This focus on developing ‘New Men’, a new consciousness and new ways of living is given fuller attention in a very different way in the rich tapestry of the five novels of Selenna (Pam Giblin), whose work may well become important in understanding the aesthetics of the new environmental Age of Transition to a lower intensity energy regime, as we move into a postcarbon future. And just as Vormair’s novel, Giblin’s fictions, that is Nemeton (1992), Beyond the Veils of Time (1997), A Question of Sovereignty (1999), Daughter of the Sun God—The Fall (2011), Daughter of the Sun God—Grace (2011)[i] are largely unknown and, with very few exceptions,[ii] have not been reviewed. At this stage we can only wonder how much speculative writing exists beyond the constraints of commercial publishing and addresses issues excluded from mainstream dialogues.
Her first novel is set on a small peninsula on the coast of Tasmania, which is then cut off with rising seas. It explores the options of a small community and their growth and unfolding after the breakdown of mainstream society with global warming, known as the ‘Collapse’. When I asked Pam Giblin about the inspiration for her first powerful novel written in the early 1990s, this was her response.
‘Something was needed to bring people back to their essence.
As Within, So Without
And so Nemeton was conceived. Influenced by the Celtic mythology that I devoured, it began as a short story set in the future—but as if in the past. It opened with the full moon witnessing a young woman walk to her place of initiation. As the story unfolded, I blended my own growing sense of personal freedom, the result of communal spiritual rituals with the philosophy of environmental politics of the time. This ‘era of cities’ would end. What would happen when the sea levels rose and destroyed them? Would it not force us to take stock of who we were, and reflect back to us the truth of our dysfunctional and unfulfilled existence? If we could see that this destruction was brought about by this very dysfunction, what would we choose to replace it? Answers to these questions took over and I was a captive to the story’s compulsion.[iii]
For those who prefer the ecotopian, visionary novels of Starhawk’s earth based spirituality, The Fifth Sacred Thing and Walking to Mercury, or even those by Marge Piercy, Selenna has similar preoccupations and answers in her exploration of the interplay of the profane and sacred in Tasmania. As she explains:
As governments fail to act and their economies crumble, the Collapse opens the door for the final stage of human development; but how many will choose to cross the threshold—into a future whose lores are as old as time itself? Few believe they have the necessary skills to make the change. For those that do, an exciting world awaits…’ [iv]
[ii] AUSTLIT Australian Literature Resource
[iii] Pam Giblin, [Selenna], ‘And So Within, Without: Reflections on a Writing Career’ interviewed by
Deborah Jordan, Hecate 1&2, (2013): 115.
[iv] Pam Giblin, Nemeton, Koonya, Tasmania: Koonya Press, 1992.