientific” explanation of how things came to be, and an anamorphic, “fictional” estrangement of the present in the form of the future. Each facet is, in divergent ways, Newtonian—at least, it is in the Scottish tradition. This expansive mode of science fiction is part of the Scottish literary tradition whose “set” Gray contingently configures and redesigns. This is perhaps most evident in A History Maker, as Kate Dryhope, gazing over her son Wat’s narrative, finds herself in the position of modernist technician, postmodernist bricoleur, and science fiction visionary all at once. “My apology for a botched life, mother,” Wat writes to her. “Do what you like with it” (A

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History Maker, ix). “Life” here is a biographical as well as biological category, so what proceeds is an account of “history making” in that double sense—one with a clear sense of the Scottish heritage out of which it is writing: “Like [Walter] Scott,” Kate remarks in her Prologue, Wat “tells a Scottish story in an English easily understood by other parts of the world but [he] leaves the gab of the locals in its native doric. This shows he wanted his story read inside AND outside the Ettrick Forest” (xi). Ettrick was the home of James Hogg, Scott’s peer and, in some respects, his uncanny double.28 What is more, the narrative’s protagonist appears to be named after Wat Laidlaw, a character in Hogg’s novel The Brownie of Bodsbeck. (Additionally Dryhope is the name of a pele tower along Hogg’s region of the Scottish Border.) A History Maker’s parameters within and beyond Ettrick thus designate a swath of history—an “estranged” past, present, and future—as well as a body of readers. The narrative which follows thus projects (per Scott) a sense of history and also (per Hogg) an unsettling of this process. For us, with our eye less on Gray’s novel per se than on the larger frameworks of science fiction and Scottish literature within which it operates, it seems fitting that Gray’s tale about the twenty-third century should ground itself in the affect of the early nineteenth, and that it should conjure a tradition which is older still. Gray’s work negotiates the complex exchange of past and future, actuality and imagination, modern and postmodern, all of which is bound up in the specter of Newtonianism. Indeed, Newtonianism marks a crucial point at which science fiction and Scottish literature intersect, with repercussions for our understanding of literary history.

Notes 1.

Alasdair Gray, A History Maker (Edinburgh: Canongate, 1994), 202. Subsequent references cited in text.

2.

Jean François Lyotard, The Postmodern Condition: A Report on Knowledge, trans. Brian Massumi (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1984), 79.

3.

On Gray’s postmodern affect despite itself, see Alison Lumsden, “Innovation and Reaction in the Fiction of Alasdair Gray,” in The Scottish Novel Since the Seventies, ed. Gavin Wallace and Randall Stevenson (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1993), 115–26 and Stephen Bernstein, Alasdair Gray (Lewisburg: Bucknell University Press, 1999), esp. 28–29 and 144–46. For an opposing view which extricates Gray from postmodernism, see Gavin Miller, Alasdair Gray: The Fiction of Communion (Amsterdam: Rodopi, 2005), 115–33.

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Scotland As Science Fiction 4. See Muir, “Scotland 1941,” The Complete Poems of Edwin Muir, ed. Peter Butter (Aberdeen: Association for Scottish Literary Studies, 1991), 100; and MacDiarmid, “Introducing ‘Hugh M’Diarmid,’” Hugh MacDiarmid: Selected Prose, ed. Alan Riach (Manchester: Carcanet, 1992), 9–12. See also Welsh, Trainspotting (New York: Norton, 1996), 78. 5. Brian W. Aldiss, “A Brief History,” in The Science Fiction Source Book, ed. David Wingrove (New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold Company, 1984), 10. 6. M. Keith Booker and Anne-Marie Thomas, The Science Fiction Handbook (Chichester, West Sussex: Wiley-Blackwell, 2009), 3–4, 5. 7. Manuel DeLanda, for example, analyzes similar, fractalized patterns of development in geology, biology, and linguistics over a millennial period. See DeLanda, A Thousand Years of Non-Linear History (Cambridge: MIT Press, 1997). 8. As one example of this legacy, in his prize-winning 1764 essay on the subjects of natural and moral philosophy Immanuel Kant declared that a true science of metaphysics must replicate Newton’s achievement in natural philosophy by ascertaining the rules underlying our experience: “When the method, according to which the greatest possible in this species of cognition can be attained, is established, and the nature of this conviction well introspected, an immutable precept of method instead of the perpetual inconstancy of the opinions and sects of the schools, must unite the men of reflection in the like endeavours; in the same manner as Newton’s method in natural philosophy altered the licentiousness of the physical hypotheses to a sure procedure according to experience and to geometry.” “An Inquiry concerning the Perspicuity of the Principles of Natural Theology and of Moral,” Essays and Treatises on Moral, Political, and Various Philosophical Subjects, 2 vols. (London: William Richardson, n.d.), 1: 341.

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9. The most famous renunciation is probably Filippo Tommaso Marinetti’s declaration that “Time and Space died yesterday,” the eighth article of his Futurist Manifesto. 10. See Virginia Spate, Orphism: The Evolution of Non-Figurative Painting in Paris, 1910–1914 (Oxford: Clarendon, 1979), esp. ch. 1. 11. See Margaret C. Jacob, Scientific Culture and the Making of the Industrial West (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997). 12. “Answering the Question: What Is Postmodernism?” trans. Régis Durand, in The Postmodern Condition, 78. 13. See John Friesen, “Archibald Pitcairne, David Gregory and the Scottish Origins of English Tory Newtonianism,” History of Science 41.2 (2003). 14. See John Macqueen, Progress and Poetry (Edinburgh: Scottish Academic Press, 1982), 34. 15. On Thomson’s Newtonianism, see Herbert Drennon, “James Thomson’s Contact with Newtonianism and His Interest in Natural Philosophy,” PMLA 49.1 (1934): 71–80. 16. In his analysis of Newton’s impact on schemes of Enlightenment representation (from scientific and theological to literary and historical and more), Robert Markley addresses a dehiscence (or split) in Newton’s work between order and chaos, totality and open-endedness. This gap is partly a function of “the research that Newton assimilated, synthesized, and critiqued in his inquiries into alchemy, biblical prophecy, theology, pagan and Christian history, optics, and mathematics.” The diversity of these materials and their uneasy co-existence across the eclectic body of Newton’s work collectively “challenge the concept of what we mean by ‘unity’ in the thought of an individual or even by epistemic ‘totality’ in the thought of a particular age.” Fallen Languages: Crises of Representation in Newtonian England, 1660–1740 (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1993), 131.

