Oceania (And Everywhere Else)

political-map-of-australia-and-oceaniaWe’re in the last week of East of the Sun! If you registered with us in June, now is the time to finish up those reading lists and make sure everything is in order. I’ll be emailing you next week to get them sent in, and announce who came out with the most points!

Meanwhile, there’s part of the world we haven’t yet visited–many parts, actually. Australia and Antarctica figure as our two last continents, but it also includes islands such as New Zealand, Hawaii, the Easter Islands, and hundreds more–each with their own unique cultures and customs.

Many of these islands had their own, native culture, and then prolific sea trade brought settlers and colonization. For many the culture and languages still thrive, but the rest of the world has no idea of their existence. And when it comes to writing novels, well, they write, but few outsiders ever see the results.

These islands thrive in unique stories and mythologies. One of the more well-known myths is from Polynesia, and concerns the story of an audacious young boy who decides to teach the sun a lesson in consideration. You can read M

New Zealand has a national science fiction convention, and their own SF awards. Australia has a science fiction magazine called Andromeda Spaceways. But other than John Flanagan and his Ranger’s Apprentice series, when have any of us ever heard of an award winning science fiction author from Australia or New Zealand?

Suggested Reading

The Lost Conspiracy–Frances Hardinge

6293900We contacted Frances Hardinge for an interview for this week but she declined saying: ” Gullstruck Island from The Lost Conspiracy isn’t based on a single real island, or even a cluster of similar locations. I took details, customs, folklore, flora, fauna, historic anecdotes and stories from a wide range of different places all over the world, and mixed them together with the products of my own deranged imagination to create somewhere new. I wanted to be able to look at colonialism, etc. without seeming to focus on a specific culture, country or race.”

Colonialism being an issue for many, if not most, islands, we decided to leave this book on our reading list. It’s a clever fantasy including telepathy and secret cave tunnels and, well, conspiracy.

The People in the Trees – Hanya Yanagirhara

16126596Hanya Yanagirhara is a Hawaiian author, and The People in the Tree is based on the true story of Daniel Carleton Gajdusek. However, it is so intense and bizarre that it reads more like a dystopian science fiction novel. Published in 2013, it was declared one of the best novels of 2013.

In 1950, a young doctor called Norton Perina signs on with the anthropologist Paul Tallent for an expedition to the remote Micronesian island of Ivu’ivu in search of a rumored lost tribe. They succeed, finding not only that tribe but also a group of forest dwellers they dub “The Dreamers,” who turn out to be fantastically long-lived but progressively more senile. Perina suspects the source of their longevity is a hard-to-find turtle; unable to resist the possibility of eternal life, he kills one and smuggles some meat back to the States. He scientifically proves his thesis, earning worldwide fame and the Nobel Prize, but he soon discovers that its miraculous property comes at a terrible price. As things quickly spiral out of his control, his own demons take hold, with devastating personal consequences.

Small Blue Planet for the Pleasantly Insane–Doug Van Belle

Nothing will ever be the same when an alien anthropologist is unwittingly pulled into a feud between rival palaeontologists.

From our guest author this week, a delightfully funny science fiction comedy. It is only available on Kindle, but I encourage you to check it out, along with his other work. Be sure to check back next week for the interview!


Katie Lynn Daniels is the author of Supervillain of the Day, and the mastermind behind Vaguely Circular. She blogs about science and things that are peripherally related to science. You can read all her posts here.


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