Some changes to the SpecFicNZ website

Kia ora members and readers, the SpecFicNZ website is currently going through some changes. We have changed our hosting provider, and we will be making some changes to the appearance and functionality of the site over the next few months.

One of the biggest current changes is that we now have a security certificate which means that visitors to should see a little padlock in the browser address bar, which will give members and potential members confidence that the website is secure and that they can enter their details into forms.

During this process you shouldn’t notice any changes – but if you do, please don’t hesitate to email –

You can also share any ideas or requests for tools or materials through the website via that address or in the comments below.

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Featured Work Kiwi Writers Reviews 

A Review of Quest by AJ Ponder

A Review of Quest: Book 1 of the The Sylvalla Chronicles by F Fraderghast (as reported to AJ Ponder)

By Lee Murray

YA science fiction and fantasy specialist, AJ Ponder, has done it again, this time with a story that is less science than her Lily Lionheart and Frankie Files titles and less interactive fiction than her Attack of the Giant Bugs adventure. Instead, Ponder has given us a narrative that is all fantasy (with a bit of alchemy thrown in). QUEST, the first book in Ponder’s Sylvalla Chronicles, is an irreverent and laugh-out-loud spoof on traditional fantasy in the vein of The Princess Bride.

Quest follows the escapades of the highly non-traditional Princess Sylvalla, in her efforts to become a hero (rather than the hapless bride of some pale parody of a prince). Of course, Quest has all the accoutrements we have come to expect in high fantasy: dashing knights, wise (and not so wise) wizards, kings, monsters, dragons, castles, as well as oppressive parents, romantic ideals, and double helpings of betrayal. There is even a nod to New Zealand with the boring ‘cat’ familiar replaced by a canny tuatara.

The story arc is equally epic and includes dramatic escape scenes, devious plots, and a final show-down of David and Goliath proportions. And there’s more, because Ponder is one of those authors able to write a narrative that appeals at two levels, so while Quest is perfect for precocious upper middle grade readers looking for their first fantasy experience, there is a delightfully entertaining subtext to engage adult readers, too. (Check the footnotes, especially). And don’t think because I’ve called it a spoof that Quest ignores important socio-political issues because that isn’t the case. Ponder artfully includes themes of feminism, social justice, and self-identity in Quest, all without clobbering us over the head with them.

Full of great characters and wonderful plot twists, Quest is a book you’ll want to pass around all the family.


Sylvalla escapes Avondale castle, and the life of a princess, in search of the adventure she’s always wanted.

Once found, adventure bites back.

Fortunately Sylvalla is not alone – Unfortunately, her new-found companions are less than heroic. Jonathan would rather make money. Dirk would rather live a long and happy life. And at 150, Old Capro would rather stop gallivanting about and harangue unsuspecting wizard students about his glory days over a nice cup of tea.

Quest has everything, heroes, monsters, chases, escapes and a complete lack of true love.


Available from all the usual sources or direct from the publisher at Phantom Feather Press.

ISBN 978-0-473-45107-3

Publication Date 09/2018


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In the News 

NZ Writers Income Survey

Invitation to NZ Writers:

Copyright Licensing New Zealand is conducting their bi-ennial survey of NZ writers’ incomes and are asking authors who haven’t already done so to please complete the survey so they can report accurate results. Thank you!


“To ensure this survey is representative of the breadth of writing that takes place in New Zealand, we’d like writers of all genres and income brackets to participate.

The survey questions ask for estimations of your earnings from writing.  Please provide the closest estimates that you can. Responses are confidential.”

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Lifetime membership – we need your help

At the last SpecFicNZ AGM, our new lifetime membership policy was ratified. Fortunately no rats were injured, and some seemed to enjoy the experience.

Lifetime memberships are our way of honouring people who have made a huge contribution to speculative fiction in new Zealand (or internationally). These might be people who have created an exceptional body of work, or who have played a major part in nurturing our little corner of the SpecFic universe.