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Ap e rçu s 17. What is more, Maclaurin approved of Leibniz’s algebraic notational system, dx + dy, even though he continued to use Newton’s method of placing dots above the variables instead of the letter d— for “differential”—beside them. See Judith V. Grabiner, “Was Newton’s Calculus a Dead End? The Continental Influence of Maclaurin’s Treatise of Fluxions,” The American Mathematical Monthly 104.5 (1997): 394. 18. See P. M. Harman, The Natural Philosophy of James Clerk Maxwell (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998), 4-5 and Balfour Stewart and Peter G. Tait, The Unseen Universe; or, Physical Speculations on a Future State (1875 and 1901; reprinted New York: Cosimo Classics, 2007), 114. For a fuller history of this nineteenth-century development see Cairns Craig, “Identifying Another Other,” Journal of Irish and Scottish Studies 1.1 (2007): 283–307 (esp. 290–98) and Intending Scotland: Explorations in Scottish Culture since the Enlightenment (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2009), 103-18. 19. See David Hume, A Treatise of Human Nature, ed. Ernest C. Mossner (London: Penguin, 1984), 24, 299–321. George Davie comments that Maclaurin was skeptical that Hume ever intended his philosophy to be genuinely Newtonian. See The Scotch Metaphysics: A Century of Enlightenment in Scotland (London: Routledge, 2001), 19–20. 20. That Hume is returning to the Newtonian mechanics which he effectively discards is evident very early in Part Two when he earnestly begins addressing “the causes of pride and humility.” See A Treatise of Human Nature, 330.

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21. Cairns Craig, Associationism and the Literary Imagination: From the Phantasmal Chaos (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2007). 22. On the subject of Newton and ether, see Richard S. Westfall, Force in Newton’s Physics: The Science of Dynamics in the Seventeenth Century (New York: American Elsevier Publishing Company, 1971), esp. 336. 23. David Brewster, More Worlds than One (New York: Robert Carter, 1854), 7. 24. Albert Einstein, for example, begins his treatise on the theory of special relativity by criticizing the Euclidean geometry to which Newton clung. (See Relativity: The Special and the General Theory, trans. Robert W. Lawson [New York: Crown, 1961], 1–4.) However, in moving from special (or restricted) relativity to a general theory of the same, Einstein essentially repeats Newton’s gesture in that Newton had initially enunciated his theory of absolute space as a way of separating himself from the relativism of motion inherent to Cartesian geometry. 25. See Associationism, esp. ch. 1. 26. Cairns Craig, “Going Down to Hell is Easy: Lanark, Realism and the Limits of the Imagination,” in The Arts of Alasdair Gray, ed. Robert Crawford and Thom Nairn (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1991), 92. 27. Alasdair Gray, Lanark (Edinburgh: Canongate, 1981), 484–85. Subsequent references will be cited in the text. The novel even invokes Newton, though in an elliptical way as explanation for female behavior: women “are governed by lunar gravity. You can read that in Newton” (427). 28. The best illustration of the difference between Scott and Hogg may come from Hogg himself in his contention that Scott’s writing belongs to the “school o’ chivalry” whereas Hogg professed himself “king o’ the mountain an’ fairy school.” See James Hogg: Memoir of the Author’s Life and Familiar Anecdotes of Sir Walter Scott, ed. Douglas Mack (Edinburgh: Scottish Academic Press), 118.

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Bibliography A Reader’s Bibliography of Scottish Science Fiction Banks, Iain M. Against a Dark Background. London: Orbit, 1995. ———. The Algebraist. London: Orbit, 2005. ———. Consider Phlebas. 1987. London: Orbit, 1988. ———. Excession. 1996. London: Orbit, 1997. ———. Feersum Endjinn. London: Orbit, 1994. ———. Inversions. 1998. London: Orbit, 1999. ———. Look to Windward. London: Orbit, 2000. ———. Matter. London: Orbit, 2008. ———. The Player of Games. 1988. New York and London: Orbit, 2008. ———. The State of the Art. London: Orbit, 1993. ———. Transition. London: Little, Brown, 2009. ———. Use of Weapons. 1990. London: Orbit, 1992.

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Banks, Iain [M.] The Bridge. 1986. London: Abacus, 1990. Barrie, J. M. Peter and Wendy. 1911. In Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens, and Peter and Wendy. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1991. ———. Peter Pan or The Boy Who Would Not Grow Up. 1904. London: Samuel French, 1928. Burnside, John. Glister. London: Vintage, 2009. Crumey, Andrew. Sputnik Caledonia. London: Picador, 2008. Doyle, Arthur Conan. The Horror of the Heights and Other Tales of Suspense. San Francisco: Chronicle Books, 1992. ———. The Lost World. 1912. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998. ———. When the World Screamed, and Other Stories. San Francisco: Chronicle Books, 1990. Duncan, Hal. Vellum: The Book of All Hours. New York: Del Ray, 2005. Elder, Michael. Nowhere on Earth. New York: Pinnacle, 1973. ———. Oil-Planet. London: Robert Hale, 1978. ———. Oil-Seeker. London: Robert Hale, 1977. ———. Paradise is Not Enough. London: Robert Hale, 1970. Elphinstone, Margaret. The Incomer. London: The Women’s Press, 1987. ———. A Sparrow’s Flight. Edinburgh: Polygon, 1989. Erskine, Thomas. Armata: A Fragment. London: John Murray, 1817. Online Google Books. Fitt, Matthew. But n Ben A-Go-Go. Edinburgh: Luath, 2000.

