Entry updated 29 October 2021. Tagged: Author.
(1967- ) Australian critic and author, partner of Mardi McConnochie; his first novel Wrack (1997), though not literally fantastic, creates in mythopoeic terms aspects of an Australian Myth of Origin [see The Encyclopedia of Fantasy under links below] by invoking the unconfirmed but hauntingly attractive story of the wreck of The Mahoganny Ship, a supposed Portuguese vessel whose visit to the continent dates from a century or so earlier than any known White incursion. His second novel, The Deep Field (1999), is a complex love story embedded into a Near Future world wracked by increasing Climate Change and beset by Dystopian tendencies in governments worldwide; the tale – itself recounted by a relative of one of the protagonists a century later – is framed by paleontological imagery and data from the deep past, and by ongoing news of a manned expedition to Mars.
Clade (2015) darkens and documents the sense of impending Disaster generated by the previous work; an intensification of the chain-effect Climate Change events increasingly visible in the real world leads the extended family (or clade) at the heart of the action to seek safety and continuity in Britain and Australia and elsewhere; but a sudden Pandemic puts paid to these dreams of security. By the end, as the tale moves into the slightly more distant Near Future, Homo sapiens can be seen responding without any excesses of hope to increasing global stress; though modestly alleviated by the use of Computer-driven Avatars to replicate dead members of the family, and by hints that an Alien civilization may be surviving somewhere in the galaxy, the last pages of Clade have some of the terminal feel of David Mitchell's The Bone Clocks (2014). By applying a sophisticated range of what were once called mainstream narrative resources to his survey of human beings terrified that the End of the World is no longer just a story, Bradley cogently demonstrates the power of Fantastika to describe the way we live now, though the Young Adult The Change sequence, beginning with The Silent Invasion (2017), simplifies this address to the world through a narrative in which an Alien Invasion infects the planet with spores that threaten to transform all individual humans into Zombie-like units in a great Hive Mind.
Ghost Species (2020), not narratively connected to his previous work, continues Bradley's exploration of the fate of Homo sapiens in terminal times; in the heart of Tasmania, a research Keep has been established by a soi-disant Godgame world-changer billionaire to explore through archive-plundering and Genetic Engineering the possibility of bringing back extinct species, including the giving birth to and breeding of a Neanderthal infant. The child is "rescued" by the tale's protagonist, and brought up in the hardscrabble Tasmanian outback (see The Kettering Incident ). But the great Island begins to burn. It is expected some will survive the new extinctions.
Bradley should not be confused with the American author James Bradley (1954- ). [JC]
born Adelaide, South Australia: 15 May 1967
- The Silent Invasion (Sydney, New South Wales: Pan Macmillan Australia, 2017) [The Change: hb/]
- The Buried Ark (Sydney, New South Wales: Pan Macmillan Australia, 2018) [The Change: hb/]
- Wrack (Scoresby, Victoria: Random House Australia, 1997) [hb/]
- The Deep Field (Sydney, New South Wales: Hodder Headline Australia/Sceptre, 1999) [hb/Rosamond Purcell]
- Clade (Ringwood, Victoria: Penguin Australia, 2015) [pb/Adam Laszczuk]
- Ghost Species (Ringwood, Victoria: Hamish Hamilton Australia, 2020) [hb/]
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