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Scotland Before the Bomb

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In 2060, Scotland was annihilated in a series of merciless nuclear strikes from Luxembourg. In response to a curious public's growing hunger for a definitive history of the long-lost nation, M.J. Nicholls provides the most complete account available of Scottish life starting with the failed independence referendum of 2014. Reflecting how 21st-century Scotland split into In 2060, Scotland was annihilated in a series of merciless nuclear strikes from Luxembourg. In response to a curious public's growing hunger for a definitive history of the long-lost nation, M.J. Nicholls provides the most complete account available of Scottish life starting with the failed independence referendum of 2014. Reflecting how 21st-century Scotland split into numerous nation-states with radically different societies and systems of government, this work of painstaking research and archivism is divided into chapters corresponding with those several regions, whose fates, though ultimately conjoined in irreversible darkness, took divergent paths to the inevitable during the brief but colorful period of Scotland's ill-fated fling with freedom. This volume will unearth the enigma that was Scotland before the bomb.


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In 2060, Scotland was annihilated in a series of merciless nuclear strikes from Luxembourg. In response to a curious public's growing hunger for a definitive history of the long-lost nation, M.J. Nicholls provides the most complete account available of Scottish life starting with the failed independence referendum of 2014. Reflecting how 21st-century Scotland split into In 2060, Scotland was annihilated in a series of merciless nuclear strikes from Luxembourg. In response to a curious public's growing hunger for a definitive history of the long-lost nation, M.J. Nicholls provides the most complete account available of Scottish life starting with the failed independence referendum of 2014. Reflecting how 21st-century Scotland split into numerous nation-states with radically different societies and systems of government, this work of painstaking research and archivism is divided into chapters corresponding with those several regions, whose fates, though ultimately conjoined in irreversible darkness, took divergent paths to the inevitable during the brief but colorful period of Scotland's ill-fated fling with freedom. This volume will unearth the enigma that was Scotland before the bomb.

42 review for Scotland Before the Bomb

  1. 5 out of 5

    MJ Nicholls

    TOOT TOOT, VAGABONDS. This novel is now available to order from platforms various. What are the critics saying, you wonder? Steven Moore said this: Unlike most dystopian novels, this one is hilarious. Devoting a chapter to each former Scottish county, each in a different format, Nicholls does what many sci-fi authors do, extrapolating from current issues and ideologies to set them in an alien new light. Nicholls takes all the current frustration, depression, anger, phoniness, intolerance, and TOOT TOOT, VAGABONDS. This novel is now available to order from platforms various. What are the critics saying, you wonder? Steven Moore said this: Unlike most dystopian novels, this one is hilarious. Devoting a chapter to each former Scottish county, each in a different format, Nicholls does what many sci-fi authors do, extrapolating from current issues and ideologies to set them in an alien new light. Nicholls takes all the current frustration, depression, anger, phoniness, intolerance, and political divisiveness of our era and transforms them into three dozen Monty Pythonesque skits. ... Scotland does indeed deserved bombing if readers there remain unaware they are harboring one of the funniest, most inventive writers living. Order at Indie Bound or Small Press Distribution or Amazon Contact me on GR for review copies. Pitch: If you can imagine a world where a country becomes so fragmented, becomes so tribally tetchy, so regionally rattled, so locally loco, that individual counties howl for independence like snarling hounds of self-determination, and those individual counties become individual countries—with their own laws and leaders and lunatic fringes—then you will probably find my latest novel imaginatively vacuous. If you cannot imagine such a world, my latest novel imagines a series of dystopian and utopian countries, formed in the froth of a frightening new dawn, and milks every concept thoroughly for every drop of nervous amusement. This novel is not a vision of The Shape of Things to Come. This novel is a vision of What I Really Hope Will Come, Because I Am Unhinged and Frankly I Prefer My Own Dystopian Mayhem to This One. Coming at your face in a few months.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Manny

