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May 8, 2018


Aurealis Award Best SF Novel 2017 short list

by NancyElin


What is the “hook”  in the book?

Abbot uses a shocking childhood memory of Robby (ch 1) his father  riding  his pony Timmy. The animal is crushed under the weight and dies. This is a hook…but it was hard to read/listen to. But I realize Abbott needed something so horrific to shock the reader. She uses the image as a metaphor for what his happening in Australia.  The breaking of rural Australia…the whole country…is  (as in the story) a result of carelessness…an unforgivable cruelty.

Abbott describes a dystopian future…the death of rural Australia. The government has developed an elaborate hoax. It makes people think and look one way while they redesign the whole country.


Who are the main characters?


  1. He is aware of what is going on…
  2. but as a journalist  he has given up (ch 7).
  3. He just writes about currencies and energy.
  4. Robby finally realized that no one cares.
  5. There was no story  he could write
  6. …that would make any difference that really matters.
  7. Robby tries to face this grief.


  1. He is aware of what is going on…but as a politician
  2. ..he has to follow party line.
  3. Smile on on all the news, try to make it sound okay.
  4. But at home he pours a straight whiskey…breaks down and cries.


  1. Clare is sent to  work in the closing down towns.
  2. She felt a sense that a giant hand was redesigning the country.
  3. It is sweeping away towns here and there.
  4. Clare felt she was a gravedigger silently
  5. helping the final inevitable, heartbreaking
  6. final end of endings.
  7. The title refers to her work:  Closing Down.


How does Robby change?

  1. Robby feels a flash of irritation…nostalgia
  2. He is determined to get the story about this ‘hoax’ to the people.
  3. He would write about the inclusion and exclusion zones
  4. the money, the takeovers and men in dark suits….lying.


What is the most important subpot?

  1. Abbott uses  magic realism to tell a strange story of Clare
  2. …man she meets during her walks after supper.
  3. We read about the bones  falling from the sky. (magic realism)
  4. We meet Granna Adams who ‘magically appears‘ with a warning:
  5. This place is very real said the old woman.
  6. This is not a dream. We think you (Clare) like secrets.”
  7. Clare kept secrets like she kept her notebooks.



  1. Abbott give us a bleak look into a dystopian future that
  2. …may become a reality.
  3. What will save  Australia…politics or technology? 
  4. Towns are being gutted….people are being
  5. rounded up and moved to cities
  6. …that can’t cope with this human tidal wave.
  7. The bones that are falling.
  8. I had difficult figuring  what that meant!
  9. People are walkers….
  10. walking away from the overcrowded and dirty cities.
  11. The suicide rate iskept strictly secret.
  12. Real people being torn away from what they know,
  13. …what they love.
  14. Everybody is buying and selling
  15. …but now they are buying and selling
  16. countries, cities, water and people!
  17. Weak point:  I wish the cover reflected more of a
  18. closed down city in rural Australia.
  19. The clouds on the cover did not “wow’ this reader.


Last thoughts:

  1. I cannot stop thinking….
  2. Sally Abbott is doing exactly
  3. …what the  journalist Robby is doing!
  4. She’s trying to get the word out.
  5. She has given the reader a look
  6. …at what the future could look like!
  7. I’m amazed ….how other countries (China) are
  8. infiltrating other countries (…also in The Netherlands!)
  9. …by their ‘buying and selling’.
  10. It is scary.
  11. #GreatSFRead

Read more from Uncategorized
4 Comments Post a comment
  1. craneclaire
    May 28 2018

    Great review, I definitely want to read this. I will be featuring this in the AWW Spec fiction round-up next week.

    • May 28 2018

      I like to search the short lists of awards that are pending. So many authors have worked so hard and it is a shame to limit my reading only to the winners! My reward? I find gems that are just waiting for me! “Closing Down’ is a perfect example!
      Thank you for stopping by….and leaving your comments!


Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. Aurealis Award Best YA Novel 2017 short list | NancyElin
  2. #AWW2020 Aurealis 2018 Award Best SF Novella | NancyElin

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