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A Companion


Edited By Jack Fennell

What is Sci-Fi?

Science fiction is a non-realist genre that foregrounds a sense of material plausibility, insisting that despite seeming outlandish, it is consonant with history and the laws of nature. By turns subtle and bombastic, sci-fi revels in discovery and revelation, whether through human ingenuity or world-altering paradigm shifts. The same impulse informs both the idealism of Star Trek and the existential terror of Frankenstein.

Each chapter of this book examines a specific trope or theme through a different critical lens – including eco-criticism, feminism and historicism – while also providing a historical overview of the genre, from its disputed origins to the pulp era, the New Wave, and the exponential growth of Afrofuturism and Indigenous Futurisms. Revered masters such as Isaac Asimov, Octavia Butler and Iain M. Banks are considered alongside newer talents, including Rebecca Roanhorse and N. K. Jemisin. Other chapters provide overviews of different media, from television (Doctor Who, Westworld) to comics/manga (2000AD, Métal Hurlant), video games (Deus Ex: Human Revolution) and theatre (Alistair McDowall’s X).

Sci-Fi: A Companion not only provides an accessible introduction to sci-fi for general readers and researchers alike, but also illuminates new approaches to a familiar genre.

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George Miller’s Mad Max (1979–2015) and Ryan Griffen’s Cleverman (2016–2017) – Australian Science Fiction (Christopher B. Menadue)


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Christopher B. Menadue

George Miller’s Mad Max (1979–2015) and Ryan Griffen’s Cleverman (2016–2017)

In his documentary White Fellas Dreaming: A Century of Australian Cinema, also released as 40,000 Years of Dreaming: A Century of Australian Cinema (Miller 1997), Mad Max director George Miller presented Australian film culture as a modern-day ‘Dreamtime’ for the white Australian public (see Figure 28). Miller’s interpretation can be examined from the perspective of a colonial tradition that appropriates traditional indigenous culture, under the assumption that it has been expertly researched and understood by civilized, educated, white, authorities. This appears to be especially apt when applied to Miller’s use of the term ‘Dreaming’ – the white terminology and interpretation of which approximates an indigenous phenomenological experience, presented from the cultural perspective of white writers and academics.

To use the expression ‘White Fella Dreaming’ is a clumsy analogical appropriation of an Australian Aboriginal cultural experience; and is an ironically ‘white’ undertaking in the Australian historical context. The background to Miller’s Mad Max franchise is a postcolonial echo of the Australian settler ethos, which sought to obliterate Aboriginal Australians and subsume or destroy their culture. A more recent Australian science fiction offering, Cleverman, was conceived by an Australian Aboriginal, Ryan Griffen, and is steeped in contemporary culture, issues and traditional stories of the Australian Aborigine. Cleverman is a futuristic dystopian drama telling the story of the struggle for survival of the ‘Hairypeople’, a species of superhumans...

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