    "The Straight Review" [Appenzell Innerhouden] My name is Karl-Bruno Röstigraben. Manny Rayner has asked me to review this book. I would not normally accept such a request, particularly when it comes from a Genevan, but Herr Rayner is very persuasive and I have moreover been foolish enough to allow him to do me a few small favours in the past. I have read the book and will give my considered opinion. Then I trust my obligation to Herr Rayner will be at an end. I will now proceed. The cover of the "The Straight Review" [Appenzell Innerhouden] My name is Karl-Bruno Röstigraben. Manny Rayner has asked me to review this book. I would not normally accept such a request, particularly when it comes from a Genevan, but Herr Rayner is very persuasive and I have moreover been foolish enough to allow him to do me a few small favours in the past. I have read the book and will give my considered opinion. Then I trust my obligation to Herr Rayner will be at an end. I will now proceed. The cover of the book says that it is "funny". This is not true. The author imagines that Scotland, a small country with a few million inhabitants, fragments into a large number of independent countries, each with their own laws. He presents this as an example of nationalism run wild and invites us to laugh at his tiny democracies. It is only too obvious which real European country the author has in mind. The Swiss Federation, as everyone knows, is divided into 26 sovereign cantons, each with its own laws. The canton of which I am proud to be a citizen, Appenzell Innerhouden, has a population of 16,145. Evidently Herr Nicholls thinks this is very "funny". I do not enjoy being mocked by Herr Nicholls and his thinly disguised satire. Our country's history and the many setbacks we have suffered should not cause any true lover of freedom to laugh, but rather to shed tears over our fate. Yes, Appenzell was only an "associate member" of the Federation until 1513. Yes, our already small canton was divided in two during the course of the Reformation. Yes, under the Napoleonic Occupation of 1798 to 1803 we were made part of the new canton of Säntis. But we held firm to our beliefs and we endured. All, I am sure, extremely "funny". Even the final humiliation, in 1991, of being forced by our more powerful neighbors to introduce female suffrage, has not broken our spirit. Our proud and beautiful women do not wish to vote. We chivalrously defended their preferences at the ballot box until our fragile democracy was crushed beneath the iron-shod mountain boot of Bern. But we will rise again and recover what is rightfully ours. And meanwhile, we take quiet pride in creating one of Europe's greatest culinary delights, renowned among gastronomes from Lisbon to Moscow. I am particularly hurt by Herr Nicholls's insensitivity when I recall how many times I have told my country's tale to an English diplomat or military attaché, always to be met with moving words of sympathy: "I say old chap. Hard cheese, what?" (view spoiler)[ (hide spoiler)] Herr Nicholls, I will not ask for an apology. I understand that such a concept is foreign to your mentality. I ask you merely to search your heart and consider whether your cruel Appenzellinnerhoudenphobic parody is quite as "funny" as you first imagined it was. Thank you.

