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Today I’m planning on finishing Kim Westwood’s The Courier’s New Bicycle so I can talk about it on Galactic Suburbia this week.

I’m loving this book so much – it seems I’ve been starving for excellent Australian science fiction and this book is just absolutely satisfying the craving. I know I’m going to be sorry when it finishes – I’ve been carrying it around with me everywhere to grab a quick chapter whenever I have a moment. I can’t even remember the last novel I did that with.

Here’s a sneak para I just read:

… you soon come to realise that every culture has its own version of untouchable.”

She looks away, suddenly embarrassed, and belatedly I realise she’s referring to people like me. Braheem shifts uncomfortably in his seat.

I think back to my teens and early adulthood, and all the confusion I’d felt over who I was. Those who present as androgynously as I do are a walking, talking question mark for the community to feel confused about. Some even seem to think we’ve been designed deliberately to mock them.

This book is so so good! It’s a brilliant dystopian Melbourne after a hideously gone wrong vaccine program to combat a bird flu pandemic. I know Tansy already mentioned on GS how uncomfortable she is with that in relation to the current day issue of misinformation and hysteria over vaccinating children etc. But I am reminded of the stockpiling that happened in Australia of Tamiflu for the supposed impending of bird flu outbreak here several years ago – and questions over whether Tamiflu would work, if people were administering it to colds and not even flu and if in fact the stockpiling would result in tonnes of out of date product etc.

In Westwood’s post apocalypse, of sorts, Australians have lost their virility. And the religious zealot right wing has come into power to police how people live and think. Scientific engineering of nature is outlawed and there is a crack down on “perversion” ie not conforming to the gender norms.

This book is a gorgeous melding of the exploration of potential impacts of engineering nature, political reactionism and gender identity and acceptance (or lack of) in society. Whilst grim in content, this book is exquisitely written and uplifting to read gritty, in depth examination of current day issues. You know, what science fiction is supposed to be.

I want more Westwood!

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