Western Australia mining
(Image: AAP/Alan Porritt)

When I was a 19-year-old feral would-be poet writing for the University of Western Australia’s student newspaper, the editor gave me a book that remains one of my greatest comic influences.

It was the self-published speculative fiction novel titled something like Hesperia (Latin for “land looking west” and first governor James Stirling’s placeholder name for the new colony) written by a Peppy Grove toff and paid for and printed in bulk using the kind of money that is only thrown away by the old style landed gentry.

Other than reading like a nine-year-old’s take on a Tom Clancy novel, the book cracked me up because it was a relatively in-depth look at what would happen if Western Australia seceded, replete with scenes of mining barons turned warlords and a hilariously on-the-nose chapter where the CIA tries to sell our protagonist/author-stand-in nukes.