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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 7: The Swan Book: Into Transrealist Fiction

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CHAPTER 7

The Swan Book: Into Transrealist Fiction

By far the best-known Aboriginal author covered in this study is Alexis Wright. As indicated in the Introduction, Wright is, alongside Kim Scott, the most frequently discussed Aboriginal author in and outside Australia. One reason for this remarkable global interest lies in the fact that her novel Carpentaria won the 2007 Miles Franklin Literary Award; another is that her other novels have reached international English-speaking and non-English speaking markets.1

Today, Alexis Wright is a household name in Australia. Like most Aboriginal authors whose literary careers were launched in the 1990s, Wright is not “just” a writer, researcher and educator but also an activist, engaged with Aboriginal agencies and campaigns across Australia, and involved with fund raising as well as issues concerning mining and land rights. As a member of the Waanyi nation in the highlands of the southern Gulf of Carpentaria, most of her writing focuses on this geographical area. However, she also published the unique and timely book-length study Grog War (1997), which took her away from her country to Tenant Creek in the Northern Territory, and for which she had to abide by strict cultural protocols. Grog War is not simply a study of alcohol abuse, but a “story of how the Indigenous people of Tennant Creek worked together on a war against ← 189 | 190 → alcohol” by engaging “Indigenous Law, responsibility and work as a community, in a ten-year-long battle” (Wright,...

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