Matthew Fitt – But n Ben A-Go-Go (2000)
- Niall O'Gallagher
- 1 January 2005
100 Best Scottish Books of all Time
Who would have thought that the third millennium would blast off with a sci-fi novel written in Scots? Matthew Fitt's debut leaves granny's hieland hame behind and claims the Scots language for writing that is out of this world. Fitt is one of the people behind Itchy Coo, which publishes Scots language books for children. With But n Ben A-Go-Go, Fitt takes the playfulness of his work with bairns into darker territory, writing a work of dystopian fiction that is surely the first of its kind.
But n Ben A-Go-Go is set in the year 2090, half a century since the polar ice caps melted leaving most of Scotland under water. What is left of the population live in a group of floating cities, or parishes, known collectively as Port. A deadly virus called Sangue de Verde has made physical love a thing of the past. Cyberjanny Paolo Broon has watched his infected wife deteriorate, one of many hundreds locked in coffin-like life support machines and kept alive so that the virus will be unable to spread further. As Paolo and Nadia had not even kissed outside cyberspace, his pain is made worse by the knowledge that his wife has been unfaithful. Paolo receives a message from his estranged father and sets off believing that he can lead him to Nadia's cure.
By bringing Scots into contact with this post-apocalyptic future world, Fitt creates a prose that crackles with energy and invention. Like other science fiction writers, he creates a new language to describe this world but his verbal pyrotechnics are even more startling in Scots. But n Ben A-Go-Go shows us that the Scots language can describe worlds as various and exotic as the imaginations of those who use it.
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