Anyone can be nominated for lifetime membership and nominees don’t need to be current or past members. Only a small number of lifetime memberships will be awarded every year. The SpecFicNZ committee will assess all nominations and announce any new lifetime memberships awarded at the next AGM.

But we can’t do that without you.

Members of SpecFicNZ can make lifetime membership nominations at any time. To nominate, send an email to with a subject of ‘Lifetime Membership’ and the nominee’s name. In the body of the email, tell us about the nominee and why you’d like to see them recognised for their achievements.

The next AGM will be held at GeyserCon, next Queen’s Birthday weekend (May 31st to June 3rd 2019). We’ll remind you closer to the time, but have a think in the meantime and if there’s someone you’d like to nominate, please let us know.

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Kiwi Writers Publication News Resources 

Putting the Science in Fiction

A great new resource for writers will be published next month by Writers Digest. Putting the Science in Fiction is a fabulous collection of articles about scientific topics of interest to authors. Topics are wide-ranging and include biology, medicine, computer science, geology, and space travel, among others. Each article is written by an expert in the field, many of whom also happen to be writers. The collection is edited by Dan Koboldt, and is based on his popular Science in Science in Sci Fi, Fact in Fantasy Blog. While many of the articles in the book are similar to the blog posts, they’ve all been expanded and updated for the book, plus there are some new articles as well.
Best of all, New Zealand makes a great showing in Putting the Science in Fiction; four of the 59 articles were written by Kiwis! Christchurch-based authors Judy Mohr and Robinne Weiss each contributed two articles to the book. Way to go NZ!
Putting the Science in Fiction is available for pre-order now, and will be released on 16 October.
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Podcast. Does that sound interesting?

Kia ora, in the SpecFicNZ Core we have been talking about creating a podcast about speculative fiction and related interests with a New Zealand focus.

There are loads of podcasts out there, but not one that specifically promotes our members and their interests.

If you would like to:

  • Help create the podcast, either behind or in front of the mic.
  • Be interviewed on the podcast.
  • Support the podcast in some other way.

Then flick an email to

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Genre-8: Flights of Fantasy (Dunedin)


Dunedin Public Libraries poster for Genre-8 event
Genre-8: Flights of Fantasy


As the poster says: come along to the Dunedin Public Library’s fourth floor at 5pm on Thursday the 11th October for a chance to hear eight local Fantasy fiction writers read from and discuss their works, and ask questions. There will even be free books!

Featured writers are:

Andy Evans

Carolyn McCurdie

Daniel Stride

Deb E Howell

Jayne Castel

Kura Carpenter

RL Stedman

Sean P Martin

Each writer will read/speak for around eight minutes, plus time for some questions.


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In the News Reviews 

The Kingfisher’s Debt by Kura Carpenter (a review)

Of course Dunedin is the home of Fair Folk and Elementals in the middle of a never ending feud. Where else could they hide in plain sight among the lesser humans? Of course they are casting spells and causing trouble. Like any other notorious crim’ on the East Coast they have a reputation to uphold. Of course they expect the worst but hope for the best. With power comes responsibility. Debut novel The Kingfisher’s Debt by Kura Carpenter, is an escape into the life of Tamsin Kingfisher as she helps to untangle a culture crossing crime while dealing with the issue of solstice messing up her magic. Woven throughout the novel is the heartache of her own Romeo and Juliet love story as well as her search for her missing beloved older brother. Tamsin adds nuance to the meaning of a busy working woman fulfilling family responsibility, hiding family secrets and getting the job done. With clever reimagining of witches as gang members, magic as the drug for sale, and poetic touches of what lives look like on the line between good and evil, Kura brings us a touch of ‘if only’ in Aotearoa. I can’t wait to read what happens next.

