'Be transported into dystopian cities and other-worldly societies. Be amazed and beguiled by a nursery story with a reverse twist, a futuristic take on TV cooking shows, a playscript with tentacles - and more, much more. Plunge in and enjoy!
'A collection of sci-fi and fantasy writing, including six graphic stories, showcasing twenty stellar writers and artists from India and Australia: Isobelle Carmody, Penni Russon, Justine Larbalestier, Margo Lanagan, Lily Mae Martin, Kuzhali Manickavel, Prabha Mallya, Annie Zaidi, Kate Constable, Vandana Singh, Mandy Ord, Priya Kuriyan, Manjula Padmanabhan, Samhita Arni, Alyssa Brugman, Nicki Greenberg and Amruta Patil.' (Publication summary)
Teachers' reviews available from Allen and Unwin.
A young woman undergoes initiation into adulthood through intimate contact with the sea and the moon. At first seemingly set in some ‘ancient’ past amongst a ‘tribal’ people, ‘Swallow the Moon’ eventually reveals itself as occurring instead in a de-evolved, post-apocalyptic future. Traditional emblems of femininity are used liberally and uncritically, providing opportunities for students to locate and critique their use without authorial bias.
In this re-version of the fairy tale, fifteen-year-old Poppy lives in a 2m x 2m Sydney apartment with her mother and has never seen rain. In this climate-change scenario people survive through their environmental suits, which contain communication devices and provide recycled water and air. Against all advice Poppy leaves Sydney to visit her grandmother, who refuses to live in the city, and along the way is stalked by a male voice inside her suit.
Stella’s best friend Mandira is missing. It is fifty years since the Dying Out and the last of the great food wars. Now the last multinational, AgroGlobal, provides only tubes of goo called ‘Newtri’ and in a world empty of real food the most popular TV show is ‘Masterchef’. To find their ingredients contestants in this speculative version of the competition must travel back in time, which is where Mandira has gone missing.
This re-version of the romantic Indian folk tale has a dancer entombed alive as punishment for her sexual relationship with the prince. In the original story the dancer dies but here she manages to escape and goes on to rescue the prince. That universal female emblem, the Earth, opens itself to Anarkali and allows her passage through its soil and rock, to freedom.
Karthini is born in a village where both boys and girls are born who have the gift of magic. But only the boys’ magic is trained: girls with the gift are killed through being tied hand-and-foot and put to sea in a barrel. When, at the onset of her period, Karthini suffers this fate, she is rescued at sea by a crew of woman sailors on a ship called ‘The Pearl’, and taken to an island where her magic will be recognised and trained.
A young woman sells a kidney to finance the cosmetic surgery that will see her remain physically acceptable into her forties—after which she plans to sell a cornea to finance the surgery that will maintain her looks through to her death.
Kavya is filling in her request form for a Complete and Irreversible Standardisation procedure, in which she will be relieved of her capacity to see and communicate with supernatural beings—or in the preferred terminology, ‘substandard aberrations’. She is being helped to pass the appraisal for the procedure by a leprechaun.
Every week day, Melita is sexually threatened by a group of adult males on her way to school. Nobody will help and her father tells her the men do it because she’s pretty. The technology to counteract the cat-calling is available, but too expensive for a poor family. Eventually she is protected and dignified by the support of her school community, both boys and girls. This story interrogates common misconceptions about sexual harassment.
Sex biases create hardship and suffering in the lives of boys and men, as well as girls and women. In this story a young man lives and works in space collecting Spit, the clean fuel that a future-Earth requires. He lives and works in various types of ‘pod’ and has little contact with other human beings. As a result he has fallen in love with a virtual human female called Miss Leila, who keeps him working by flattery and the manipulation of his desire to be ‘heroic’.
Coral Polyp is hungry for love and for life but such an appetite in a girl is unacceptable. A girl’s job is to learn to love and want nothing in return, her mother tells her. This story investigates notions of women’s supposedly natural timid desires, and the societal demand upon women to display smallness in all its meanings.
Teenage Ettie sees herself in mirrors, glass and other reflective surfaces variously as overweight, lumpy, spotty, greasy-haired and gap-toothed. However, in one mysterious clothing store the mirror shows her slim and perfect, and the pull of this polished version of herself has her falling into the mirror. An exploration of women’s schizophrenic and complicated relationship with the mirror.
Sixteen-year-old Shaila is a climate change activist, inspired by the memory of her mother, now dead, who was a scientist tracking the rate of glacier-retreat in the Himalayas. Shaila’s first action is to protest the drilling of Arctic oil, during which she oversees the cyber-dissemination of footage showing oil company employees being violent with protesters. A consideration of the relationship between mothers and daughters, and of the role modelling of physical courage as part of a girl’s inheritance.
Geneva tries to save her brother, Hel, from a life of sex- based discrimination after all ‘true’ men have been killed in a set of historic Motherwars. In this dystopian future, biological males have been replaced by part-biological, part- cybernetic men, stripped of a predisposition to violence. An introduction to exploring notions of genetic ‘maleness’—and by extension, genetic ‘femaleness’.
Remote-study partners Schaum of the planet MaggiNoo and Jerk of planet Earth do not understand or like each other. Their planets are mutually benefiting from the trade of MaggiNoo dung and as a result the population is forced into unwanted social and inter-cultural contact. An unexpected alliance between Schaum and the small human clones sent to MaggiNoo to perform menial labour brings about an overthrow of Jerk and the mercenary Earthlings. A representation in theatrical form of class struggle and nationalism (or in this case, planetism).
Vega’s best friend Bonnie is dying of cancer. They share the secret of Vega’s ability to enter objects with her consciousness. When Bonnie dies Vega extends her consciousness into the corpse. A consideration of friendship between young women, and of the nature of loss.
A nameless person being sold into sex-based slavery looks at their reflection in a mirror. The person sees a veiled face framed by soft curls and clanking beads. A manipulation of gender profiling in which layers of feminine signifiers persuade readers that the aforementioned person is female. He is not.
An actor called Ophelia, while waiting backstage to play the Shakespearean character Ophelia, is interviewed by an entertainment reporter. They discuss, with rising irritation on Ophelia’s part, her drowning in the play as though it were a real event. A look at the conflation of real and fictional in current popular media, with a critique of the effects of a masculinist canon on women in the creative arts.