Mike Cobley makes some points in his shadowjournal blog about this year's Edinburgh Book Festival, which appears to have a particular dearth of genre fiction in it this year. It does seem a shame that the festival lacks scope in relation to types of writing outside of quite narrow parameters - particularly considering that these days Edinburgh is home to writers like Iain Banks, Ken Macleod and Charles Stross, none of whom are exactly lacking in profile these days.

To a great degree, the Scottish Arts Council's remit is to particularly support forms of writing which promote and help preserve Scottish culture, a fine aim in itself, but a remit which I suspect may be insufficiently clear in its definition of 'culture'. Harsher critics might be led to accuse such a remit of being a device for weeding out authors straying from what might be called 'haggis and heather' style of literature.

I should say I don't particularly see things this way myself; primarily I think it's a problem of communication. Mind you, I worked briefly in a very large Glasgow bookshop several years ago where one manager in particular was particularly prone to loudly declaiming science fiction as unfit even for children, particularly - or so it seemed to me - when I was in the vicinity. Precisely what advantage this gave the speaker still escapes me, although upon her own departure I did gather she was bound for Edinburgh to work as an organiser for the Book Festival ...

Since I wrote that last line there, Mike actually rung me up. Now he's threatening to organise a pavement protest outside the Festival if they refuse to have at least one genre-oriented event. Well, that remains to be seen, but just remember - Down With This Sort of Thing, eh?

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