John Morrissey is a Melbourne writer of Kalkadoon descent. His work has been published in Overland, Voiceworks, Meanjin and the anthology This All Come Back Now. He was the winner of the 2020 Boundless Mentorship and the runner-up for the 2018 Nakata Brophy Prize.
Firelight is a book about an imprisoned man with strange visions writes letters to his sister. A controversial business tycoon leaves his daughter a mysterious inheritance.
A child is haunted by a green man with a message about the origins of their planet.
In this striking collection of stories, the award-winning John Morrissey investigates colonialism and identity without ever losing sight of his characters’ humanity. Brilliantly imagined and masterfully observed, Firelight marks the debut of a writer we will be reading for decades to come.
John Morrissey’s debut collection of short stories is a beguiling, evocative delight. In it, he presents a series of visions that meld the absurd and mundane: a mysterious commonwealth celebrating their colonisation of the moon, the fraught efforts of a veterinary team trying to reconstruct a thylacine, and the gothic tale of a First Nations warrior seeking revenge on the white colonial explorer who murdered him.
Many of the tales seem to exist in a world both rigorously contained by and freely abstracted from realist conceptions of time and nature. Images of ancient spirituality and figures like the green man are untraditionally positioned right next to contexts of space travel and genetic modification, with startlingly effective results.
John, may be familiar to some readers, having been previously published in the Australian First Nations speculative fiction anthology This All Come Back Now early last year. While not all the stories in this new collection can be clearly classified as sci-fi, he has clear control over the genre’s motifs, and the imaginative and destabilising qualities of his individual take on them are shaping up to become a formidable trademark of his style.
There’s something about his confident, conversational writing style that allows John to encase very abnormal events in everyday settings in a way that feels completely believable – and to tackle some themes that might not be as far from reality as you think. Some part is a review by Ellie Dean.