{Audiobooks} The Courier's New Bicycle Author Kim Westwood – Paydayloansnsi.co.uk

The Courier's New Bicycle Not being one for speculative fiction, this isn t a book that I would have sought out, even with its cross genre aspects However, THE COURIER S NEW BICYCLE was being talked about a lot by my fellow Sisters in Crime and, I m not completely opposed to the occasional foray outside my comfort zone, so all in all the recommendations seemed like a good enough reason to try it out.It did take a little while to work out the style of the book Westwood has developed a laid back, ironic, almost gentle so Not being one for speculative fiction, this isn t a book that I would have sought out, even with its cross genre aspects However, THE COURIER S NEW BICYCLE was being talked about a lot by my fellow Sisters in Crime and, I m not completely opposed to the occasional foray outside my comfort zone, so all in all the recommendations seemed like a good enough reason to try it out.It did take a little while to work out the style of the book Westwood has developed a laid back, ironic, almost gentle sort of a style which initially doesn t quite seem to gel with many aspects of the story It actually took a little while to grasp how important many of the sub texts of this story are because of the style Particularly, as this is not a book that has a happy outlook for our futures It s profoundly disturbing to think about the lengths that people will go to in their pursuit of personal gratification in this case post a pandemic that has rendered a large proportion of the population sterile making fertility treatment the new must have That must have is pursued ethically and unethically, despite the mindless dogma of the religious zealots in charge of government despite the breathtaking cruelty to other species.In this world Salisbury Forth, gender transgressive, courier of contraband hormones, is a protagonist with issues unique to this particular time and setting An activist working to free animals from the cruelty hormone factory farms, Sal is also trying to find love, stay alive in a dangerous place, avoid the worst excesses of the religious oppression of the other , and keep hearth and home safe It s almost like Sal has set out to become the ultimate target flying in the face of the rules and norms of gender, the keeping of certain pet animals, owning a bicycle, working as a courier of contraband hormones the ethical kind , fighting the source of the unethical kind.It was also rather surprising to find a bicycle almost a character in the book In Westwood s future Melbourne a bicycle is a highly sought after article Sal s love for, and reliance on that bicycle was a palpable and meaningful part of who Sal is There is a lot going on in THE COURIER S NEW BICYCLE, and perhaps it was the slightly laid back style, but in the early parts of the book I did struggle quite a lot to engage, and to keep up with the unexpectedness, the other worldliness of the entire world that Westwood is building As I got a handle on the style, and the breadth of the issues being covered revealed themselves, everything started to work a lot better For readers who prefer crime mystery fiction, there is a traditional mystery element to this book, but really, the main point is the view of future Melbourne, the building of an entire world in which human activities happen life, love, partnership, hate, killing the whole gamut Twisted to suit the time and the place and particular circumstances All of which built people and a place that were often fascinating, not always particularly likeable.If absolutely nothing else was achieved by reading THE COURIER S NEW BICYCLE and that s not accurate , it s a book that certainly made me glad to be on the old woman side of life As this book describes a future world that I d want absolutely no part of, I was profoundly relieved to realise I d be unlikely to live long enough to have to Which says a lot about the experience of the book This review forms part of my contribution to the Australian Women Writers 2012 Reading Challenge.The Courier s New Bicycle by I m conflicted over reviewing this book, as there was a lot to love about it, but overall it really didn t set my world on fire I wanted to like itthan I did, but that may bedue to my tastes than any fault of the author.The story is set in a dystopic future I love verses like this that are connected closely to our own, but with some twist It s why i love Mira grant s Newsflesh series In Westwood s vision for the near future, a vaccine for a bird flu has caused widespread inferti I m conflicted over reviewing this book, as there was a lot to love about it, but overall it really didn t set my world on fire I wanted to like itthan I did, but that may bedue to my tastes than any fault of the author.The story is set in a dystopic future I love verses like this that are connected closely to our own, but with some twist It s why i love Mira grant s Newsflesh series In Westwood s vision for the near future, a vaccine for a bird flu has caused widespread infertility The instability arising from this has seen a rise in religious fundamentalism and a black market in fertility drugs Sal the courier of the title delivers these drugs around Melbourne The main plot involves a fight for turf amongst the hormone bootleggers.There s a great sense of place which as a Melburnian I particularly enjoyed Overall the world