March 26th, 2007

  • pgdf

Your Free Story Idea of the Day

Here's the first of what I hope will be a number of similar posts: notions for stories that I know I'll never have the time nor proper inclination to write up. They're common property now. Have your way with them!

I and my partner Deborah Newton (memorize this reference for much future use!) have developed a nice tradition of readiing aloud at the breakfast table. Just a page or two every morning, from some book we might not otherwise get to, generally non-fiction. (Although we had a lot of fun with the novels of Ronald Firbank.)

Our current volume is CORNISH CHARACTERS AND STRANGE EVENTS, by Sabine Baring-Gould, 1908. Picked more or less at random off the shelf of unread titles in the house.

Well, the book's been a bit of a disappointment, with more emphasis on the rectitude and good deeds of forgotten Cornwallians than on any weirdness. But we're slogging through anyhow.

Today's chapter features one Lieutenant Philip G. King, who accompanied the first shipment of convicts to Botany Bay, Australia. Baring-Gould notes in passing: "...New South Wales, wither it had been determined by the Government to transport [the convicts], after having sought in vain upon the African coast for a situation possessing the requisites for the establishment of a penal colony."

Well, after you get done parsing the elegance of the kind of prose that no one writes anymore, consider this statement as the seed of an alternate history.

Aussies in Africa. All the national character of the Land Down Under--suitably modified by the different African environment and native culture, natch--transplanted to the coast of the Dark Continent. What the heck would the twentieth century look like in such a continuum?

This scenario brings to mind the fine MADAGASCAR MANIFESTO series by Janet Berliner & George Guthridge, which enacted the aborted Nazi scheme not to run concentration camps but to ship all the Jews to Madagascar instead.

But there's still plenty of room for YOU to write AUSSIES IN AFRICA!