Want to know more, visit

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Into the Sounds In the News Kiwi Writers Reviews 

Into the Sounds by Lee Murray

Into the Sounds 

Into the SoundsNZDF Sergeant Taine McKenna is back again. This time, it’s not a military assignment, but a bit of R&R that draws him deep into the bush in New Zealand’s remote Fiordland. His girlfriend Jules Asher, always keen to save an endangered species, is on a conservation trip again – this time, culling deer. They helicopter in, rappel down into the bush and make a series of strange discoveries… a survivor from an ancient helicopter crash; poachers stealing rare New Zealand birds; an ex-US-military submarine lurking in the depths of a fiord; and a long-lost New Zealand race — the Tūrehu tribe. But there’s a primordial monster lurking beneath the depths, protecting the entrance to the Tūrehu hideout.

When mercenaries decide that trading people will be more lucrative than trading birds, and that culling anyone standing in their way is fair game, Taine McKenna has his work cut out.

Murray’s thriller deftly weaves heart-pounding action, Māori mythology, science, and the rage of an untamable monster into a tension-filled story that cannot be put down.

I only have one question: when will Murray’s next book, Into the Ashes, be out?

I want to join Taine and Jules on their next adventure.

Into the Sounds Back Cover Copy

On leave, and out of his head with boredom, NZDF Sergeant Taine McKenna joins biologist Jules Asher on a Conservation Department deer culling expedition to New Zealand’s southernmost national park, where soaring peaks give way to valleys gouged from clay and rock, and icy rivers bleed into watery canyons too deep to fathom. Despite covering an area the size of the Serengeti, only eighteen people live in the isolated region, so it’s a surprise when the hunters stumble on the nation’s Tūrehu tribe, becoming some of only a handful to ever encounter the elusive ghost people.

But a band of mercenaries saw them first, and, hell-bent on exploiting the tribes’ survivors, they’re prepared to kill anyone who gets in their way. A soldier, McKenna is duty-bound to protect all New Zealanders, but after centuries of persecution will the Tūrehu allow him to help them? Besides, there is something else lurking in the sounds, and it has its own agenda. When the waters clear, will anyone be allowed to leave?

Into the Sounds is the sequel to Into the Mist

(hover over the titles for links, or see below)

Praise for Into the SoundsLee Murray, NZ author, Into the Mist

“Murray pretty much nails small unit tactics.”

— Justin Coates, author of The Apocalypse Drive

​“A fantastic blend of military fiction, a very real primordial monster, and powerful mythology.”

—  Paul Mannering, author of Hard Corps, Hell’s Teeth, and Eat

“Taine McKenna’s latest foray leads him again into the forests of New Zealand, this time accompanying a small group of conservationists evaluating the status of endangered species. But what they find goes far beyond any of their expectations and leads them to violent conflicts and a blood-thirsty band of plunderers set to exploit the new find. And something else. Something huge and voracious and virtually unbeatable. Murray does a beautiful job in combining New Zealand landscapes with strong characters, both native and otherwise. Her writing is, as always, clear and direct, especially in her handling of Maori terms readers might not be familiar with. I highly recommend this book to those interested in action, military adventure, conservation and its inherent dangers, and, perhaps most of all, tales of cryptozoology.”

—  World Horror Master, Michael Collings

​“…the author’s greatest strengths lie in her characters, and her ability to show us all the land she loves.”

—  Sci-fi and Scary

​“A captivating thrill-ride, deftly combining science, action, folklore, and fun characters; exciting and believable.”

—  Christine Morgan, author of White Death

​“Cinematic and evocative, Into the Mist is a tension-packed expedition into primordial terror.
Murray’s writing had me feeling the damp of the forest, seeing the mist curling through the fern fronds, and sensing the danger lurking there. Ancient myths, military men and scientists placed in remote, primordial locations – it had all the right ingredients for me, and it didn’t disappoint for a moment. Lee Murray is an author to watch.”

—  Greig Beck, best-selling author of the Arcadian series

Amazon links

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A view of a used and battered spaceship Kiwi Writers 

NZ Poetry Week: Members’ Poems (Part 3)

A view of a used and battered spaceship
Spaceship by Ian Brown – Creative Commons BY2.0

Here are some more of our members’ poems for you today!