building is interesting if a bit heavy on some repetitive exposition Sal is a transgressive someone who s gender expression is clearly beyond the binary One of my issues with the book is that we get told this all the time, but the actual exploration, or demonstration, or Sal s gender is rather thin The plot moves along quite well although I would ve likedof the sub plot relating to Sal s involvement with an animal rights group which rescues animals from hormone farms Sal only distributes synthetic hormones which had some great tension in it.It s worth a look if only because queer dystopic fiction like this is rare enough I d hope for a sequel though, so it did make an impression I got a copy of this science fiction novel set in Melbourne after hearing about it on Galactic Suburbia I now have a Galactic Suburbia tag for books that fit into this category and enjoyed it very much Westwood envisions a dark, oppressive future, where a virus has drastically reduced fertility rates, and created a thriving black market in hormones Salisbury Forth is a bicycle courier for one of the ethical hormone companies, and when dodgy hormones start turning up on the street purportin I got a copy of this science fiction novel set in Melbourne after hearing about it on Galactic Suburbia I now have a Galactic Suburbia tag for books that fit into this category and enjoyed it very much Westwood envisions a dark, oppressive future, where a virus has drastically reduced fertility rates, and created a thriving black market in hormones Salisbury Forth is a bicycle courier for one of the ethical hormone companies, and when dodgy hormones start turning up on the street purporting to be from her employer, she goes into detective mode It wasn t so much the mystery element of this story I enjoyed as the entire world Westwood has created, the character of Salisbury and her family she has created of those mostly on the outskirts of the narrow limits society now deems to be acceptable A wonderfully enjoyable book I d heard a lot about this book and how much people had enjoyed it, but not specifically what it was about, so I headed into the story of Salisbury Forth without a lot of background knowledge I found myself in a post pandemic Melbourne, where a side effect of a vaccine sterility has led to an uprising of the overly and outwardly pious who have banned artificial hormones and labelled those who don t fit into neat little packages as transgressors Adding in rolling power outages and power r I d heard a lot about this book and how much people had enjoyed it, but not specifically what it was about, so I headed into the story of Salisbury Forth without a lot of background knowledge I found myself in a post pandemic Melbourne, where a side effect of a vaccine sterility has led to an uprising of the overly and outwardly pious who have banned artificial hormones and labelled those who don t fit into neat little packages as transgressors Adding in rolling power outages and power rationing, and a thriving hormone black market and those who d like to destroy it for their own means and we re in a world balancing between the familiar and nightmarish.I was particularly struck by the world building in this book There s a lot going on, with the story touching on animal rights, government control over medications, government surveillance, how different subcultures behave under different circumstances and an old fashioned mystery to solve, but most of the time those elements are balanced well and the pieces fit together nicely.I was thinking that this is a story which works better if you have some knowledge of Melbourne, because it relies on the Melbourne we know today to work it s definitely not a story which would work in a Brisbane setting I read it while I was in Melbourne, so I don t know how much that influenced my reading of the story especially as someone holidaying there rather than living there After a couple of brief discussions at Continuum, I ve been having a lot of thoughts about how known places work in fiction, so this was book definitely fed and continued those thoughts.As well as place thoughts, I have thoughts about the medical aspects of the story The entire story balanced on the vaccine which made people sterile Most of our vaccination schedule in Australia happens in a child s first 18 months, so as a parents of a young child, I hear a lot about vaccinations And inevitably you hear from anti vaccine people or people who are concerned about vaccines and want to spread that fear to other parents usually mothers So, to have a government sponsored vaccine as the catalyst for the story left me with some heavy moments of hmmm and wondering whether to let that impact my enjoyment of the story Ultimately, I decided to file it in a I don t like that choice, but it doesn t impact the overall story pile, but I am still thinking on it.A world where artificial hormones are only available through secretive, illegal means downright terrified me, though I admit to a complicated history with artificial hormones since they helped me get my son, but they also threatened my life at the same time I was under the supervision of a highly trained and experienced doctor who had to see me 2 3 times a week to ensure that I was safe I m one of those people who just overreacts to artificial hormones, so I can t imagine absolutely needing them as many people do for many reasons but not having