8/01/2003

More on the Edinburgh Book Festival, and some light thrown on why there was no sf genre presence. It turns out to be downright positive. I received an email from a member of my writer's circle who is originally from Edinburgh, and apparently "Catherine Lockerbie [director of the festival] is one of SF's supporters - it was she who started publishing Andrew J Wilson's SF review columns when she was Books Editor at The Scotsman and, as she points out in her letter [to Mike, as mentioned in a previous entry], her first year in charge did see a significant SF strand; to expect that every year, however, is to misunderstand the nature of the Edinburgh Book Festival."

So in fact, the person in charge of the Book Festival is on our side. It turns out that there was a heavily genre-related stream a few years ago, but basically nobody turned up. Why is this? My own suspicion is that the Festival is so completely seen as a mainstream-related affair that it simply wouldn't occur to people in my own area of publishing to attend normally. Also - less positively - is it possible we've become so enamoured of our cosy conventions that we've missed a chance to make a connection between the stuff we write, and the stuff everybody else writes? It seems there was extensive advertising in the genre press - I don't know precisely where, but Interzone and The Third Alternative would seem likely suspects - but even that wasn't enough to bring the crowds.

In a few months, I think I'll write my own letter to Ms. Lockerbie, and suggest that if she does intend to have any kind of genre-related strand at next year's festival, she could do worse than look at local writers. Edinburgh, after all has McLeod and Stross as well as others (and some called Banks or something), Glasgow has Richard Morgan (author of Altered Carbon), Mike Cobley, and, er, me. Miller Lau is somewhere oop north as well, I believe, and I'm sure there's others.

Otherwise, I'm still struggling to rename the black hats in Angel Stations. I spoke to my editor and we decided to chuck anything that has 'Eden' in it. At the moment, that gives me two possible replacements for 'edenists'.

The first is Mr. Lavery's own suggestion, 'Morists', after Sir Thomas More, inventor of the word utopia, and author of what cold very easily be regarded as a piece of Renaissance sf, about a meeting with a sailor from a far-off island of liberty and equality called 'utopia'. It sounds strangely dry to me, more like some secret society of elderly patricians planning Victorian skullduggery in a closeted Cambridge hall in the name of a proto-bolshevik English revolution. But it could work, though I'd have to rewrite the paragraph that describes the origin of the black hats.

The other one, which I'm tipping towards at the moment despite it's being a little more complicated, is 'scheolians' or 'scheolans': 'Scheol' is the name for the land of the dead in certain religions, which might, in the context of the black hat religion, be the name of Earth, the place from which they seek to escape. Precisely which religions 'scheol' originates from, however, I haven't found particularly immediately despite googling (it tends to throw up goth bands). Still, it has a ring. Or does 'Morists' have that special ring to it? Opinions are always welcome.
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