George Turner photo George Turner

Brief Biography

George Turner was born in Melbourne, Victoria in 1916 although his family lived in the Western Australian goldfields between Kalgoorlie and Boulder. When he was six years old his family fell on hard times and they subsequently moved to Melbourne where he was educated at the Choir School of St Paul's Cathedral and later at a State School. After leaving school he worked at various jobs until war broke out in 1939 when he enlisted as soon as he could. He served in the Second World War in the Middle East, Africa and New Guinea. After the war he began work in the Commonwealth Employment Service, ending up in the large Victorian country town of Wangaratta, the people and environs of which he used in his "Treelake" series of novels: A Stranger and Afraid, The Cupboard Under the Stairs, A Waste of Shame and The Lame Dog Man.

Although he had been reading science fiction for the bulk of his life, Turner's involvement with the genre began in earnest with the publication of his first critical article, "The Double Standard" (an examination of Alfred Bester's The Demolished Man) in Australian Science Fiction Review 10 in July 1967, edited by John Bangsund. He rapidly became known as Australia's foremost sf critic with articles appearing in ASFR, Bruce Gillespie's Science Fiction Commentary, Van Ikin's Science Fiction and later in the main Melbourne newspaper The Age. After much cajoling from Bangsund and Gillespie, amongst others, Turner published his first science fiction novel Beloved Son in 1978. It appeared to very mixed reviews and quite a lot of criticism from the general science fiction readership who considered the book too dense and slow. Further science fiction novels followed to form his Ethical Culture series: Beloved Son, Vaneglory and Yesterday's Men. But it was probably not until his major novel The Sea and Summer that Turner was able to gain a level of acceptance, beyond his undoubted critical abilites, within the international science fiction community.

Turner co-won the Miles Franklin Award in 1962 for The Cupboard Under the Stairs, sharing the award with Thea Astley. His novel The Sea and Summer (under the title Drowning Towers) won the Arthur C Clarke Award in 1988, and was nominated for a Nebula Award in the same year. He won the Ditmar Award (for Best Australian Science Fiction) in 1979 for Beloved Son, in 1984 for Yesterday's Men and in 1994 for The Destiny Makers.

George Turner died in Ballarat, Victoria in 1997.


Young Man of Talent 1959 (also titled Scobie in the USA)
A Stranger and Afraid 1961
The Cupboard Under the Stairs 1962
A Waste of Shame 1965
The Lame Dog Man 1967
Beloved Son 1978
Transit of Cassidy 1978
Vaneglory 1981
Yesterday's Men 1983
The Sea and Summer 1987 (also titled Drowning Towers in the USA)
Brain Child 1991
The Destiny Makers 1993
Genetic Soldier 1994

Short Stories
A Pursuit of Miracles 1990

In the Heart or In the Head 1984 (autobiography)

The View from the Edge 1977

THE VIEW FROM THE EDGE book cover The View From the Edge 1977

Dustjacket synopsis:
"The View From The Edge...sciecne fiction stories looking at our world and ourselves from the outside.

"The problems of pet food, of being caught in a daydream, of meeting an alien in your own backyard...these and other hazards of modern life are examined with wit and feeling in this remarkable book.

"The View From The Edge also documents the writing process, in a splendid running commentary by prizewinning novelist George Turner. The book is essential to any writing course.

"George Turner is known as a novelist and critic - now anthologist. His novel The Cupboard Under The Stairs won the Miles Franklin Award in 1962."


Foreword by George Turner
Dialogue by Philiippa C. Maddern
Alien by Bruce Barnes
Automation by Randal Flynn
The Suburbs My Destination by Christopher Priest
Denizen in Habitat by Edward Mundie
Day Dreamer by Sharon Goodman
Wherever You Are by Philippa C. Maddern
Retrieval by Malcolm English
The Broken Butterfly by Paul Voermans
The Two Body Problem by Bruce Barnes
Going Home by Petrina Smith
Ignorant of Music by Philippa C. Maddern
Rat Stew by D. W. Walker
In the Garden by Petrina Smith
Erotic Shower by Micheline Cyna-Tang
The Rise and Fall of Earth by Graeme Aaron and Sam Sejavka
The Ant in a Glass Cage by Sam Sejavka
Hector by Bruce Barnes
Observations on Experiences by Vonda N. McIntyre
They and They's by Petrina Smith
See It Sparkle, See it Dim by Edward Mundie
Silence by Philippa C. Maddern

From the Norstrilia Press paperback edition, 1977.

