Broderick, Damien 1944-
BRODERICK, Damien 1944-
(Damien Francis Broderick)
PERSONAL: Born April 22, 1944, in Melbourne, Australia; son of Francis Arthur (a toolmaker) and Pamela Beatrix (Bartels) Broderick. Education: Monash University, B.A., 1966; Deakin University, Ph.D., 1990.
ADDRESSES: Home—2 King St., Coburg, Victoria 3058, Australia. Office—Department of English, Level 2, John Medley Building, University of Melbourne, Parkville, Victoria 3010, Australia. Agent—Cherry Weiner, 28 Kipling Way, Manalapan, NJ 07726. E-mail—[email protected]
CAREER: Go-Set, Melbourne, Australia, journalist, 1967; freelance writer, 1967–; David Syme Pty. Ltd, Melbourne, journalist, 1970; Man, Sydney, Australia, editor, 1971; freelance writer, 1971–73; Walkabout, Sydney, assistant editor of Club, 1973. Writer-in-residence, Deakin University, 1986; University of Melbourne, Australia, senior research fellow, Department of English and cultural studies.
AWARDS, HONORS: Fellowships, Australia Council Literature Board, 1980, 1984, 1990, 1995, and 2003; Ditmar Award, Australian National Science Fiction Convention, and John W. Campbell Memorial Award runner-up, both 1981, for The Dreaming Dragons; guest of honor, Swancon (science fiction convention), Perth, Australia, 1983; special Ditmar Award, 1985, for Transmitters; Ditmar Award, best Australian science-fiction novel, 1989, for Striped Holes; Ditmar Award, best Australian science-fiction novel, and Aurealis Award, best Australian science-fiction novel, both 1998, for The White Abacus; writing grant, Arts Victoria, 1998; Aurealis Award for Best Science Fiction Novel of 2002; Ditmar Award, 2002, for best Australian collected work.
"THE FAUSTUS HEXAGRAM" SERIES; SCIENCE FICTION NOVELS
The Dreaming Dragons, Pocket Books (New York, NY), 1980.
The Judas Mandala, Pocket Books (New York, NY), 1982, revised edition, Mandarin Australia (Melbourne, Australia), 1990.
Transmitters: An Imaginary Documentary, 1969–1984, Ebony Books (Melbourne, Australia), 1984.
Striped Holes, Avon Books (New York, NY), 1988.
The Sea's Furthest End (young adult), Aphelion (North Adelaide, Australia), 1993.
The Dreaming, is a revised and updated e-book edition of The Dreaming Dragons and is printed on www.fictionwise.com, 2001.
A Man Returned (science-fiction stories), Horwitz (Sydney, Australia), 1965.
(Editor) The Zeitgeist Machine: A New Anthology of Science Fiction, Angus & Robertson (Australia), 1977.
(With Rory Barnes) Valencies (science-fiction novel), University of Queensland Press (Brisbane, Australia), 1983.
(Editor) Strange Attractors: Original Australian Speculative Fiction, Hale & Iremonger (Sydney, Australia), 1985.
(Editor) Matilda at the Speed of Light: A New Anthology of Australian Science Fiction, Angus & Robertson (Australia), 1988.
The Dark between the Stars (science-fiction stories), Mandarin (Melbourne, Australia), 1991.
Time Zones (radio play), Australian Broadcasting Company, 1992.
The Lotto Effect: Towards a Technology of the Paranormal, Hudson (Hawthorne, Australia), 1992.
The Architecture of Babel: Discourses of Literature and Science, Melbourne University Press (Melbourne, Australia), 1994.
Reading by Starlight: Postmodern Science Fiction, Routledge (New York, NY), 1995.
Oedinger's Dog (radio play), Australian Broadcasting Company, 1995.
Theory and Its Discontents, Deakin University Press (Geelong, Victoria, Australia), 1997.
The Spike: Accelerating into the Unimaginable Future, Reed Books, 1997, revised and updated as The Spike: How Our Lives Are Being Transformed by Rapidly Advancing Technologies, Tor (New York, NY), 2001.
The White Abacus (science-fiction novel), Avon Books (New York, NY), 1997.
(With Rory Barnes) Zones (young adult science fiction novel), HarperCollins (Sydney, Australia), 1997.
(Editor) Not the Only Planet, Lonely Planet (New York, NY), 1998.
(Editor with David G. Hartwell) Centaurus: The Best of Australian Science Fiction, Tor (New York, NY), 1999.
The Last Mortal Generation: How Science Will Alter Our Lives in the Twenty-first Century, New Holland, 1999.
Stuck in Fast Forward (young adult science-fiction novel), HarperCollins (Sydney, Australia), 1999.
The Book of Revelation, HarperCollins (Sydney, Australia), 1999.
Transrealist Fiction: Writing in the Slipstream of Science, Greenwood Press (Westport, CT), 2000.
