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The Courier's New Bicycle

3.70  ·  Rating details ·  138 ratings  ·  39 reviews
Join Salisbury Forth on twenty adrenaline-fuelled days as a courier of contraband in the alleyways of inner Melbourne, a city of rolling power outages, fuel rationing and curfews.

Life’s stressful, post-pandemic: a vaccine dispensed Australia-wide has caused mass infertility and people are scrambling for cures. This would be fine for the hormone business, except the new gov
Paperback, 327 pages
Published 2011 by HarperVoyager
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3.70  · 
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 ·  138 ratings  ·  39 reviews

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Thoroughly enjoyed this one.
In the near future, the vaccination for a type of bird flu has gone wrong and most people are now infertile. The Government is now lead by an ultra right-wing, religious party which has banned any type of fertility drugs for being unnatural. They have also implemented many other draconian laws This has lead to an underground world of chemists and gangs dealing with all things now illegal.
Set in inner Melbourne, the centre of the city has become an underground slum of
Dec 01, 2011 rated it liked it
Not being one for speculative fiction, this isn't a book that I would have sought out, even with its cross-genre aspects. However, THE COURIER'S NEW BICYCLE was being talked about a lot by my fellow Sisters in Crime and, I'm not completely opposed to the occasional foray outside my comfort zone, so all in all the recommendations seemed like a good enough reason to try it out.

It did take a little while to work out the style of the book. Westwood has developed a laid back, ironic, almost gentle so
Nov 05, 2011 rated it liked it
I'm conflicted over reviewing this book, as there was a lot to love about it, but overall it really didn't set my world on fire. I wanted to like it more than I did, but that may be more due to my tastes than any fault of the author.

The story is set in a dystopic future. I love 'verses like this that are connected closely to our own, but with some twist. It's why i love Mira grant's Newsflesh series. In Westwood's vision for the near future, a vaccine for a bird flu has caused widespread inferti
Mark Webb
Dec 16, 2011 rated it really liked it
This review forms part of my contribution to the Australian Women Writers 2012 Reading Challenge.

The Courier's New Bicycle by Kim Westwood was a very interesting read. It is set in Melbourne, Australia in a near future where the Australian population has become almost entirely sterile as an unintended consequence of a hastily rolled out mass vaccination program for a new strain of avian flu. A new ultra nationalist/ultra conservative/ultra religious party called Nation First has used the crisis
S.B. Wright
Apr 24, 2012 rated it really liked it
The Courier’s New Bicycle is Kim Westwood’s second novel and its nice and compact at 327 pages. Playing wonderfully to my own biases and beliefs, Westwood has taken some of my dark fears and made a scary reality of them.

The World

The world of The Courier’s New Bicycle is a near future Melbourne. Australia is in the midst of a fertility crises caused by a compromised H1N1 vaccine. The population is largely infertile and while several fertility companies sprang up to deal with the crisis, a swing
Dec 27, 2014 rated it really liked it
I'm really disappointed this book isn't better known (and more easily available - with secondhand paperback copies thin and expensive on the ground and the publisher only offering it as print on demand or Kindle.)

I found out about the story through a talk on Australian science fiction where a panelist discussed the basic premise and I thought it sounded amazing - and it certainly didn't disappoint. Australian SF writers need to be better known, and this one is important because it is set in Melb
I got a copy of this science fiction novel set in Melbourne after hearing about it on Galactic Suburbia (I now have a "Galactic Suburbia" tag for books that fit into this category) and enjoyed it very much. Westwood envisions a dark, oppressive future, where a virus has drastically reduced fertility rates, and created a thriving black market in hormones. Salisbury Forth is a bicycle courier for one of the ethical hormone companies, and when dodgy hormones start turning up on the street purportin ...more
Helen Merrick
Mar 30, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: aww2012
Totally deserving of its Tiptree shortlisting, this book does some pretty amazing things with gender - not least of which is to re-politicise the notion of androgyny as transgressive.

I also loved the world-building and the way the queer themes are absolutely central to the political and environmental upheavals that have happened in this near-future. Finally I loved the friendship networks surrounding Sal - for many of the characters, family might be crap, but it is replaced by a family of frien

TRIGGER WARNINGS: substance use, violence, ableism, religious & political oppression, kidnapping

What the hell is the nonsense of positivity towards the Salvation Army? They don't care about queer people. No turn of events in some future setting will ever change that. They demanded and received a federal exception in Australia so they could discriminate against gay people when hiring staff. They've said queer people will burn in hell. I've even heard stories of them disc
Sep 12, 2017 rated it did not like it
The story is very depressing. We have mean christians, animal rights activists, boy racers, red light district violence, illegal growth hormone, flu pandemic aftermath, electric power crisis, and desperate people with power lurking within conspiracies.
I’d heard a lot about this book and how much people had enjoyed it, but not specifically what it was about, so I headed into the story of Salisbury Forth without a lot of background knowledge. I found myself in a post-pandemic Melbourne, where a side-effect of a vaccine – sterility – has led to an uprising of the overly and outwardly pious who have banned artificial hormones and labelled those who don’t fit into neat little packages as ‘transgressors’. Adding in rolling power outages and power r ...more
Deborah Ideiosepius
This was an unexpected pleasure to read, I am always pleased to find novels set in places I have lived and the author clearly knows Melbourn very well and uses the city as an efective character in the novel.

