Monday, July 13, 2009

Singing the republican blues

In Alison Goodman’s Singing the Dogstar Blues she sets her 1998 debut novel in an Australian republican future.

Joss Aaronson has two loves in her life: playing the blues and training at the prestigious Centre for Neo-Historical Studies to jump through time.It is at the Centre, on the old Melbourne University campus, Daniel Sunawa-Harrod is reputed to discover the Time-Continuum Warp Field. “On the 10/10/50, the 50th anniversary of Australian Independence Day, Danny receives the Nobel-Takahini Prize for Science”.

Then Mavkel, the first alien student on Earth, selects her to be his time-travel partner and Joss’s life gets a lot more complicated. There’s an assassin on campus, an anti-alien lobby group chanting slogans, and Joss is constantly being tracked by the tight security around her new friend.

The Chorians, an alien people, wish to exchange the technology they have in the field of time and space with the Centre’s knowledge of time-travel. A deputation from Choria brings their chosen candidate, Mavkel, to pair with a suitable student at the Centre to do the course. Joss is chosen and the story unfolds through her eyes.

Life with Mavkel is not all bad, though. Music-loving Joss is fascinated by him and his people, the Chorians, who communicate through song. But Mavkel is pining for his lost twin, and his will to live is draining away. Joss wants to help him, and that means going back to the petri dish where it all began.

She’s playing with history, but if Mavkel doesn’t survive, then Joss could really be singing the blues …

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