Natural selection—evolution—has had millennia to shape the wide variety of life on our planet today. In contrast, we had mere months to tackle our theme of (Un)Natural Selection. Still, the results were the same. Our writers have approached the theme in unique, surprising, and creative ways.
Story ideas were selected by each author according to their interpretation of the theme. Drafts radiated from those ideas, and then endured a gamut of selective pressures. First came the peer workshops. Pieces mutated, deleterious traits were weeded out, beneficial traits – engaging voice, robust characterisation, relevance to the theme – were allowed to pass to the next draft. But while natural selection occasionally encourages convergent characteristics – take the similar body plans of shark and dolphin – the evolution of these pieces was most certainly divergent – like the many varieties of canine found today. The creative polyphony was allowed to swell.
For our writers, this issue is something of a personal evolution as well. It is the culmination of us honing our skills as writers over many years of university studies. Our talents have grown stronger under the guidance of tutors and professors. We’ve developed new skills as writers alongside and working with our classmates. For some of us, this is the first time our writing has appeared in public. With all we’ve learnt and how we’ve grown, it hopefully won’t be the last.
Our fiction writers make up the bulk of this year’s cohort. We all started with a blank page and two words: (Un)Natural Selection. The theme for this issue crops up in a variety of ways. Many of us interpreted it literally, harking back to Darwinism, the survival of the fittest and the genesis of the species. While others took a subtler route, weaving it into stories of human love, loss and courage. Our theme inspired killer robots, selective breeding, ghost stories and cyborg assassins, just to name a few.
(Un)Natural Selection isn’t all about life and change. There’s science with the choices we make. Sometimes, from an outside perspective, these choices seem unnatural. But put yourself in the perspective of the decision maker, and perhaps they’re not so unnatural after all. If you had a fatal disease and were given the option to go out of the world peacefully, would you? How would you want to spend your final days? Our screenplay for this issue examines that very question.
Each of our writers have spurred the theme into completely new and unexpected directions to present you—our readers—with page-turning fiction. Each of our short stories will ask questions you don’t have answers to, encourage you to consider an entirely new point of view and remind you why it is you enjoy reading fiction in the first place.
What strikes the most when looking at the finished result of all our hard work is the diversity of this group of writers. Though we have worked together for years, sharing advice and ideas, each story is unique, with its own style. For many of us, these stories are the culmination of our bachelor degrees at Macquarie, and we could not be more excited for you to read them.
So dive right in. While our theme may be (Un)Natural Selection, there’s no unnatural place to start reading this issue’s fantastic writing.
Written by Jasmine Aird, Hannah Armstrong, Ryan Hunter and Lachlan Marnoch