Let There Be Stars – A Spacer’s Journal in 13 Parts
Grace Bridges

Day 1, January 9, 2193 (subjective Earth time)
crisp crescent moon dips towards unseen void
there is no horizon to stop the sky
Centers of gravity shifting, ever shifting
I tumble about in low-G and learn
my body is a stranger crawling the walls
This desert of night has stolen the world
and we the only oasis of light
hurled ahead into the endless night
In a shipload of partygoers
I dream alone

Day 2
it is black
not even a sliver of bright pierces to my windowless bunk
but the dark, it is not silent
it fdgets like a living thing
with shudders and sighs
and rumblings from the bowels of the ship
the sense of direction in my head, it is confused
it thinks we move backwards
so I face that way and wonder if
travelers of old on the sea felt something like this
my spin and thrust is their pitch and yaw
there is no dawnlight to wake us in this metal den
day comes with the measure of hours
and I rise and pitch myself to a place with a window.

~Read the rest at Common Oddities Speculative Fiction Sideshow, Autumn 2015 (PDF, page 16)
Award-winning author.  Editor, mentor, President @SpecFicNZ & Chair @GeyserCon_NZ. Cat Rescue. Art. Fandoms.

Deryn Pittar

Under the kiss of the purple moon
we sip galleymops as the Kreigle herds pass.
Their annual migration from cradle to crest
flows like a wave of flannel and fur,
a fast flowing ribbon of warm breathing flesh
to succour our captors’ desires.

The swallowing sands, a plethora of grains,
call to me with their gravely song.
The morning’s twin suns will warm the chill
and I, my love, must return to my ship
to seek and conquer the Bastadills.

To crisscross and hunt the barren plains
quartering hills, searching for water,
the lifeblood we need in this place without rain.

Deep in the shards of stalagmite pinnacles
protected by roaring Hessles and Quonts,
their treasure defended with deadly belches
they fight us to shelter their liquid wealth.

The blue planet calls, its cry rips our hearts,
stuck as we are on this murderous outpost.
A remnant of race, our memories fading,
we pine for the past we have lost.

We fight them, they fool us,
we’re cunning, they’re more so.
Intrepid travellers, a brief trip planned here
now we are delicacies, penned in by fear.

The Bastadills farm us, fear us and kill us,
the machines we have saved keep them at bay.
Drink up your galleymop, a toast to the Kreigles,
while they are breeding we live another day.

~Deryn writes Sci-Fi (Romance and serious stuff), Young Adult, short fiction and poetry. 
Deryn’s books in these genres are available at 

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Paint bounces on a speaker Kiwi Writers 

NZ Poetry Week: Members’ Poems (Part 2)

Continuing our posting of members’ poems, here are some more for you to enjoy…

Dead Air
Grant Stone

If you have a speaker, copper wire, a handful of transistors
and the bones from a dead man’s ears
you can make a kind of radio.
Take it to the graveyard, up and down the dial-
-mostly static, but if you listen close
you can hear the whispers of those gone.
Do not cry
or speak
or make any sound at all:
if you can hear the ghosts, they can hear you too.

Your living voice will draw them like a flame-
they will follow you home to hear you talk

And tell their friends
until the air is so thick with them
that you cannot breathe.
Say nothing.

~First published in Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine.
Grant Stone’s stories have appeared in Shimmer, Strange Horizons, Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine, Semaphore and have twice won the Sir Julius Vogel Award. He’s also one-third of the Cerberus Writing Band, along with Dan Rabarts and Matthew Sanborn Smith.


Deryn Pittar

The whisky has got me tight in its thrall,
Today’s rude surprises I can clearly recall.
I need to do something drastic and brave
and give up the booze, ‘cause my mind’s blown away.

(A day’s worth of thinking: it must be the drinking)

A snake that twirled on the back of a goat,
a dragon that snorted out thick purple smoke.
Thirteen chickens that danced in a circle
and a rat that rode on a spider called Myrtle

(I know what you’re thinking: I should curb my drinking)

Fairies in gumboots, pink pigs with large wings,
an axe-wielding coon-cat and a rabbit that sings.
Four men on a see-saw, no clothes on- no shame,
they danced up and down, not a stitch to their name.

