No Award watches stuff: Cleverman

Last week saw the premiere of Cleverman, an Indigenous SF/superhero series airing on the ABC. We at No Award have been very excited for this show; here are some links and feelpinions!

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Peter Combe and the climate dystopia agenda.

petercombe via wheeler centrePeter Combe has prepared a generation of Australians for Our Climate Dystopia.

Climate change is happening, and we are ready.

Is it any wonder Gen Y is so tuned into climate change? We know what’s going on; we’ve always known. The sun is hot and over long; overgrazing is damaging the local ecology, which is leading to erosion and further ecological damage.

Join Official Potato Moya and Steph on an indepth analysis of Peter Combe’s influence on Australians of the 80s and 90s.

Continue reading “Peter Combe and the climate dystopia agenda.”

No Award Reads: The Courier’s New Bicycle

The Courier’s New Bicycle by Kim Westwood is a 2011 Australian SF novel set in a grim dystopian Melbourne approximately a generation into the future.  A bird flu pandemic ravaged Asia and Australia, and an untested vaccine rendered most Australians infertile.  (All we know about the impact in Asia is that Singapore went bust.)

Five years ago, the Generic Christian Oppressor Party (okay, they’re called Nation First) came into government, and along with their dodgy co-religionists (…something-or-other First), they have imposed an oppressive theocratic regime that bans artificial fertility, non-binary gender identities, and queerness in general.

The story follows agender bicycle courier Sal Forth, whose day job is making deliveries for the underground artificial fertility industry, and who is an animal rights activist in zir spare time.  Sal becomes embroiled in a set of mysteries: who is trying to destroy zir’s boss’s business; who is responsible for the beating of a surrogate mother; and who has poisoned zir previously only-once mentioned bestie with a contaminated T-shot.

Spoilers: the answer is, STRAIGHT PEOPLE, but especially STRAIGHT WOMEN, because if there’s one thing this book has, it’s spades and spades of misogyny.  Trans-misogyny, cis-misogyny, unexamined misogynistic treatments of women of colour, it’s all straight-up woman hatin’ here.

Suffice to say, Steph and Liz didn’t care for it.  Which is sad, because lots of people whose taste we normally share loved it!  But by coincidence, we started reading it at the same time, and sent colliding text messages going, “I’M READING THIS BOOK AND IT’S AMAZINGLY TERRIBLE WE HAVE TO TALK ABOUT IT FOR NO AWARD”.

There’s some really awesome stuff around gender and sexuality. Lots of queer relationships and people, and a real consideration of how that impacts peoples’ lives. And so much of the book’s underlying messages are about found family and how great and valid they are. It’s a great look at different conditions and different situations, and the way in which Australia might change in our climate change dystopia (the proliferation of bike couriers, the constant warm weather, the creation of glow in the dark pets, good work CSIRO).

But despite the awesome stuff, Liz and Steph had to take turns encouraging each other to get through the book. And that rarely ever happens.

Spoilers. So many spoilers below.

No Award Disclaimer: When we go on rambles like the 3500 words within, it’s not because we want nobody to write anything new or fun or intersectional. It’s just that we have feelings about the respectful way to do these things, and everybody, even people we love, makes mistakes.

Continue reading “No Award Reads: The Courier’s New Bicycle”

Imagining Australia’s Climate Change Dystopia (a science fiction essay)

It’s been over a year since the last Climate Change Dystopia Australia notes, and science has progressed and so has the books being published. So following on from Continuum, at which I spoke at length and unstoppably about climate change dystopias in Australia, and in light of the fact I’m going to be speaking on climate change and science and science fiction at the NSW Writers’ Centre Speculative Fiction Festival in July (!!), here is an update from the original (which you can find here in the Toast).

You can download the new and improved updated article on stephanielai.net: Imagining Australia’s climate change dystopia – a 2015 update.

