A pair of articles on ABC TV’s Serangoon Road: ABC TV’s Serangoon Road and Australia in the Asian Century; Australians in Singapore and the legacy of colonialism on Serangoon Road. [Peril, February 2014] Looking at the representation of Singapore and Australia in a highly publicised ABC-TV production.

In this pair of posts I will be looking at Australia within its regional and historical context, and Asia within Australian media. The White Paper Australia in the Asian Century may have found itself archived to Trove well before its time, but Serangoon Road was commissioned and produced within its moment. It is a reflection of where Australia has found itself for over half a century now; here, separated from its Colonial Masters by the great Asian Monolith.

Form B: For Circumstances Not Covered in Previous Sections [Fierce Family, Crossed Genres, 2014]. I am super honoured to once again be working with Crossed Genres, who do some excellent intersectional work in SFF.

Edith winds up her work day late; she steps out of the office when it’s still dark, but the sky is lightening to the east and once, she knows, there would have been bird song. Now there’s nothing but the hustle and bustle to get home before dawn. Edith hurries, but doesn’t rush. She has her umbrella, against the sun’s early rays; and she has some time.

She loves this part of the night. The slight dip in temperature before the dawn is less than it was fifty years previous, but it’s a dip all the same. There is traffic, but it’s dying down as late workers head home, and she can navigate the streets without bumping arms or risking crashing her umbrella in to someone else.

And there is her mother, waiting at the door. “You leave it so late,” she says, as she ushers Edith inside. “Why couldn’t you have a proper job, be a doctor like Sheryl?”

“And get stuck with shift work?”

“Better that than this push of paper.” Mama closes the door. “You think we still need to make claims now the end has come?”

Mama always likes making melodramatic pronouncements. It’s not the end, Edith knows. Life goes on.

 

One Last Interruption Before We Begin

One Last Interruption Before We Begin, in Steampunked 2: More Lesbian Steampunk Stories, 2011, Torquere Press. If The Last Rickshaw is a love letter, this story is a serenade under the balcony in the middle of a monsoon. A look at colonialism, the logistics of steampunk in South East Asia, and love when one of you believes you are inherently superior.

The Attolia is beautiful, all curved lines and sleek woods. She knows the British ships have been used in war, but the Attolia is so shy and subtle sitting in a berth next to the Bintang Malam, with its sharp edges and ceremonial lines. The boards are a rich brown and the canvas sails are a dull cream made dark by the dust of flight. It is not so brightly coloured as the Malaysian and Indian ships; but it does not sit like a bruise against the sky as the Chinese ships do, and Shun Ping appreciates the difference.

The Last Rickshaw [Crossed Genres 18, 2011]. It’s about change, and it’s a love letter to the city of my childhood.

Well, one last fare, he decides, pulling over. She clambers onto the rickshaw, coughing as she breathes in the smoke, doing battle with the pipes as she climbs up over the front wheel. She uses one as a step into the seat; ducks beneath another. He worries her headscarf is going to catch in the pipes. He really should tie them together, but she manages okay. “KOMTAR,” she says, and he thinks it odd that she’s not bothering to barter, but he doesn’t question it, just fiddles with the buttons and heads towards the tower in the distance.

Overhead, the airships float lazily by, and the hooks fly across the sky to wrap around the poles protruding from the KOMTAR.

“The airships are flying low tonight,” she says, once, and he hums his agreement. He’s not much of a talker.

Stephanie Lai is an Australian author and essayist. She likes penguins, swing dancing, and having opinions. She is a left-handed archer, and an environmental educator. She lives in Melbourne.