AWW Gen 5– SFF

Australian Women Writers Gen 5 Week 15-22 Jan. 2023

Anmatyerre woman, Bronwyn Payne Ngale (1970- ) holding ‘Antyarlkenth [native tuber] story’, 2008

AWW Gen 5 is the generation of women who began writing in the 1990s up till now (early 2023). It is, or I find it to be, difficult to pin down the characteristics of this current generation, but two trends stand out: the rise and rise of Indigenous Lit; and the amount of writing which in earlier days would have clearly been SF – but which now is generally characterised as Climate Fic., Dystopian, or less frequently, Fantasy/Surreal/Postmodern.

Women’s Indig.Lit does deserve an overview, especially the world class writing of Alexis Wright, surely our next Nobel laureate, but there are Indigenous women writing in the climate/dystopian stream, which for the sake of brevity I will deem SFF, so for AWW Gen 5 Week 2023 let’s start there.

Of course our Canadian friends will argue that this stream can only be discussed with reference to Margaret Atwood’s “not SF” The Handmaid’s Tale (1985) and its sequel, The Testaments (2019). But Atwood’s implied claims that she invented dystopian fiction, or even just its American religious subset, or was the first person to bring dystopian writing into Literature, are all easily disprovable

This arbitrarily restrictive definition [not science fiction] seems designed to protect her novels from being relegated to a genre still shunned by hidebound readers, reviewers and prize-awarders. She doesn’t want the literary bigots to shove her into the literary ghetto.Ursula Le Guin talking about Atwood, 2010

Don’t mention SF seems to be the model preferred also by most Australian women (or their publishers), though Wirlomin-Noongar woman Claire G Coleman, at least, is clear about where she is coming from, along with Jane Rawson, Elizabeth Tan, and SF genre writers Rosaleen Love, Sue Parritt and Melissa Ferguson.

Following is a list of AWW Gen 5 – SFF works we have read/reviewed to date: (reviewer in brackets)

Alice Bishop, A Constant Hum, 2019 (Reading Matters)
Asphyxia, Future Girl, 2020 (wadh) (Grab the Lapels)
Georgia Blain, Special, 2016 (wadh)
Claire G Coleman, Terra Nullius, 2017 (wadh) (ANZLitLovers) (Whispering Gums)
Claire G Coleman, The Old Lie, 2019 (wadh)
Claire G Coleman, Enclave, 2022 (wadh)
Michelle de Kretser, Scary Monsters, 2021 (Reading Matters)
Lara Fergus, My Sister Chaos, 2014 (ANZLitLovers)
Melissa Ferguson, The Shining Wall, 2019 (wadh)
Else Fitzgerald, Everything Feels Like the End of the World, 2022 (Brona’s Books)
Helen Fitzgerald, Ash Mountain, 2021 (Reading Matters)
Sara Foster, The Hush, 2021 (Reading Matters)
Janette Turner Hospital, Orpheus Lost, 2007 (wadh) (ANZLitLovers) (Whispering Gums)
Linda Jaivan, Rock ‘n’ Roll Babes from Outer Space, 1996
Mireille Juchau, The World Without Us, 2017 (Reading Matters)
Krissy Kneen, An Uncertain Grace, 2017 (wadh)
Krissy Kneen, Wintering, 2018 (wadh)
Julie Koh, Portable Curiosities, 2016 (Whispering Gums)
Ambelin Kwaymullina, Fifteen Days on Mars, 2022 (Whispering Gums)
Jamie Marina Lau, Gunk Baby, 2021 (wadh)
Fay Lee, Empathy, 2022 (wadh)
Rosaleen Love, The Total Devotion Machine and other stories, 1989 (wadh)
Laura Jean McKay, The Animals in that Country, 2020 (Reading Matters) (Brona’s Books)
Catherine McKinnon, Storyland, 2017 (wadh) (ANZLitLovers) (Whispering Gums)
Angela Meyer, The great unknown, 2013 (Whispering Gums)
Angela Meyer, A superior spectre, 2018 (Whispering Gums)
Meg Mundell, Black Glass, 2011
Meg Mundell, The Trespassers, 2019 (Reading Matters)
Lois Murphy, Soon, 2018, (Reading Matters)
Sue Parritt, Sannah and the Pilgrim, 2014 (ANZLitLovers)
Sue Parritt, Pia and the Skyman, 2016 (wadh)
Jane Rawson, A Wrong Turn at the Office of Unmade Lists, 2013 (wadh) (ANZLitLovers) (Whispering Gums)
Jane Rawson, Formaldehyde, 2015 (wadh)
Jane Rawson, The Handbook, 2015 (ANZLitLovers)
Jane Rawson, From the Wreck, 2017 (wadh) (ANZLitLovers) (Buried in Print)
Jane Rawson, A History of Dreams, 2022 (wadh)
Jane Rawson, Author Interview (Jan. ’22)
Mykaela Saunders ed., This All Come Back Now, 2022 (Louis)
Annabel Smith, The ark, 2014 (Whispering Gums) (ANZ LitLovers)
Elizabeth Tan, Rubik, 2017 (wadh)
Elizabeth Tan, Smart Ovens for Lonely People, 2020 (wadh)
Ellen van Neerven, Heat and Light/Water, 2014 (wadh) (Whispering Gums)
Ellen van Neerven, Throat, 2020 (Brona’s Books)
Ellen van Neerven & Rafeif Ismail ed.s , Unlimited Futures, 2022 (Whispering Gums)
Madeleine Watts, The Inland Sea, 2021 (Reading Matters) (Consumed by Ink)
Charlotte Wood, The Natural Way of Things, 2015 (wadh) (ANZLitLovers) (Whispering Gums)
Alexis Wright, Carpentaria, 2006 (wadh) (Whispering Gums)
Alexis Wright, The Swan Book, 2013 (wadh) (ANZLitLovers)


Reference works and essays

none yet

Related Posts

AWW Gen 5-SFF, wadh (just an earlier version of this page)
Atwood, Le Guin & SF, wadh
Jane Rawson, Author Interview (Jan. ’22)
First Nations Australia Speculative Fiction, Whispering Gums


For another AWW Gen 5 Week –

In making the list above and looking over my shelves for works I might have missed, I see that I have passed over Australian Grunge which was a distinctive part of 1990s writing at least and which may in fact have been a precursor to the dystopian trend of the 2000s. So Justine Ettler misses out; Linda Jaivin is in, for one of her minor works; Fiona McGregor, who is often mentioned in this connection, I don’t know at all; and Nikki Gemmell, whom I would like to write about at length, is also out. And Heather Rose too, despite The Museum of Modern Love being one of our great books.

I have also reviewed a couple of YA-ish books which have a grungy feel and which I would like to have discussed again in the context of Gen 5 – Jamie Marina Lau, Pink Mountain on Locust Island and Madeleine Ryan, A Room Called Earth, but I can’t see any way of squeezing them into SFF.

12 thoughts on “AWW Gen 5– SFF

  1. I think I would like to read How To Lose Friends And Influence White People by Antoinette Lattouf. Would that work? It’s non-fiction, and I can’t remember if your project is specifically fiction, or if that is just what folks tend to read.


    • The theme this year is dystopian/SF. I’m happy whatever you read. I imagine POC lead pretty dystopian lives anyway. I’d be especially interested if Lattouf mentions her own “Who Gets To Tell Australian Stories”


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