The main points of the updates, if you don’t want to read it all again:

Ballooning will increase. I know you already love spiders, but you’re going to love them even more when areas that experience flooding are covered in ballooning spiders, sending out cobwebs in order to escape the rising waters. Once caught by the wind, ballooning baby spiders can travel up to 3 kilometres off the ground and so many kilometres along the ground.

The solar power battery storage is great, and where we assumed we were going, that ability to sleep and charge during the day with minimal electricity use, and then let that electricity out during the night when we’re awake and doing things. Maybe we’ll even still have air-conditioning, or at the very least, fans! But storage is going to be expensive, at least for a little while, even though the cost payback period will decrease. So it’ll still be focussed on the richer communities, on the larger businesses. Electricity, despite this technology leap, will still be a resource primarily available to certain groups.

There will still be gated white people communities, with their guards and their electricity and their carefully hoarded water.

There will be electricity theft, a connection running to a cable as carefully and subtly as possible.

There might still be public transport – trains run on solar, on wind. Trams run on solar, probably not wind. 

In the near future, how our tourism works will change. An increase in cycle tourism will see a change to the structure of country towns. V/Line will still be a jerk about letting your bike on the train, though. This will help as we transition to a bicycle transit community, but it won’t help enough; cars will still take a long time to disappear off the landscape.

Our deserts will, at times, still be green. Australia isn’t like the European climate tradition – when will we decolonise our understanding of the seasons? – and neither will our climate change dystopia be.

Non-fiction reading:

The CSIRO climate projections. FOREVER THE BEST. ILU BoM and CSIRO, please don’t get (more) defunded. 

SFF Australian Climate Change Dystopia Reading list:

The Courier’s New Bicycle, Kim Westwood. I am currently reading this. No opinions as of yet.

The Bride Price, Cat Sparks. I bought this on the weekend and haven’t read it yet, but Cat is great so I have high hopes.

A Town Called Dust, Justin Woolley. Read recently. Loved the world-building and a lot of the concepts, really great sense of place and climate and dystopia. When you get to the thing I got mad about, call me – I ambushed him in a panel we were on, but I have been sufficiently reassured. 

Nightsiders, Sue Isle. FOREVER RECOMMEND. Gender stuff, medical stuff, Perth, the tyranny of distance, all in our climate change future.

Clade, James Bradley. Generational fiction, unexpected but fun. I saw Bradley talk recently and he spoke about how it was less about climate change and more about family, and it is, but it was also a lot about climate change and I liked it.

A Wrong Turn on the Way to the Office of Unmade Lists, Jane Rawson. This book is fantasy in many ways but still an interesting exploration of Australia (and Melbourne’s inner city) in the climate change future.

SELF PIMP: The Dàn Dàn Miàn of the Apocalypse, by me, in the Review of Australian Fiction, 14:4. Only $2.99 and comes with bonus story by Tansy Rayner Roberts. 😀

Continuum ramble:

We touched on why we write dystopias in the Unrealistic Dystopic Futures panel. I’d meant it to be a lols panel, shaved underarms and easy access to showers, that sort of things – I originally called it ‘I know what babies taste like’ because of the ridiculousness of Snowpiercer – but we ended up going a more serious route, and looking at why we write dystopias. I write them because my work is in climate change adaptation, and my passion is in saving the world, and my reading of the science is that we have to or we’re doomed. Sometimes my job really gets me down, those days when I worry there’s no chance of survival. So my writing is about processing that. There’s always hope, there’s always a future to survive in. Otherwise what am I even doing, I may as well go and drink more coffee. 

prepping for our well-powered dystopia

Last week Elon Musk, probably secretly a cyborg and/or Iron Man (ETA have just been told his secret identity is ElonMan), revealed Tesla’s new battery storage system, the PowerWall. In brief, in combination with a 2kWh or a 5kWh PV system (super common sizes in Australia), means cheap, long term, accessible renewable energy at an individual level. One of the problems with PV has been an inability to store enough to get through the night, when there’s no sun out recharging the PV, and it’s a peak energy usage time. A great battery would change that, allowing charging and storage to happen through the day.

