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Speculative fiction takes a feminist turn

EAT the Sky, Drink the Ocean, a collection of sci-fi and fantasy writing for young adults, brings together an all-female line-up of authors from Australia and India. A collaboration enabled by the Australia Council for the Arts, it promises to transport you to dystopian cities and alternate universes, and includes 17 short stories, including six that are graphically illustrated.
This Sunday sees visiting Australian contributors Kirsty Murray and Isobelle Carmody join Indian writers Samhita Arni and Payal Dhar to launch the action-packed anthology.
Dash of magic
City-based author Samhita Arni worked on a story partly inspired by gender imbalance. “I had come across the idea of the ‘missing women’ – an idea postulated by Amartya Sen that a hundred million women are missing in South Asia,” she shares. The freedom that the fantasy genre offered to explore the issue in a way that would transcend cultures was a massive draw. “I was also thinking of the ways in which technology can simultaneously empower women, but in some situations can cause them to be exploited. So in that sense, magic was a useful way to express that,” she explains. Kirsty Murray, who edited the anthology together with Anita Roy and Payal Dhar, agrees, elaborating, “We chose to make the anthology speculative fiction because it’s a form that allows for endless inventiveness and it can speak to readers from diverse backgrounds.”
The focus on female contributors casts a spotlight on women’s genre writing, while also tying in with the overall purpose of the anthology. “As the theme was imagining alternative realities for girls and young women, we felt it was important to keep the focus on female perspectives,” elaborates Murray. Contributors have let their imaginations run wild, so if you pick up a copy, leave your preconceptions of sci-fi writing behind, and open up to a world of fantastical magical islands, cooking wars and familiar fairytales with irreverent twists.
Entry free. At Oxford Bookstore.November 16. 4 pm. Details: 65704533
— Maegan Dobson Sippy

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