Anthologies Kiwi Writers SpecFicNZ 

Te Kōrero Ahi Kā – Daniel Stride

Te Kōrero Ahi Kā – An Extract from the Diary of Peter Mackenzie

By 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.
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Te Kōrero Ahi Kā – Darian Smith

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. | Read More...

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Anthologies Flash Fiction Kiwi Writers SpecFicNZ 

Te Kōrero Ahi Ka – Matt Cowens

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. | Read More...

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Grace with a copy of Te Korero Ahi Ka Anthologies Kiwi Writers SpecFicNZ 

TE KŌRERO AHI KĀ – A Dream Long Held

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. | Read More...

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Anthologies Kiwi Writers Reviews 

Te Kōrero Ahi Kā – A Review

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? | Read More...

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Te Kōrero Ahi Kā in the Gisborne Herald

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. | Read More...

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Te Kōrero Ahi Kā and the Spec Fic Community in New Zealand

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. | Read More...

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Te Kōrero Ahi Kā – Grant Stone

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. | Read More...

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Featured Work Kiwi Writers Publication News 

The Island

The Island by Nathan Rogers

“The Island” is a fun fantasy adventure for children set in a world of magic populated by goblins, trolls, fire-breathing drakes, and more.

The Island soars through the clouds keeping everyone safe, and the Lords and Ladies use its power to strike terror across the world. Their hounds also patrol the city, but Sky and the other imps chase and play in the narrow streets anyway, magnets for trouble.

Bored by her job helping to maintain the engine that keeps the Island flying, Sky longs for adventure and daydreams about the mysterious lands that lie below. But when an act of mischief goes terribly wrong, Sky is thrown from the Island into a strange new world. Hunted for reasons she doesn’t understand, Sky is forced to use every bit of her wit and cunning to survive. But even that might not be enough as the Island’s murderous hounds close in. | Read More...

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Te Kōrero Ahi Kā – Piper Mejia

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. | Read More...

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Te Kōrero Ahi Kā – Dan Rabarts

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. | Read More...

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Te Kōrero Ahi Kā – I.K. Paterson-Harkness

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
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Te Kōrero Ahi Kā – Mike Reeves McMillan

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? | Read More...

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Te Kōrero Ahi Kā – Aaron Compton

By Aaron Compton It was an honour to help edit this collection. As mentee-editor it was an eye-opener on how the real pros do it– Lee and Grace were so great, being part of their team and the process was a joy. My motivation to apply for the position was simply to get some experience within the literature scene of Aotearoa, to learn about editing and to read some cool stories. Amazing stories. The whole experience has heightened my desire to gain more editing experience. I remember, as a child, being fascinated by a kuia who spoke to a carved ancestor on the marae and seemed to get answers from it. For years the idea of a carving talking to me rattled around in my head, until it fell out, in this story. Moa Love, occurs in an alternate history world that I began creating a couple of years ago when I decided to take fiction writing seriously. I had grand ambitions to write a couple of series of novels in this world, but after about sixty thousand words I realised that I didn’t quite have the skills to do the story justice– it just wasn’t working. I pulled back from that story and began writing short fiction in an attempt to build my skills. I listened to a lot of writing podcasts, and in one of them (The Story Grid Podcast) Shawn Coyne talked about the obligatory scenes readers expect to see in a love story. I decided to write a story that hit as many of those scenes as I could, within my created world. And somehow… it worked. It’s weird, but it works, I reckon. It might seem as if it is set in a future Aotearoa, but in fact the events of Moa Love occur in the 1950s. This isn’t explicitly stated in the text but if you think about what Boy says about the clothes the other characters are wearing, and the decades they come from, and when TripleG died… yeah, 1950s. This is because of reasons that are not part of this story– I’ll have to get back to those novels, someday. Amazon Paperback and Kindle: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B079QHH1F7 Other ebook sites including Apple and Kobo: https://www.books2read.com/u/mgrdz6
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