Transcension (science fiction novel), Tor (New York, NY), 2000.
The Spike: How Our Lives Are Being Transformed by Rapidly Advancing Technologies, Forge (New York, NY), 2001.
(Editor and contributor) Earth Is but a Star: Excursions through Science Fiction to the Far Future (science fiction anthology and criticism), University of Western Australia Press (Crawley, Western Australia, Australia), 2001.
Jack and the Aliens (children's fiction), Word Weavers Press, 2002.
Godplayers (science fiction novel), Thunder's Mouth Press (New York, NY), 2005.
Also author of radio play Schroedinger's Dog, 1995, and of the e-book, The Game of Stars and Souls, Fictionwise.com, 2000.
Contributor of short fiction to numerous magazines, including Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, Omni, and Isaac Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine. Science reviewer, Weekend Australian. Former science-fiction reviewer, Melbourne Age.
Contributor to the book To Mars and Beyond: Search for the Origins of Life, edited by Malcolm Walter, Art Exhibitions Australia (Sydney, New South Wales, Australia), 2001; stories have appeared in many anthologies, including Millennium, edited by Helen Daniel, Penguin 1991; Microstories, edited by Rosemary Sorensen, Angus & Robertson, 1993; and The Year's Best Science Fiction 14, edited by Gardner Dozois, 1997; and The Year's Best Australian Science Fiction and Fantasy, edited by Jonathan Strahan and Jeremy Byrne, 1997. Also contributor of an article to The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction, 2nd edition, 1993.
ADAPTATIONS: Author of adaptations of writings for radio plays, including The Truth Machine, Transmitters, and Striped Holes.
SIDELIGHTS: "Science fiction, I have decided (bending Flaubert), is a cracked test tube we whistle tunes across, moved to pity and laughter by the stars, and by all the poor human souls beneath them," wrote Damien Broderick in the St. James Guide to Science-Fiction Writers. Critics consider Broderick's own work in the genre to be eclectic, erudite, and abstruse, inspired by writers ranging from Fredric Jameson and Samuel Delany to Douglas Adams and Terry Pratchett, and by themes ranging from sword-and-sorcery quests to time travel space operas, from feminism to postmodernist criticism. "Indeed, since he took his Ph.D. in 1990 with 'Frozen Music,'" noted a contributor to the St. James Guide to Science-Fiction Writers, "[Broderick] has shown fully a need to establish himself as a writer to bring science fiction and postmodernist criticism together."
Broderick's science-fiction writings include the postmodernist and literary themes found in his critical analyses, as well as traditional science fictional material. For example, The Black Grail, a rewritten version of his first novel Sorceror's World, combines material from sword-and-sorcery fantasy with dystopian and post-nuclear holocaust fiction. Hero Xaraf pursues his goal across some five billion years, traveling backwards and forwards in time. "This quest fantasy can be enjoyed at several levels," wrote the contributor to the St. James Guide to Science-Fiction Writers, "including the ethical battle between pacifism and militarism, the archetypal battle between Set and Osiris or Galahad, and the theodicial myth of the Fall." "The tale is a quiet one," declared Tom Easton in Analog Science Fact/Science Fiction, "lacking the raucousness of standard adventure fare, but it is also satisfying." Locus critic Russell Letson, commenting on The Sea's Furthest End, stated that Broderick's novel contains within itself a complete novella that "with its familiar tropes and polished writing, is a nostalgic miniature … that would have been seen as an accomplished, sophisticated, romantic adventure in the magazines of a generation or two ago. Here it serves an odd purpose … in a rather intellectual and abstract philosophical scheme that finally undercuts both the … storylines—and, by implication, the whole enterprise of fiction."
The White Abacus continues Broderick's quest to meld science fiction and postmodernist theory. The plot borrows from Shakespeare's play Hamlet with delightful abandon, introducing a hero named Telmah whose father has just died under mysterious circumstances, allowing Telmah's uncle to take control of a planet. When Telmah decides to confront his uncle, he is aided by an advanced android named Ratio who introduces concepts of space-and time-bending. A Publishers Weekly contributor noted that the novel was "a tale that challenges and provokes by liberally mixing quantum mechanics, literary patterning and psychological mapping." The critic noted: "The result is a tumultous, often challenging, roller-coaster ride of a story that rises and plunges with astrophysical wonders, literary puzzles and psychological insights."
In The Last Mortal Generation: How Science Will Alter Our Lives in the Twenty-First Century, Broderick offers a compelling case for longevity research and, to quote Australian Book Review contributor Russell Blackford, "he ends up articulating an entire philosophy of science, nature, life, mind, and our human and social identities." Blackford added that in this well-researched study, "Broderick is amusing and cogent in putting the case for scientific realism (the entities, fields, forces and geometries described by science actually exist), philosophical materialism (mental or 'spiritual' phenomena are ultimately derivable from those that comprise physical nature), and the virtues of rational inquiry."