that constant care to ensure they re as safe as possible Though, I imagine there s a lot of people around the world who are put in this situation for financial organisational systemic reasons More things to think on Despite all the deep thinking thoughts the book inspired, it didn t read to me like a thinking book It was a fast moving adventure of a story with a pretty large cast of characters who thankfully were well defined and differentiated from each other It provided one look at a possible future, while inviting us to look at where we are and what we re doing at the present time I thoroughly enjoyed it and I m glad I was able to get my hands on it.Originally reviewed at Subversive Reader The Courier s New Bicycle is Kim Westwood s second novel and its nice and compact at 327 pages Playing wonderfully to my own biases and beliefs, Westwood has taken some of my dark fears and made a scary reality of them.The World The world of The Courier s New Bicycle is a near future Melbourne Australia is in the midst of a fertility crises caused by a compromised H1N1 vaccine The population is largely infertile and while several fertility companies sprang up to deal with the crisis, a swing The Courier s New Bicycle is Kim Westwood s second novel and its nice and compact at 327 pages Playing wonderfully to my own biases and beliefs, Westwood has taken some of my dark fears and made a scary reality of them.The World The world of The Courier s New Bicycle is a near future Melbourne Australia is in the midst of a fertility crises caused by a compromised H1N1 vaccine The population is largely infertile and while several fertility companies sprang up to deal with the crisis, a swing in power to the religious right sees these companies outlawed The resultant Australian cultural landscape is a dominionist s wet dream.With power In the grip of religious fanatics anything outside of very hetero normative ideals of gender are held in contempt Hessian frocked prayer groups wander the streets laying on hands and Neighbourly Watch lurks like a synthesis between the Gestapo and a Christian version of the Mutaween Our Protagonist The Courier s New Bicycle features a gender transgressive protagonist, Salisbury Forth Sal has achieved a comfortable for Sal gender identity that sits between male and female Sal is a courier for an ethical hormone supplier and is good at the job, genetically gifted with a body for it Sal becomes a reluctant detective when unknown parties target the boss business When Sal s friend Albee is injected with kit laced with pesticides, the business war becomes personal Is it a dystopia I m not sure I find it an all too plausible reality, one that only requires a few changes to get to it from present day Australia Westwood has done an excellent job of extending current circumstances political, social, environmental and religious She tweaks recognisable institutions and extrapolates current Australian culture with skill.The conservative party both religiously and politically Nation First is eerily close to a combination of Family First and One Nation The contempt in which gender transgessives are held is not too different from conservative values held by the majority of the Australian population only in The Courier s New Bicycle hatred of The Other is given the imprimatur of both state and religion.On Gender The novel has an androgynous protagonist and is at least in part an exploration of the life and experiences of The Other Whether The Other be the transgendered, the animal activist, the immigrant or the socially undesirable street racers Now I don t know if it s the fact that I have been fortunate enough to listen to quality gender discussions and that I am comfortable in my gender sexuality, but I didn t find that exploration at all uncomfortable or confronting The treatment of said characters by the over zealous religious society inflamed my internal sense of social justice, but the treatment itself is sadly all too close to what The Other experience in the here and now For a reader who has lived a very sheltered life their response will no doubt be different.For me, I am just happy to have a cracking good story, whose protagonist and supporting characters are drawn from genderqueer and other diverse communities.What impressed me There s a tangibility to Westwood s world building I don t know Melbourne all that well but it feels to me that she s captured the essence of the city and then cloaked it in this oppressive tension The spectre of Neighbourly Watch always in the background and the fact that Sal s entire life is pretty much illegal.Honestly The Courier s New Bicycle is a great read, an Australian speculative fiction, novel with elements of crime drama thrown in When people think speculative fiction is just shooting rockets at Jupiter or dog fights in space, press this into their hand.A beautiful sketch of darkly shaded future that I hope never comes to pass I m really disappointed this book isn t better known andeasily available with secondhand paperback copies thin and expensive on the ground and the publisher only offering it as print on demand or Kindle I found out about the story through a talk on Australian science fiction where a panelist discussed the basic premise and I thought it sounded amazing and it certainly didn t disappoint Australian SF writers need to be better known, and this one is important because it is set in Melb