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Ap e rçu s Forde, Iain W. D. The Paix Machine. Scotlandwell: Fons Scotiae, 1996. Geddes, James Young. In the Valhalla and Other Poems. Dundee: John Leng, 1891. ———. The New Jerusalem and Other Verses. Dundee: James P. Matthew, 1879. ———. The Spectre Clock of Alyth and Other Selections. Dundee: Thomas McMurray, 1886. Grant, John [Paul Barnett]. Leaving Fortusa. Winnetka, CA: Norilana, 2008. Gray, Alasdair. A History Maker. Edinburgh: Canongate, 1994. ———. Lanark: A Life in Four Books. London: Granada, 1982. ———. Poor Things. London: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1992. ———. Unlikely Stories, Mostly. London: Penguin, 1984. Hassan, Gerry, Eddie Gibb, and Lydia Howland, eds. Scotland 2020: Hopeful Stories for a Northern Nation. London: Demos, 2005. Hogg, James. “Kilmeny.” 1813. In The Queen’s Wake. Edited by Douglas S. Mack. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2004. ———. Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner. 1824. Edited by Peter Garside. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2001. Johnston, Paul. Body Politic. 1997. New York: St. Martin’s, 1999.

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———. The Bone Yard. 1998. New York: St. Martin’s, 2000. Lindsay, David. Devil’s Tor. London: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1932. ———. Gay Hunter. 1934. Edinburgh: Polygon, 1989. ———. The Violet Apple. London: Sidgwick and Jackson, 1978. ———. A Voyage to Arcturus. 1920. Edinburgh: Canongate, 1992. Lunan, Duncan, ed. Starfield: Science Fiction by Scottish Writers. Elgin: Orkney Press, 1989. MacColl, Ewan. Uranium 235: A Documentary Play in Eleven Episodes. Intro. Hugh MacDiarmid. Glasgow: William MacLellan, 1948. MacDiarmid, Hugh, trans. Aniara: A Review of Man in Time and Space, by Harry Martinson. London: Hutchinson, 1963. ———. Annals of the Five Senses: Stories, Sketches and Plays. Edited by Roderick Watson and Alan Riach. Manchester: Carcanet, 1999. ———. Second Hymn to Lenin and Other Poems. 1935. Complete Poems. 2 vols. Edited by Michael Grieve and W. R. Aitken. Manchester: Carcanet, 1994. MacDonald, George. At the Back of the North Wind. 1868. New York: Signet, 1986. ———. Lilith. 1895. Phantastes and Lilith. Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1964. ———. Phantastes, 1858. Phantastes and Lilith. Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1964. MacGillivray, Alan. “Corbies.” Chapman 86 (1997). In Work in Progress at http://www.crowlin .co.uk/wip.htm. MacLeod, Ken. Cosmonaut Keep. New York: Tor, 2000.

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Scotland As Science Fiction ———. Cydonia. London: Orion, 1998. ———. Dark Light. London: Orbit, 2002. ———. Engine City. London: Orbit, 2003. ———. “Facing the New Atlantic.” In Scotland 2020: Hopeful Stories for a Northern Nation. Edited by Gerry Hassan, Eddie Gibb, and Lydia Howland, 56–60. London: Demos, 2005. ———. Learning the World: A Scientific Romance. New York: Tor, 2005. ———. The Sky Road. London: Orbit, 2004. ———. The Stone Canal. New York: Tor, 1996. Macpherson, Ian. Wild Harbour. 1936. Edinburgh: Canongate, 1989. Masson, David. The Caltraps of Time. Rockville, MD: Cosmos, 2003. Michaelson, Greg. The Wave Singer. Glendaruel: Argyll Publishing, 2008. Mitchell, J. Leslie [pseud. Lewis Grassic Gibbon]. Gay Hunter. 1934; Edinburgh: Polygon, 1989. ———. Three Go Back. 1932; Edinburgh: Polygon, 1995. Mitchison, Naomi. Memoirs of a Spacewoman. 1962. London: The Women’s Press, 1985. ———. Not by Bread Alone. London: Marion Boyars, 1983. ———. Saunes Bairos: A Study in Recurrence: a Play in 3 Acts, a Prologue and Epilogue. Np. np., 1913. ———. Solution Three. 1975. New York: The Feminist Press, 1995.

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———. We Have Been Warned. London: Constable, 1935. Morgan, Edwin. A Book of Lives. Manchester: Carcanet, 2007. ———. Cathures: New Poems 1997–2001. Manchester: Carcanet, 2002. ———. Collected Poems 1949–1987. Manchester: Carcanet, 1996. ———. Nothing Not Giving Messages: Reflections on his Work and Life. Edited by Hamish Whyte. Edinburgh: Polygon, 1990. ———. Sweeping Out the Dark. Manchester: Carcanet, 1994. ———. Tales from Baron Munchausen. Glasgow: Mariscat Press, 2005. ———. Virtual and Other Realities. Manchester: Carcanet, 1997. Roy, Archie. All Evil Shed Away. Np: World Publishing, 1972. Scott, Walter. Count Robert of Paris. 1831. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2007. Spark, Muriel. The Hothouse by the East River. New York: Viking Press, 1973. Stevenson, Robert Louis. Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2004. Stross, Charles. The Atrocity Archives. New York: Penguin, 2004. ———. Halting State. New York: Ace, 2007. ———. The Jennifer Morgue. New York: Ace, 2009. ———. Singularity Sky. New York: Ace, June 29, 2004.