  3. 5 out of 5

    David Katzman

    Joyous anarchy. Scotland Before the Bomb was a blast to read. See what I did there? Bomb. Blast. Get it? Tough crowd, I'll show myself out. Don't forget to tip your bookseller staff for the holidays--they are a long suffering lot what with ebooks and paper being anti-enviromental and no one reading anymore because of Netflix and etc. etc. But never mind all that I'm sure everything will work out what with the U.S. poised to re-elect a psychopath as President (as if we live in some kind of surreal Joyous anarchy. Scotland Before the Bomb was a blast to read. See what I did there? Bomb. Blast. Get it? Tough crowd, I'll show myself out. Don't forget to tip your bookseller staff for the holidays--they are a long suffering lot what with ebooks and paper being anti-enviromental and no one reading anymore because of Netflix and etc. etc. But never mind all that I'm sure everything will work out what with the U.S. poised to re-elect a psychopath as President (as if we live in some kind of surreal mashup of Frank Miller's Elektra: Assassin in which a demon takes over the mind of a Presidential candidate who wins the election and 1984 in which half the country's minds are taken over by the fascistic Fox News and the other lying liars who lie). But nevermind the never minds, I'm reviewing this book Scotland Before the Bomb. The name is prophetic because we are all right now right before "The Bomb." Right before civilization falls. Right before global warming slams the lid down on us squirming frogs in a slow boiling pot. To offer up some reference points that almost no one will recognize, I would describe SBtB as being a bit like the transgressive Stewart Home with a splattering of Mark Leyner, a sprinkle of Flann O'Brien and a smidge of David Markson. It's experimental but accessible. It's weird but entertaining. It's ridiculous yet kept me interested. It's unafraid to show its insecurities, if you follow me. But not too closely please. Nicholls takes chances, and I appreciate his courage. There are no sensitive characters here struggling with their relationships. There are no relatable relatables. There is no unexpected redemption in the end. There are no characters to root for nor did Ellen DeGeneres leave this book as a gift under your seat. She's too busy partying with that guy who started the Iraq War based on lies, you know the (weapons of) mass (destruction that don't exist) murderer guy? The prequel to Trump the Movie that we let go about his business afterwards like there was nothing to see here, move along? Anywho. If you enjoy word-play and absurd humor and violent illogic then this book might be for you. Nicholls probably didn't write it for you though. I think he wrote it for himself, which is the kind of book I love the most. Iconoclastic. Original. Fierce. Uncompromising. [Insert other words here that sound dramatic. Also, play dramatic music here. Dance a little perhaps. Eat something, you look hungry, don't you like my soup?] In conclusion: the end.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Lee Klein

    The macro structural imagination of Calvino (Invisible Cities), the micro sentence level good-natured attentive playfulness of Perec, and the committed meta-meta-metafictional hall of mirrorship of at this point none other than the author himself. It's the rational exaggerated conclusion of Brexit, self-determination for all, at first for each area of Scotland but ultimately in a way for every citizen, especially someone who is and is not (but probably mostly sort of is) the author when The macro structural imagination of Calvino (Invisible Cities), the micro sentence level good-natured attentive playfulness of Perec, and the committed meta-meta-metafictional hall of mirrorship of at this point none other than the author himself. It's the rational exaggerated conclusion of Brexit, self-determination for all, at first for each area of Scotland but ultimately in a way for every citizen, especially someone who is and is not (but probably mostly sort of is) the author when admitting worst yet truest and therefore best and often most delicious/lolicious thoughts about his writing and the so-called writing world in general. Worth it for that end alone, the most seemingly stripped down, transparent, personal writing I've seen from the author so far, albeit still nevertheless wrapped in protective layers of metafictional metaphysicality, nods to Markson and Vilas-Matas, and jammed at the end of a charmingly structured story collection of a novel. Through it all, no matter how oblique each region's report, compiled by an M.J. Nicholls of New Jersey well in the future after the end of Scotland (nuked by low country over petty matter), there's a sense of poignancy, of doom impending, of all-out death that makes the concatenated absurdities and sillinesses seem more meaningful than meaningless. Similarly, the ending projects unexpected yet believable pathos about the author's current (dis)spirit regarding the disparity between what's required to conceive, compose, and complete comedic novels like this, with every sentence maximized for sound/vision and joy/delight, with deeply embedded jokes about The Fall, and the reception all this work receives from readers worldwide. It's a crackup novel that puts its world back together again one unexpected yet always attentive phrase at a time, a lovable book by an author who loves books -- warm gooey feelings in bound print form available for all who crack it open.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Arthur Graham

    "It isn’t that I loathe all writers [I do], or that I despise their success [I do], or that I am repulsed by the literary marketplace [I am], or that I hate what literature has become [I have], or that I am sickened by the dwindling numbers of readers [I am], or that I crave more success and attention [I do], it is more that everyone else in the universe except me is a fucking idiot [no it isn’t]."

