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Edinburgh, Ep. 3

September 6, 2011 — In a brilliant Voodoo Rooms clash of Scottish literary titans, it was sci-fi brillianteur Hal Duncan who rocked the literary rim, winning a neck-and-neck basketball shootout with fiction-fascinateur Katerina Vasiliou by a score of 5-4 — winning him the Literary Death Match Edinburgh crown!

But before the first paper wad was formed, the night kicked off with bright-minded do-it-all Sophie Cooke (author of The Glass House and Under The Mountain) up against sci-fi brillianteur Hal Duncan (Escape from Hell! and Ink: The Book of All Hours). Cooke led off with a short, sharply crystalline poem about Antarctica, and then Duncan stepped up with glittering selection from his "Sonnets for Kouroi Old and New."

The mic was then handed to the brilliant cast of all-star arbiters that included The Scotsman's Senior Feature Writer Lee Randall, standup comedian Sian Bevan, and the Scottish Poetry Library's Peggy Hughes. The trio praised both readers, before saying that Cooke seemed to be wearing her favorite everything all at once, and noted that Duncan's moustache seemed to be moving independently of his face, reading out all the dirty bits. They then huddled for a difficult deliberation, but decided it was Duncan that would go on as the night's first finalist. 

After a booze-fueled intermission (there was, after all, a bar minimum to meet), next up was Doug Johnstone (author of SmokeheadsTombstoning and The Ossians) up against the inimitable Katerina Vasiliou. Johnstone led off, reading a beautiful/grisly bullet-and-brains excerpt from his latest novel that had the audience cringing. Then Vasiliou gripped everyone's with a hauntingly intimate passage from her novel-in-progress.

Again the mic was handed to the judges, who were were disturbed (and thus impressed) with Johnstone's visceral excerpt, and were equally impressed by Vasiliou's elegant lyrical wizardry. After their comments, the judges huddled and after a long debate, emerged to name Vasiliou the Round 2 winner. 

Then up-stepped LDM creator Todd Zuniga, who invited three volunteers to the stage — two to rebound, and one to act as "the human stanchion." Then he called up Duncan and Vasiliou, who were tasked with taking five images of book burners — appropriately crumpled into projectiles — and firing them through a Nerf basketball hoop. It was a wild back-and-forth, with both finalists in the running, but it was Hal Duncan who would win the day, in a nailbiting 5-4 finish that sent him to the top of the literary world, as the LDM championship and literary immortality were all his! 

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