Renew Economy thinks it doesn’t mean the end of coal, and the removal of houses from the grid, but it certainly changes shit up.

PV panels. It's so beautiful.

In Australia, it definitely makes PV incredibly affordable (when the battery gets here), and makes PV super competitive, what with all the sun we have. And it changes the payback period, which has long been one of the bigger concerns around installing solar power. Origin recently calculated wasted roof space across Australia, and comes in at 5.3 million homes and businesses wasting their roof space, which doesn’t even take into account other spots to put PV (or roofs on which to put gardens, but this is a solar discussion, quokkas!). Basically it’s all our dystopia dreams come true, and I wish I’d known about it last week before I handed in my latest story (more on that when it comes out, but there’s PV and Australia’s dystopia involved).

The Conversation has a great article about the ‘winners and losers’ in this situation; what’s especially great about it is how it clearly highlights that sometimes distribution companies might not allow installation to happen because there are too many systems installed in certain areas, and if that doesn’t sound like a perfect BigPower conspiracy I don’t know what does.

Related, there’s a floating solar-powered waste water treatment plant under construction in South Australia, which is going to be awesome.

And at wired, a solar powered plane. Yes. Give it to me.

gimme another linkspam, oh my baby

Important and relevant to the interests of No Award: at Spoonflower, an Australian cities design contest. There’s some racist poo in there, but mostly it’s hilarious fun.

The 7 Wonders of Reservoir.  (Liz is moving in a few months, and has given serious thought to the fact that she can afford a two-bedroom house in Reservoir.  Only the fact that she neither owns a car nor drives is keeping her in the inner suburbs.)

At the Guardian, on Boko Haram.

You can submit poetry at The Lifted Brow!

Steph enjoyed this profile of Wayne Denning at BRW – Denning got Australian Indigenous talent onto Sesame Street.

A teaser at Kill Your Darlings, about the absence of cricket in national literature.

This Stormtrooper was saved from a deadly snake bite by his Storm trooper armour. #straya

And multiple Australian men have been arrested for driving motorised eskies.  #heroes

The Medicare rebate slash we better not have: Latika Bourke at the Guardian; Sophie Scott at the ABC.

Official No Award stance: Do not sing the National Anthem on Invasion Day (known legally as Australia Day).  Can you even. This is beyond even the cultural cringe. (Steph had a moment when she first opened that article where she thought ‘NADC’ said ‘NAIDOC’ and she was like WHY WOULD NAIDOC SUPPORT THIS. Don’t worry. She was wrong.) And a thing at En Passant.

Australia’s ridiculously terrible Human Rights Commissioner thinks the Racial Discrimination Act is essentially censorship.

The horror of a pineapple of clowns descending upon Sydney.

Manus: Security guards attack Manus compounds and are total shits.

‘Indigenous Australian’ was one of the most read Wiki pages of 2014.

Language Tips for Cis Feminists Speaking on Trans Issues: Liz very much wishes she had read this before doing the Ancillary Justice post, and unreservedly apologises to anyone she offended.

NASA has released the world’s largest photograph, a high-definition panoramic view of the Andromeda Galaxy.  Warning: may trigger existentialist crisis.

Translating Shakespeare in China:

The other Chinese favorite, perhaps less expected, has been The Merchant of Venice, which debuted as a silent film in Shanghai in 1927. Called The Woman Lawyer, the film highlighted what has particularly interested Chinese audiences about the play, even up to the present: its proto-feminist heroine Portia, who dresses as a man and brilliantly defends Antonio in a gripping courtroom drama. That scene later became, and still remains, a staple of the Chinese middle school curriculum. The Western focus on Jewish-Christian relations means little to Chinese audiences compared with the way that Shakespeare dramatizes a classic battle of Confucian ethics, between li (profit motive) and yi (loyalty to friends).

