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Futuristic Worlds in Australian Aboriginal Fiction


Iva Polak

This is the first study that brings together the theory of the fantastic with the vibrant corpus of Australian Aboriginal fiction on futurities. Selected works by Ellen van Neerven, Sam Watson, Archie Weller, Eric Willmot and Alexis Wright are analysed as fictional prose texts that construct alternative future worlds. They offer a distinctive contribution to the relatively new field of non-mainstream science fiction that has entered the critical domain of late, often under the title of postcolonial science fiction. The structures of these alternative worlds reveal a relationship – sometimes straightforward, sometimes more complex – with the established paradigms of the genre. The novelty of their stories comes from the authors’ cultural memory and experience of having survived the «end of the world» brought about by colonisation. Their answers to our futurity contain different novums that debunk the myth of progress in order to raise the issue of a future without a human face.


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Chapter 6: The Kadaitcha Sung: Towards Native Slipstream


Chapter 6 The Kadaitcha Sung: Towards Native Slipstream Sam Watson is a well-known activist, lecturer, poet, novelist, playwright and film producer from the Birri-Gubba and Munaldjali nations. He belongs to the generation of Aboriginal activists and spokespeople who paved the way for future generations, with his active engagement in 1960s political activ- ism against the White Australia Policy, the 1967 Referendum, the Gurindji land rights struggle, and more recently, advancing Aboriginal access to legal, medical and housing services. Amidst these political and cultural engagements, Watson wrote The Kadaitcha Sung. The novel was published in 1990 and generated a cornucopia of responses. As a “pre-Master-of-the- Ghost-Dreaming” novel, The Kadaitcha Sung was an Aboriginal literary novum, as there was nothing to prepare the reader for such a hybridity of genres used to speak bluntly about colonisation. Even when Mudrooroo’s Master appeared a year later, in 1991, the magical realist work was an easy read compared to Watson’s The Kadaitcha Sung. This contributed to one of the novel’s distinctive aspects: even though it has long since been out of print, it is still being discussed by new generations of scholars. No other pre- twenty-first-century Aboriginal novel has attracted attention for so long. Before stating what others have said about the novel, it is worth con- sidering the author’s own words about how it came to be, and for whom it was intended. This is revealed in the famous “I Say This to You” interview with Watson, published in Meanjin in 1994, whose purpose...

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