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Ap e rçu s Sutton, William. The Worms of Euston Square. Edinburgh: Mercat, 2006. Verne, Jules. Les Indes noires. 1877. Translated by Sarah Crozier as The Underground City. Edinburgh: Luath, 2005. Williamson, Neil, and Andrew J. Wilson. Nova Scotia: New Scottish Speculative Fiction. Edinburgh: Crescent Books, 2005.

A Reader’s Bibliography of Science Fiction Criticism Abbott, Carl. Frontiers Past and Future: Science Fiction and the American West. Lawrence, Kansas: University Press of Kansas, 2006. Aldiss, Brian W. “A Brief History.” In The Science Fiction Source Book. Edited by David Wingrove. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1984. Aldiss, Brian W. and David Wingrove. Trillion Year Spree: The History of Science Fiction. New York: Atheneum, 1986. Bloom, Harold. “Clinamen: Towards a Theory of Fantasy.” In Bridges to Fantasy. Edited by George E. Slusser, Eric S. Rabkin and Robert Scholes, 1–20. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1982. Booker, M. Keith, and Anne-Marie Thomas. The Science Fiction Handbook. Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell, 2009.

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Bould, Mark, Andrew M. Butler, Adam Roberts, and Sherryl Vint. The Routledge Companion to Science Fiction. London: Routledge, 2009. Broderick, Damien. Reading by Starlight: Postmodern Science Fiction. London: Routledge, 1995. Craig, Cairns. Intending Scotland: Explorations in Scottish Culture since the Enlightenment. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2009. ———. Out of History: Narrative Paradigms in Scottish and English Culture. Edinburgh: Polygon, 1996. ———. The Modern Scottish Novel. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1999. Csicsery-Ronay, Jr., Istvan. “Dis-Imagined Communities: Science Fiction and the Future of Nations.” In Edging into the Future: Science Fiction and Contemporary Cultural Transformation. Edited by Veronica Hollinger and Joan Gordon, 217–37. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2002. ———. The Seven Beauties of Science Fiction. Middletown: Wesleyan University Press, 2008. Freedman, Carl. Critical Theory and Science Fiction. Hanover, NH: Wesleyan University Press, 2000. Gannon, Charles E. Rumors of War and Infernal Machines: Technomilitary Agenda-setting in American and British Science Fiction. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield, 2003. Ginway, M. Elizabeth. Brazilian Science Fiction: Cultural Myths and Nationhood in the Land of the Future. Lewisburgh: Bucknell University Press, 2004. Harman, P. M. The Natural Philosophy of James Clerk Maxwell. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998. Hollinger, Veronica, and Joan Gordon, eds. Edging into the Future: Science Fiction and Contemporary Cultural Transformation. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2002.

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Scotland As Science Fiction Jacob, Margaret C. Scientific Culture and the Making of the Industrial West. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1996. Jameson, Fredric. Archaeologies of the Future: The Desire Called Utopia and Other Science Fictions. London and New York: Verso Books, 2005. Kierslake, Patricia. Science Fiction and Empire. Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 2007. Luckhurst, Roger. “British Science Fiction in the 1990s: Politics and Genre.” In British Fiction of the 1990s. Edited by Nick Bentley. Oxford: Routledge, 2005. MacGillivray, Alan. “Genres in Scottish Writing: Science Fiction.” The Association for Scottish Literary Studies http://www.arts.gla.ac.uk/scotlit/asls/AmacGillivray.html. Mackey, Douglas. “Science Fiction and Gnosticism.” Missouri Review 7.2 (1984): 112–20. MacLeod, Ken. “The Profession of Science Fiction, 64: Seeing through the Atmosphere.” Foundation: the International Review of Science Fiction 36.99 (Spring 2007): 8. Mahon, Basil. The Man Who Changed Everything: The Life of James Clerk Maxwell. Chichester: John Wiley & Sons, 2003. Manlove, Colin. Scottish Fantasy Literature: A Critical Survey. Edinburgh: Canongate Academic, 1994. Meyers, Walter Earl. Aliens and Linguists: Language Study and Science Fiction. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1980. Michael A. K. Halliday. “Anti-Languages.” American Anthropologist 78.3 (1976): 252–71.

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Miller, Gavin. “Scottish Science Fiction: Writing Scottish Literature Back into History.” Études Écossaises 12 (2009): 121–33. Murray, Isobel. Scottish Writers Talking 2: In Interview. East Linton: Tuckwell, 2002. Rieder, John. Colonialism and the Emergence of Science Fiction. Middletown: Wesleyan University Press, 2008. Roberts, Adam. The History of Science Fiction. Houndsmills: Palgrave, 2006. Sassi, Carla. “Virtual Caledonias: Conflicting National Landscapes(s) in Ken MacLeod’s Cydonia and Matthew Fitt’s But n Ben A-Go-Go.” From Interculturalism to Transculturalism: Mediating Encounters in Cosmopolitan Contexts. Edited by Heinz Antor, et. al. Heidelberg: Universitåatsverlag, 2010. Shaw, Debra Benita. Women, Science and Fiction: The Frankenstein Inheritance. Houndsmills: Palgrave, 2000. Smith, Crosbie. The Science of Energy: A Cultural History of Energy Physics in Victorian Britain. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1998. Smith, Crosbie, and M. Norton Wise. Energy and Empire: A Biographical Study of Lord Kelvin. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989. Stewart, Balfour, and Peter Guthrie Tait. The Unseen Universe; or, Physical Speculations on a Future State. 1875. New York: Cosimo Classics, 2007. Stockwell, Peter. The Poetics of Science Fiction. London: Longman, 2000. ———. “Schema Poetics and Speculative Cosmology.” Language and Literature 12.3 (2003): 252–71. Suvin, Darko. Metamorphoses of Science Fiction: On the Poetics and History of a Literary Genre. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1979.

