Although Australia hasn’t been the most fertile ground for science fiction — for whatever reason, the planets didn’t quite align for it the way they did for fantasy — there is still enough variety to divide it up into subgenres. This month I want to focus on far-future SF, ie mostly set in space or on other planets. Settings that aren’t very directly connected to today’s world. I thought I’d better include “distant” in the title of this post as well, since something along the lines of Star Wars should definitely be included, but as we all know, Star Wars is technically set “a long time ago…”
Anyway, while SF hasn’t traditionally been an especially large field of publishing within Australia, of late there has been a bit of a surge of SF in the YA world. One of the most notable Australian authors writing science fiction today is Amie Kaufman, whose first book, These Broken Stars, co-authored with Meagan Spooner (a US writer) and reviewed by Julia Tulloh Harper (among others) was shortlisted for an Aurealis Award. Her subsequent novels, including the rest of the Starbound trilogy and another trilogy This Shattered World (reviewed by Cassandra Page) and Their Fractured Light (reviewed by Shaheen @ Speculating On Specfic), the Illuminae Files, co-authored with fellow-Australian Jay Kristoff, have all been shortlisted for Aurealis Awards as well. Illuminae and Gemina, the first and second books of the Illuminae Files, reviewed by Ju Transcendancing and HM Waugh, respectively, won the Best Science Fiction Novel Aurealis Awards in their respective years. With more books on the horizon, Kaufman is definitely an author to keep an eye on.
One can’t talk about science fiction in Australia without mentioning Marianne de Pierres. She has written in a wide variety of (speculative) genres and has shown herself to be a very versatile author. One of her most notable series is a space opera: the Sentients of Orion series. All four books in the series, Dark Space, Chaos Space, Mirror Space and Transformation Space were shortlisted for Aurealis Awards with the final book taking out the prize for Best Science Fiction Novel in 2010. Here is a review of Dark Space by Mark.
Amanda Bridgeman has written six books in her Aurora series, set in space and full of action, by all accounts. The third in the series, Aurora: Meridian was nominated for an Aurealis Award. The lovely Elizabeth Fitzgerald has helpfully gone through and reviewed all six books. Here is her review of Aurora: Darwin, the first book, for your convenience.
Having written both science fiction and fantasy, Andrea K Höst is another SF writer to keep an eye on. She has self-published all of her work and has received Aurealis Award nominations for some of it. Her Touchstone series (originally a trilogy) is portal-SF about a girl from Sydney who suddenly finds herself in a distant part of the universe where space travel and aliens are all normal. Here is Leonie Rogers‘s review of Stray, the first Touchstone book.
The above is of course not a complete list of Australian female-authored far-future/distant SF. Some other authors that are definitely worth your attention include Patty Jansen, who has written a lot of science fiction, mostly set in the distant future. For example, here is a review of Shifting Reality by Sean The Bookonaut. Another notable book is Squid’s Grief by DK Mok, reviewed by Stephanie Gunn, which was shortlisted for an Aurealis Award this year. Mok is another writer that has written across a variety of genres. Sara Creasy has written some military SF starting with Song of Scarabaeus, and some of Sally Rogers-Davidson’s books, like Polymer (my review), fall into the far-future SF category.
I’m sure there’s someone I’ve forgotten to mention. Have I missed one of your favourite far-future SF authors? Let me know in the comments!
Tsana Dolichva is a Ditmar Award-nominated book blogger who has been reading and enjoying Australian speculative fiction for as long as she can remember. She blogs her book reviews over at the creatively titled Tsana’s Reads. Along with Holly Kench, she edited Defying Doomsday, an anthology showing that people with disabilities and chronic illnesses also have stories to tell, even when the world is ending. In her spare time she is an astrophysicist.
Hi Tsana, great round-up! One notable favourite missing from your list is Cat Sparks, who recently launched her first novel Lotus Blue, set in a far-future/dystopian world. Cat has also published more short stories than I can count on fingers and toes and is nothing short of a blessing to the Aus SF community! https://catsparks.net/
Although I’d class Cat and Marlee’s books as far-future, they’re not ‘mostly set in space or on other planets’, so perhaps I was too hasty with my suggestions. Sorry, Tsana!
I was going to say, aren’t those both set on Earth? Unfortunately, I haven’t read either yet although both are in my TBR :-/
Also, dystopian is rather a different subgenre and I was planning to highlight it in a different post.
Thanks for the suggestions, though! 🙂
Looking forward to reading your future posts, especially the dystopian one! It’s great to have round-ups of Aus spec fic authors to refer to 🙂
Also I’d say that Marlee Jane Ward’s work would fall under far-future/distant SF. Welcome to Orphancorp was her first award-winning novel and she’s just launched the sequel, Psynode. http://marleejaneward.com/