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Peter Docker

Fremantle Press (2011)

ISBN: 9781921696947

Reviewed by Jason Nahrung

If ever Western Australian actor and writer Peter Docker gets tired of the writing lark, he has a promising future ahead of him in basket weaving. In The Waterboys, his second novel, he draws on fantasy, magical realism, science fiction and alternative history to weave four core narrative threads into a vision of not only an alternative past, but an alternative present/future as well. The novel makes a fetching end product.

The most obvious thread is the one happening in the book’s now. It deals with an Australia in which the environmentally devastated eastern states, represented by the Water Board, have extended control over the country’s resources. This is a dystopian world, in which Western Australia has gone its own way; the ozone layer is depleted to the point of deadly exposure; the world at large feels sparse and depleted. The point of contention here is water: the people of WA feel it belongs to the land and they, as the land’s custodians, therefore have the right to access it freely. The Water Board enforces its claim with dams and guns.

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