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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 3: Below the Line: A SF Novel of (Double) Invasion


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Below the Line: A SF Novel of (Double) Invasion

Even before the publication of Below the Line in 1991, Eric Willmot was a well-established Aboriginal writer, teacher and scholar who held important positions in higher education.1 Willmot’s adult life is in stark contrast to his childhood, during which his family moved around Queensland and the Northern Territory. Willmot gave up his education after primary school and spent his teenage years as a drover and horse breaker, but a serious rodeo accident at the age of eighteen put an end to this career, and made Willmot return to schooling (Willmot, Australia n.p.). With degrees in mathematics and education, Willmot taught in New South Wales, Victoria and Papua New Guinea. He spent the 1970s and 1980s actively engaged in Aboriginal education and teacher training (Willmot, Australia n.p.), through a series of educational programmes for advancing Aboriginal education. In 1984 he was awarded the Order of Australia for his services to education and Aboriginal studies. Apart from being an educator and a scholar, Willmot is also an inventor and a holder of many patents. In 1981 he received the Australian Inventor of the Year Award as well as the Gold Medal Award for mechanical engineering at the International Exposition of New Technology in Geneva (Willmot, Dilemma n.p.). Before Below the Line, Willmot wrote the influential Bicentennial novel Pemulwuy: The Rainbow Warrior (1987), which received accolades from the press and launched Willmot’s lifelong project to...

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