Short Stories: Revolutionary Baby and Radiant Sands, including “Last Patrol: a Story of Maralinga”.

Two volumes of short stories will appear in mid-2021, released through Amazon Kindle and other ebook sellers. Paperback  versions will be available through Amazon as well as retailers serviced by Ingram Spark. In Australia they can be ordered from Book Depository,  Fishpond, Angus and Robertson and other major suppliers, or from your local bookshop. Copies will later be available from the Blackwing Press website, signed by the author.

Revolutionary Baby is a collection of Australian-focussed stories from the twentieth century. For people under thirty, this is history.  It is a past now slipping away, almost forgotten, a world without mobile phones, the Internet, Netflix, Facebook. These stories are about politics, bodies, power, gender, nostalgia and strange desires. Some take us from Australia to London, Bali and Thailand, places where Australians have long gone to lose and find themselves, and still do so.

Radiant Sands is set mostly in the Australian outback beyond the expectations of modern urban Australia. The stories are fictional but based on the experience of life in remote Australia, in Alice Springs and on Aboriginal communities and settlements. Many of the events mentioned in these stories did happen, or were said to have happened, or are believed to be true. The line between history and imagination is very thin in places where there are few records and many of the people are now dead. Those who know Australia through four-wheel drive touring and outback adventure camping may feel  familiarity with the landscape and spaces described in these stories, but the social realities are another thing. As they say “The past is another country”, but this is another country within another country.

This book also includes a novelette, “Last Patrol: a Story of Maralinga”. Ever since I was involved in the Royal Commission into British Nuclear Testing in Australia in 1984 as anthropological advisor to the Royal Commissioner “Diamond Jim” McLelland I have wanted to write about that extraordinary experience. In the end, I chose a purely fictional mode. The documented “facts” are available in various reports, articles and books. The imaginative approach, using purely fictional characters and events, seemed to make it easier to present a contested view of “what happened”.

The final cover designs have been prepared by Keith Johnson (“Keith Draws”). The cover for Radiant Sands incorporates a beautiful desert photograph by  Nick Rains who generously gave permission to use this image.

Photograph: Nick Rains. Simpson Desert.