(The neighbours are thinking: I have to stop drinking.)

Then yesterday evening without any warning,

three burly policemen, with helmets, came calling.
They recited a list, had I seen any sign
of all of the above, or one at a time?

So it wasn’t the booze and it isn’t my mind,
just a passing-through circus from planet De-Vine.
Through a hole in the ozone they escaped without keepers,
but I will change my nightcap to fresh lime and bitters.

~Deryn writes Sci-Fi (Romance and serious stuff), Young Adult, short fiction and poetry. 
Deryn’s books in these genres are available at 

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Globe suspended amidst rings and stars, Universal Studios, Orlando, Florida Kiwi Writers 

NZ Poetry Week: Members’ Poems (Part 1)

It’s NZ Poetry Week! Here are some speculative poems by our members. Enjoy!

Immi Paterson
Magnetic North

My entire life I had the feeling that I
had to arrive
at this precise point.
It’s not on a map, it slides about—
that’s something not often known—
but still, it is an exact location
at any given moment in time:
Magnetic North.

From the North Pole all roads lead south.
If you stand there, right on that spot,
the Earth spins at your feet.
That’s not where I am.
I’m on the ever-shifting position in which
Earth’s magnetic field points directly
I’m at the mercy of the molten core
roiling away beneath me.

I was born different,
sixteen kilos and premature.
My mum stopped heaving me to her hip when I was
five months old.
When I was nine, we did a science project
at school, involving magnets.
They clung to my hands; I couldn’t pull them off.
I cried as the family doctor wrenched them from me,
ripping my skin.

They learned I had an inconceivably high iron count.
They said I was a danger
to myself, they said
I was safer, staying with them, for testing.
They found that, like a piece of iron,
when placed within a strong magnetic field
I became magnetised.
But what they didn’t expect
was that the effect was permanent.

Inside the hospital walls, the strain was relentless.
Every metallic object hungered for me,
and I for it, so
even in the rain and sleet of winter,
tucked within the scarves and mittens my mum sent me,
I paced the wide yard.
It was strange, but each day I’d unconsciously find myself
pressed against the wooden fence
facing a field of corn with the sun setting to my left.
I yearned for North.

At eighteen, I left that place.
I couldn’t take planes; I interfered with their systems.
I’ve caught bus, train, boat,
I’ve walked.
I’ve zigzagged across the Pacific, to Japan, and up through Russia,
stopping only briefly, speaking to no one.
For years, I’ve journeyed with a force
beyond my control
urging me to continue.

And finally,
here I am.
Magnetic North.
Mum will be beside herself back home.
She begged me not to come;
she hung to my arm, crying, and I
pushed her from me, like everything else.
All my life gone,
for a pure desert of endless ice and sky,
for nothing.

But now that I’m here I doubt that I’ll ever
be able to drag myself away.

~Magnetic North and other poetry by Immi Paterson can be found in the SpecFicNZ publication, Te Kōrero Ahi Kā


Globe suspended amidst rings and stars, Universal Studios, Orlando, Florida
Globe by Travis Wise – Creative Commons BY/2.0


Piper Mejia
The sounds of evolution


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Anthologies Calls for Submission Cons Contests 

GeyserCon Fiction & Art Contest is Live!


All you wanted to do was go to GeyserCon: the 40th New Zealand National Science Fiction and Fantasy Convention in Rotorua. But when you get there, you find that strange things are afoot. Some tall guy in the gaming room insists that he really is an elven prince; a famous redshirt impersonator has mysteriously vanished, and some of the kids are gone too. Meanwhile, local police are called to explain to a fabulously-dressed Space Marine that he can’t carry guns on a public street, even if they’re fake – but they do look ultra-realistic. Hmm!

