Voiceless by EG Wilson
Review by A.J. Ponder
Adelaide Te Ngawai’s voice is stolen, and not just her voice, her ability to communicate. She knows who infected her, Maunga Richards. But why would Maunga give her Vox Pox?
It’s the worst thing imaginable, especially for a writer, but Adelaide’s brother makes her a device to help her cope, and slowly but surely Adelaide begins to claw her life back. Still, nothing about the illness makes any sense, it’s restricted to a small area, and appears to be a man-made condition. But how? And why? Adelaide is determined to unravel the mystery.
Review: Bound by Alan Baxter
Review by Nix Whittaker
Super action packed well-written story. Easy to read but a little darker than I like my books. Not just that but the swearing and other stuff though realistic to the character’s situation is not my thing.
The story is of Alex Caine a street fighter who can see more than meets the eye. A stranger arrives at one of his fights and we basically fall into a quest/the one trope. I like these kinds of tropes so I thought I would enjoy the story more, especially since it was beautifully written. Unfortunately, I also like my stereotypical completely obvious stories to be peppered with more comedy. Also, I like a story that leans more to being able to pass the Bechdel test. I did like Silhouette. She was fun and witty. I’d recommend this book for male readers though and I admit I like my books geared towards either women or at least gender neutral. This reminded me of Ian Fleming. On the outside the main character looks bad ass and cool but the more you delve into the character you realise that he is shallow. I believe the author was aware of this issue and did try to alleviate this as Alex really doesn’t want to be that stereotypical bad ass.
Review: Ferox by Chris Brausch
Review by Nix Whittaker
If all the teenage dystopian texts had a love child with all the darkest space operas you would get Ferox. It is a little wordy but it is clever so I’ll forgive it its verbose nature.
Set a thousand years in the future where the world is pretty much starving to death and China has taken over New Zealand and made everyone into slaves. We follow the story of a few characters on both side so the conflict. We have the desperate and the pragmatic along with the plain just evil but they are pitched to us the reader in a way that makes us not completely hate them.
Night’s End, Book 3 in the Night’s Champion Series by Richard Parry
Review by Frances Duncan
Night’s End, the final in the Nights Champion trilogy, released the first day of Lexicon. I finished reading it the last day of Lexicon. This feels appropriate as the first two were shortlisted for the Sir Julius Vogel award for Best Novel.
The cast has grown over the series and it’s hard to keep track of everyone. At one point someone appeared and I had no idea who he was till the next scene. There’s someone for everyone; a tough female detective, a powerful young woman, a military woman…do you notice a theme here? There are some guys thrown in too; one of them is even a werewolf (don’t worry there’s a female werewolf too).
At the recent AGM, a number of our Core committee retired, including long-standing Treasurer Immi Paterson-Harkness and our hardworking Secretary, Jean Gilbert. Paul Mannering stood down from the role of President. The organisation would like to thank these colleagues for all the work they have done on our behalf. The incoming Core for 2017-2018 is as follows:
President: Grace Bridges
Treasurer: Paul Mannering
Secretary: Lee Murray
Webmaster: Dan Rabarts
Core: Piper Mejia, Grant Stone, Darian Smith, Woelf Dietrich, Mark English.
Lynelle, when did you get involved in science fiction and fantasy fandom?
I went to my first convention in 1993 – Defcon, with my then-boyfriend (now husband) John Howell. Since then I think I’ve only missed two NZ conventions.
Describe your involvement. In the past. Currently. Does that involvement spill over into your everyday life?
Wow? Where to start? I have chaired two conventions (Cond’Or in 2000 and Icon in 2005) been on the Phoenix Science Fiction club committee since about 2002, and produced the Phoenixine since 2005. I have been involved with SFFANZ since its inception, and administrator of the Sir Julius Vogel Awards since 2003. I guess you could say that with all that, it’s spilled into my everyday life
In recognition of the support of our fan community in encouraging and promoting New Zealand creatives ‒ writers, screenwriters and artists ‒ SpecFicNZ is pleased to announce that it will provide a grant of NZ$300 to the DUFF fund to support delegate Paul Weimer’s attendance at LexiCon New Zealand’s 38th science fiction and fantasy conference which will be held in Taupo from 2-4 June, 2017.
A further NZ$300 grant will go to the FFANZ fund to support New Zealand delegate Lynelle Howell’s attendance at Australia’s speculative fiction convention, Continuum 13, to be held in Melbourne in June 9-12, 2017.
Black Amber: A New Fate & Red Bullets
By Nathan Simpson
(Reviewed by Emma Hart)
For those of us who live in New Zealand, there’s both comfort and surprised delight in spec-fic set in our own country. Nathan Simpson’s Black Amber books start in a world of Vegemite and duvets that will be familiar to many.