In his nonfiction book The Spike: Accelerating into the Unimaginable Future, the author discusses the "spike" that has occurred in scientific advances over the past 500 years and anticipates future advances, such as freezing terminally ill patients until a cure is found, and how they will affect life. "Fascinating stuff from a capable writer of popular science," wrote David Pitt in Booklist. A Publishers Weekly contributor called the book a "freewheeling analysis" that may reach "a more mainstream audience."
Broderick presents a tale of human brains implanted with artificial intelligence in the novel Transcension. The story revolves around the adolescent Amanda, a violinist and accomplished computer hacker, and her romance with Mathewmark. When she is caught hacking into a computer, Amanda is restricted to her home. Her homeland is ruled by the Aleph, formerly Malik, a murdered Lebanese judge who is reanimated via artificial intelligence seventy years after his death. "As for the Aleph, it is preparing to change everything, for humanity as well as itself, to reach its potential in a world in which reality is consensual, and perspective is everything," wrote Regina Schroeder in Booklist. Before long, Amanda is plotting the escape of her confines so she can see Matthewmark. Because of her recklessness, the two become involved in a battle to save their Utopian world. A Publishers Weekly contributor noted, "By the end, the young people's gusto is contagious, and readers can feel confident that we'll all be able to cope with new challenges." In a review in the School Library Journal, Sheila Shoup wrote, "The tongue-in-cheek humor throughout the book is a delight."
Godplayers focuses on August Seebeck, who enters a "Contest of Worlds" via his great-aunt Tansy's psychic prediction of corpses to appear in the upstairs bathtub. The corpse turns up and is a part-machine humanoid out to destroy August's family, including his long-lost sister Maybelline. When August develops superhuman powers while playing the game and falls in love with another player, he continues to enter multiple universes as part of the game with an unknown purpose. A Kirkus Reviews contributor called the novel "often fun, sometimes challenging." Jackie Cassada, writing in the Library Journal, noted that the author "combines a quirky sense of humor with the quick delivery … to produce a riotous trip." A Publishers Weekly contributor called the novel a "brain-stretching stand-alone."
Broderick once told CA: "I'm a storyteller in a cross-disciplinary universe of discourse. This reduces the transparency of my writing, but adds, I hope, little jokes and jolts for other people with minds as cluttered as mine."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Blackford, Russell, Hyperdreams: The Space/Time Fictions of Damien Broderick, Babel Handbooks, 1998.
Mattoid 24, Deakin University (Geelong, Victoria, Australia), 1986.
St. James Guide to Science-Fiction Writers, 4th edition, St. James Press (Detroit, MI), 1996.
Analog Science Fact/Science Fiction, February, 1983, Tom Easton, review of The Judas Mandala, p. 163; January, 1985, Tom Easton, review of Valencies, p. 179; October, 1986, Tom Easton, review of The Black Grail, pp. 180-181; August, 1989, Tom Easton, review of Striped Holes, p. 178; July-August, 1997, Tom Easton, review of The White Abacus, p. 272.
Australian Book Review, July, 1999, Russell Blackford, "Longevity," p. 14.
Booklist, February 15, 2001, David Pitt, review of "The Spike: How Our Lives Are Being Transformed by Rapidly Advancing Technologies," p. 1090; February 1, 2002, Regina Schroeder, review of Transcension, p. 930.
Futurist, November, 2001, review of The Spike, p. 22.
Journal of Parapsychology, March, 1998, Matthew D. Smith, review of The Lotto Effect: Towards a Technology of the Paranormal, p. 87.
Kirkus Reviews, March 15, 2005, review of Godplayers, p. 322.
Kliatt, July, 2003, Sherry S. Hoy, review of Transcension, p. 30.
Library Journal, February 15, 2002, Jackie Cassada, review of Transcension, p. 181; March 15, 2005, Jackie Cassada, review of Godplayers, p. 111.
Locus, October, 1993, critic Russell Letson, review of The Sea's Furthest End, p. 58.
Publishers Weekly, February 3, 1997, review of The White Abacus, p. 99; June 21, 1999, review of Centaurus, p. 61; February 19, 2001, review of The Spike, p. 80; January 7, 2002, review of Transcension, p. 51; April 4, 2005, review of Godplayers, p. 48.
School Library Journal, August, 2002, Sheila Shoup, review of Transcension, p. 222.
Science Fiction, Volume 4, number 3, September, 1982, pp. 94-105, pp. 118-120.
Utopian Studies, spring, 2001, Jennifer Burwell, review of Earth Is but a Star: Excursions through Science Fiction to the Far Future, p. 275.
Voice of Youth Advocates, February, 1989, p. 293.
Damien Broderick Home Page, http://www.damienbroderick.com (September 23, 2005).