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Dystopias and Utopias

Dystopias and utopias can provide a tantalising glimpse of the future; of an idealised world or a ruined one. These days, it seems dystopia in fiction is everywhere, from our cinemas to our bookshelves, providing insightful social commentary or just a really good read. The intersection between dystopias and utopias has always fascinated me, as we see them subverting the other in unexpected ways. We may find a utopian world hidden with a dystopian one, or notice that the seemingly perfect world hides dark secrets that need to be exposed.

You may find unexpected interpretations of the theme between the virtual pages of this issue; from the subtle, with underlying tones of dystopia or utopia, to those which approach it head on. We move from contemporary realism— Mariko Lees’ Slap— to the physical—A.J. Odasso’s poetry set Red Wire, Monsters, and Slipknot—to the dystopic future, with Ferne Merrylees’ Misstep in the Dark. Monika Stasiak’s Derive opens Issue 17, presenting an all-too relatable world that engages with the theme with a wonderful subtlety; as usual, we have a wonderful collection of talented postgraduate writers coming together to create a fantastic deconstruction and reimagining of dystopias and utopias.

I should probably admit, somewhat guiltily, that the theme for Issue 17 came up in a case of thinking about what I knew I’d want to read or write. To my delight, we were swamped (terrible pun intended) with some fantastic submissions, and it was a real struggle to decide on what to include. We love reading through your submissions—it’s one of the best parts of being a SWAMP editor, so please, keep them coming!

We certainly had the right team for this theme, straight off the bat: Ferne Merrylees and Nicole Shipley both specialise in dystopian fiction, and lent their expertise to the issue. Ferne also does double duty this issue as Head Poetry Editor and author, with her piece Misstep in the Dark. Morgan Long, one of our poetry editors from Issue 15, also joins the SWAMP crew again, this time as an editor of prose—welcome back, Morgan! New recruit Matilda Hope-Kirchen, a University of Newcastle Honours student, has come on board as she begins her postgraduate journey. The talented Jay Ludowyke, from the University of the Sunshine Coast, also joins us this issue as Guest Poetry Editor. Endless thanks goes to our passionate and dedicated team for putting together a wonderful issue!

As always, a huge thanks is indebted to Peter Bower for doing the hard work and actually publishing the issue; we’d be lost without his technical help. Peter keeps the SWAMP website running, and is the reason why it looks as good as it does. Thanks also to the ongoing support of Keri Glastonbury and the University of Newcastle.

Finally, a massive thank you to all the readers, writers, and supporters of SWAMP. Your passion and interest in our publication has helped shape it into what it is today, and we’re so glad you find our cause as important as we do. Keep reading, sharing, and writing: we can’t wait to bring you more talented postgraduate writing, and keep SWAMP going strong!

Submissions for Issue 18 are now open, until 31st January. The theme is “Fear”, something that most writers might be acquainted with. If you’ve never submitted to SWAMP before, now is the perfect time to grab the theme by the horns! Approach it any which way you see fit.
Until next time, happy reading!

Annika Herb





Published: 2 October, 2015.
Editorial Team: Annika Herb, Ferne Merrylees, Nicole Shipley, Morgan Long, Matilda Hope-Kirchen, Jay Ludowyke (Guest Editor: University of the Sunshine Coast), Keri Glastonbury (Editorial Advisor).