Dr Glenn A. Davies is a teacher, author, Australian republic activist, and historian. He is the History Editor, Independent Australia, and was named 2015 Australian Republican of the Year. In any spare time, which seems increasingly rare, he is an occasional science fiction writer.
Glenn believes strongly in the epithet “publish or perish” – no matter how constant and demanding the teaching load, it is vital, as historians, to be writing. When he’s not writing, Glenn enjoys reading dust cover blurbs and author book sleeve bios and constructing from this a grand narrative of their imagined lives in his head. He is drawn to tree houses, old coins, and dystopian fiction. He’s not sure if there is a link but he loves ‘International Talk like a Pirate Day’ as well as Election days.
During the day Glenn teaches history to high school students but at night lives a SF fannish life. Paradoxically, he finds the idea of time travel mesmerising yet utterly frightening and to this day denies any involvement in the Charters Towers zombie fruit bat invasion of 1974.
When I was seven I made my own Time Machine from bits of string, pulleys and corrugated iron found around my family home in north Queensland. It didn’t work! When I was nine I founded a UFO society in my neighbourhood, with badges, ranks and full-blown conspiracies. As a teenager I remember reading every science fiction book in my school library, watching Star Wars and Star Trek over and over again, and could be found every week night watching Dr Who. At university I immersed myself in the study of history. At the end I emerged as a high school teacher with a PhD. As Dr Davies I can now transcribe but not prescribe – a concept my students seem to struggle with. It still constantly amazes me though how many times I can refer to Star Wars and Stargate during my Ancient History classes.
But I’ve felt compelled to write for as long as I can remember. One of my first ‘publishing ventures’ was when I was ten and wrote a newsletter that was to be distributed along my street in Charters Towers. From memory there was only one edition as the pressure from having to push down the huge keys on a really, really, really old typewriter made my fingertips hurt. Ah, the pain and the pleasure. Perhaps this is the other side of the coin from ‘publish or perish’.
Anyhoo, when I landed at university in Townsville I became a prolific ‘letter to the editor’ writer for the campus newsletter. Along with history honours and PhD theses, academic articles, newspaper columns and even high school history textbooks, I’ve written a great deal of non-fiction over the past 30 years or so.
Recently though I’ve been thinking it’s finally time to change genres. To ditch all the other competing and alluring genres and focus on what I’ve always loved reading and secretly desired writing – fiction.
I love time travel novels and post-apocalyptic fiction. These notions of the essence of time and post-apocalyptic history are themes played out in Terminator: Sarah Connor Chronicles (by the way an absolute travesty it was not picked up for a third season). Another EOW, or ‘end of the world’ gig I read recently was David Brin’s (1985) The Postman. The movie adaptation by Kevin Costner has always been one of my favourites but the book was absolutely fabulous. It’s not often that you love the movie first. Isn’t it that you read the book first, think it’s great, then see the movie and come away disappointed? I watched the movie again after reading the book and can see now why all the critics thought it was chessy crud (and now me also after all those years of defending it). Still, I’ve always loved the morality and sense of hope at the heart of The Postman movie. I reckon there needs to be less dystopian EOW SF and more ‘good man in difficult times’ SF stories with a focus on ‘green shoots’ and ‘new beginnings’, rather than unmitigated horror and no chance for redemption. I guess this is what has recently drawn me to the SolarPunk genre.
So, currently I’m writing a YA science fiction novel set in a near future north Queensland where all the really weird stuff happens.