Is there such a thing as a distinctive Australian SF voice? At the level of idiom, most certainly. In more fundamental ways, well, that’s a subject for debate. All I know for sure is that when I read Australian science fiction I feel the difference. It’s a difference that reflects sensibilities born of life in a hot and dusty country. Unlike Australia’s indigenous people, who traditionally perceived themselves to be one with the environment, Australia’s convicts and migrants and farmers saw life as more of a battle against that harsh environment. Both points of view have a place in Australian science fiction—although arguably the notion of struggle dominates. Rugged individual meets rugged climate; sometimes literally, more often metaphorically. Think anti-authoritarian anti-hero/ines versus dangerous socio-political forces.
Of course that’s not all there is to Australian science fiction—however, there is only room to feature five books in this post—and the following are all good representatives of Australian anti-establishmentarian sentiment. Fresh, blunt and uninhibited, these books are not just loaded with Aussie inflection; they also (whether deliberately or not) echo contemporary Australian socio-political debates.