I m really disappointed this book isn t better known andeasily available with secondhand paperback copies thin and expensive on the ground and the publisher only offering it as print on demand or Kindle I found out about the story through a talk on Australian science fiction where a panelist discussed the basic premise and I thought it sounded amazing and it certainly didn t disappoint Australian SF writers need to be better known, and this one is important because it is set in Melbourne and undeniably Australian in its feel This isn t really a story about science fiction as very few science speculative fiction books are It s about gender, fertility, animal rights, religious extremism, basic new romance, etc It s also about trying to be a good person in a corrupt world where religion and morals are so completely divorced from one another.I have to admit to expecting ahead of the plot because I thought I saw set ups that weren t carried through for example, I thought Inez would be revealed as dealing with the enemy and something would happen to the cat I mean, come on, when someone s involved in a dark underworld and the author is waxing lyrical about how desperately important the main character s pet is, you know the kitty s going to get it I also feel like the animal liberationist part was at some points a step too far Westwood is already beating the drum for gender equality and making so many other righteous cautious points to then have to go into animal rights I was almost a bit caused out The scariest type of SF for me is the stuff which is really only a few years ahead of where we are right now making its warnings all thevivid Already this year there has been scandals involving surrogacy laws and Australians and the return of faith based hate crimes.One of my favourite books of this genre is Atwood s Handmaiden s Tale and there s a lot reminiscent with the dystopian Melbourne of this book THREE AND A HALF STARSTRIGGER WARNINGS substance use, violence, ableism, religious political oppression, kidnappingWhat the hell is the nonsense of positivity towards the Salvation Army They don t care about queer people No turn of events in some future setting will ever change that They demanded and received a federal exception in Australia so they could discriminate against gay people when hiring staff They ve said queer people will burn in hell I ve even heard stories of them discrimi THREE AND A HALF STARSTRIGGER WARNINGS substance use, violence, ableism, religious political oppression, kidnappingWhat the hell is the nonsense of positivity towards the Salvation Army They don t care about queer people No turn of events in some future setting will ever change that They demanded and received a federal exception in Australia so they could discriminate against gay people when hiring staff They ve said queer people will burn in hell I ve even heard stories of them discriminating against queer people in the provision of their so called charity So they wouldn t be helping out or sympathetic if the government turned ultra conservative and evenreligious That could be a description of the Salvation Army themselves I don t know if the author isn t queer and is switched off to queer issues or if she s particularly naive and ignorant Join Salisbury Forth on twenty adrenaline fuelled days as a courier of contraband in the alleyways of inner Melbourne, a city of rolling power outages, fuel rationing and curfewsLife s stressful, post pandemic a vaccine dispensed Australia wide has caused mass infertility and people are scrambling for cures This would be fine for the hormone business, except the new government has banned all remedies except prayerNow the pious gather under the streetlights at dusk and the Neighbourhood Values Brigades prowl for transgressors Meanwhile, the out of town animal farms have started up a barbarous form of hormone production and the Animal Protection Vigilantes are planning their next raidFor Salisbury it s not all bad Love is in the air, and the job is a joy until someone starts distributing suss hormones stamped with the boss s Cruelty Free Assured logo This bike courier turned accidental sleuth has to discover who s trying to destroy the business before it all goes belly up Totally deserving of its Tiptree shortlisting, this book does some pretty amazing things with gender not least of which is to re politicise the notion of androgyny as transgressive I also loved the world building and the way the queer themes are absolutely central to the political and environmental upheavals that have happened in this near future Finally I loved the friendship networks surrounding Sal for many of the characters, family might be crap, but it is replaced by a family of frien Totally deserving of its Tiptree shortlisting, this book does some pretty amazing things with gender not least of which is to re politicise the notion of androgyny as transgressive I also loved the world building and the way the queer themes are absolutely central to the political and environmental upheavals that have happened in this near future Finally I loved the friendship networks surrounding Sal for many of the characters, family might be crap, but it is replaced by a family of friends made up of all sexes and gender types It is the hope embedded in these relationships that makes this book surprisingly upbeat in the end

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