Sunday, September 30, 2012

Difference, Dystopia and Defiance (guest post by Ambelin Kwaymullina)

Today I am thrilled to welcome Ambelin Kwaymullina to my blog. Earlier this week I reviewed her novel, The Interrogation of Ashala Wolf as part of the More Diverse Universe blog tour. When Ambelin offered a guest post about the importance of diversity, I was thrilled to accept!

Difference, Dystopia and Defiance

I am an Aboriginal woman. My people are the Palyku. And I write speculative fiction because it is the genre that taught me to hope. Through the pages of a hundred books, I have travelled the stars in silver ships; shared laughter with alien beings, and walked beneath the twin suns of far-off planets. I have seen futures where difference is a cause for celebration, not division – and where the diverse cultures of this or any other world live together in harmony.

My novel, The Interrogation of Ashala Wolf, is set on an imperfect future earth, one where the government locks away those who are different. But the story is not about the masterminds or the bureaucrats or the soldiers of injustice. It is about those who defy oppression.

Defiance comes in many forms. I am descended from generations of women who lived through the hardest of times for Aboriginal people in Australia, and who came through these times with dignity and strength. Although they were treated inhumanely, they never lost their humanity, their generosity of spirit – or their ability to laugh. Ashala has this kind of defiance, as do her friends and allies. Some of these friends and allies are ‘Illegals’ as she is, born with an ability and oppressed by the government. Others are Citizens, part of the privileged of society. But all share a common goal of creating a better and more just world.

I think often of a story that my mother once told me, a tale about a colonial pioneer who painted one white circle around his homestead, and then another around the camp where the local Aboriginal people were living. The idea was, that the Aboriginal people would stay within their circle and the non-Aboriginal people within theirs. She told that tale to one of my Aboriginal grandfathers, and when he heard it, he said that the pioneer should have made the circles cross each other – because then there would have been a piece of ground where everyone could come together. He was a farseeing man, my grandfather. The beauty of the circles is that neither subsumes or dominates the other. There is simply this space in the centre, where people from different cultures can come together to gain a greater understanding of each other, and talk about things that matter to them both.

Through the pages of a thousand books, I have glimpsed what is to come. Many of the possibilities that stretch out before the human species are terrifying, while others fill me with hope. I reach for a future where the boundless potential of human beings is matched only by our boundless compassion. I believe that to achieve it we need all the different cultures of the earth, the ideas and thoughts and hopes of the diverse peoples of the planet.

I dream of worlds filled with interlocking circles.


  1. A wonderful post. The circle story is a lovely one. Wouldn't it be lovely if life was that easy.

    "I dream of worlds filled with interlocking circles." is a beautiful statement and lets hope one day we get a world like that.

  2. This is a lovely post and story. I like the idea of interlocking circles and a world full of them :-)

  3. Here's to interlocking circles! Off to go read your review of The Interrogation of Ashala Wolf.