A lot of strange things happen in this world: New Science Fiction and Fantasy

Image of a selection of the sci-fi fantasy booklist against a night sky.

via GIPHY

“You know, a lot of strange things happen in this world.”
― Kōji Suzuki, Ring


Welcome to our first selection of newly acquired Science Fiction and Fantasy titles for 2022. We’ve kicked the year off with a very varied selection of new titles; including two from our own fair shore, David Hair’s World’s Edge and Trisha Hanifin’s The Time Lizard’s Archaeologist.

Another title that caught our particular attention was Strange tales from Japan: 99 chilling stories of yokai, ghosts, demons and the supernatural by Nishimoto, Keisuke. This is an excellent collection of spine tingling tales about hauntings and strange goings-on in Japan. Japanese culture has long been steeped in legends and folklore surrounding the supernatural world, including a rich vein of modern urban legend supernatural tales. These tales have inspired many contemporary books and films, one notable example being the blood chilling novel Ring (originally published by the title Ringu). Follow this link to find Ringu on our online catalogue.

The roots of Japanese supernatural beings can often be traced back to the ancient idea of animism, in which spirits are believed to reside in all things, both natural and created. This rich supernatural culture is resplendent with many beings, such as Yokai, which are defined loosely as strange apparitions. One of the core categories of supernatural beings in Japan (there are several others), these suspicious and mysterious spirits range from just being benevolent or mischievous to being malevolent and harmful. Yokai can have animal features, be humanoid, have no discernible shape or even occasionally possess shapeshifting powers. During the Edo period, woodblock artists such as famed Katsushika Hokusai created prints of Yokai. In these prints, artists occasionally even invented Yokai of their own.


World’s edge / Hair, David
“Renegade sorcerer Raythe Vyre went off the edge of the map, seeking riches and redemption but he has found the impossible: a vanished civilisation – and the threat of eternal damnation! Chasing a dream of wealth and freedom, Raythe Vyre’s ragtag caravan of refugees from imperial oppression went off the map, into the frozen wastes of the north. What they found there was beyond all their expectations… ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

 

The time lizard’s archaeologist / Hanifin, Trisha
“2016. Auckland psychologist, Jason Winston, grieving over the death of his sister and increasingly disorientated by dreams and visions, begins to experience an alternate reality. Here he encounters Aja, a woman on a mission to discover who destroyed her village by stealing their powerful source of fuel. 2026. Auckland suffers an ecological crisis: the bee population is almost wiped out and the human population exposed to a debilitating virus. Isolated camps are established in the bush for those infected. 2036. A time of increasing food shortages, growing unrest and the influence of ‘The Flock’, which promises a haven for young people fearful of their future.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Destroyer of light / Brissett, Jennifer Marie
“The Matrix meets an Afro-futuristic retelling of Persephone set in a science fiction underworld. A violent warlord abducts a young girl from the agrarian outskirts of Dusk leaving her mother searching and grieving. *Genetically modified twin brothers desperately search for the lost son of a human/alien couple in a criminal underground trafficking children for unknown purposes. *A young woman with inhuman powers rises through the insurgent ranks of soldiers in the borderlands of Night. Their stories skate across years, building to a single confrontation when the fate of all-human and alien-balances upon a knife’s-edge. Warning: This book is designed for audiences 18+ due to scenes of physical and sexual violence, and themes that some may find disturbing” (Adapted from Catalogue)

This weightless world : a novel / Soto, Adam
“When a mysterious signal arrives from outer space, first seen as a symbol of hope, three people, forced to reckon with its aftermath, begin to feel the weight of past mistakes in order to move towards the future.”A debut novel subverting a classic sci-fi trope set in gentrified Chicago, the tech boom corridors of Silicon Valley, and across the vastness of the cosmos. ‘The Weightless World’ follows a revolving cast of characters after a mysterious signal from outer space upends their lives. Sevi is a burned-out music teacher desperate for connection, fighting to find meaning in rekindled love. Ramona, his on-again, off-again computer programmer girlfriend is determined to build an AI to prevent mankind’s destruction. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Along the Saltwise Sea / Baker, A. Deborah
“After climbing Over the Woodward Wall and making their way across the forest, Avery and Zib found themselves acquiring some extraordinary friends in their journey through the Up-and-Under. After staying the night, uninvited, at a pirate queen’s cottage in the woods, the companions find themselves accountable to its owner, and reluctantly agree to work off their debt as her ship sets sail, bound for lands unknown. But the queen and her crew are not the only ones on board, and the monsters at sea aren’t all underwater.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