(Liz would argue against the suggestion that China is unique in using Shakespeare to advance its ideology!  But it’s an interesting article nonetheless.)

The free market won’t stop climate change, but its failure is inspiring the people who will. A comic at by Sam Wallman at The Nib.

No Awarding Around:

Steph’s post from last week on Appropriation and Racism in Melbourne Restaurants has been linked eleven trillion times, so you should definitely read that. There will be a follow-up post eventually to tell you all the restaurants she has been told about following that.

Cranky Ladies of History, featuring fiction by Liz and Steph, is up on GoodReads!  It’s not available for pre-order yet, but keep an eye out.

snowpiercer: the revolution cannot be trusted if it’s white

Here at No Award, there are two things we know for sure about our dystopic climate change future: It is brown; and we will be eating cockroaches.

In related news, you know that No Award went to the movies this week! I really, really liked Snowpiercer (Liz and I disagreed on how great Pacific Rim was, as well). But this is not that joyful shrieking as I clapped my hands. This is a look at the use of non-white bodies and Western imperialism and moral attitudes in our dystopic future. This analysis accepts the basic premise of Snowpiercer: that is, that all of humanity remaining exists on a high speed train that hasn’t stopped in 17 years. There are no questions about track repairs, wear and tear on the outside of the train, and the supply of animal carcasses. Maybe later.

The movie ends with two brown babies leaving to start the world again. Everyone else seems dead. This is correct. End of the world boils down to an Asian girl and a brown boy, protected at the end by an Asian father and a white man. I dig it.

Racially, there are few other things I dig.

This revolution is peppered with brown faces but ultimately led by white ones, from one end of the train to the other. It starts with the disobedience of a white dude, who is oppressed by a white lady (using her tools of white and not-white). It is controlled by two white men, paternalistic imperialists who do what they do for the good of everyone else, never mind what anyone else has to say. It’s led by the man-pain of a white man, and takes a long pause when we learn what we already knew (he knows what babies taste like, man, because being 17 when the world froze he was probably privileged and shielded).

As Liz mentioned, Curtis (the beautiful Chris Evans) turns his judgey face on those he is leading when he discovers that protein bars are made from cockroaches. He decides they don’t need to know. Never mind that people (not white people) willingly eat cockroaches now, before our dystopic future has arrived. Never mind that he makes the decision on their behalf, like a patronising jerk. Never mind that in 17 years on a train, they’ve probably already realised. But this is a story about a white man, at its core, and the decisions white men make on the behalf of everyone they think is less than them (every one).

It’s uncool that we had to watch brown bodies being used for everything; literally, brown bodies. Grey, played by Luke Pasqualino, had to use his shirtless brown body to communicate because he was unable to speak. I enjoy a brown man as much as the next person (probably more, being a brown bisexual, and I have loved Luke Pasqualino since he was in the Borgias and fully clothed), but this is hugely problematic. Brown bodies, especially male brown bodies, have long been used in Western media as either items of lust and hyper-sexuality or as items of abuse (including in slavery). The hairless, shirtless brown man who can’t speak in English has often been shorthand for the exotic, noble savage, and Grey, following Gillam’s instructions, does nothing but support that stereotype: the brown person here for the story of the white person.

Like Elysium, the white-skied brown-earthed saved by the localised/nativised white man story starring Matt Damon and Jodie Foster and fewer brown people than I would have liked, the segregation of the brown tail end and the white-ish front end makes sense within the world. (I was, incidentally, so happy to see some brown children in the school car, though we really only saw that one smart-ass white girl). That the faces of control and violence are all white makes sense. That the faces of rigour and sticking to the rules are Asian are an uncomfortable stereotype of the model minority and super racist.

That the brown players are here for the consumption of the white person is confirmed by the costuming process, which you can read about in this interview. It is, at its essence, look at all the exotic clothes I put on all these white bodies. They’re so multi-ethnic! And they are. But, as always, with a white face, who takes what they can see and find but ultimately doesn’t understand what we’re here to do or what these stolen tools are for.

