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!
Te Kōrero Ahi Kā – An Extract from the Diary of Peter MackenzieBy Daniel Stride An Extract from the Diary of Peter Mackenzie (which originally had “with the permission of the Hocken Library” in the title!) was born out of a desire to write a monster story. Not just any monster story: I wanted something with a decidedly New Zealand flavour, which immediately suggested the involvement of a taniwha. The big issue then was deciding where (and when) to set the piece. I did a fair amount of research on the traditions of the Whanganui River for that purpose, until I stumbled upon a completely useless little bit of trivia: there were plans over a century ago to expand the (now-closed) Kurow Branch of the New Zealand Railways inland. Those plans came to nothing, and the Branch terminus remained at Hakataramea… which inspired my idea of using a Waitaki taniwha to “explain” this mysterious failure. Having a background in academic History (and old-school horror) did the rest, so you end up with editorial commentary, “permission” from the Hocken Library (I’m a Dunedinite), and the allusion to Seacliff Lunatic Asylum – itself a creepy little bit of Otago history that I might do something with at some point. There is also an historical in-joke in the form of the horse being named Sir John (it is up to the reader to decide if the reference to the legendary Minister of Lands is affectionate or mocking). I went with a diary format because I felt a comparatively archaic mode was a good fit for the late nineteenth century, a time period not quite alien in its psychology, yet not quite modern. And it’s a horror story, damn it: a diary – the literary equivalent of a found-footage film – is a perfect way of covering a doomed protagonist. After that, the story rather wrote itself.
Te Kōrero Ahi Kā
By Darian Smith
I’ve been thrilled to be able to participate in the creation of Te Korero Ahi Ka, and am very proud to show this collection of excellent New Zealand speculative fiction to anyone who might be interested in seeing what our country has to offer in the realms of fantasy, science fiction, and horror.
There’s something unique about the voice of this section of the world and I love being part of it.
The story I contributed was a reprint which had won a competition SpecFicNZ in conjunction with www.wilywriters.com a few years ago. It’s one I’m particularly proud of and blends a multi-hued pasifika-style setting with the concept of magic as its own entity. In this story, magic is an almost living thing – the star cloak – that seeks the right person to wield it. The main character is a man who once wore the star cloak and controlled its magic but lost it. I wanted to explore the concept of power corrupting and that many of our best lessons in life are learned from loss and failure.
Te Kōrero Ahi Ka: The Iron Wahine
By Matt Cowens
I love the idea of giant bugs. The Mist by Stephen King is among my favourite stories, and I fondly remember a post-apocalyptic science fiction roleplaying game where the rag-tag gang I was part of was lead by a twelve-foot-tall cybernetic praying mantis. Te Papa’s recent Bug exhibit was a total delight. Closely behind the giant bug for entertainment value is the giant robot, the sword-wielding, flying, humanoid defender of humanity. From classic anime to recent blockbusters the giant robot has also been a source of joy for me.
by Grace Bridges
For a number of years now, I have dreamed of making a SpecFicNZ anthology showcase. Although I’ve been on the Core committee for almost 6 years, and president for most of those, the time was not yet right to launch the project – so I honed my publishing skills and worked on other anthologies such as Aquasynthesis, Avenir Eclectia, and Alter Ego as well as editing dozens of novels in the intervening years.
Last year, when we discussed the idea, the Core was enthusiastic and committed to standing behind our members in this new, shared use of our assigned Publishing Grant fund. And so began the task of getting people into place. An early reshuffle meant that I was unexpectedly but not unwillingly handed the project management as a whole. Lee Murray stood ready, an ever-professional and reliable backup on the editing team; and Paul Mannering volunteered to herd the cats i.e. administrate the submissions and handle the financial side. It only remained to choose a mentee editor from the applicants, and for this Aaron Compton got on board.
TE KORERO AHI KA
edited by Grace Bridges, Lee Murray and Aaron Compton
Review by Simon Litten
Te Korero Ahi Ka is a collection of works by members of Speculative Fiction New Zealand. The collection is of both new works and reprints, but the new works predominate. This is neither a themed anthology nor a collection of one particular author, rather it is a showcase of the variety of short stories (and occasional art work) produced by the members of Speculative Fiction New Zealand. To that end the collection is a very mixed bag with science fiction, fantasy, horror, poetry and even to my eye at least a non-genre work. Given that breadth of content what can one say about such a collection?
Reporter Mark Peters of the Gisborne Herald talks with Te Kōrero Ahi Kā co-editor Aaron Compton.
Science fiction fans in for a treat with anthology featuring local author.
When people come to the end of their lives their brains are resurrected and preserved in bottles, in Gisborne writer Aaron Compton’s story Moa Love.
