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Futuristic Worlds in Australian Aboriginal Fiction

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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 4: “Water”: The SF Alien as a Metaphor for Culture

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CHAPTER 4

“Water”: The SF Alien as a Metaphor for Culture

Ellen van Neerven (also known as Ellen van Neerven-Currie) is a young author of Mununjali (Yugambeh) descent (Scenic Rim region, South-East Queensland) with a Dutch father. She is the author of the collection Heat and Light (2014), which won the 2013 David Unaipon Award. Before discussing her SF novella “Water”, which resembles Willmot’s Below the Line in terms of genre, it is worth saying a few words about this young Aboriginal literary voice. In comparison to the career trajectories of earlier generations of Aboriginal writers such as Eric Willmot, Sam Watson, and Alexis Wright – to mention just those discussed in this book – van Neerven’s career may itself seem science fictional. She graduated in 2010 with a degree in Fine Arts majoring in Creative Writing Production, following which she earned a mentorship with the black&write! project. As previously mentioned, this important project launched by the State Library of Queensland in 2010 is meant to mentor new generations of Aboriginal writers and editors. After graduating from this project, van Neerven became a black&write! editor. In 2014 she also produced the first digital anthology of Aboriginal writing, Writing Black: New Indigenous Writing from Australia, which is available to download on iTunes, meaning that her intended readers belong to the digitally savvy generation. As a legitimate new literary star, van Neerven participates in panel discussions at top international universities. As a young...

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