Thursday, November 6, 2014

Speculating on the Australian Republic ebook - now available

Speculating on the Australian Republic: five award-winning short stories ebook is now available for purchase for $3.99 from Amazon Kindle, Smashwords, Kobo and iBooks.
These five award-winning Australian speculative fiction stories from the 2009-2013 National Republican Short Story Competition will intrigue, educate and delight. This republican speculative fiction anthology presents a compelling preview of the possible future of Australia as a republic.
These five award-winning short stories show it is through speculative fiction that change can begin to how we see ourselves as a nation - now and into the future. So, let’s speculate about us, our country – and the future we will share, together.
As these five prize-winning short stories show, it is through speculative fiction that change can begin. 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, for anyone who is interested in speculating on the possible futures of the Australian republic, please … read on.
Short Story 1 - Rook Feast
Rook Feast by Kel Robertson tells the story of the final meeting between the King of England, who is under house arrest, and a minister of the British government. The minister (who is also a relative) has come to inform the last King of England “on a perfect English spring day” what is to be his fate.
“You want me to abdicate in favour of Elizabeth … and leave?”
“No, it’s much too late for abdication.”
“I see,” he said. “Then it really is over.”
“Afraid so.”
“More than 1500 years of history all the way from bloody Edgar. Over. Ended.”
“History doesn’t change,” I said. “The past is always as it was.”
“Very epigrammatic,” he snorted.
He underarmed another cucumber sandwich onto the lawn. A larger number of rooks landed and savaged it noisily.
“There’s nothing that can be done?”
“You’re quite sure?”
Short Story 2 - Inauguration Day
Inauguration Day by Sean Ness tells the story of James Hapeta, an Australian Federal Police Lieutenant assigned to Presidential protection detail with the Inauguration Day Presidential parade. As the Presidential motorcade travels through the streets of Canberra, Hapeta and his security colleagues attention to security is at fever pitch due to a discovered credible threat.
… the President and his wife walked over to the sleek limousine, escorted closely by one particular bodyguard – short and thick, bald and fierce-looking. After the Presidential couple were inside, the man closed their door and approached Hapeta.
“Commander Griggs,” Hapeta said, “What’s the situation? Is he going to cancel the …”
Griggs interrupted. “The motorcade is going ahead. Same route – Ainslie, Antill, Northbourne. Keep your men alert and the formation tight. We get to Parliament in thirty minutes, no less.”
Hapeta choked down a horrified gasp. “But sir, surely with a threat this credible … I know how much the parade means to the President, but …”
“You have your orders, Lieutenant. The President says we continue, so we do.”
Short Story 3 - The King and Mister Crow
The King and Mister Crow by RPL Johnson has the future King William V reflecting on the theme of citizen or subject and issues of individuality and Australian independence while he lays injured in a plane crash in the Australian outback.
“Are you a flying doctor?” the aboriginal asked and enough of my pride had survived the crash to feel a little crestfallen at his lack of recognition.
“No,” I replied.  “It was supposed to be a state visit.”
The old man examined me closely.  “I know you,” he said eventually. “You are the Prince.”
“King,” I corrected him.  “For two years now.”  News must travel slowly out here.  “Before you lies King William the Fifth, by the Grace of God King of the United Kingdom and his other Realms and Territories, Head of the Commonwealth, Defender of the Faith.”
The man nodded sagely.  He sat down next to me, thin brown legs folded under him like a bushel of firewood.  His pale soles faced me.  It looked as if he could have walked a tightrope of barbed wire without feeling a thing.
“I am Wakarla,” he said.  “You are a long way from home.  What brings you here?”
Short Story 4 - The Harvest
The Harvest by Jennifer Morris explores the theme of defining national identity with its excellent evocation of the country town atmosphere as well as descriptions of the vegetable garden and its connections with a sense of home.
Daniel and young Jim tossed the coin. It landed President side up. "I get to collect the eggs," yelled Daniel. "You have to wash their water dish out Jim. Back soon Gran!" I watched out the window. The boys, my youngest grandsons, ran, jostled and pushed each other most of the way to the chook yard. The original vegetable garden to the left of the yard was flourishing. Broad beans were flowering, the coriander was spurting new growth and the parsley had taken on a life of its own.
Short Story 5 - When the Ice Melts
When the Ice Melts by Ingle Knight with its quietly satirical edge connects the climate change controversy with discussion of euthanasia and dilemmas in the republican debate.
As the air gets warmer and the ice melts we should be facing the end of the world but instead we find our days occupied with another kind of ending. What the two endings have in common is the Prime Minister's lifelong refusal to give credence to either of them until, suddenly, now. I know everything seems strange these days. Nothing is turning out as we would have expected. But what seems strangest of all is that it is the old man's capitulation to the inevitability of what's happening that has been the catalyst for things turning out as they have.

Final Word - Professor Geoff Gallop
In Australia’s history republicanism has always been more than an argument for breaking our constitutional ties with the British Crown; it’s also been about how we can create an improved system of democracy that better reflects our values as a free, fair and multicultural nation.
It’s been about a better future and how we can create it through a mixture of reflection, deliberation and decision. It’s driven along by the belief that we can do better and that our political imagination can be trusted to find a system that will inspire and endure.
Our opponents think we have reached the pinnacle of achievement and no good can come from a move to the republic. They fear change and prefer the past to the future.
Through the National Republican Short Story Competition we have encouraged imaginative thinking of the sort we need also to apply to our institutions generally. How could they be better? How can we translate aspirations into goals? How can we achieve those goals?
Thinking and doing, doing and thinking – that’s the key to improvement!
Professor Geoff Gallop AC.
Chair, Australian Republican Movement

For more details on Speculating on the Australian Republic, email