Alisdair Gray’s first published novel was the mighty Lanark, which combined the life story of a young Glasgow artist with the fantastic adventures of a man called Lanark on a number of inhospitable planets. The universe it describes is in flux, but has some reliable principles: energy, for instance, is always acquired at someone’s expense. Last year’s 1982 Janine was more consistently located, in the head of a sadomasochistic superviser of security installations trying to drink his memories away in a Scottish provincial hotel, but similar ideas were present; Scotland was viewed as a giant security installation itself, packed with English warheads, and as a slave who had come to enjoy the state of bondage.
England was appropriating Scottish energy long before the oil started coming ashore. As Gray put it for an American readership, Edinburgh is Scotland’s New York. Scotland has no Washington. So it’s about time Gray addressed himself to the bright planet that lives off the dark ones, to Scotland’s Washington: to