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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 5: Land of the Golden Clouds: An Epic Space of Science Fantasy and Fantastika

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CHAPTER 5

Land of the Golden Clouds: An Epic Space of Science Fantasy and Fantastika

Archie Weller’s Land of the Golden Clouds (1998) might have become a landmark novel. Van Ikin wrote in his early review of the work that it “could go ballistic. Not just in Australia, either: there are elements of Land of the Golden Clouds that have the potential to strike a chord of excitement right across the globe” (“Feet into fantasy” 10), because Weller’s novel adds a contemporary spin to the conventions laid down by Tolkien and his successors. Katharine England ended her review of the novel with the sentiment that it was “another Archie Weller landmark in Australian and Aboriginal writing” (42). However, instead of becoming a landmark work, the novel was soon forgotten. Chapter 1 discusses how the “spectres” started “haunting” Australia, and how extratextual phenomena provided answers as to whether or not some works should be considered Aboriginal. This phenomenon went into overdrive in 1990s Australia when a series of writers entered the limelight for their culturally incorrect appropriation of Aboriginal identity, which they used to create works of art, most notably Aboriginal writing. The publicly exposed authors who abused Aboriginal and other ethnic identities were initially put in the same box of frauds, and Australian media and academia ostracised them without paying much attention to their differences. Indeed, the number of literary-cultural hoaxes in 1990s Australia was staggering, and it is no wonder they all...

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