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 work, 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 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.
Mariah’s Dream by Grace Bridges.
Review by Lee Murray
I read Mariah’s Dream quickly last year, when it appeared on the 2015 Sir Julius Vogel Awards ballot, but because there was a lot of material on the reading list, I didn’t get around to reviewing it, which meant I’ve now the pleasure of reading it a second time. And the second time around, Mariah’s Dream is as satisfying and thought-provoking as the first.
Grace Bridges’ dystopic tale is set in a near future, in Ireland, where history is repeating itself and the people of Belfast are dying of starvation. The crops fail, this time by design, when a ‘terminator gene’ is introduced by a government regime as a means to oppress the people. Mariah has already lost her mother, her brother is mouldering in a work camp, and now, on the eve of a breakthrough which might save them all, her best friend is being deported by the regime. Amid the turbulence, outspoken and resourceful Mariah becomes the unwitting leader of the Guild, a group which just might turn out to be the world’s best chance of survival.
Here is the information about the Short Story Competition to be held in conjunction with this year’s national science fiction and fantasy convention, Reconnaissance. From the convention committee:
It is the 5th of November 2015 AD.
The Sun rose at 7am and will set at 4:27pm this afternoon.
On the grassed area outside your factory office window, workers have unearthed a small wooden chest in the trench they are digging which they bring in and set on your desk. There is a padlock still slung to the latch, but it was broken long ago. A brass plate attached to the chest reads “2357AD”
It’s Full Steam Ahead for Reconnaissance the 36th New Zealand National Science Fiction and Fantasy Convention to be held in Rotorua at Easter 2015.
Co-chair Andrew says it will be exciting to have many attendees “Punked-Up” in their finest Steam Punk wares to welcome their Guests of Honour – Gail Carriger, Philippa Ballantine and Tee Morris, Award winning and NY Times top ten best selling authors who will be attending the convention at the Sudima Lake Rotorua.
Marie Williams co-chair from Bookwormz Bookshop in Papatoetoe Auckland agrees, adding it’s been too long since a National Convention (NatCon) was held in Rotorua.
Want your say on how literature is supported and developed in New Zealand? Take some time to submit a response to the Creative New Zealand review, or fill out their online questionnaire. Submissions close early November. Link here.
At least a dozen of our members have stories appearing in this Christmas anthology for children to be released on 12 November in Wellington.
PRE-ORDER YOUR COPY, SUPPORT THE MUSCULAR DYSTROPHY ASSOCIATION OF NZ, AND HELP THIS PROJECT SPRING TO LIFE.
The Best of Twisty Christmas Tales—31 children’s stories by 27 authors, including international best-sellers Joy Cowley, David Hill and Dave Freer.
What will Santa put under your tree this Christmas? A present that growls? Or one that smiles? The Best of Twisty Christmas Tales – crazy Christmas adventures for the whole family! Christmas in outer space or at the beach, havoc in Santa’s workshop, monsters running amok, and mad scientists who turn Christmas into chaos. Come along for the sleigh ride of your life. These Twisty Tales will weave their festive magic, whipping across NZ pastures, scattering fairy dust on the way to a Christmas BBQ!