Science fiction has been a testing ground for, and often an origin of, imagined theories, devices, and technologies that are now found in contemporary society. It has the ability to influence readers’ reality and shape their way of thinking through engagement with social, political, and religious issues they can identify with. Futuristic science fiction often borrows from history, drawing on rich analogies from earlier cultures, landscapes, empires, battles, explorations, and colonisation. However, even though science fiction borrows from historical templates, it tends to ignore negative elements such as genocide, atrocities, the introduction of disease, and destruction of indigenous environments. Establishing that science fiction does influence a reader’s reality, but also acknowledging that it often omits these negative elements, raises the possibility that readers have been desensitised to the circumstances which allowed disastrous mistakes to happen in the first place, therefore opening the door for history to repeat itself. This exegesis and the novel it informs, Assimilating Eden, focus on new and fresh interpretations of existing knowledge to construct a story that employs conflict (some of which resulted in genocide and the introduction of diseases into indigenous cultures) during the age of colonisation and 15th to 20th century empire building. In doing so, it explores themes which are commonly ignored by futuristic science fiction. This approach provides readers with more realistic and accurate projections of potential future colonisation and space exploration. It is also designed to awaken them to the atrocities that occurred during the colonial period in the hope that at least the worst mistakes of that era will not be repeated.
Submitted in the fulfilment of the requirements of the degree of Doctor of Creative Arts, University of the Sunshine Coast, 2010.