Reviews No.8 – The Courier’s New Bicycle

The Courier’s New Bicycle – Kim Westwood

HarperCollinsPublishers Australia Pty. Ltd., 2011

Melbourne is a city in denial. With post-pandemic Australia facing an infertility crisis and the religious zealots of ruling party Nation First rejecting all treatment except prayer, Salisbury Forth is a courier in the booming trade of contraband hormones. Cycling through the inner-city alleyways where government-sanctioned vigilantes hunt for so-called ‘transgressives’, Salisbury’s is a dangerous world, but when a new player starts trading tainted hormones on the boss’s patch, things are only just beginning to go downhill…

With all the dystopian Americas out there, it’s immensely refreshing to read science fiction set in near-future Australia, and also very scary. There is something very plausible about the scenario Westwood brings to life in her award-winning second novel, a confronting extrapolation of today’s hardline conservative policies, but what I found fantastic about this book was the small, potent ways in which people fought back. Salisbury is a strong voice throughout and all the characters are thoroughly fleshed-out, including the cat. (I loved the cat). This is the book to triumphantly flourish under the nose of anyone who thinks Australians don’t write killer science fiction.

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