Scotland 2042

Last year we published 1979 – a Counterfactual History in which we imagined a past where Geoff Shaw became First Minister, Ivor Cutler the first Makar, St Columba was the new Patron Saint and Jimmy Reid and Margo Macdonald were appointed co-chairs of the new industrial and trade union unit. Now you’re being asked to imagine a different future.

We’re launching a new Back to the Future competition where you’re asked to imagine the Scotland of 2042.

What will Scotland look like in twenty years time? What will have changed? Is ‘another Scotland’ possible? This can be about anything at all.

This can be about politics, society, culture, art, economics, ecology. It can be utopian, dystopian, hopeful, hopeless, realistic or fantastical.


The deadline is Friday 4 May. Word count is 1000 words. The best entries will be published online. There are three prizes for men, women and under 25, the best will each win £100.

Image Credit: Momus

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Comments (13)

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  1. Tam Dean Burn says:

    Hmmm check out the Brits last night for lessons on such categories- men, women and you might find under 25s are looking for a bit more fluidity these days!

    1. Hey Tam – I missed it last night. What categories do you think they should be?

      1. Tam Dean Burn says:

        The Brits got rid of gendered categories after non-binary Sam Smith complained that there was nowhere for them to fit. So there was just album/singer etc of the year. Adele walked it with the three top awards and it was great that she said she understood why they were changed but still loved being a female artist.
        The whole idea of such awards gets my goat in so many ways but that’s a separate question for another time.
        But it doesn’t seem inclusive to deny any gender fluidity unless you’re under 25!

  2. Janet Fenton says:

    Is this only open to under 25’s? or is that just about the cash prizes?

    1. Open to anyone – but there’s a separate category for under 25s

  3. Axel P Kulit says:

    How do you submit?

      1. Axel P Kulit says:

        Thank you.

  4. Pat Farrington says:

    How do I submit my essay?

  5. 220313 says:

    I was back in Edinburgh by early afternoon and went straight to St Leonards.

    My concentration sharpened as I entered the building. The staircase reeked of disinfectant and the underlying earthiness of stale body odour.

    “Hi, Babs. Can you get everyone together? My office.”

    Babs nodded.

    I went into the toilets and sluiced my face over the cracked sink. I caught sight of myself in the mirror. I felt as tired as I looked. Perhaps I could pass on what I’d found out to the rest of the team and let them deal with it. But, no; that’s not how we did things anymore. ‘Solidarity.’ was the name of the game now. Once I’d told my colleagues, it would become no less mine but a shared responsibility.

    My office was the biggest room on the floor, which was why we always met there. I fished a piece of paper, on which only one side had been written on, and the stub of a pencil from the chaos of my desk and sketched some brief notes of what I’d seen. They didn’t amount to more than a few lines

    Nicky came in with smoke streaming from one of the fags he had permanently clamped between his lips. Erica followed, grimacing at the pall of smoke that already filled the room and waving her hands in front of her face.

    “How’s it going?” she said to me. “You don’t look so good.”

    “I’ll tell you in a moment, when everybody’s here.”

    “There’s only the three of us here right now. Peter’s away and Laura’s at St Andrew’s House.”

    Babs came in and made it four. She sat in the corner, a sheet of paper on her knee, a pencil poised to take notes.

    “This couldn’t wait until tomorrow’s meeting,” I began. “I need to know what you think of this one right away.”

    Erica and Nicky frowned at me, curious and concerned.

    “I’ve been on the road since just after midnight,” I went on. “I’ve been to the Rhinns and back.”

    Erica’s eyes widened slightly. Her hands moved a fraction in her lap.

    “Are we even allowed into the Rhinns at the moment?” Nicky asked, studying his smoke-cured fingernails.

    His hand, I noticed, was trembling ever so slightly.

    “Probably not,” I said. “But I got a call from the Internal Affairs Directorate; so I didn’t ask, just went. I don’t know how the government got hold of it. I guess it was from Police Scotland, trying to pass the buck as usual. It was near Logan, the botanic gardens. A body. John Mair, probably.”

    John Mair was the convener of the Dumgal Union, the party behind the move to split Dumgal from the rest of Scotland.

    “What were we doing there?” Nicky wondered.

    “No idea,” I said. “I’d like to know that too. Maybe the local Dumgal cops just panicked and called their ex-colleagues. They haven’t got the forensic setup, and all the records are still at Fettes; so they’ll have to rely on Police Scotland anyway.”

    Nicky exhaled audibly.

    “The body was found on the line that runs to the railhead at Drummore,” I continued. “He’d been dragged along beneath the wheels for good few hundred yards; his head and feet were crushed. His phone was found on his body, and we’re checking his prints to confirm his identity. We should be able to confirm it’s him in the morning.”

    We considered the implications in silence. If the body did turn out to be Mair’s, we’d have a major problem. The locals might accuse the Scottish government of killing him, whip up more serious unrest, and use that as leverage to get Scotland to give up Dumgal. The Scottish government had been pumping money into the region. It was clearly still rattled that the locals had held a referendum three years before and voted not to remain part of Scotland but continue the social experiment they’d begun the autumn before.

    “The whole thing scares me,” I admitted.

    “Do we even have the experience to deal with this one, let alone the devolved administration in Dumgal?” Erica asked.

    “I don’t know,” I said. “I’ve got a gut feeling…”

    My gut feeling suddenly overwhelmed me.

    “But, you’re right, this could have waited until the morning…” I tailed off, feeling suddenly drained.

    Nicky sat up.

    “No, you were right to tell us,” he said. “This could be a big one. How far did you get?”

    I tossed my phone onto the desk with a deep sigh.

    “I got some footage from the crime scene. He was probably killed elsewhere and his body laid out on the tracks. The senior officer present, Inspector Chad of the Citizens Guard, didn’t want to speak to me at first. But when I showed him my warrant card, he was all ‘Chief Inspector this’ and ‘Chief Inspector that’…”

    Erica a Nicky grinned. Those official pieces of paper the government gave us still carried some influence. The tension eased.

    “Sorry, I just can’t work it all out,” I said, shaking my head. “Too tired. Not much to show for a twelve-hour trip.”

    “That’s fine, Martin,” Nicky said. “Go home; get some sleep! I’ll take the footage up to the tech people, get it processed. We’ll have to think carefully about how we’re going to proceed. Let’s look at the footage and sort everything else out at the meeting tomorrow.”

    I looked at the other two and smiled.

    “I wish I could,” I said, “but I’ve been asked to report directly to the Minister for Internal Affairs. I should have gone straight there, but I wanted to talk to you first.”

    I went to the door. Babs had already left the room and was back working at her desk.

    “One last question,” Erica asked. “Who sent you down there?”

    “From the Directorate?”


    “It was the night-duty officer.”

    Erica nodded, deep in thought. I watched her for a moment, waiting for her to say more. She didn’t. I turned and left.

  6. Earso Knearso says:

    What if you’re not a man, not a woman, and not under 25? Such categories belong to the Scotland of the past, not the present, and certainly not the future.

    1. 220319 says:

      Yes, just imagine! Scotland, 2042; the old social classifications of ‘man’, ‘woman’, ‘youth’, ‘adult’, etc., and we’re all self-identifying without let or hindrance… Wouldn’t that be wonderful?

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