Australian speculative fiction author Dr Sean Williams has been awarded the 2016/17 Australian Antarctic Arts Fellowship and will travel to Antarctica to research an alternate history novel based on the Heroic era of Antarctic exploration.

Adelaide-based, Dr Williams has published over forty novels and more than one-hundred short stories across numerous genres, primarily science fiction.

He has won numerous literary awards and has written several New York Times bestsellers.

Dr Williams says the novel he proposes to research during his Antarctic Arts Fellowship will depict a meeting of Heroic Antarctic expeditioners and future explorers.

“My novel will explore the encounter between a young Douglas Mawson, other famous Antarctic explorers including Robert Falcon Scott and Ernest Shackleton, and a survivor of H.G. Wells’ The War of the Worlds during a delayed version of the Discovery Expedition,” Dr Williams said.

The 1901–04 British Discovery Expedition launched the Antarctic careers of many who became leading figures in the Heroic Age of Antarctic Exploration.

The British expedition was a celebrated success, despite having needed an expensive relief mission to free Discovery and its crew from the ice.

Australian Antarctic explorer Sir Douglas Mawson, who hailed from Dr Williams’ home state of South Australia, led the first Australasian Antarctic Expedition of 1911–1914 several years after the Discovery expedition.

Tragedy also struck Mawson’s expedition, with two deaths and Mawson’s remarkable survival after falling down a crevasse and making his way back to base alone.

“I have always been interested in the Antarctica as more than just an extreme and utterly unique environment. It’s also a meeting place of people from very different cultures, where conventional notions of empire fail.”

Australian Antarctic Division Director, Dr Nick Gales, said the Australian Antarctic Arts Fellowship provides opportunities for people from the arts or humanities to travel to Antarctica to experience the continent and share that experience through their work.

“Dr Williams is a talented writer who reaches a very wide audience through his highly creative and entertaining works and will strive to spark a passion and enthusiasm for Antarctica among his readers,” Dr Gales said.

Dr Williams has written several original award-winning series as well as six novels set in the Star Wars universe. His short story “All the Wrong Places” won the 2015 Aurealis Award for Best Short Story. A TV show set in the world of his latest series, Twinmaker, is currently in development.

Dr Williams will travel to Casey research station in February 2017.