New Writers Awards 2013/14: Martin MacInnes

Martin MacInnes

Martin MacInnes was born in Inverness in 1983. Writing his thesis on Virginia Woolf, he graduated in 2004 from the University of Stirling with First Class honours and the Edward and Thomas Lunt Prize, and in 2005 received his MA in English literature from the University of York. From 2006 to 2008 he worked and travelled in West Africa before moving to Edinburgh to give more time to his writing. His fiction, travel, and science writing have been published twice in the Edinburgh Review, in Valve Journal, Birdville Magazine, Textualities, Random Acts of Writing and The Human Genre Project, and in 2013 he read at the Edinburgh International Book Festival as part of the Story Shop initiative for emerging writers. He is working on several projects, and is especially interested in making something of the discord between stream-of-consciousness intensity and the flat rigours of scientific narratives.

Extract from 'To the Ends'

He, as everyone else of themselves, had difficulty imagining a world in which he was not present – despite as he knew this being an almost unbroken condition. The odd thing psychologically, and that he suspected was affecting their movements and gestures, making them slower and more passive, was the quietness with which Antarctica presented the logic of an extra-human world. It so disappointed him that he could still feel fragile next to the evidence of a deaf planet. He had now, was now, as a man, all he was going to be. Yet still there was the wound of a child who'd call unheeded. Without media they were closer to that silent and blank going on which is nature. It hollowed him to conceive of the arbitrariness of society; no-one could live in the continent, and it doesn't mean anything. The climate changed and people grew and lived off it for a short time, and then there were no people, animals and plant spread differently. He wanted to grasp more tightly to his wife. But here, in Antarctica, he was beginning to feel something else: not awe and humility, but rather the boredom of long afternoons. Idiot complacency. He was dying plainly and mindlessly. That wasn't the idea behind the trip. His motivation, in fact, and of which he had had some difficulty adequately expressing to his wife, was quite the opposite. But the continent was diminishing him in every way. So far he had been unable to make love (Patricia joked about 'unkind temperatures' as he turned his shoulder to barrier, small). It was diminishing his capacity to be impressed by his miniaturising. Of course, becoming small, you adjust your expectations. And so men and women slumped anonymously in bar-chairs bolted to the floor or ate themselves up to a doze. The constant murmur of the engine. The used-up conversations and the absence of any news. The honesty, ultimately, of a world in which nothing happens.