  6. 5 out of 5

    Jeff

    Wow, this book man…. If you aren't familiar with M.J. Nicholls, familiarize yourself. He's one of the most intelligent satirists working today. Every book is an exquisitely constructed literary prank. Post-Brexit Scotland finally wins its independence. Then Dundee declares its independence from the rest of Scotland, and then other cities follow suit, until Scotland becomes a mini-continent of its own--and then it’s eventually nuked by Luxembourg. Soul-crushing hilarity ensues, and ensues, and Wow, this book man…. If you aren't familiar with M.J. Nicholls, familiarize yourself. He's one of the most intelligent satirists working today. Every book is an exquisitely constructed literary prank. Post-Brexit Scotland finally wins its independence. Then Dundee declares its independence from the rest of Scotland, and then other cities follow suit, until Scotland becomes a mini-continent of its own--and then it’s eventually nuked by Luxembourg. Soul-crushing hilarity ensues, and ensues, and ensues, and that’s the joy that is this novel--M.J. Nicholls takes an absurd situation and then escalates the absurdity with each passing sentence until you’re wondering how he was able to sustain the comic energy as he takes us from life in one city to the next: The smog in Stirling is so stifling people begin to ration their words, and spoken language deteriorates into nothing. Argyll & Bute hires Scandinavian consultants to shadow each citizen in order to teach them how to be happier, more productive people. Edinburgh devolves into a giant art festival (imagine Patreon but as a giant organic, all-consuming blob) you can’t leave without paying the performers. And so on. When all the strands finally tie together in a brilliant way, you’re left marveling at the weight that would’ve crushed a less capable writer. I’ve never seen world-building done on such a microscopic level. I’d say Calvino is probably the most obvious analogue here (or Zinn/Terkel with a keen satirical bent), but Nicholls takes it even further, going from city to city and finding humor in the mundane minutiae most of us leave in discrete google docs we’ll never look at again.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Alexandre Kiro

