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Welcome to the Luna Family, Gillian Polack!

Updated: Jul 27, 2021

Gillian Polack (By Sanna Pudas)
Gillian Polack (By Sanna Pudas)

We are delighted to welcome Gillian Polack to the Luna family!

In September 2019, I learned of a project which sounded perfect for Academia Lunare. It was a research by Dr Gillian Polack on cultural encodings in SFF. My immediate thought was: Yes! It is perfect for us! So I got in touch, introducing myself and what we do at Luna.

Interestingly, just the month before, we were both in Dublin for the Worldcon, but we had to wait to return to opposite ends of the world, Australia and Scotland, before we actually "met"! Honestly! What is life like! I was therefore delighted when Gillian replied and we began discussing the project in more details.

If you've paid attention to the dates above, you will also realise that the completion of the research had to endure the awful Australian bushfires as well as Covid, throughout 2020. Very much a suffered researched, but one that will help writers and readers alike to understand how the culture we live in, shape us.

And so in 2022, Academia Lunare will bring you Story Matrices: Cultural Encoding and Cultural Baggage in the Worlds of Science Fiction and Fantasy.

I am so excited to share this fabulous resource with you all!

From Gillian:

"Genre fiction in general answers critical questions about how we see howselves and the stories we narrate. My first PhD looked at something equivalent: conceptions of time and the past in popular writing in the Middle Ages. That was over 30 years ago, and I've come back to my home turf and to the present. I am still an ethnohistorian/historiographer, however, and this informs my approach.

The important thing to note is that my work here does not undermine literary studies: it works alongside them. Instead of the focus being on the literary importance of a given work and how to understand it, the focus is on the cultural aspects of novels, that is to say, on novels as artefacts of culture.

The study uses cultural encoding and baggage within speculative fiction to decode critical elements of modern English-langauge culture. The culture we live in shapes us. We also shape the culture we live in. Stories we tell play critical roles in this shaping. The heart of cultural transmission is how these things come together and make a novel work. Especially how they combine with the world of the novel to communicate about the reader’s culture as well as the culture within the novel. Genre writing plays a critical role in this. How writers integrate issues such as shared culture, colonialism, diasporic culture, own voices, ethics, selective forgetting and silencing into their work illuminates ways in which speculative fiction is important for cultural transmission."

About the author:

Dr Gillian Polack is a Jewish-Australian science fiction and fantasy writer, researcher and editor and is the winner of the 2020 A Bertram Chandler Award. Her 2019 novel The Year of the Fruit Cake won the 2020 Ditmar for best novel and was shortlisted for best SF novel in the Aurealis Awards. She wrote the first Australian Jewish fantasy novel (The Wizardry of Jewish Women). Gillian is a Medievalist/ethnohistorian, currently working on how novels transmit culture. Her work on how writers use history in their fiction (History and Fiction) was shortlisted for the William Atheling Jr Award for Criticism or Review.

Discover Gillian's blog here, and follow her on Twitter, @GillianPolack.


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