This chapter discusses the history of popular fiction in Australia. The question of place has always been central to Australian fiction, not only as a thematic element but also as a critical or political preoccupation. In part, this is because popular fiction writers, wanting to attract broad audiences, either exploited their Australian content to appeal to international readers or have excised the local to produce a generic and thus more readily accessible setting for outsiders. The chapter considers works by popular fiction writers who adopt a range of positions in relation to their focus on place, but often tackle many different aspects of Australian social and historical change. These novels cover various genres such as crime fiction, historical fiction and romance, science fiction and fantasy, and include Fergus Hume's The Mystery of a Hansom Cab (1886), Nevil Shute's On the Beach (1957), Damien Broderick's The Dreaming Dragons (1980), and Cecilia Dart-Thornton's The Ill-Made Mute (2001).
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