And in the end, Snowpiercer merely confirms everything we already knew. A cis white man cannot be trusted to smash the system; do not trust the white dudes with the revolution (cf Ms Hayley Inch in a text this morning). The system is always supported by brown bodies – literally, in the case of Grey’s very attractive yet constantly bare torso. And our climate dystopia is coming.

End note: I am interested in thoughts re: the ending, where Tanya, the African-American mother, has been replaced by Yona, holding Timmy’s hand as they walk (BARE-HANDED) into the snow. Whilst two brown babies is correct, there are thoughts around racial conceptions of motherhood that I don’t feel able to talk to but are worth discussing.

No Award goes to the movies: Snowpiercer

Actually, half of No Award went to the pub, then we met up in a cocktail bar, then we went to the movies.  (Stephanie’s post is coming … soon.)

None of this pre-movie drinking was enough to make Snowpiercer live up to its hype.

The rest of this post contains spoilers, because it’s not so much a review as a reaction, and occasionally I just need to stand back and go, “Okay, really?  SERIOUSLY?”

Sometimes it seems like Tumblr fandom has very low standards.  Like thinking that Pacific Rim, a movie where a whole lot of people of colour die and a white dude has manpain, is a shining beacon of progressivism and representation.  See also: giving Team Welcome to Night Vale cookies for being nice to queer people.  Who hurt you, Tumblr?  Who let you think the bare minimum was good enough?

In this case, we know who taught that lesson: Hollywood.  But by accepting the framing of the original cut of Snowpiercer as original and inclusive and brilliant, we’re just continuing to let them write the narrative.

Snowpiercer is a movie about Chris Evans, white guy, leading a revolution inspired by his mentor, John Hurt, white guy, against Ed Harris, white guy.  Along the way, Octavia Spencer plays a Mother Who Loves Her Son and Kang-ho Song and Ah-sung Ko play Asian Supporting Characters With Useful Arbitrary Skills And A Subplot Of Their Own That Isn’t Really Explored In Depth.  And Tilda Swinton spends a third of the movie chewing the scenery, which is brilliant and delightful and kind of just highlights how by-the-numbers everything else is.  Except that it’s on a train, which is cool because trains are great.

This is a movie that pulls its punches.  The oppressed tail end passengers are fed on protein bars, black gelatinous strips that don’t remotely resemble the western food craved by Chris Evans and Jamie Bell.  When the revolutionaries reach the car where these protein bars are manufactured, we learn the HORRIFIC and TERRIBLE TRUTH about their origin:  they’re made from cockroaches.

Okay, that’s pretty gross, but between you and me, I was expecting to find out they were made from the children abducted from the tail section in the first act.  Given a choice between “starvation” and “cockroach jelly”, I’ll take the jelly any day.  Hell, cockroaches are a delicacy in some parts of the world.  So the montage of ignorant revolutionaries happily gorging themselves on protein bars while Chris Evans looks on in silent judgement is hardly warranted.  We don’t need you to be our food police, Scruffy Chris Evans Revolutionary Dude.

Now, try not to be too shocked when I tell you that the passengers in the forward section of the train aren’t eating cockroach jelly.  They’re eating sushi, fresh fruit and steak.  The train is a metaphor, you see, for class and oppression, which is why there are multiple speeches about people having pre-ordained places that they just have to accept.  If this is the cut that Harvey Weinstein thought too complex for the average American viewer, I’d hate to see the edited version.

As it happens, Chris Evans’s pre-ordained place is Revolutionary Leader and Future Train Leading Dude, as arranged between Ed Harris and John Hurt.  This is probably not intended as a metaphor for white patriarchy, but it works surprisingly well.  I can’t say I really cared, but that’s because Curtis the White Revolutionary Played By Chris Evans just isn’t very interesting.  And I can’t really blame Evans for that — he seems like a delightful human labrador, and very nice and all, but he’s not really a guy who can rise above a mediocre script.  And this script was thin as paper.

