Ken MacLeod was born on the Isle of Lewis and lives in Gourock, where his window affords a view of seals, sea-birds, and submarines. He is the author of seventeen novels, from The Star Fraction (1995) to The Corporation Wars (2018), and many articles and short stories. He has won three BSFA awards and three Prometheus Awards, and been short-listed for the Clarke and Hugo Awards.

Ken was a Writer in Residence at the ESRC Genomics Policy and Research Forum at Edinburgh University, and Writer in Residence for the MA Creative Writing course at Edinburgh Napier University. He was Guest Selector for the SF strand at the 2017 Edinburgh International Book Festival. Recently he worked on a selection of Iain M. Banks' drawings and notes on the Culture, for Orbit Books. He is currently writing a space opera trilogy, and will have a new collection coming out in 2024 via NewCon Press.

Selkie Summer by Ken Macleod

Siobhan Ross has several reasons for taking a holiday job on the Isle of Skye – her keen interest in marine biology for one – but she's also determined to escape Glasgow and put distance between herself and a failed relationship with fellow student Kieran.

The last thing Siobhan's looking for is romance, let alone with a Selkie, but…

In Selkie Summer, Ken MacLeod delivers a rich contemporary fantasy that is steeped in Celtic lore, nuclear submarines and secrets, as Siobhan finds herself the focus of attention she never sought, unwittingly embroiled in political intrigue and the shifting landscape of international alliances. At its heart, Selkie Summer is a love story: as passionate and unconventional as you could wish for.


Ken MacLeod is one of Scotland's jewels of science fiction, and usually writes the hardest of hard SF. Here, though, he takes an unexpected and lovely detour into a Scotland where selkies are real, and... well, you'll have to find out the rest for yourselves! – Lavie Tidhar



  • "Ken MacLeod is a smooth professional and the words flow beautifully... Another small triumph from Newcon Press."

    – SFCrowsnest
  • "The whole tale is told with wry amusement and an affection for the place, the people and the stories of the west coast of Scotland which delivers a perfect shot of pleasure."

    – Interzone
  • "Genre-historically, this kind of naturalized-supernatural belongs to the lineage of the 1940s pulp Unknown Worlds, which published Heinlein's "The Devil Makes the Law" and the rationalized fantasies of L. Sprague de Camp & Fletcher Pratt and Fritz Leiber. It is also, as it heads toward its interspecies-intrigue finish, a sharply detailed observation of the people and the physical and social environment of the Hebrides, covering everything from wearables to weather to B&B duties to pub atmospherics to the contents of tidal pools."

    – Locus



For no reason I could see, the bus stopped. I peered through the steamed-up, rain-smeared window at a rocky, gloomy, treeless glen. Its sparse grass and heather couldn't tempt so much as a black-faced sheep. Beside a nearby bog a rusty Scottish Tourist Board sign of crossed broadswords marked the Battle of Glen Whatever, way back in Seventeen Forget-It. Ahead, around a bend in the road, was a bridge. The burn was in spate but well below road level.

'What's the problem?' someone called.

'Water-horse,' said the driver.

'A kelpie?' cried an American passenger. 'Wow, can we get out? Like, to film it?'

'No,' said the driver.

There was a clunk as the door locked, followed by a mutter of disappointment and a surge to my side of the bus. Phones were pressed to all the windows, including one quite rudely over my shoulder. I shrugged the overbearing arm aside and wiped the inside of the window with my sleeve, tilting my face and phone to a view of where the burn gushed from a gully half-way up the hillside.

At first it seemed nothing but one of the many small waterfalls and rapids on that eroded slope. Suddenly the water rose, brown and white, shouldering above the cleft in which it ran. The long roan head formed first, a black-eyed gleam, the white spume of the mane, and then the forelegs trampled air as the kelpie reared. Everyone – all the visitors, anyway – gasped, to a staccato of shutter-sounds. The kelpie waited, gathering water and strength. Then down it plunged, its speed and balance impossible, its gait a perfect gallop, tail and mane flying out behind it, boulders and bushes flung from its path. It over-leapt and flooded across the bridge, dislodging one or two stones from the parapet.

The water drained from the road. After a minute the driver got out and heaved the stones to the side. Passengers edged back to their seats. The engine started up. As we crossed the bridge we gazed down the watercourse, but the kelpie was long out of sight and by now probably prancing in the sea.