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April 11, 2018


From the Wreck Aurealis Award 2018 Best SF Novel

by N@ncy

  • Author: J. Rawson
  • Title: From the Wreck
  • Published: 2017
  • Trivia: Winner Aurealis Award  2018  Best SF-novel
  • Trivia: Aurealis Award recognises the achievements of
  • Australian science fiction, fantasy, horror writers.


Why is From the Wreck considered science fiction?

  1. SF is not always about space ships, aliens, monsters,
  2. ..robots or giant man-eating insects.
  3. The first requirement for SF is that it should be possible!
  4. Realistic fiction is what  could have happened,
  5. …fantasy is about events that could not have happened
  6. …SF is about events that have not happened, or have not happened yet!


  1. This book is based upon the shipwreck of the SS Admella in 1859.
  2. But what has Jane Rawson done in her story to
  3. …bring this narrative into the science fiction category
  4. …and not historical fiction?
  5. I’m determined to find out.


  1. Third-person, non-participant narrator
  2. There are six chapters narrated by the ‘being from another dimension”


  1. The Wreck –  2 chapters
  2. Life on Land – 4 chapters
  3. Henry – 9 chapters
  4. Cured –   4 chapters
  5. Some Journeys – 12 chapters


  1. Rosewater  (small town above Adelaide)
  2. Portland (George works in Seaman’s Home in this town)
  3. Adelaide (George travels to this city to meet some characters)



  1. From the Wreck  tells the remarkable story of George Hills.
  2. He survived the sinking of the SS Admella off the South Australian coast in 1859.
  1. George “..rolled into the waves…but they would not have him…”
  2. the waves …”instruments of the Lord
  3. People trying to help save George….he calls them
  4. “monstrous humans declaring death is near”
  5. “What do they know?
  6. George thinks
  7. Death was not for him.
  8. He lived now in another  world.”
  9.  “Why had the waves not taken him? Why was he here?
  1. He is haunted by his memories and the
  2. …disappearance of a fellow survivor.
  3. She is a  woman from another dimension
  4. ...and George must find her.
  5. She can…
  6. lure him
  7. destroy him
  8. return scraps of his health and sanity
  9. tell him what he had done was only a dream.


What was the hook that drew me into the book?

  1. Rawson begins her book with the description of the
  2. ship wreck by three different points of view.
  3. Rawson writes an amazing ‘cryptic’ second chapter
  4. …and I was hooked.
  5.  In chapter two Rawson switches constantly among
  6. four personal pronouns: WE  — I — THEY —   IT.
  7. If you read this chapter too quickly your eyes will glaze over.
  8. I read  line-for- line making a note as to what/who the
  9. …pronoun was referring.  It changes!
  10. This was the only chapter I had to read in this way
  11. …the rest was easy going.
  12. But it is important to understand who is talking in ch 2!
  13. Believe me..after you finish the book
  14. …you should re-read chapter 2.
  15. The pieces of the puzzle will now fall into place!


Theme:  abandonment, loneliness, and guilt.

  1. The George  suffers from all these feelings
  2. …which Rawson has translated into a story.


Tone: Gothic

  1. Part 1:
  2. whitened swollen ghosts had dragged themselves across the deck
  3. ghosts who wanted nothing more now but to be left alone
  4. looked at the ghosts about him…they were gone —
  5. He is  a creature of the devil.
  6. Ocean-fed devils
  7. Part 3:
  8. “You’ve seen these ghosts
  9. headless monsters walking the streets after dark wringing out
  10. …the bodies of cats and rats to drink their blood..”
  11. It is a sprawling birthmark.
  12. …was throbbing, rippling, pulsing. “Another brain in my brain…”
  13. seethes and stretches, the edges crawling across his back..”
  14. Part 4:
  15. “What do you know about haunting? he asked.
  16. Or spells. Potions. Do you know anything about
  17. …spells to stop a haunting?’


Strong point: inner dialogue

  1. Internal narrative is the life’s blood of any story.
  2. Readers don’t just want to see what’s happening to your character.
  3. they want to know what he thinks.
  4. For example: George has thoughts that he
  5. …would LIKE to tell his brother-in-law
  6. ....but cannot.


Strong point: tension

  1. Suspense drives the narrative.
  2. Good example is in ch1  part 2.
  3. Tension is building.
  4. Rawson  is withholding information.
  5. She keeps the reader
  6. waiting and waiting for a shocking revelation.
  7. The character is keeping his secret from his family.
  8. The reader will soon know the secret as well.
  9. Tension:
  10. Why does Henry…George’s son of 5 yr
  11. …use words like niche and reprobate?
  12. Uncle William is amazed  by small Henry.
  13. Does it mean he is ‘different’?  (big words for little kid!!)


Strong point:  pace

  1. I never really took notice of ‘pace’
  2. …until I started reading books more carefully.
  3. A writer uses her craft to equally balance action, drama, and plot elements
  4. …and I just miss it completely!
  5. Rawson mixes slow and quick pace chapters  part 3 “Henry” .
  6. Quick: Dialogue:  question – answer b/t characters (George – Alice Jarvis)
  7. Slow – reflections – inner dialogue, dream sequence – Henry dreams of ocean.
  8. Quick: wife about to give birth…George is rushing around get the doctor!
  9. Slow: introduction of new characters with long descriptions, back round
  10. Quick: …heart throbbing revelation for Henry!



  1. Question?
  2. Alien being  has its own philosophybut what is it?
  3. Why is  alien being implanting itself into  humans?
  4. Why does it insist on adapting to new shapes and forms?
  5. What has happened to push George or the edge?
  6. He is  so committed to finding the truth
  7. that he’s willing to physically die for it.
  8. These  questions and more, you will have to answer
  9. yourself  after reading this
  10.  Aurealis Award 2018 …winning SF  novel!
  11. #MustRead…..amazing!


Last thoughts:

  1. As a reader who  is not drawn to the science fiction genre
  2. …this book delighted, surprised and inspired me
  3. …to read more of Jane Rawson.
  4. I must give science fiction a chance!
  5. This book is original, so well-written
  6. ….clean, sharp and spooky.
  7. I’ll never look at my cat in the same way….!

5 Comments Post a comment
  1. Apr 19 2018

    I’ve been wondering about this – you’ve made it sound very appealing – a blend of historical fiction & fantasy #curiouserandcuriouser


    • Apr 19 2018

      For a non SF reader this book was easy to like.
      Space opera, world building or spaceships wit AI… that can think (see: Ancillary Sword by Ann Leckie)…are not for me. I started this book to discover what Rawson adds to bring it into the SF category. I recommend it for people who want to dabble in SF…but not get there toes wet!

      Liked by 1 person


Trackbacks & Pingbacks

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  2. Aurealis Award Best YA Novel 2017 short list | NancyElin
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