The story, in which the bottled brains rely on people in the real world for sensory experience, is Compton’s contribution to speculative fiction anthology, Te Korero Ahi Ka (to speak of the home fires burning).
The very New Zealand collection includes a zombie story written in colloquial Kiwi (“I eat heaps of burgers, so I’m slow as,” says the living narrator. “Now I have to be hardout cunning.”), a tale of madness and a taniwha, and another about pigs with AK-47s. Then there is Compton’s story about ancestors’ bottled brains who maintain their sanity by living vicariously through full-bodied people’s sensory experience.
Te Kōrero Ahi Kā contributors Alicia Ponder, Eileen Mueller, and Paul Mannering appear in the Cook Strait News on Tues 22 March, 2018. Article by Jamie Adams.
Te Kōrero Ahi Kā and the Spec Fic Community in New Zealand
By Sally McLennan
Te Kōrero Ahi Kā is a book born from a group. That group is more than our legion of writers, editors, fans and publishers. We are supported by families, film-makers who love our genres by association, and hoteliers who host our conferences. We are supported by those who work to make those conferences happen. I’ve been supported by a friend who came and did housework for me, and walked my dog, so I could write. We are supported by people in every trade and every part of the world: the poor souls who we email with random questions when formulating our work. What is the effect of two moons on a habitable planet? What do you consider the worst way to die? How would you get different coloured sky? These are questions I’ve asked total strangers. Though the work is utterly Kiwi in flavour, notice how gleefully we rope people from other nations into our work even while we invite them into our world.
By Grant Stone
When you spend a good number of years mowing an Auckland lawn you learn a thing or two. Like how quickly things grow. Grass, sure, but the weeds too. Skip a week or two and you have a jungle on your hands. Wait a month and you might want to skip the lawnmower and drive straight down to Hiretown for a chainsaw.
But you can’t complain. Drive an hour or so out of town and get out of your car. Walk for just a few minutes and you can really feel nature pressing in on you. You might think about friends and loved ones. The scar tissue of old arguments you lost, or worse, won for the wrong reasons.
Room Enough for Two
By Piper Mejia
Room Enough for Two explores the balance in relationships; where each person feels that they contribute the most to their shared life. As the protagonist actively improves their first home her hidden resentment towards the man she married grows. But what happiness doesn’t come with a little sacrifice? In a way, this story is a symbol of my own frustrations at the feeling I have too much to do, but never get anything done. My house is always needing repairs, yet I’m too tied to do them myself and economically unable to pay someone else to do them for me. At times, I think that perhaps the key to a happy life is to simplify, starting with the people I live with.
Story Origin: Mother’s Milk.
By Dan Rabarts
Long ago, in an old house on a hill, I remember a tree. It was vast, and full of shadows, and when the wind blew it moaned and creaked and spoke. When I tried to sleep, it was there outside the window, and when I dreamed, it knew. One Guy Fawkes night, there was a bonfire on the front drive, and the flames threw snarling lights among the branches and convinced me the tree really was alive. It loomed over the house, it whispered its hungers.
Below this tree, there was a hole, a former mine shaft, so deep the bottom was lost in shadow, even during the day. Here was a memory of a thing, a place, that scarred the sky and earth alike. A memory which three decades of living in other places and leading other lives had never erased.
By I.K. Paterson-Harkness
Both of my poems in Te Korero Ahi Ka began their lives as flash fiction. My stories have a habit of changing form in that way – from poem to song, from song to prose, from prose to poem – until they finally stick. I suppose the essence of a story can live on in any medium. I wrote Magnetic North for a flash fiction competition, with a “north” theme (didn’t win, obviously!). I remember being fascinated with the idea of magnets always aligning themselves with the Earth’s magnetic field. An uncontrollable tug, part of nature itself. So naturally I wanted to investigate the idea of a person being drawn the same way – how would it happen, and what would the consequences be? The other poem What you wish for was, in comparison, is just a silly idea I had about someone whose mind sometimes conjured what they desired at that moment. Poetry, I find, often shows just a snippet of a life, just a tiny window to look through into a particular moment or situation (as opposed to a full story, with a beginning, middle, end), and this poem is definitely that.
Amazon Paperback and Kindle: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B079QHH1F7
Other ebook sites including Apple and Kobo: https://www.books2read.com/u/mgrdz6
by Mike Reeves McMillan
Gatekeeper, What Toll? is my attempt to write a six-volume epic fantasy in a thousandth of the wordcount, by only writing the scenes that are from the point of view of a key minor character, and implying the remaining 99.9%. After all, we know how these stories go, don’t we? It’s also a tribute to one of my favourite authors, Roger Zelazny, in that it’s set in a sprawling and varied multiverse and centres on characters who can travel between the worlds. Much as New Zealanders learn to travel between cultures, perhaps?