Graduation – the latest milestone

Picture by Kirstyn McDermottHere I am in my bonnet and gown, marking graduation from The University of Queensland with a doctorate in creative writing.

Thirty years ago, I was lining up about this time of year in Rockhampton to mark graduation from what is now the University of Central Queensland with a Bachelor of Arts. And in 2008 came a Masters in creative writing from QUT – no ceremony for that one.

My mum died in 1992 and we farewelled Dad at a service on July 18, but their spirits were very much with me at UQ on July 19. Farming folk with limited educations, they were determined I would have the opportunities they had not.

My doctoral thesis was entitled “Watermarks: Science Fiction, Mitigation and the Mosaic Novel Structure in Australian Climate Fiction” and this is the dedication from it:

In a letter published in 1981, my mother, Loma Nahrung, wrote, “I love the wet season—which should be around January through to March, but of late they have not been so predictable … the climate seems to be changing” (White and Nahrung 139). I often wonder what this farmer would have thought of our current state of affairs. This thesis is dedicated to my mother and father, Frank, neither of whom were able to celebrate this achievement, but without whose support, encouragement and sacrifice I would not have made it this far.

So here I am, without them, but they are very much with me.

The gathering of the clans for Dad’s service, and having three friends graduate alongside me with family members in the audience, and then the coming together of family and friends to celebrate afterwards — I am further reminded I am not alone in this journey. (I love you all.)

Where to from here, I wonder. Wherever, we go together, and that’s what matters.

Mum, Dad and me at graduation in 1989.

A new story at AntipodeanSF

Created with GIMP

*** UPDATE: Ion is selling copies of issue 250 via Lulu ($20 + P&H) ***

Congratulations of Ion ‘Nuke’ Newcombe, who has just released issue 250 of AntipodeanSF.

Back in 2002, Ion published my story ‘Prime Cuts‘ in his online anthology — my first fiction publication outside the Vision writers’ newsletter. I was stoked!

Ion has been consistently giving new chums and old hands a chance to be chuffed for 21 years, and added a few more bells and whistles along the way, including oodles of audio.

It’s a fabulous achievement, and one I was happy to salute by contributing ‘Dissonance‘, an experimental climate fiction story, to the 250th issue. It’s a bumper celebration, with more than 50 pieces of short fiction and many illustrations, including established names like Cat Sparks, Simon Brown and Lee Battersby.

Well done, Nuke. Bless AntipodeanSF and all who sail with it.

A doctor in the house

Four years ago I headed up to Brisbane to start a creative writing doctorate at The University of Queensland, and now the journey is complete.

What a strange and wonderful process it has been. I’ll probably write more on that presently, but for now, it’s time to sit back and reflect on what was a lengthy and challenging endeavour, enriched and enabled by the support of friends, family and colleagues, and of course my supervisors and the staff at UQ. Thank you all!

Those spare beds for the initial three months I was required to be on campus? Invaluable. A wife prepared to hold the fort while I was away? Beloved.

watermarks in cosmos 57: art by joe whyte, story by jason nahrungThe final thesis title was “Watermarks: Science Fiction, Mitigation and the Mosaic Novel Structure in Australian Climate Fiction”. It grew from my short story “Watermarks”, bought by then Cosmos fiction editor Cat Sparks, who has recently been awarded a PhD in climate fiction studies too.

Graduation is in July and I’m looking forward to celebrating with friends from my cohort who have also ticked off their research higher degrees this year.

So what’s with the Canadian chocolate bar? Well, last year, we had our first holiday in a long time, to celebrate significant birthdays with dear Canadian friends. I submitted my thesis on the day before we flew out. It was Halloween while we were away, so I brought back this tasty morsel with the intention of signifying the conclusion of my doctorate by munching it! Coffin Crisp, your time is up!

Stranded Assets finds a home

Colloquy journal 35/36 December 2018I guess the headline is a little contradictory, but anyway, I’m pleased as punch that ‘Stranded Assets’ has found a berth in Colloquy journal — a nice dip of the hat to 2018.

The short story was written as part of my PhD in creative writing, but is somewhat smaller than the version included in the thesis* due to word count constraints. It is a look into the future after the coal miners intent on tearing up Central Queensland, planet be damned, have come unstuck, and how the mess they make might be salvaged.

Editors Zachary Kendal and Aisling Smith describe it thus:

Nahrung’s futuristic ‘Stranded Assets’ strongly evokes its Queensland setting and subtly engages with issues confronting contemporary Australia. The story also engages with broader issues, such as the role of technology and the pressures of parenthood.

There are some amazing papers in the journal … Lovecraft, Angela Carter, Blake’s 7, and some Gothic horror! Just the stuff for some yuletide reading!

*The thesis was submitted in October, so I’m awaiting examiners’ reports in the new year.

Wild Readings in Brisbane and a group hug

Wild Readings reading event in BrisbaneI emerge from the three-and-a-half-year cocoon that has been the PhD* to catch up with a bunch of pals, and what a better way to do it than at a reading.

I’m grateful to be asked to share some words in my old stomping ground of Brisbane, at Wild Readings on Tuesday 20 November. It’ll probably be an excerpt from one of the thesis stories — climate change in Brisbane, seems to fit — but it might be a palate cleanser from the past, too. I dunno yet.

I’m keen to hear what other people are doing, and of course, just enjoy the vibe of being in a room of writers.

I’ll be kicking around Brissie for a couple of days with not much to do other than catch up with people, so drop me a line if you’re at a loose end.

Wild Readings is at Mu’ooz, 54 Mollison Street, West End, 6.30pm for 7-8pm. Free.

Here are the Facebook details for Wild Readings — I hope to see some familiar faces there!
 
* The thesis has been submitted. Just waiting for the examiners’ reports now, so the fingernails won’t be regrowing anytime soon.

Heading to Continuum for a climate disaster or two

continuum convention logoSpeculative fiction convention Continuum runs at Melbourne’s Jasper Hotel June 8-11 (gosh, that’s starting tomorrow!), and I’ll be heading along to talk about climate change (as well as many other things, no doubt, but officially: climate change).

The guests of honour are Alison Evans and my fellow climate fiction writer and researcher Cat Sparks, so that’s excitement enough right there.

This year the convention has added a Deep Dive stream, in which folks give (mostly) 20-minute talks on topics of interest. I’m presenting some research from my PhD-in-progress outlining the mosaic approaches of three Australian SF climate fictions (Sue Isle’s Nightsiders, James Bradley’s Clade, and Steven Amsterdam’s Things We Didn’t See Coming). Other dives include body horror, convict women in Tasmania (Van Diemen’s Land), the metaphorical use of monsters, and Cat’s talk on ecocatastrophe and Anthropocene fiction, to name a few.

I’m also on a panel on the Friday night talking about climate science and climate fiction, and the state we’re in.

Day tickets are available for the convention, which celebrates pop culture, geekdom, fandom and speculative fictions in all their forms. Visit the Continuum website to find out more.