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||April 22, 1944
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Damien Broderick, a noted Australian critic and scholar with an interdisciplinary PhD in literature and science, is famous for the ferocious intelligence with which he writes. His science fiction novel The Judas Mandala is sometimes credited with the first appearance of the term "virtual reality," and his 1997 popular science book The Spike was the first to investigate the technological Singularity in detail.
That fame is greatest outside of Australia, in the nations of Europe and the US. Nonetheless, and indisputably, Broderick's unique voice and vision emerge from the country of his birth. Indeed, says Broderick, "I've grown up to be the child I was. At tea-time my mashed potatoes cooled on the table or dried out in the 'Early Kooka' gas stove while the younger kids squalled and my toolmaker father got ready to go to a union meeting to battle the Communists," he recalls. "Miles away, I froze my bum on a wooden bench, amid the gathering dark and chill of evening, as I read SF paperbacks from Collingwood's semi-slum railway station news-boy's rack. The guy let me read them without payment, for as long as he was there, and then I returned them neat as new, their extraordinary tales passed to my brain like soothing neutrino radiation.
"My home suburb got a branch library finally: dinosaurs, the Space Beagle, 'In Hiding', the secret insides of bodies, J. B. Rhine and Isaac Asimov, shale and volcanoes, flying saucers had landed and Men in Black were abroad but only the few knew the truth... The overdone chops cooled and dried out, and I'd wander in with some vague tale of catching the wrong train and being carried off in error along the alternative line to distant Heidelberg; little wonder they took me for a half-wit, or worse.
"When I was 15 I escaped from all that by running off to a Seminary in a small country town, planning to become a Catholic priest. I escaped that fate in turn and was monstrous for a fairly long time at Monash University, where I named the student newspaper Lot's Wife (that's still its name 30-something years later). The rest is predictable - sex and rock & roll but not much in the way of drugs because I valued my mind too much. Tried computer programming. Edited a national magazine. Now I have grown fully into child's estate and I sit all day at home and read books, tales of hermeneutics and quantum theory, storybooks in high poetry and low, reviewing them for newspaper readers with authorized jobs and incomes, and sometimes, when I can bear to, writing out of them stories of my own.
"Because I am an Australian in Australia, where the shark-menaced water surrounds us on all sides and a meager population can barely support the elements of industry and so survives by tearing the bowels out of the earth and shipping them undigested elsewhere, my tales have tended to go forth into the rest of the world and nobody knows what I do here, reading and dreaming and writing. My crimes were largely exported off-shore because Australians were immune, by and large, to their lure. So I learned to wonder what good it did to know that somewhere my novel The Judas Mandala was said to be available in Portuguese, though you couldn't find it in English in my own country; that my story 'A Passage in Earth' could be read as 'Reis naar de Aarde' in a Dutch collection called Top SF 1; that Germans were reading Die traumenden Drachen, that had been on sale as The Dreaming Dragons in the USA (just long enough to pick up a place medal in the Campbell Memorial Award); and so forth. All this changed for a moment, when an Australian publisher finally brought out handsome versions in a matched set at the start of the 1990s, and a bit later my short story collection The Dark Between the Stars... They set the price too high to compete with imported US paperbacks, so the stores sent them back if they'd bothered ordering them at the outset, even as the cheerful and encouraging reviews tumbled in. Which is why, I guess, David Langford once mentioned me in Ansible, his snide and witty newszine, as an 'almost famous Aussie SF writer.' "
Broderick lives in Melbourne, Australia.
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