A Clockwork River / Emery, J. S.
“Lower Rhumbsford is a city far removed from its glory days. On the banks of the great river Rhumb, The once torrential Rhumb has been reduced to a sluggish trickle. The fortunes of the Locke family are similarly reduced. In a once fashionable quarter of the once great city, siblings Samuel and Briony Locke distract themselves: Sam tends to his vast lock collection instead of finishing his engineering thesis; facing the prospect of a disagreeable marriage, Briony occupies herself with alchemical experiments. Until one night Samuel leaves the house carrying five of his most precious locks and doesn’t come back.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The hand of the Sun King / Greathouse, J.T
“All my life, I have been torn between two legacies: that of my father, whose roots trace back to the right hand of the Emperor. That of my mother’s family, who reject the oppressive Empire and embrace the resistance. I can choose between them – between protecting my family, or protecting my people – or I can search out a better path . . . a magical path, filled with secrets, unbound by Empire or resistance, which could shake my world to its very foundation. But my search for freedom will entangle me in a war between the gods themselves…”  (Adapted from Catalogue)

Strange tales from Japan : 99 chilling stories of yokai, ghosts, demons and the supernatural / Nishimoto, Keisuke
”  The captivating tales in this volume include: The Vengeance of Oiwa-The terrifying spirit of a woman murdered by her husband who seeks retribution from beyond the grave The Curse of Okiku-A servant girl is murdered by her master and curses his family, with gruesome results The Snow Woman-A man is saved by a mysterious woman who swears him to secrecy Tales of the Kappa-Strange human-like sprites with green, scaly skin who live in water and are known to pull children and animals to their deaths And many, many more!” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Beyond the hallowed sky / MacLeod, Ken
“When a brilliant scientist gets a letter from herself about faster-than-light travel, she doesn’t know what to believe. The equations work, but her [a[er is discredited – and soo the criticism is more than scientific. Exiled by the establishment, she gets an offer to build her starship from an unlikely source. But in the heights of Venus and on a planet of another star, a secret is already being uncovered that will shake humanity to its foundations.” (Catalogue)

Author interview : Arthur C. Clarke Award winner Laura Jean McKay

Image of a typewriter reading "Author Interviews" with an image of novel "The Animals in That Country"
Headshot of award-winning author Laura Jean McKay.
Massey University lecturer Laura Jean McKay picked up one of the most prestigious awards in the Science Fiction World last year for her remarkable debut novel The Animals in That Country.

The Animals in That Country is a speculative fiction work about a pandemic that causes inter-species communication.  A stunning work; McKay’s debut novel is clever and darkly humorous, with carefully drawn characters and a deep empathy for some of the most important social and environmental issues of our time. One of the most remarkable aspects of this novel is the way in which Laura portrays the consciousness of our fellow creatures, exploring deeply into the limits of how we as humans can understand and comprehend (or not) other types of consciousness.

In a weird example of synchronicity, another of one the novel’s core themes is that of a contagious pandemic. Written before COVID-19, it was Laura’s own experience of contacting the chikungunya virus at a writers festival in Bali that inspired this aspect of the book.

To celebrate her exhilarating and profound work, we approached Laura about the possibility of a written interview, to which she very graciously agreed. We wish to extend our heart felt thanks to Laura for taking the time to do the below interview, and for providing such illuminating answers to our questions. You can borrow The Animals in That Country from the library by clicking the link at the end of this feature.

The Animals in That Country is a truly remarkable achievement on so many levels. It is fierce and funny and brilliant.  In the novel, after being infected by a virus, people start to understand animals. Some people embrace this new ability, and some fear what they will hear from the animals when they are talking. I say talk as shorthand, the animals don’t really talk, they more communicated through “hallucinogenic haikus”. In some ways this book might seem a bit bizarre, but is also strangely still very believable and in places also funny. Can you tell us a little bit about the creative origins of the book? 

The Animals in That County came together (or came at me?) in a few ways. The whole time I was writing the book I was asking: ‘what would happen if we could finally understand what other animals are saying?’ and this really came from the encounters I was having with other animals – a kangaroo, a chimpanzee, a mosquito (who I’ll talk about later). In Australia, I came face-to-face with a full-size rouge male kangaroo on a dark bushy path at night and had this lovely moment of benevolence, where we regarded each other calmly and then went on our way. I thought, if I could have this moment with another species, what would happen if we could actually communicate clearly? I had a similar experience in Florida, where I went to meet the ex-show chimpanzee and orangutan stars of films and TV, like Mickael Jackson’s old companion chimpanzee Bubbles. Often these stars are cast out to road-side zoos and laboratories when they grow too big for show biz. There are a few sanctuaries in the States who track them down and offer a home. I wandered through the enclosures at one such centre, feeling such a recognition for chimpanzees who are really very very similar to us in DNA and I thought about the terrifying lives they’ve had at the hands of humans. Would we treat them differently if we could communicate?

