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As Edinburgh Comic Con returns to the capital, Lynsey May takes a look at what to expect from this year’s edition

T he capital will be treated to a weekend of superheroes and stars thanks to the return of Edinburgh Comic Con with this annual celebration of comics, films and TV shows giving fans a chance to meet and greet creators. From comic artists who’ve worked for the big four, such as Francesco Manna and Rafael Sandoval, to actors appearing in top shows like Doctor Who, there are special guests from all over the world as well as plenty from closer to home.

A wander through the main hall gives visitors a chance to peruse stalls packed with goodies from independent comic makers and small presses as well as lots of collectibles from favourite shops. Many of the events are included in the entrance fee, but there are a few special events with a separate price tag, including the Voyager: Meet & Greet and Watch Party which invites attendees to watch an episode of the show along with members of the cast for a behind-the-scenes commentary. The annual cosplay competition is sure to gather a big crowd, but you don’t have to compete to enjoy dressing up: costumes are encouraged throughout. There are even designated cosplay meets, perfect if you’re hoping to encounter like-minded fans, and the Con’s photobooth is a great chance to get some quality snaps. Other highlights include the award ceremony for the Yancy Street Awards for artists and creators, and the retro- game arcade. Fasten your cape, stick on some face paint or simply grab a bag ready to be filled with original art, comics and more, and head to the Con. n EICC, Edinburgh, postponed until Sat 12 & Sun 13 Sep due to the COVID-19 virus.

flash fiction In the first edition of our reignited flash fiction strand, we welcome Helen McClory with a piece from her current project, This Is a Novel

INSTRUCTIONS FOR WEAR This is a perfume meant to be worn close to the back of the neck, so find the golden zipper at your lover’s nape and draw it downwards to where approximately the T4 nerve is found. Depending on their make-up, your lover may either have a brass spine, an oak spine, or a gold spine, and upon this either diamonds, jade or opals. Are they diamonds in brass? The perfume will reek of burnt villages, bread in ovens left in the haste of destruction. Perhaps jade

in oak: sweet river scent in the warm southern sun (be careful not to lose your head, now). Best of all is opals and gold. Oh darlings, what you are in for: a delectable smell of wood strawberries, panicked skiers as the mountain rumbles, the taste of nibbling kisses, long desired. Dab the oil on, clumsy as you like. More difficult work is coming later. Pull the zipper slowly shut tracing your slick fingers against their skin. Lean in, hear the perfume ticking. The breathing softens, the lungs collapse, fold themselves into paper fans, and you can almost hear the diva at the opera, piercing the night, right as you both swoon. n Helen McClory’s Bitterhall will be published by Polygon in spring 2021.

CONTEMPORARY FICTION KIRSTIN INNES Scabby Queen (4th Estate) ●●●●● Kirstin Innes’ second novel opens on the death by suicide of 51-year- old former pop star Clio Campbell then travels back in time through the third- person perspectives of the parents, friends and protégés whose lives have been buffeted by her. Innes’ dialogue is crisp, her characters real, and the time- hopping narrative through political and pop-cultural eras conjures an evocative sense of time, place and mystery, even as it brings the significance of one woman’s life into focus. (David Pollock)

SOCIAL DRAMA CARYS BRAY When the Lights Go Out (Hutchinson) ●●●●● Carys Bray’s latest book is a novel less about the climate disasters already befalling our planet and more to do with how we discuss them. It’s the run up to Christmas, and northern England has been beset by unrelenting rain. A marriage flickers and flounders under the strain of impending disaster and a splitting of worldviews, even when ideologies remain in tandem, as Bray examines potential societal collapse through the lens of one family. (Lynsey May)

FAMILY SAGA KAWAI STRONG WASHBURN Sharks in the Time of Saviours (Canongate) ●●●●● A lyrical debut intertwining magical realism and domestic drama in the lush valleys of Hawaii, Washburn’s potent family saga explores the enduring, life-giving power of indigenous traditions under present-day pressures. When young Nainoa is rescued from drowning by sharks, his family believe this salvation to be a sign of favour from the old gods. But gifts come at a price, especially when families and traditions struggle for survival. (Deborah Chu)

1 Apr–31 May 2020 THE LIST 63