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BELOVED SON book cover Beloved Son 1978

Dustjacket synopsis:
"The 20th century ended with a bang.

"In just five short days earth's population was all but destroyed. What little remained of 20th-century thought was carefully expunged by the youthful heirs of the 21st, in their ruthless determination to avoid the mistakes of the past.

"Then, the spaceship appeared. Man's first interstellar expedition has returned, after an absence of more than forty years, to a world that fears their return. Albert Raft, the Ship's commander, cloned before departure in a secret experiment, will now be pitted against the 21st century and two generations of himself..."

"Consistently witty...compelling...brilliant" - The New Statesman
"Vivid and absorbing...some of the best dialogue and characterization to come from science fiction in years" - The Spectator

First Paragraph

The Security Ombudsman for the Australasian Sector of International Security was tall but stooped, unmuscular and skeletally thin. His teeth were false; he wore glasses; he was quite bald and his skin, mostly bared in the manner of the times, was entirely hairless. He was unevenly brown - piebald, though no one used the word to his face - in the manner of an earlier time when bouts of exposure to hard radiation were a daily hazard. A greyness tinged the brown and with his splayed nose attested the quarter of aboriginal strain contributed by a tribal grandmother.

From the Pocket Books paperback edition, 1979.

This novel forms the first section of Turner's Ethical Culture series.

Beloved Son won the Ditmar Award for Best Australian Science Fiction in 1979.

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A PURSUIT OF MIRACLES book cover A Pursuit of Miracles 1990
Cover illustration by Francis Podevin

Dustjacket synopsis:
"Eight journeys into the future from prize-winning author George Turner.

"A civilized society where barabarism is the norm.
A search for super-intelligence that goes horribly wrong.
A world where to be Non-Legal is to be non-human.
An experiment to test the very nature of reality.

"Turner's stories move with all the surety of vision of a master of his craft."

"Turner's work has an integrity of purpose, an attention to detail and a total avoidance of cheap effects and stereotypes that place it firmly among the very best in the genre" - Omega
"George Turner seems the perennial outsider, approaching science fiction with the humane vividness of a top-notch mainstream writer. It's almost disconcerting to encounter characters as real, flawed, unstylized and articulate..." - Locus


A Pursuit of Miracles
Not in Front of the Children
Shut the Door When You Go Out
On the Nursery Floor
In a Petri Dish Upstairs
Generation Gap
The Fittest

From the Aphelion Publications paperback edition, 1990.

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BRAIN CHILD book cover Brain Child 1991

Dustjacket synopsis:
"Decades ago, in the year 2022, the Nursery Children project spawned three sets of genetically engineered children. The first group consisted of technological wizards, the second of gifted artists. But the third was an aberration - geniuses possessing mental capacities so frightening and incomprehensibly advanced they were outcats even in their own exceptional environment..until they perished in a shocking act of collective suicide.

"David Chance is an unknowing offspring of the long-forgotten experiment. And now he must pursue the dark secrets that doomed four remarkable creations - uncovering limitless perversions of science, devastating revelations about his own conception...and the horrifying course of humankind's future."

"Brilliant...a mind-stretcher...a breathlessly exciting adventure" - Arthur C. Clarke
"Extraordinary...a superb achievement...a tale of tragic self-discovery, science corrupted, and of the human baseness that taints both" - Locus
"A gripping, disturbing exploration of what it means to be human...both emotionally and intellectually satisfying" - The New York Times Book Review
"Great skill and originality...a startling work" - Booklist

First Paragraph

The trouble with an Orphanage upbringing is that when the College discharges you at age eighteen you are burstingly healthy, educated to the edge of intellectual indigestion and as innocent of day-to-day as a blind dummy.

You read of orphanages (with a small o) in old novels and gain an impression of cruelty and exploitation visited upon children as punishment for their insolence in having been born, a picture of institutionlised revenge.

In this century, with the Population Control Laws hovering like the eye of God over the couplings even of the weeded, we children of the unwedded and the overenthusiastic are indeed born in sin but it is the parents who face fines and goal and occasionally chemical castration. Legal disapproval is at least not vented on the helpless issue by a social system that has raised contraception almost to the status of a competitive art form.

From the AvoNova paperback edition, 1992.

This novel was chosen as a New York Times Notable Book of the Year.

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This page and its contents are copyright © 1996-2001 by Perry Middlemiss, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.

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Last modified: March 25, 2001.