Control the brain
you control the world …
A pandemic is racing through our world, changing people subtly but irrevocably. The first sign for some is losing their faith. For others it comes as violent outpourings of creativity, reckless driving and seeing visions. Scientist Charlotte Zinn is close to a cure when her partner becomes infected. Overnight her understanding of the disease is turned upside down. Should she change the path of evolution?
As Australia is torn apart, journalist Brigid Bayliss is determined to uncover the dark truth behind the religious response to the outbreak. Brigid and Charlotte find themselves on the frontline of a world splintering into far left and far right, with unexpected power to change the course of history. But at what cost?
Dark, thrilling and compulsively readable, The Second Cure is a provocative debut novel about control, courage and belief.
Aurealis Award Finalist. Heck.
The Second Cure has been shortlisted for Best Science Fiction Novel for the Aurealis Awards, Australia’s premier speculative fiction awards. I’m chuffed beyond measure, not least because of the extraordinary works it’s up there with! See the full list of finalists here.
Adelaide Festival Writers’ Week
Adelaide Writers’ Week, one of the world’s foremost writers’ festivals, begins on 2 March. I’ll be appearing on a panel alongside the acclaimed author and critic, James Bradley. Chaired by David Sly, our panel ‘Future Tense’ will be held on the West Stage at Pioneer Women’s Memorial Garden at 10.45am on Thursday 7 March. Admission, as with most of the week’s events, is free.
From the program, available here:
Margaret Morgan’s The Second Cure is a frighteningly plausible vision of a near-future Australia battling both an unpredictable parasite and a lunge towards authoritarianism in Far North Queensland. James Bradley’s Change trilogy also imagines humanity grappling with an outside infection and the panic it causes. Their dystopian page-turners are thought-provoking, disquieting and intense, posing important questions about courage, control and - as with all great science fiction - humanity itself.
I am absolutely chuffed to be appearing at Adelaide Writers’ Week. To attend as an author has been a dream of mine since I first attended as a reader in the mid-eighties. (I got drunk in the Festival bar with Ian McEwan and he corrected my grammar. Having your grammar corrected by Ian McEwan isn’t something you forget, no matter how many glasses of red you’ve had. Believe me.) So this is an honour beyond measure. Do check out the program. There are so many amazing people speaking. I am going to be a squeeing fangirl.
☜ And buy books! Lots and lots of books!
Brilliant Careers: Engendered Masterclass
I was thrilled to have been selected to participate in Screen Australia and Bunya Productions’ four-day intensive genre masterclass, to workshop The Second Cure as a six-hour miniseries, in December 2018. The residential masterclass was taught by internationally renowned US writer/producer Raelle Tucker and Canadian director Jeremy Podeswa, who between them have worked on some of the finest television of the last decades (Game of Thrones, Boardwalk Empire, True Detective, The Newsroom, True Blood, Homeland, The Borgias, The Tudors, Dexter, The Walking Dead, American Horror Story, Supernatural, True Blood, Jessica Jones...), along with local industry professionals. It surpassed my expectations with the generosity of everyone involved. Inspired and inspiring. My thanks to Bunya Productions, Screen Australia and Jeremy and Raelle.
The Masterclass was financed as part of the $1.882 million in Brilliant Careers funding dispersed to 13 organisations to deliver business and skills-growth opportunities for Australian female creators.
Greer Simpkin is a Producer and the Head of Television at Bunya Productions and is running the Engendered program. Bunya Productions have just come off an incredible year where they managed to take out both the Best Film (Sweet Country) and the Best Drama Series (Mystery Road) at the AACTA Awards, in addition to a swathe of international accolades and sales for both titles.
“Genre is what is really cutting through on TV at the moment, so the Engendered Masterclass funded by Screen Australia represents a tremendous opportunity for female creators,” said Greer Simpkin. “Jeremy and Raelle are masters of delivering premium genre, and furthermore when you think of the likes of The Handmaid’s Tale and Sacred Lies, they have made dramas that have proven the creative and commercial worth of female-led storytelling.”
I’m also currently in negotiations with a production company to develop the miniseries. More on that soon!
Critical praise for The Second Cure ...
Unputdownable!… A cracker… This novel won on all fronts. Its plot is original (not just another grim, unrealistic dystopian book). The characters have real depth and, although flawed, you can’t help but empathise with them. — Limelight Reviews
A novel for our times... It generated such a sense of unease within me, how familiar some of the themes seem when considered within the context of today’s society. This novel is nothing short of brilliant. — Theresa Smith
It’s almost impossible to fault this book. Morgan’s biomedicine-inspired extrapolation is enthralling, her characterisation is muscular and moving; she plays dramatic tension like an instrument. And onto a contemporary Australian setting she throws a varicoloured patchwork of social commentary, political commentary, geopolitical speculation and gradual technological advancement that feels tangible, in some ways almost inevitable. Above all, it’s character-driven hard science fiction that’s perfectly accessible, yet doesn’t compromise, anywhere, on the science. I’m deeply impressed. — Simon Petrie
Margaret Morgan’s well-researched, intelligent and engaging thriller uses present dilemmas to pose fundamental questions about what it means to be human. — The Australian
The world’s cats are all dying and people are starting to exhibit strange symptoms… This hypnotic debut novel brilliantly captures the unease of our times. — Jane Caro
I loved this book. Reading it was like having the kind of vivid dream where you go through the following days unsure about what has happened in real life. The description, action and dialogue are whip-smart and the characterisation and themes add a literary dimension. — Aislinne Batstone
If you like your science fiction extra sciency, contemporary and pandemic-infused, featuring a cast of engaging characters including all-too-plausible politico-religious whackjobs then this one is for you. I’m tipping this novel for an Aurealis Award. — Cat Sparks