Here’s the first Editia Prize contender

 Today, we announce that the first of three shortlisted authors in the running for the Editia Prize is Frankie Seymour of Queanbeyan NSW, with her essay Beyond Biosphere. Read on to learn more about Frankie, and read an excerpt from her shortlisted entry.

The judges, book publisher Charlotte Harper, University of Canberra Professor of Journalism Matthew Ricketson, former editor of The Australian Malcolm Schmidtke and broadcaster, author and social commentator Jane Caro, will convene at 2pm this Friday to choose between three works shortlisted for the award.

Tomorrow, we’ll bring you details on the second finalist, and on Thursday, the third … though we’re having some trouble tracking him down so fingers crossed he checks his Twitter messages, voicemail and/or email by then.

Congratulations to all the entrants, not just these final three. The judges have been variously intrigued, amused, entertained, moved and informed as they consumed tales about running with the bulls in Pamplona, dripping with sweat in Japanese business meetings, pioneering in the Whitsundays, exploring polar ice in an all-terrain and all-temperature vehicle, literary touring of Lebanon and the death of an asbestos town among many others. Every entry was worth a read, and many will find their way to publication in time, we’re sure.

The following passage is excerpted from Beyond Biosphere with the permission of the author …

When any new species is introduced to an established ecosystem, it can cause the local extinction of other, resident species – but normally this damage occurs only on a small scale, with minimal long-term impacts on ecological systems. Whenever a foreign species arrives or arises in a healthy, resilient environment, one of three things will happen: it will fail to survive at all; it will settle in with minimal impact; or it will kill off a few resident species while the rest adapt around it. If it survives, it will soon become “naturalised” and, ultimately, any short term loss of biodiversity caused by its arrival will be reversed as new genetic mutations find niches, and new species diversify to fill up the altered ecosystem.

However, this new primate, because of its ability to adapt to new climates and environments without waiting for new genetic mutations, did its damage very quickly, and on a planetary scale. The primate exterminated entire ecosystems to make way for crops and pastures, replaced wild animals, which were functioning components of ecosystems, with domesticated animals which are not. Its settlements monopolised all the best sea and lake shores and river banks, restricting access to the water supply and the best vegetation for any other animal.

More and more of the planet was changed so it no longer served the whole biosphere, but now serviced only the one species. At this point, the species’ genetic selfishness stopped benefitting the biosphere, and began eroding it.

The human primate had become a cancer. As with the cancer in the individual organism, the new species was gradually turning everything on the planet into an extension of itself.  By the Middle Ages, we were a creeping cancer. Nowadays we are a galloping cancer, totally out of control.

About the author

A lifelong human and animal rights advocate, Frankie Seymour studied history, sociology and English literature, with post-graduate studies in environmental science. She spent the first half of a 30-year public service career working for social justice in the (then) Department of Social Security, and the second half analysing and evaluating environmental data in the Department of the Environment. Now retired, she divides her time between animal rights activism and writing. She writes poetry, songs, plays, non-fiction and speculative fiction, and occasionally dabbles in the romance and mystery genres. In 1993, she published an autobiographical account of her voyages aboard the Sea Shepherd in 1981 (All Hearts on Deck). Her work has been commended in more than a score of literary awards and she has had many poems, stories and articles published in local and wider publications.