Not to mention lazy.  Security specialist/drug addict Namgoong Minsu is awoken from stasis to assist the revolution; a few scenes later, he tells his daughter, Yona, about a landmark he looks for “every year”.  Except the unstated number of years he was sleeping, I guess.  Yona, at 17, is too young to remember life before the train … except she can’t be exactly 17, because she too has been in stasis.  In a couple of scenes, Yona demonstrates clairvoyancy, which doesn’t seem to surprise or amaze anyone.  Later … nothing.  Towards the end, Ed Harris congratulates Curtis on being the first human being to travel from one end of the train to the other.  But earlier we saw his sidekick Claude, memorable for being a beautiful plump woman in a striking yellow coat, visit the tail end.  Now she’s there, in that very scene, at the front.  Are fat women not human beings?  No, it’s just this impossibly careless script.

The most shocking thing the movie does is kill off most of the characters and leave only Yona and Timmy, an adorable black child, alive.  Well done, I guess, but what is the point?  Yona has had no arc of her own; Timmy was barely in the movie.

I’m pretty bummed that I didn’t enjoy Snowpiercer more, because I was really looking forward to seeing it.  I’m tired of properties being hailed as incredibly original or progressive or even simply good, and then finding, no, they’re just mediocre.  I like big, dumb movies, and I enjoy finding the shreds of intelligence that exist within them — the opposite experience is just depressing.  Snowpiercer had some really great scenes, but I almost wish I’d walked out after Tilda Swinton died, so I could imagine a much better final third in place of what we actually got.

Worldbuilding: The Australian YA Dystopia

This post started life on Tumblr, in response to the following conversation:

dominiquemorgenstern:

The Great Unanswered Question:

What the hell happens to every country on the planet that isn’t the US in YA dystopias

HMASFatty:

We’re just getting on with our lives. And mocking. So much mocking.

Me:

“Hey, Bazza, Panem’s 75th Hunger Games are on.”

“Seriously? Again? Why haven’t we invaded them and imposed democracy yet?”

“‘Cos I’m still waiting for my download of the 74th Hunger Games to finish.  Fucking fibre to the node.”

And that would have been the end of it, except that, still chuckling at my own joke, I went and had a shower.

You know what happens in showers, right?

IDEAS.  Unless you’re deliberately showering in the hopes of brain stimulation.  Then your brain just laughs at you, and you sadly realise you’re doing nothing but wasting water.

I got thinking about what an Australian YA dystopia — well, really any Australian dystopia — would look like, and how it would work.  Not that I’m treading new ground — remember my rant about The Sea and Summer? — but it’s not like America lets the existence of a couple of iconic dystopias stand in the way of publishing and filming more.

From Tumblr:

Apropos my last post, because this is something I think about a lot, especially since I saw Catching Fire last week, and am now re-reading The Hunger Games.  And, dammit, I get sad that we don’t have a YA dystopia with an emotionally stunted iconic heroine played by Shari Sebbens and brooding and handsome hero played by Jordan Rodrigues of our own!

So the thing about Australia is, we’re roughly the same size as the United States, but much more sparsely populated.  So in the event of some kind of technological cataclysm, such as a nuclear electromagnetic pulse coupled with radical climate change, we’re less likely to wind up with a totalitarian one-party state than a series of isolated communities that occasionally fight over resources.  Some of those isolated communities might be totalitarian one-party states, though, if you’re into that sort of thing.

