Scotland... Home to R.L. Stevenson, Charlie Stross, Iain M. Banks, Laura Lam, Christopher Brookmyre, J. K. Rowling, Ken McLeod, Arthur Conan Doyle, and I'm missing a lot!
So, obviously, when I went to Scotland for a few days, it was also to geek out. And Leigh, being a proud Glaswegian, was the perfect guide so we geeked out in pair!
Our bookshop tour started in Glasgow and Leigh first took me to Waterstones in Sauchiehall Street. It is a two floor affair, with a café, very much resembling any Waterstones in the country but the scifi and fantasy section is quite interesting.
On the ground floor, there isn't an entire table dedicated to scifi and fantasy but the one that has also has female writers on it, which is good news.
On the second floor, this is where things get serious with about a dozen bookshelves and half a dozen of little tables.
All in all, the range of titles is what you would expect from Waterstones: mainly recent titles, with also a fair number of classics, mainly from the SF Masterworks collection. But I've appreciated that the stock was pretty diverse, whether we're talking about female writers and/or PoC writers. Special mention to those splendid Terry Pratchett hardback editions that would have you buying them all (again).
Leigh then took me to an indie bookstore and Forbidden Planet. Alas, it's not a patch on the Forbidden Planet on Oxford Street in London, and neither is the indie bookstore. Both have half their stock filled with Funko Pops and the remaining half with comics and graphic novels.
Books? Yes, some tie-in novels for scifi films or shows, but that is the whole of it. But Leigh introduced me to Scotland's super-hero: Saltire!
We found the Holy Grail of scifi books geeks in Edinburgh: Transreal Shop.
A blink and you'll miss it shop in a steep street, Transreal Shop is a proper scifi and fantasy bookshop. There are a few pieces of merchandise (I don't remember seeing a Funko Pop though!) but the space is mainly dedicated to books, books and books.
I have to confess that I was sold on the shop the instant I saw that an Octavia Butler book was prominently displayed, along with Italo Calvino. But the bookshelves are filled with great titles. Once again, it's a mix between classics (not that many SF Masterworks that you could find anywhere else anyway), brand new titles, but also books that have been published in the past ten years and obviously still have (and deserve) shelf space.
I was very happy for instance to see Juliet McKenna's books, but also Jen Williams', to say nothing of Karen Lord's. There are also a couple of nice editions for those who like to collect things, like a beautiful hardback edition of Lovecraft or of Good Omens. And that's where we found the collected poems of Iain Banks and Ken McLeod (that we bought).
The bookshop also stocks the Scottish scifi magazine Shoreline of Infinity right under the counter. To cap it all, you can also order signed copies of books by Charlie Stross or Laura Lam if you contact Mike, the owner, in advance through his website and if Stross and Lam have a book being published.
All in all, if you happen to be in Edinburgh, this is a place where you must stop if you love scifi and fantasy books, and Mike, the owner, can talk to you endlessly about most of the books until you cry that your budget isn't stretchable.
Be an out and proud scifi geek!
But Scotland is also a place to let your (not so inner) geek out and loud.
In Glasgow, you can stumble across TARDISes. Granted, one sells hotdogs and another sells coffee and it feels like a real stumble down that our favourite Time Lord now has to cater to our snack needs... But Leigh knows of at least five off the top of her head, and some do not currently sell anything. Some of the Doctors have retained their dignity!
But we also encountered a truck that was obviously here to retrieve some rogue Synthetics (and if you have no idea about what I'm talking about, catch up on Humans, on Channel 4).
Finally, a tour in Scotland wouldn't be complete without going to the Highlands and the Glencoe area is absolutely perfect to yell loudly "There can be only one!"
But don't forget to bring your own sword, just in case you'd be challenged.
Written by C. and Leigh.
Do you want to know about more blog posts like this one? Subscribe to the newsletter and receive updates twice a month about the latest reviews and blog posts.
"While we were reading" is an irregular feature about reading science-fiction and fantasy. Nothing fancy, come as you are.
It is also home to all the Subjective Chaos Kind of Awards announcements.