On Saturday the sixth I had the happy opportunity to attend the Canberra launch of Twelfth Planet Press’ 2016 anthology Defying Doomsday (edited by Tsana Dolichva and Holly Kench). Anthologies of short fiction set during and after various apocalypses seem to be in vogue at the moment (I wonder why? Hmm). What sets Defying Doomsday apart is its protagonists – these are stories about how characters who are disabled or suffer from chronic diseases might navigate the end of the world.
The stories are typically more upbeat than you might imagine. Disabled characters, when they appear in this sort of fiction at all, are usually presented as fodder for the zombies or just that little bit too slow to make it to high ground before the flood. In Defying Doomsday, they have to cope with the end of access to medicine, support services and food that won’t aggravate their condition.
In these stories, many of the characters have to work that much harder to survive – but as Robert Hoge notes in his introduction, “people with disability already live in a post-apocalyptic world…so much of our world is already a not-made-for-us space that disaster may as well have already struck”.
It’s one of the Australian anthologies of the year, without a doubt. I highly recommend it (I liked it so much I picked up a paperback to go with my Kickstarter ebook version – and I had a brief blast of book envy seeing someone had brought their Kickstarter-only hardcover copy to the signing!)
And a big shoutout to Harry Hartog Woden, which is fast becoming the book launch venue of choice for Canberra.