    [Pardon the iconoclastic, slightly related review. I've been head over heels for economics and politics this year and haven't got rid of the virus just yet. I give it 5 stars to balance. Also, I want to be nice to a Scot, no matter if he feels as British as the Queen or something, even if only for Irvine Welsh tweeting “Galiza is not Spain. Viva Galiza”.] I love, can, and like to imagine a Spain and Europe so fragmented, so cosmopolitan and so regionally relaxed once their inner nations are free [Pardon the iconoclastic, slightly related review. I've been head over heels for economics and politics this year and haven't got rid of the virus just yet. I give it 5 stars to balance. Also, I want to be nice to a Scot, no matter if he feels as British as the Queen or something, even if only for Irvine Welsh tweeting “Galiza is not Spain. Viva Galiza”.] I love, can, and like to imagine a Spain and Europe so fragmented, so cosmopolitan and so regionally relaxed once their inner nations are free to be themselves that nationalism would be a thing of the past for once and for all (subsequent secessions would be more rooted on politics and economics [Caliexit] rather than culture, history, language, race [Basque Country, Galicia, Catalonia]...). https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OHLxc... You have to take videos like this with a grain of salt, for every case is unique and packed with nuances. For example: I respect Catalonia nationalism (Galicians, Basques and Catalans have fought together since 1923: https://es.wikipedia.org/wiki/Galeusca), them not wanting anything to do with our crappy monarchy, dysfunctional Spanish politics and corruption, postfranquism (you can do the nazi salute freely in Spain, go to the street with the francoist flag and rubbish like that) and so on, and if Spain wants to keep them tight they should seduce them and not repress them, but Catalonia became rich thanks to Spain, slaves from Cuba and other Spanish colonies, Spaniard cheap labour throughout the 20th century, Spanish protectionism for their cottonindustry over the 19th century, 1992 Summer Olympics and Spanish investment on it... and, sadly, it is too soon for the European Union to accept a posh new country having to rescue the one they would leave behind with a lower GDP than Greece... Slavoj Zizek on Spain, Scotland and the European Union: “The support of the unity of Spain is also part of the ongoing thrive to assert the power of nation states against European unity. What we need to accommodate new local sovereignties (of Catalonia, of Scotland, and so on) is simply a stronger European Union – nation states should accustom themselves to more modest roles as intermediators between regional autonomies and a united Europe. In this way, Europe can avoid the debilitating conflicts between states and emerge as a much stronger international agent, on par with other big geopolitical blocks.” “Numerous nation-states with radically different societies and systems of government”? Oh, the horror! Just kidding: Goethe’s Germany (divided in like 200 states) and Leonardo da Vinci’s Italy (he always had clients, despite being considered a criminal here and there, because he always had another nation-state or city state to run to and work on]) experienced this, which was culturally good for Goethe and his great peers (and therefore for Germany itself) and legally for Leonardo. Also, people tend to forget that the richest China or Germany, for example and so to speak, are the small ones: Hong Kong or Macao and Liechtenstein. Brexit referendum and Catalan fight for independence happen due to poor big politics (you can ask for independence on Liechtenstein any fricking moment, but because it is a well-functioning and small country nowbody does so [Switzerland is divided in many cantons and nobody claims for independence either, cause their direct politics with so many referendums make their citizens feel represented and active, among market flexibility and many other good things about it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dSLs5...]). Small is also good for modern problems like fighting Islamic terrorism (4 guys “blocking” France wouldn’t happen in a fragmented one where they would be more noticeable and isolated, most of them being French and Belgian citizens who crossed borders without difficulty, albeit registered as terrorism suspects [in response to the 2015 attacks, France was put under an état d'urgence (state of emergency) for the first time since the 2005 riots, borders were temporarily closed, and 1,500 soldiers were called in to help the police maintain order in Paris]), to prevent civil wars (every 40 years we’ve had one in Spain for centuries [that's what happens when you have a country of unrecognized countries, with internationally recognized nations such as mine, Galicia [since 1933], that you have "nice" things like civil wars every so often, ETA...], not to go into the 3 big ones in Chinese history [with more casualties than World Wars]). Maybe not socially nor spiritually, but both economically and politically competence is good to avoid big mistakes (cuz humans make them right, and scale matters) and have possibilities to change, improve, escape (big states are Orwellian, indeed [Russia or China, anybody?])… I forgot: that fragmented Germany of Kant, Hegel, Schiller… was, of course, the complete opposite of united, Nazi, imperialistic Germany. Also, citizens matter more in a small country than a big one (no matter how rich the US or China are as countries, a number I mean citizen there matters far less there than anybody in a tiny unimportant place like Andorra), are more aware of how political changes affect them so vote better and don’t put up as much with corruption (Italy and Spain may be historical champions in terms of language, art, culture… but they are also champions now at dysfunctional governments and political abuse). Small countries have to be more open (for goods and people) to survive (Ireland has done pretty well in the last 10 years and completely changed for the best), have less bureaucracy, less politicians, cut big expenses (aircraft carriers, wars, etc.: the bigger the state, the more the government can misuse public money spent on rubbish)… Why are small countries richer and better overall?: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=moGKj... PS. I love culture too much to like homogeneity, globalism, Jacobinism...: A song I’ve been listening to a lot lately I feel like sharing with whomever is reading this (in mallorquí, a Catalan dialect): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Txi_... Since I'm at it...: Galego: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gdnVZ... Euskara: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kMKv7...

