UNE academic and peace advocate Marty Branagan’s new novel Locked On! The Seventh and Most Illegal in the Hitchhiker’s Guide Trilogy will be launched at Reader’s Companion bookshop on Friday evening.
The novel is a fictionalised account of Australia’s first blockade of a coal mine, at Leard Forest near Narrabri, and the successful blockade of gas extraction on prime farmland at Bentley, near Lismore.
These intimate insider accounts portray some of the drama, difficulties, and joys of undergoing civil disobedience, and voluntarily submitting to arrest as part of a non-violent direct action campaign.
The insights into non-violence are lightened by being presented in Douglas Adams’ well-known humorous science fiction universe.
Eco-terrorists are wreaking galactic havoc in a vendetta against plutonium rock group Disaster Area (regarded as the loudest noise in the galaxy, and notorious for blowing up planets). Farmers and traditional owners are protesting their next gig.
At Maximegalon University (conveniently sited near the finest hot springs in existence), revolutionary and grammar pedant Pippi Bluestocking thinks a conference will help.
Guide researcher Ford Prefect is having an existential crisis. Two-headed ex-galactic president Zaphod Beeblebrox is on the run. And Arthur Dent (one of two survivors of the Earth, demolished to make way for a hyperspace bypass) is in a bath, blissfully unaware of everything. Until a call from astrophysicist Trillian: their teenaged daughter Random has joined the Eco-Pirates.
They all converge at a blockade on the brink of violence – or, worse, poetry.
While some of the action occurs within a university, aspects of which may seem familiar to UNE staff, Dr Branagan insists that all characters are entirely fictitious, and that his satire is even-handed in that every level of university is insulted equally.
The novel hopes to celebrate rural life and environmental peace, and tell the story of an unprecedented and fast-growing coalescence of environmentalists, Aboriginal people, and farmers.
Dr Branagan sought permission to use characters from the books’ rights holder; they replied that their role was to authorise quotes, and that he should contact Adams’ agent – who unfortunately has also died. The publishers decided to proceed.
The novel will be launched at Reader’s Companion bookshop (opposite Armidale Post Office) on Friday, December 7, at 5.30 pm. All welcome!
Tea (that famous strong Brownian motion generator) will be served. Bring your own atomic vector plotter.
The paperback is already available online, and there will soon be an illustrated e-version: http://www.lulu.com/shop/marty-branagan/locked-on/paperback/product-23853054.html