For example, Perth is separated from the rest of Australia by a GIANT DESERT, and Western Australia is a vast state in its own right, so that would be the first to separate.  (Nightsiders by Sue Isle is a collection of novellas set in a dystopian Perth.)  I’ve never actually been to WA, but it was the last state to join up when we were federating.  (At one stage, “Australia” was going to be the eastern and central states, plus New Zealand.  Ah, good times.)  WA also has, to a considerable extent, its own isolated legal system, not to mention a lively secessionist movement.  How well it would do on its own is debateable, but if we assume a system where the Federal Government and Constitution no longer function, I reckon WA would be the first state to go full independence/Mad Max style leather-clad anarchy.

Tasmania would go next, because it’s an island, and I shall refrain from making cannibal jokes out of consideration for … you know.  We would also shed Darwin, which is closer to South East Asia than it is to other Australian cities.

Likewise, far north Queensland would probably be cementing its close geographic ties to the Torres Strait and New Guinea — in the coastal regions, at least.  Further inland, you’d probably have your isolated homesteaders, the kind of people who already think they’re living in the End Times and prove it by voting for Bob Katter.  Queensland, as people like to point out whenever the issue of daylight savings is raised, is basically several states smushed together anyway.  I expect my mum will end up in Clive Palmer’s People’s Republic.

…Come to think of it, there’s a lot of mineral wealth in WA and QLD, not to mention uranium in the Northern Territory, but how much of that is of use to those states if large-scale international trade has collapsed remains to be seen.  But it certainly brings them closer to self-sufficiency than, say, Canberra.

Then you have your larger state capitals, Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide.  They’re all within driving distance, albeit a couple of days’ drive, so I can see that they wouldn’t be entirely isolated.  But how much power the Federal Government has in those circumstances is debateable.  (I mean, the Constitution gives a lot more power to the States than the Federal Government, but Federalism developed along with the technological resources for faster communication and travel.)

ANYWAY, what you end up with are several separate communities, not hugely trusting of one another.  (Even now, you can see the old rivalries in the scrum that develops around GST revenue and Federal funding.)  Stack on a few generations, let this develop as the status quo, let technology re-develop but keep in mind the effects of climate change, and what do you have?  A totalitarian state?  A laissez faire corporatocracy?  Anarchy?  All this and everything in between, depending on where you are?

Not to mention all the nations around us would dealing with their own problems, many of them small island states being swallowed up by the rising oceans.  ”SCARY FORNERS INVADING HONEST, WHITE AUSTRALIA” is one of those right-wing tropes I prefer to avoid, but there comes a point where you’re wondering why they’re not knocking on the door.

Again, this comes back to those odd US dystopias where the rest of the world apparently doesn’t exist.  Certainly in The Hunger Games, Panem includes Canada, but what’s meant to have happened to the rest of North America is a mystery.  But that’s set so far in the future that no one — well, not Katniss, whose education has mostly involved coal and revolution — has any particular understanding or memory of the United States as a thing that existed.

Australia doesn’t get to be an isolated dystopia, because, much as some politicians would like to think otherwise, we’re not an isolated nation.  The lines might wind up drawn differently, but we don’t get to stand alone.

Some local dystopia for you:

The Interrogation of Ashala Wolf by Ambelin Kwaymullina is the first in a YA trilogy (I think) about young people with special abilities in a future, dystopian Australia.  It’s also one of the few works of science fiction by an Indigenous author — oh, look, she’s a guest of honour at Continuum next year, plug, plug, plug. I actually didn’t finish the first book, because it wasn’t what I was in the mood for at the time, but I couldn’t actually say whether it’s good or bad or in between.

Karen Healey’s When We Wake isn’t precisely a dystopia — its future Australia is pretty great, provided you don’t care about refugees, or incredibly powerful militaries, and what not.  In short, it’s very much like the present day — quite fantastic, as long as you don’t look at things too closely.

(Karen responded to my Tumblr post and described When We Wake as a pre-dystopia, which I think is great.)

An anti-rec: The Rosie Black Chronicles by Lara Morgan.  I can’t remember if this is actually dystopian, or just plain old sci-fi.  I was too busy facepalming at the terrible writing and general racism to pay attention.