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Ap e rçu s Walker, Marshall. “The Voyage Out and the Favoured Place: Edwin Morgan’s Science Fictions.” In About Edwin Morgan. Edited by Robert Crawford and Hamish Whyte. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1990. Pages 54–64. Wingrove, David, ed. The Science Fiction Source Book. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1984.

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Index Aberdeen, University of, 19 Adams, Douglas, 118 Adorno, Theodor, 51 aesthetics, 45, 48–53 African themes, 87, 89, 92, 143 afterlife, 46 agnosticism, 89 Aldiss, Brian W., 173 allegory, 10, 43–53, 54n5, 65n5 allusion, 127, 130 alternative history, 13, 68, 121, 122, 129, 182. See also Crumey; Elphinstone; Fitt alternative worlds, 133 anthropology, 91 Arendt, Hannah, 109 associationism, 178, 179 Atwood, Margaret, 157 automatic writing, 175 avant garde, 180 Banks, Iain [M.], 1, 8, 10, 11, 55–66, 67, 118, 122–124, 127–131, 137; The Algebraist, 179; The Bridge, 118, 129; Consider Plebas, 126; The Crow Road, 56, 129; Feersum Endjinn, 12, 118, 122–24, 126, 127–28; Look to Windward, 126; The Player of Games, 57–63 Barrie, J. M., 10, 31, 153; Peter Pan, 24–25, 26 Batman, 1, 154–55 Bell, Eleanor, 166 Berkeley, George, 168 bildungsroman, 179 biodiversity, 95–97 bioethics, 86, 87 black liberation, 102 Blake, William, 135 Bohr, Niels, 175 Booker, M. Keith. See Thomas, Anne-Marie Bonnybridge, 1 Brahe, Tycho, 178 Brewster, David, 178–80, 181 bricolage, 181–82 The Broons, 126 Buchan, John, 47 Buchanan, Robert, 135 Burgess, Anthony, 118 Burns, Robert, 8, 18, 135, 172 Burnside, John, 179 Burroughs, Edgar Rice, 144 Cain Adomnain, 111–12 Cambridge, University of, 175 capitalism, 11, 59–61, 68, 73, 80, 103, 159–60, 171 Carnegie, Andrew, 7 cartography, 57 causality, 178–79. See also linear mathematics; Hume; Newton

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censorship, 104 chaos theory, 20, 175 Christianity: afterlife, 22 cities, 90, 113, 135, 156–57. See also Banks; Gray; Spark Clarke, Arthur C. 70 class, 38, 89–91, 122, 125 climate change, 168n10. See also Fitt; Michaelson Cold War, 139, 162 colonialism, 73 Commonwealth, 92 communication, cross-cultural, 86, 87, 93, 117 computer science, 70 Corbett, John, 12 cosmopolitanism, 87 Craig, Cairns, 4–7, 9–10, 13, 44, 46, 56, 62, 72, 122, 177, 178, 179 creationism, 68,76 Crumey, Andrew, 13, 153–54, 159–67, 168n3 Csicsery-Ronay, Istvan, 2, 8. 9 Cubism, 174 cultural preservationism, 72–73, 75, 81 cyberpunk, 121, 156, 166

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Daily Telegraph, 56 Dante, 33, 46, 135, 136 democracy, 62–65, 80, 89 Demos, 166 devolution, 6, 68, 103, 147 didacticism, 29–42 difference, 57–65, 166 Diffusionism, 37 Disney Alp, 121 diversity. See difference Dolly the sheep, 7 domesticity, 110 Doyle, Arthur Conan, 139, 144, 153, 165 Duncan, Ian, 10 Dunne, J. W., 42n15 dystopia, 140, 157. See also Crumey; Fitt; Gray ecocriticism, 11. See also Elphinstone; Mitchison Edinburgh, University of, 16, 22, 176, 178 Einstein, Albert, 17, 175, 184n24 electricity, 177–78 Elgin, Suzette Haden, 117 Eliot, T. S., 126, 127, 129, 130, 179 Ellis, Havelock, 127 Elphinstone, Margaret, 12, 101–115; Hy Brasil, 105; The Incomer, 103, 105–106, 108, 109–112; Islanders, 105; Light, 105; The Sea Road, 105; A Sparrow’s Flight, 103, 105, 108–109; Voyageurs, 105 empathy, 12 empire, 6, 57–62, 88–89, 171 energy, physics of, 7, 9–10, 15–28, 177. See also Kelvin; Maxwell; Stewart; Tait

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Ap e rçu s Enlightenment, 11, 18, 67–81, 103, 174–76, 183n16 ether, 178 ethics, 87, 89 eugenics, 85 European Union, 63, 64, 68, 81 Everett, Hugh, 161 fantasy, 29–42, 43–54, 148, 159, 174. See also Elphinstone Faraday, Michael, 19 feminism, 98n5, 102, 117. See also Elphinstone; Mitchison Findhorn community, 79 first contact, 68, 87, 91 Fitt, Matthew, 7, 13, 118, 128; But n Ben A Go-Go, 12, 118, 120–21, 122, 124–26, 128–30, 153–59 folktale, 129 force, physics of, 9, 177. See also Newton Forde, Iain W. D., 120, 126 Fort, Charles, 78, 81 Forth Bridges, 77. See also Banks, Iain [M]., The Bridge