Our main courier is a bicycle courier in a dystopian Melbourn where fuel is gone, disease has wiped out a lot of the population and infertility is the major concern of most of the remaining population. Politically, the city (Country? never stated) is in the grip of a heavily religious prohibi
May 05, 2012 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Forth by: Hares & Hyenas bookshop
Being an avid cyclist, a transwoman, having the name "Forth" and living in Melbourne, I really had to have this book. It turns out that Salisbury isn't trans per se. Ze's thoroughly genderqueer and possibly intersex though so ze's a gender diverse sharacter who's portrayed sympathetically and with whom I identified in a great many ways.

Kim Westwood's post-pandemic Melbourne is enormous fun to peer at, especially for someone who lives in that city. The novel isn't quite cyberpunk but it does the
Annabel Smith
The Courier’s New Bicycle is a speculative fiction, set in a vaguely recognisable version of Melbourne. In the wake of a flu-pandemic and a vaccine which has rendered most of the world’s population infertile, an ultra-right-wing government has come to power, outlawing fertility treatments and surrogacy and marginalising sex and gender non-conformists.

In the underbelly of this repressed society, self-described ‘genderbent’ Salisbury is a bicycle courier, delivering contraband fertility treatments
Daniel Taylor
Imagine a dystopic future where the religious right have won out and strike terror into anyone who doesn't fit their idea of what's acceptable to God.

Against that backdrop throw Salisbury Forth, a gender-transgressive, who is a courier for an ethical illegal drug dealer. It seems someone has a vendetta against the drug dealer and Sal needs to solve the mystery or go down with the ship.

I had to push past the first twenty pages before I started to get into it. Once I did, I could see it's a simila
Shane Nixon
Feb 24, 2013 rated it liked it
A novel set in a dystopian theocratic future Melbourne. Throw in some gender politics, a little action and post pandemic infertility you have the makings of an intriguing tale. For the most part the story moves along at a nice clip but the societal changes and some of characters nagged at my suspension of disbelief. The theocracy is not quite plausible for this close to current day Australia. The baddies are almost caricatures and the ethical hormone/drug dealers seem too good to be true - like ...more
Helen Venn
Apr 07, 2014 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Readers of adult science fiction
There's much to like in The Courier's New Bicycle (although some may find the first person present POV challenging at times). Westwood has created a dark, dystopian society with a well realised underworld populated by a mix of those who don't fit in society for many reasons and Salisbury is an engaging protagonist. She walks a difficult path due to her gender identity but that is only part of the story and there's not a whiff of stereotyping anywhere.

I can see why The Courier's New Bicycle has
Ben Rowe
If you dont live in Australia then you either need a lot of luck, have Aussie connections or go to quite a bit of effort to get a copy of this but if you do you will be very glad you did.

It makes no sense to me at all why this is not available at least as an ebook outside of Australia. I would say this is one of the most important and effective SF books in the last decade. It is a lot of fun, its accessible and it has plenty of fresh ideas.

A few small critisisms dropped it a star but this is an
Kirstyn McDermott
Apr 03, 2012 rated it really liked it
Marvellous to see some top quality Australian science fiction, and even more so to see a genderqueer narrator done with such grace and style.

For an in depth review and discussion of The Courier's New Bicycle, please listen to my podcast,The Writer and the Critic, episode 16.
Ju Transcendancing
This is my third book reviewed as part of the Australian Women Writer's Challenge for 2012. I've reviewed this over at my blog The Conversationalist: The Courier's New Bicycle by Kim Westwood.

Note: This review is safe from spoilers.
Dec 28, 2011 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed this book greatly, for Ms Westwood's solid writing, her well-imagined dystopian near-future Melbourne and her use of trans* and genderqueer characters. However, as a mystery, it is a touch too predictable with a few too many coincidences. Many readers, like myself, will thoroughly enjoy it despite this, but mystery-lovers should be warned!
Oct 21, 2012 rated it really liked it
With all the awards and nominations it was hard to let curiosity pas this up for so long, and admittedly at the beginning I found it quite hard to get into. But as soon as I adjusted the Melbourne I knew, to the Melbourne that could be, it raced along and left me with a scary view of a possible political future.
May 07, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fantasy
Tells a reasonable story, but the timescale for beliefs to have changed is just not credible.
Really hung up on this gender-bender, lesbian thing -- but with no logical foundation within the work.
Disappointed greatly.
The reader is forced to suspend belief too often, without any benefit.
Should be reworked; should not have passed through editing in such a state.
Aug 28, 2015 rated it liked it
While I respected all of the themes in this book I was a little disappointed in the delivery. Many of the characters were wooden and cartoony and dialog was a bit forced. maybe too much emphasis was put on the themes and not enough work on characterisation.
Nov 24, 2011 marked it as to-read
Daughters of Moab was too depressing for me to finish, so I was a bit wary of picking up this one. But Galactic Suburbia and the Westwood story in Anywhere But Earth have convinced me to give it a go!
Jennifer Rolfe
Nov 27, 2011 rated it really liked it
This is a Sci-Fi set in Melbourne which I really loved. Set in post-pandemic period the main character is a bike courier delivering contraband. I loved the characters and the book flowed. The ending was a bit predictable.
Keith Stevenson
Dec 08, 2011 rated it really liked it
Literary and globally politically aware but never preachy or stuffy. Kim has done a fantastic job in creating a near future world crime noir story that mixes gender politics, animal rights and violent intent. A great second novel.
Jan 18, 2014 rated it really liked it
Very much enjoyed this. Easy read, interesting main character, lovely prose.
Jan 24, 2013 rated it really liked it
I wasn't sure I was going to like this at first, but then I did, and then suddenly it was done. A beautiful, thought-provoking book.
Oct 21, 2012 rated it liked it
Wow, here's a book that can't be judged by it's cover; transgender Melbourne in a post-birdflu-vaccine-sterility-causing future.
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