Very quickly, however, we’re taken from that world to another, one of magic and medieval weaponry. The books’ central characters, brothers Ricky and Tylor, have come into possession of a mysterious magical artefact, which it appears will compel them to travel from world to world, seeking their own home, leaving every set of attachments they might make along the way. I was reminded of Diana Wynne Jones’s YA novel, The Homeward Bounders.
Auckland Allies, by Mike Reeves-McMillan
Reviewed by Nix Whittaker.
I’m a big fan of stories that represent who we are. I hadn’t realised how important it was to also have stories set in places familiar to us as well. Auckland Allies is set in Auckland where I went to Uni just like Steampunk Sally. The places the Auckland Allies run around is a wallow in nostalgia that was glorious.
Auckland Allies is set in modern times but with people with magic, called practitioners, Tara is a Maker and Sparx is her neighbour. They end up being chased by blokes in black all because Tara did some work for Sally. A mistake on their part as instead of keeping their plans secret they made enemies. Okay, they aren’t powerful enemies but they are resourceful.
Hand of the Trickster by Mike McMillan-Reeves
Reviewed by Nix Whittaker
This is a novella about a band of thieves that have come together to steal a book of questionable safety. Mostly we follow the character Now you see it. He is a a priest of the trickster cult that allows him to conjure up items. They have been commissioned to steal the book by a demon and things get tricky from there.
It took me a while to read this even though it isn’t very long mainly because I’m not a fan of male protagonists but Now is an interesting man with a strong set of rules that fits interestingly with his complete lack of qualms about stealing things.
At SpecFicNZ we’re committed to helping our emerging creatives develop their craft, so we are offering up to ten (10) free manuscript assessments to members on a first-come basis (as funds allow). If you are not a member and would like to become one, information for joining up can be found here. Submissions for this programme must be speculative and can be prose (short story, novella, novel, non-fiction), poetry, or screenplay. In a single attachment (Word, rtf) include up to 6000 words (or the section break falling closest to 6000 words), your synopsis, plus a maximum of two (2) specific questions pertaining to the project that you would like help with. SpecFicNZ will endeavour to pair you with an experienced writer or editor whose work closely aligns with your own. However, if there is a particular member who you would like to have assess your excerpt, feel free to name them and we will do our best to make that happen, although we cannot make any guarantees. The final appraisal will consist of a 2-3 page document (based on the excerpt and synopsis only) with suggestions for strengthening the work to bring it to a publishable standard and might include comment on the structure, character, plot, style, and commercial nature of the project. Depending on the assessor, it may or may not include a line edit. Please note that the assessor’s suggestions may not be exhaustive and may not result in the work achieving publication. In general, appraisals should be completed and returned to you within six weeks of receipt. All forwarded materials will remain the property of the author and will be kept confidential. Send your submission to firstname.lastname@example.org with Manuscript Assessment and your name in the subject line.
At SpecFicNZ it is our mission to promote speculative fiction. To this end, we would love to showcase reader reviews on our website. If you are an author who would like to have your work reviewed, or a reader who enjoys speculative fiction, then we would love to hear from you. General guidelines for the programme are as follows:
While we are happy to promote all speculative fiction, preference will be given to books/ebooks by our members. If you are not a member and would like to join, you can find information about joining here.
Kalanon’s Rising, by Darian Smith
Book One in the Agents of Kalanon Series
Ever since Darian Smith won the SpecFicNZ/Steam Press Manuscript Award, many of us have been waiting less than patiently for the release of Kalanon’s Rising, the first book in his Agents of Kalanon fantasy mystery series. Let me just say, it’s been worth the wait.
Simply put the story goes like this: when the body of the king’s cousin is found mutilated in a local inn, the king calls in his friend, soldier-turned-surgeon, Sir Brannon Kesh, to solve the murder.
The Sleeper’s Dance, Mouse Diver-Dudfield
Reviewed by Lee Murray
Mouse Diver-Dudfield is an exciting new voice in New Zealand dark fiction, whom I stumbled upon by chance via social media. It was a lucky find. I one-clicked her novella, The Sleeper’s Dance and read it that same night before bed. In short, I loved it. A blend of historical fiction and pulp zombie, this is the story you might get if David Livingstone had discovered a new life form amongst the ruins of an Incan civilisation ‒ that is, if Livingstone hadn’t been somewhere in southern Africa at the time. Diver-Dudfield’s particular skill is in the voice of her main character and narrator, Rupert Mendenhall, his gentleman’s account so perfectly academic and matter-of-fact in spite of the calamity his party faces. There is no breathless panic, no thundering of hearts, or stench of blood in the nostrils. And it’s this restraint, this careful pacing of her narrative, which serves to freeze the reader’s blood. Small and perfectly formed, for the cost of a gold coin, The Sleeper’s Dance is a must-read for horror fans.