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Gagarin, Yuri, 144 Galloway, Janice, 103, 172 Garrison, John, 10 Geddes, James Young, 133, 134–37, 143 Geddes, Patrick, 135 gender, 11, 86. See also Elphinstone genetics, 86, 90, 93, 122. See also Miller genre, 88, 97, 101, 120, 154, 179; and poetics, 117 geography, 55 Glasgow, 179, 180, 181; University of, 15, 19 globalism, 1, 2, 8, 86–97 glocal culture, 11. See also Mitchison Gordon, Joan, 5, 8 gravity, 178, 180–81 Gray, Alasdair, 101, 103, 171–82, 182n3; A History Maker, 13, 171–73, 181–82; Lanark, 7, 10, 13, 43–45, 47, 173, 179–81 Green politics, 72 Greig, Andrew, 103 Gunn, James, 174 Gunn, Neil, 165 Haldane, J. B. S., 85, 89, 98n1 Hardt, Michael, and Antonio Negri, 61–63 Harrison, Lisa, 13 Highlands, 30, 166 Hind, Archie, 180 historical fiction, 85, 104, 174, 179, 182 history, theory of, 56, 67–68, 72, 75 80, 130 Hoban, Russell, 118 Hogg, James, 31, 38, 182, 184n28; Kilmeny, 33; Private Memoirs and Confessions, 31, 34, 47 Hollinger, Veronica, 5, 8 humanitarianism. See Mitchison Hume, David, 177–80

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hybridity, 57–58, 61, 75, 118, 126, 130 hybridization, 93 imperialism, 71. See also Mitchison independence, 56. 63–64 industrialism, 6, 78 Internet, 122, 157. See also Banks, Iain [M.], Feersum Endjinn; Fitt, Matthew, But n Ben Itchy-Coo, 120 Jamie, Kathleen, 103, 179 Jowett, Benjamin, 89 just society, 87, 88 kailyard, 134 Kant, Immanuel, 67–68, 175, 178, 183n8 Keill, John, 175 Kelman, James, 101, 103, 172 Kelvin, Lord [William Thomson], 15–17, 19–20, 177 Kennaway, James, 165 Kennedy, A. L., 172 Kepler, Johannes, 178 Klingon Language Institute, 117 Knox, Robert, 7 language, 12, 13, 117–31, 157–59, 172, 182. See also Fitt Le Guin, Ursula, 11, 86, 104 Leonard, Tom, 101, 172 Lewis, C. S., 18, 31, 36 liberation theology, 73, 101–15 Lindsay, David, 10, 29–31, 37, 38; Devil’s Tor, 30; A Voyage to Arcturus, 30, 34–36, 40, 43–53, 54n8, 153, 168n9 Lindsay, Sir David, 41n10 linear mathematics, 175 Linklater, Eric, 165 Loch Katrine, 7 Lochhead, Liz, 101 Loch Ness Monster, 1 Luath Press, 120 Lyotard, Jean François, 171–72 Macafee, Caroline, 119 Macbeth, 55–56 MacColl, Ewan, 140 MacDiarmid, Hugh [Christopher Murray Grieve], 12, 13, 119–20, 124–26, 128–29, 133, 137, 143, 172; Aniara, 139–42; science fiction poetry, 138; short stories, 139; synthetic Scots, 124–26, 158 MacDonald, George, 10, 22, 29–34, 36, 38, 41n7, 165; At the Back of the North Wind, 33–34; Lilith, 30, 31, 33; Phantastes, 10, 18–19, 25–26, 30–31, 35, 47 MacDuffie, Alan, 23 MacGillivray, Alan, 9, 164–65, 167 Mackenzie, Compton, 165 Mackintosh, Charles Rennie, 135 Maclaurin, Colin, 176, 184n17

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Scotland As Science Fiction MacLeod, Ken, 1, 11, 64, 67–81; Cosmonaut Keep, 68–69, 76–77, 80; Dark Light, 69, 72, 73, 74; Engine City, 69–70, 75, 76, 79; Engines of Light (trilogy), 67–81; Learning the World, 72; The Sky Road, 72; The Star Fraction, 67 MacMillan’s Magazine, 16 Manlove, Colin, 9, 18 Many Worlds theory, 159, 161, 178 Marinetti, Filippo Tommaso, 183n9 Marischal College, 176 Martinson, Harry. See MacDiarmid, Hugh, Aniara Marxism, 101 Masson, David, 16, 23, 24 mathematics, 17 Maxwell, James Clerk, 7, 10, 17, 25, 177; Maxwell’s Demon, 19–20, 21, 23–24, 25, 26 McClure, J. Derrick, 10 medievalism, 71–72. See also Elphinstone memory, collective, 11, 75–76, 178 Michaelson, Greg, 8 Miller, Gavin, 9, 10 Mitchell, James Leslie [Lewis Grassic Gibbon], 10, 29–31, 36–40, 165; Gay Hunter, 30, 37, 38–40; Three Go Back, 30, 37, 38, 39 Mitchison, Naomi, 8, 11–12, 85–97, 104, 108, 153, 165; The Blood of the Martyrs, 85; The Bull Calves, 85; Cloud Cuckoo Land, 104; The Conquered, 104; The Corn King and the Spring Queen, 85; Memoirs of a Spacewoman, 86, 87, 90–91, 93, 95, 104, 117; Not by Bread Alone, 86, 87, 92, 93, 95–96, 98n7; Saunes Bairos, 85; Solution Three, 86, 87, 90, 92, 94–96; We Have Been Warned, 104 modernism, 10, 13, 46, 49–53, 118, 124, 128, 171–75, 177–79, 181–82 modernity, 119, 127, 129, 179 modernization, 72, 81 morality, 10, 90. See also Lindsay, David Morgan, Edwin, 12, 133–34, 140, 142–50, 172, 180 Muir, Edwin, 142, 172 multiculturalism, 126 myth, 104 Nairn, Tom, 43, 56 narrative, 5 nation and science fiction, 1–14, 55–65, 173, 179. See also Crumey; Fitt nationalism, 86, 97 Nebula, 6, 14n8 Newton, Isaac, 9, 13, 16, 17, 78, 174–82, 183n8, 183n16, 184n27 Niven, Larry, 136 nonviolence. See Elphinstone nostalgia, 4–5, 10, 11, 12, 72, 94; and language, see 118–20; and song, 118–19. See also Craig; Nairn; tartanry novum, 88, 98n8

