Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Republican challenge to Australian speculative fiction writers

The 2010 Second National Republican Short Story Competition opened on 1 May 2010 and closed on 31 August 2010. The winner will be announced on 6 November 2010.

The theme for the Second National Republican Short Story Competition is 'Life and Death in an Australian Republic'. Short stories will speculate on Australian republican futures.

The Second National Republican Short Story Competition continues the momentum built from the successful 2009 First National Republican Short Story Competition. 2009 was a milestone as it was 10 years on 6 November 2009 since the republican referendum was lost. To commemorate this event and to remind Australians what they still didn’t have the Australian Republican Movement ran the First National Republican Short Story Competition.

It seems strange there is no tradition of republican speculative fiction in Australia. In colonial times there were republican poets such as Charles Harpur writing in the 1840s and 1850s, and republican writers such as John Dunmore Lang and Daniel Deniehy in the 1850s and William Lane, Henry Lawson and John Norton in the 1880s and 1890s. But where have been the republican stories for the past century? There have certainly been many republican writers during this time but almost no examples where republican settings or arguments have been explored in Australian fiction. Republican arguments and explorations of the past and imaginations of the future are always written within the framework of constitutional debates.

Where do the people of Australia fit into this? Where are their myths and stories to tell and retell and remember about Australia’s emerging republican identity?

This Second National Republican Short Story Competition challenges Australia’s fiction writers to speculate on the possible futures of the Australian republic.

Speculative fiction writers deal with possibilities.

They speculate.

They make the future seem real.

However, we can’t achieve anything unless we imagine it first. Before every great invention and before every great journey is the idea. Without ideas and imagination, we are all trapped in the past.

So, the ARM (Q) would like to point the way forward through Australian stories with a republican backdrop. They don’t have to be political thrillers or constitutional whodunits as long as they are an exploration of our future, our republican future.