The geyser behind the hotel goes off again, as it does nearly every hour. In the blink of an eye, you think you see people disappearing, appearing – not the same people. With every eruption, it seems like there are more Regency ladies and deerstalker-wearing detective types than ever before – and less normals.
Then – whoosh – you blink and find YOU are somewhere else. In a storyworld. A magical forest with people wondering where their prince got to? A combat spaceship missing its captain? Derbyshire, or Baker Street? It’s your decision. GeyserCon is full of worlds…

Your story can follow a present-day person into a storyworld, or a fictional person into the real world, or a team-up of both, or any strange thing happening in Rotorua that weekend, where fiction might spill over into reality. Take it any direction you like…What if the person who ended up on the spaceship was dressed as a wizard…or a fake space captain?

For copyright purposes, your stories may not name any specific fictional characters unless they are general (like elves or little green men or anything that has become common), fairytale, mythological, or out of copyright (like Sherlock; please do your research and make sure). You MAY refer to them in non-specific ways, such as describing their clothing and character without using copyrighted names.
GeyserWorlds is set in Rotorua. If you don’t know the area, remember that hotels are the same everywhere, and so are urban/suburban streets. Our editors can help with local details as needed; it’s your story that counts.

Short stories including flash fiction, 100 to 5000 words
Poetry, any type, up to 100 lines
Artwork – for the cover or for interior use, 6×9″ at 300DPI

FAMILY-FRIENDLY: All content must be PG

Prizes for 1st, 2nd, 3rd place will be sponsored by SpecFicNZ
All selected entries will be published in GEYSERWORLDS, the GeyserCon 2019 Fundraising Anthology, in print and ebook.

THIS IS A FUNDRAISING COMPETITION. Open to registered members of GeyserCon 2019, including non-attending members. You may purchase non-attending membership and upgrade it later if you decide to come. REGISTRATION IS OPEN AT


Contributors will not be paid; all profits will go towards funding the conference. Contributors will be able to buy copies at cost price. GeyserCon asks only for non-exclusive publication rights. All other rights return to contributors upon publication. Reprints are welcome (though you may need to tweak the details to make it fit). GeyserWorlds will be available globally in print and ebook. By entering, you agree to these conditions.

SEND YOUR SUBMISSIONS TO: geyserworlds at gmail dot com

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Why I write book reviews

Writers read, so why is it so hard to get them to write reviews? Writers have opinions about what they read, so why are they so reluctant to share those opinions in a review? Writers write and the one thing that shows someone has read their work is a review. Often the best review to get is from another writer who has admired their work.

SpecFicNZ is all about authors. What most authors find out the hard way is that finishing their book is just the first step in writing a range of texts; there’s the author bio, the blurb, the 60 second elevator pitch, and the inquiry letter for publication. But the one text that shows there is an audience for their book is a review. We all know that when an author starts out they may not make any money but the best way to get their name out there, to get their work out there, are reviews. Reviews can lift your profile and good reviews can lift your sales.

A few years ago a friend and I were laughing over a review written about a romance between a dinosaur and a cavewoman. We shared this review with our friends and we all debated whether we should pay the .99 cents to read it; just for laughs. That book was only 5000 words long and sold over 100,000 copies so the reviews were important.

SpecFicNZ is here to support our members, who are all writers, to lift their profile and their sales. Once way we can help is by writing reviews. The review process is simple.

  • Let us know you have a book for review (you’ll need to supply a copy)
  • We will assign someone to read your book and write a review, which will be posted to our website, Amazon and any other place we have available for reviews (I always put mine on Goodreads).
  • By requesting a book review you are putting your hand up to read and write a review for another writer (pay it back). But even if you don’t currently have a book for review you can put your hand up to be a reviewer (pay it forward). Darian Smith has a great youtube video on how to write a review.
  • In any given year we would be happy to review up to two books and in return you will be happy to review at least two books.

I like to write reviews because I want to express my opinion about the books I read. I also enjoy reading reviews, I have my favourite reviewers who I follow and read everything they recommend. I am also a writer, and I have found that writing reviews makes me think about my own writing in a critical way to make me a better writer.

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