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nuclear context, 2, 12, 103, 109, 114–15, 139–40, 142–43, 162 nuclear power, 69, 80, 109, 166 Orwell, George, 117 Otherworld, 8, 10, 29–42, 56, 129, 153, 179. See also Elphinstone Oxford, University of, 176 Palmer, Christopher, 60 philosopher-king, 89 Phipps, Alison, 11 pilgrim’s progress, 43, 47 Pioneer-10, 145 Plato, 88, 91 Poe, Edgar Allan, 145 poetry, 12, 133–50 post-apocalypticism, 12, 117, 139, 143. See also Elphinstone; Fitt postclassical tradition, 175 postcolonialism, 102 posthuman, 94 postmodernism, 171–74, 179, 181–82, 182n3 postmodernity, 5, 6, 126, 130 Pournelle, Jerry, see Niven primitivism, 68, 69, 73–74, 90. See also Mitchell progress, 72 pulp fiction, 118

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Quakerism. See Elphinstone quantum mechanics, 159, 161, 175 race, 30, 42n16, 64, 66n19 radicalism, 135 Rankine, Macquorn, 15, 17, 18 rationalism, 70 Reaganism, 58, 102 realism, 25, 174, 179 Red Clydeside, 6, 180 regionalism, 86, 104. See also Elphinstone; Mitchison relativity, 177. See also Einstein religion, 10, 36, 37, 44, 69, 73; Calvinism, 46–47, 53, 176. See also liberation theology Riach, Alan, 12, 154 Robertson, James, 120 romance, 25 Romanticism, 103 Rowling, J. K., 173 Sassi, Carla, 11 science, 6, 15–18, 85 science fiction: American, 1–3, 77; British, 1–3; commercial, 1, 3; criticism, 2, 8–9; and evolution, 4; hypermodernist, 2; imperial, 2–4, 8, 11; origins, 2–4, 7–8; subaltern, 2; technological, 2–4, 7, 9, 107–108, 158, 162, 165–68, 175; violent, 12 scientism, 71, 78 Scotland, 63, 86

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Ap e rçu s

194

Scots language. See Banks, Iain [M.], Feersum Endjinn; Fitt Scotsman, 56 Scott, Walter, 6, 7, 8, 18, 31, 47, 153, 172, 182, 184n28 Scottish National Party, 55, 56 Scottish Parliament, 6, 147 sexuality, 52–53, 87, 105, 143, 157; and reproduction, 59, 87, 90, 94–95, 104 social critique, 88 Smith, Sidney Goodsir, 124 Smith, William Robertson, 22 socialism, 89. See also Crumey Spark, Muriel, 8, 10, 172; The Hothouse by the East River, 26 speculative fiction, 29–42, 55–65, 153–68 Sputnik, 144 Stapledon, Olaf, 144, 148–49 Star Trek, 118, 124, 160 stereotyping. See Crumey; Fitt Stevenson, Robert Louis, 8, 10, 31, 153, 165; “A Humble Remonstrance,” 25; Jekyll and Hyde, 22–24, 138; “On the Thermal Influence of Forests,” 22 Stevensons (lighthouse engineers), 7–8 Stewart, Balfour, 123, 177. See also Tait, Peter Guthrie, The Unseen Universe Stockwell, Peter, 122, 124 Suvin, Darko, 7, 13, 86, 122, 174 symbolism, 45 synaesthesia, 10, 49 Tait, Peter Guthrie, 16–17, 123, 177; The Unseen Universe, 20–22, 26

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tartanry, 58, 77, 154–56 technology, 107–108, 158, 162, 165–68, 175 Thatcherism, 58, 65n5, 101–103, 147 theology, 46 thermodynamics, 15–17. See also energy, physics of Thomas, Anne-Marie, 173 Thomas the Rhymer, 8 Thomson, David, 19 Thomson, James [B. V.], 135 Thomson, William. See Kelvin time travel. See Mitchell; Spark transatlantic cable, 17 Turtledove, Harry, 161 Tyndall, John, 16, 20 UFOlogy, 68 UFO sightings, 1, 79 Union, 4–6; tricentenary, 55 United Nations, 96 universalism, 1, 2, 9 utopianism, 104, 108, 143 Verne, Jules, 7, 13n10, 134, 144 vortices, 178 Wells, H. G., 37, 38, 134, 138, 144 Welsh, Irvine, 8 Whitman, Walt, 135, 136 Wickman, Matthew, 13 World Science Fiction Convention, 1 World War II, 143, 161 Young, Douglas, 120, 124

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About the Editor and Contributors is professor of English at the University of Macau and an Honorary Senior Research Fellow at Glasgow University. His research and teaching interests range from intercultural language education to corpus-informed language study and literary linguistics. He is the author of Language and Scottish Literature (1997), Written in the Language of the Scottish Nation: A History of Literary Translation into Scots (1999), and the coauthor, with Wendy Anderson, of Exploring English with Online Corpora (2009). He directed the AHRC-funded projects, the Scottish Corpus of Texts and Speech and the Corpus of Modern Scottish Writing (1700–1945): www.scottishcorpus.ac.uk.

