Australian Science Fiction
for Children and Adolescents:
In a paper she delivered on children’s science fiction in Sydney, Australia, in 1972, the author Lilith Norman concluded: “I don’t know if I have given you much of an insight into sf for the younger reader. The paddock is so bare, just a scraggly tussock here and there, that I feel I have been padding to fill out the time allotted” (116). Had she been discussing only Australian science fiction (SF) for the younger reader, that paddock would have appeared to be quite drought-stricken, with those last few blades withered and brown for, in her talk, Norman did not mention a single local title.
This, for three reasons, seems surprising. First, Australia has been at the forefront, even if often only as a launching site, of rockets and satellite vehicles since the dawn of the Space Age. Second, science fiction novels for Australian children were published in 1944 and 1946, prior to the publication of Robert A. Heinlein’s Rocket Ship Galileo, which Sheila Egoff calls the “first clearly identifiable work of science fiction for children” (134), in 1947. Third, there was a tradition of science fiction stories in locally produced comic books dating back to the beginning of that decade, although these local publications disappeared when the wartime ban on imported comic books was lifted and, worse, television was introduced.
Through Space to the Planets (1944) and Rangers of the Universe (1946), both written by Winifred Law, are of historical interest, even if they might not pass EgofFs test for true science fiction stories. The protagonists are a twentyone-year-old spaceship pilot and his two young brothers, one of whom acciden