  8. 4 out of 5

    Paul Dembina

    This is not a novel and not a collection of short stories, it's a sequence of short absurdist pieces each relating to a different part of a (highly) devolved version of Scotland in the near(ish) future There are hordes of small independent countries (some just individual cities) and Mr Nicholls takes an idea and runs with it. It's a little hit or miss but for me definitely mostly hits. Among my favourite sections are: Realm of Sapo - Where a (slightly) fictitious Internet shopping giant called This is not a novel and not a collection of short stories, it's a sequence of short absurdist pieces each relating to a different part of a (highly) devolved version of Scotland in the near(ish) future There are hordes of small independent countries (some just individual cities) and Mr Nicholls takes an idea and runs with it. It's a little hit or miss but for me definitely mostly hits. Among my favourite sections are: Realm of Sapo - Where a (slightly) fictitious Internet shopping giant called Sapo enslaves it's workers and hassles consumers with drones Just A Lifetime - The residents of Braemar are subjected to a vicious form of Just A Minute where failing to get through the allotted time results in terrible punishments The Sport of Kickballs - Basically about the ridiculousness (probably not a real word, but am I bothered?) of a certain national sport I really like the longer final section Textual Dysfunction where the author has a good old rant at the world

  9. 5 out of 5

    MilagroB

    Original "review" deleted by feral GR librarians. If anyone thinks I'm going to take the time and effort to try duplicating it they can

  10. 4 out of 5

    Charles Stanford

    Rubbish

  11. 5 out of 5

    Mark

  12. 4 out of 5

    Alaeldin Veira

  13. 4 out of 5

    zetta

  14. 5 out of 5

    Konstantin

  15. 5 out of 5

    Jacob Smullyan

  16. 5 out of 5

    Ian "Marvin" Graye

    Flogging the Sacred Cow of Borges and Calvino An "unfunny and rather crabby" exercise in post-modernist penis envy as bitter and twisted as David Markson. But wait, there's more...A mercifully short mockery best reserved for when you run out of Tom Sharpe trifles, "Five Escape Brexit Island" satires, your partner's derivative juvenilia and your gallery full of buried books. Rated five stars by the publisher/ editor/ barista/ blowhard PR person at Sagging Meniscus Vanity Press, not to mention Flogging the Sacred Cow of Borges and Calvino An "unfunny and rather crabby" exercise in post-modernist penis envy as bitter and twisted as David Markson. But wait, there's more...A mercifully short mockery best reserved for when you run out of Tom Sharpe trifles, "Five Escape Brexit Island" satires, your partner's derivative juvenilia and your gallery full of buried books. Rated five stars by the publisher/ editor/ barista/ blowhard PR person at Sagging Meniscus Vanity Press, not to mention one of his stablemates (who admires the author's "poignancy" in his puffed-up reviews, and who seems to thrive on conflicts of interest as much as Donald and Rudy). Yours sincerely, I remain (Arthur Kane). Robyn Hitchcock and the Venus Three - "N. Y. Doll" https://youtu.be/JPVqVJZL0lw "I never finished the book There's always someone to be loved Or to be forgotten But if you take a long look Well there's always someone young and fresh Or cold and rotten."

  17. 5 out of 5

    Matt

  18. 5 out of 5

    Nathan "N.R." Gaddis

  19. 4 out of 5

    Michelle Hallett

  20. 5 out of 5

    Joshua

  21. 4 out of 5

    Ingmar Weyland

  22. 4 out of 5

    Yasi Moaven

  23. 4 out of 5

    L.S. Popovich

  24. 4 out of 5

    Albert

  25. 5 out of 5

    Kathleen Nicholls

  26. 5 out of 5

    Rhys Gwyther

  27. 5 out of 5

    Chelsea

  28. 4 out of 5

    Simon Robs

  29. 5 out of 5

    LostKnight

  30. 4 out of 5

    Ann

  31. 5 out of 5

    Brian

  32. 5 out of 5

    Ana

  33. 5 out of 5

    William Repass

  34. 5 out of 5

    Eileen

  35. 4 out of 5

    Iulius Molinarius

  36. 5 out of 5

    Yolande

  37. 5 out of 5

    Joe D M-H

  38. 5 out of 5

    Finnegan

  39. 5 out of 5

    Zoonanism

  40. 5 out of 5

    Guillermo Stitch

  41. 5 out of 5

    Sean

  42. 5 out of 5

    W.D. Clarke

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