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Once and Future: Australian Speculative Fiction


In Memoriam, Peter Nicholls, 1939–2018

‘Science fiction writers are the hounds of hell. They raise their shaggy black heads and sniff the wind, and feel the future coming,’ the late critic and editor Peter Nicholls once said. ‘And then they howl.’

Can the same be said of writers of other forms of speculative fiction? What do the future and alternative worlds imagined by Australian authors say about our country today?

At this special event at the Wheeler Centre in November, we’ll hear readings from some of this country’s leading contemporary writers of speculative fiction – Claire G. Coleman, Rjurik Davidson, Marlee Jane Ward, Jack Dann and Peter Nicholls’s children, Jack Nicholls and Sophie Cunningham. They’ll share thoughts on the foundational Australian fantasy, sci-fi and dystopian texts, and consider how local writers are expanding and subverting genre traditions.

Join our speakers as they sniff the wind and discuss the past, present and future of Australian speculative fiction.

Embiggen Books will be our bookseller at this event.


Claire G. Coleman

Claire G. Coleman is a Noongar woman whose family have belonged to the south coast of Western Australia since long before history started being recorded. Claire writes fiction, essays, poetry and art writing while either living in Naarm (Melbourne) or on the road. During an extended circuit of the c... Read more

Rjurik Davidson

Rjurik Davidson is a writer and editor. He has written short stories, essays, reviews and screenplays. His works include the novels Unwrapped Sky and The Stars Askew, and the collection The Library of Forgotten Books. Rjurik writes imaginative fiction, speculative fiction, science fiction, surreal... Read more

Jack Nicholls

Jack Nicholls is a speculative fiction writer and essayist, and three-time Aurealis Award nominee. It is possible that his career was influenced by twenty years of dinner-table lectures from his father, the Australian science-fiction critic Peter Nicholls. Jack lives in Melbourne, except when he d... Read more

Marlee Jane Ward

Marlee Jane Ward is a writer, reader and weirdo living in Melbourne. She grew up on the Central Coast of New South Wales and studied Creative Writing at the University of Wollongong. In 2014 she attended the Clarion West Writers Workshop in Seattle, Washington.  You can find her short stories in th... Read more

Jack Dann

Jack Dann has written or edited over seventy-five books, including the international bestseller The Memory Cathedral, The Rebel, The Silent, and The Man Who Melted. He is a recipient of the Nebula Award, the World Fantasy Award, the Australian Aurealis Award (three times), the Chronos Award, the Dar... Read more

Sophie Cunningham

Sophie Cunningham AM is the author of seven books, across multiple fiction and nonfiction, children and adults and include City of Trees – Essays on life, death and the need for a forest, and Melbourne. She is also editor of the collection Fire, Flood, Plague: Australian writers respond to 2020... Read more


The Wheeler Centre

176 Little Lonsdale Street Melbourne Victoria 3000

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Acknowledgment of Country

The Wheeler Centre acknowledges the Traditional Owners of the land on which we live and work. We pay our respects to the people of the Kulin Nation and all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elders past and present.