JOHN CORBETT

is the Glucksman Professor of Irish and Scottish Studies at the University of Aberdeen. He was general editor of the four-volume History of Scottish Literature (1987–1989), and of the determinations series published by Edinburgh University Press (1987–1997). His books include Yeats, Eliot, Pound and the Politics of Poetry (1982), Out of History: Narrative Paradigms in Scottish and English Culture (1996), and The Modern Scottish Novel (1999). His most recent books are Associationism and the Literary Imagination: From the Phantasmal Chaos (2007), and Intending Scotland: Explorations in Scottish Culture since the Enlightenment (2009). CAIRNS CRAIG

195

IAN DUNCAN is professor of English at the University of California, Berke-

ley. He is the author of Scott’s Shadow: The Novel in Romantic Edinburgh (2007), which won the Saltire Society/National Library of Scotland Research Book of the Year award for 2008, and Modern Romance and Transformations of the Novel: The Gothic, Scott, Dickens (1992). He is coeditor of Scotland and the Borders of Romanticism (2004), an anthology of Travel Writing 1700–1830 (2005), and Approaches to Teaching Scott’s Waverley Novels (2009). He has edited several key works of Scottish Romantic fiction, including James Hogg’s Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner (2010) and Winter Evening Tales (2002), and is a general editor for the Stirling/South Carolina Edition of the works of James Hogg. He has also edited Walter Scott’s Rob Roy (1998) and Ivanhoe (1996).

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Ap e rçu s JOHN GARRISON, MBA, PhD, is assistant professor of English at Carroll Uni-

versity. His research interests include the history of science, the social aspects of economic relations, and science fiction. Since 2003, he has served on the staff of Strange Horizons, a weekly, professional science fiction magazine. His critical and creative work has appeared in the Journal of the Fantastic in the Arts, Phoebe: A Journal of Gender Critiques, Postmodern Culture, RevolutionSF, and Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine. works on “Context, Canonicity and Cosmopolitics: Scottish Literature since 1950.” Her MPhil concentrated on Eric Linklater, and she received a Carnegie Trust award to work on the letters of Muriel Spark. Her publications include “Eric Linklater discovers a new Robert Burns—The Merry Muse,” The Burns Chronicle (2007).

LISA HARRISON

J. DERRICK MCCLURE recently retired from teaching language and linguis-

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tics at the University of Aberdeen. He is editor of the journal Scottish Language, chairman of the Forum for Research in the Languages of Scotland and Ulster, and serves on the board of the Scottish Dictionaries Association. His publications include Doric: the Dialect of North-East Scotland (2002), Language, Poetry and Nationhood (2005), Scots and its Literature (1995), and Why Scots Matters (3rd. ed. in press). CAROLINE MCCRACKEN-FLESHER

is professor of English at the University of Wyoming. Her recent publications include Possible Scotlands: Walter Scott and the Story of Tomorrow (2005), and the edited book Culture, Nation, and the New Scottish Parliament (2007). Her book on retellings of the Burke and Hare story is forthcoming from Oxford, and she is currently editing the MLA Approaches volume for Robert Louis Stevenson, and Stevenson’s Kidnapped for the New Edinburgh Edition of Robert Louis Stevenson. She has published the Kennedy and Boyd Anthology to Nineteenth-Century Scottish Literature (2010). is an AHRC/ESRC Research Fellow in the School of Divinity at the University of Edinburgh, where he is undertaking an interdisciplinary investigation of the relationship between the Christian churches and psychotherapy in Scotland. He is currently writing

GAVIN MILLER

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Scotland As Science Fiction

a book on the relationship between psychology and science fiction, and his previous publications include Alasdair Gray: The Fiction of Communion (2005), and R. D. Laing (2004). ALISON PHIPPS is on the faculty of education at the University of Glasgow.

Her publications include Learning the Arts of Linguistic Survival: Languaging, Tourism, Life (2007); with G. Jack, Tourism and Intercultural Exchange: Why Tourism Matters (2005); and with M. Gonzalez, Modern Languages: Learning and Teaching in an Intercultural Field (2004). Her first volume of Scottish Poetry, Through Wood, was published in 2009. ALAN RIACH is the Professor of Scottish Literature at Glasgow University,

president of the Association for Scottish Literary Studies (2006–2010), the general editor of the Collected Works of Hugh MacDiarmid, and the author of five books of poetry: This Folding Map, An Open Return, First & Last Songs, Clearances, and Homecoming. His critical writing is collected in Hugh MacDiarmid’s Epic Poetry, and Representing Scotland in Literature, Popular Culture and Iconography. He is coauthor with Alexander Moffat of Arts of Resistance: Poets, Portraits and Landscapes of Modern Scotland, and his book A New Introduction to Scottish Literature is forthcoming.

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is associate professor of English Literature at the University of Verona. She serves on the editorial board for the International Journal of Scottish Literature and the End of the World Newsletter. Her books include Imagined Scotlands (2002) and Why Scottish Literature Matters (2005), also, with J. Anim-Addo, G. Covi and V. Pollard, Caribbean-Scottish Relations: Colonial and Contemporary Inscriptions in History, Language and Literature (2007). With L. Lunan, and K. A. Macdonald she coedited Re-Visioning Scotland: New Readings of the Cultural Canon (2008).

CARLA SASSI

is senior lecturer of Scottish literature at the University of Aberdeen and associate professor of English at Brigham Young University. He is the author of The Ruins of Experience: Scotland’s “Romantick” Highlands and the Birth of the Modern Witness (2007), and is currently at work on two projects which, together, address the pre- and post-history of Scottish modernism. MATTHEW WICKMAN

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