June 26th, 2012 at 1:00 am (Books)
Today I had the chance to go back to the excellent National Library of Scotland, which is not a public library, but one in which you must be a registered Reader to access the (voluminous) archives. But still, even as a visitor, I’ve been awed on both of my visits by their rotating exhibitions. Last time it was on writers who were published by John Murray. This time there was a Scottish cinema display (Brigadoooon!) and, which captivated me longer, a couple of display cases showing sci-fi books by Scottish authors.
I already knew Iain M. Banks, although I didn’t know he was Scottish. Ditto Charles Stross. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle didn’t solely write detective novels; it turns out he produced some sci-fi as well (“The Lost World” is now on my list). There were many other great items I wished I could browse, but given finite reading time I restricted myself to adding only a few more. David Lindsay wrote a book called “A Voyage to Arcturus” which has garnered rapturous reviews on goodreads. Hannu Rajaniemi is Finnish by birth, but currently resides in Edinburgh, so his book “The Quantum Thief” was included (he had me at “dystopia in which the main character has to break out of The Dilemma Prison”).
Note: the Library is planning a special exhibition on late 1700′s correspondence (letters) between famous Scots and the founding fathers of the U.S., which unfortunately I’ll miss (starts on July 4). I read an article in their magazine about the upcoming exhibit, which emphasized Scotland’s contribution to the American Revolution (“more than a third of its [the Declaration of Independence's] signatories were men of Scottish descent.”). It’s always fascinating to see your own country through the lens of another. You can learn more about their American collections here.