This article is from 2006.
In terms of Scottish science fiction, Ken MacLeod is something of a legend. This year’s festival sees the Edinburgh-based writer appearing alongside fellow sci-fi author Charles Stross in what promises to be a captivating discussion on how novelists use science in their fiction. Much of MacLeod’s work deals with exploring political ideologies through sci-fi, but as a graduate in zoology and biomechanics, he’s not averse to getting in a bit of techno chat as well. When I ask for an example, I get plenty.
‘In my last book, I used some of my knowledge of zoology to create plausible evolutionary backgrounds for my aliens,’ he says. ‘And I’ve just finished a novel which features a couple of far-out physical theories: plasma focus fusion physics and the Heim theory.’ Sadly, there’s no room for the details of his enthusiastic chat here, suffice to say we cover self-perpetuating energy sources and anti-gravity machines in two minutes flat. MacLeod thrives on events such as this festival appearance, claiming they lead to most of his ideas. ‘Bouncing ideas off fans and other authors is crucial. The one thing that sets science fiction apart from other genres is how much we encourage reader feedback.’ (Doug Johnstone)
25 Aug (with Charles Stross), 7.30pm, £8 (£6).