Using this animal Haiku allows you to communicate some very beautiful and, for the want of a better description,  alien views of the world? Can you tell us how you went about getting to those strange animal places? Was it just pure raw imagination?

So funny to see the nonhuman animal dialogue described as haiku! Haiku is gorgeously structured, so I wonder if it could possibly apply to what I have done? There is of course an intentionality to the dialogue, but it’s more to do with font and punctuation than poetic structure. I tried to make the rhythm as awkward as possible to move the dialogue out of a human state (while still using written English). The insects came first, especially the mosquito. I thought, how does a mosquito express themself on a page? CAPSLOCK of course. After that came the birds speaking in italics. Then Dingo Sue (in parenthesis). That sort of structure gave me some parameters to play with the idea of nonhuman dialogue.

There is a real balance in the novel between the humans understanding what the animals are communicating and incomprehension of those messages. How did you decide where that balance rested, in other words, when to make something understandable and when to make it alien and incomprehensible?

I was really conscious of avoiding the nonhuman animals as prophetic characters sent to the humans to solve their problems, or of being too poetic or meaningful. Characters need to be full on the page and being full is to have a life beyond the other characters and beyond the scope of the story. The disease in the novel – zooflu – enables the humans to understand that other animals are communicating and to translate that into human language, but it doesn’t give humans extra empathy, powers of observation or the ability to look beyond themselves. The nonhuman world is there right in front of us all the time and many from my anglo tauiwi cultural background don’t listen to this world or to the people – especially First Nations People – who do understand that humans are part of a bigger picture. Climate change, mass extinction, factory farming and habitat destruction prove that. I didn’t see a reason that many humans would completely listen even if they could finally understand other animals!

Jean, your lead human protagonist, is a fabulous creation and not without her flaws. Can you tell us about how you went about creating her?

Jean was a long time coming. For hundreds of thousands of words she was a middle-aged man, then a young woman who worked in a lab, then a cat, then a farmer. I needed someone who had the strength to hold the weight of this story and none of them could bear it. I realised that only a middle-aged woman – someone who had been through life and has learned to lose and love with a certain ferocity – could carry this narrative. Like the other animal characters, Jean needed to be full and – as humans are flawed – so too is Jean. I wanted her to love fiercely, be loyal to a fault, be curious and brave. At the same time she needed to be self-absorbed, substance-reliant, bigoted and unable to listen.

Moving on from that, can you tell us about Sue, your lead animal protagonist, and the relationship between Jean and Sue?

In western literary criticism, animals are often seen as mirrors for human meaning. But in many books (including Animals), humans can be mirrors for other animal meaning too. Jean and Sue reflect each other. They are different but they’ve experienced similar things. They’re both females of their species dealing with loss, searching for kin. I was struggling with how to find Jean, but when Sue appeared on the page (influenced by dingoes I met in the Northern Territory) she made sense of Jean. They took off together.

I know you became ill with Chikungunya (a severely debilitating mosquito born virus) just before you started writing. Can you tell us how this influenced book and its creation?

The other game-changing animal encounter I had was with a mosquito in Bali who bit me (the nerve!) and gifted a disease called chikungunya, which brought fever, delirium and serious arthritis for months and long-term symptoms for years. The most amazing thing about that was that I learnt how very powerful this tiny creature was. If a small creature could be that impactful in life, what could they do to the page?

Can you tell us how long the novel took to write, and the difficulties of completing a work over that sort of time span?

The novel took about 7 years to write (through to publication) but I was thinking and writing around it for three years before that. I did a PhD in Creative Writing in that time and the novel was part of that. The beauty of taking that long on a work is that you have space to restructure and build. I rewrote the novel completely three times. There were a few years (years!) where the book was awful and messy – I could see where I wanted it to be but it took a long time to get there. It was always going to be a slow write. Partly that’s because it’s three books: it’s a gritty realist novel about a woman struggling with life; it’s a speculative fiction novel about a world where humans can understand other animals; and it’s a nonhuman dialogue. I’m not a clever enough plot writer to do an interweaving structure told from different voices chapter by chapter so I had to make it all work at once. And apparently, that takes ages!

Your portrayal of animals in the book is, in many senses, profound, Can I ask you how you avoided the pitfall of Anthropomorphising the animals?

My initial technique for avoiding anthropomorphism was to render them silet on the page, with the humans reporting their meaning. That was terrible. Then (through my research into literary animal studies) I saw that it’s not anthropomorphism that’s the problem, but anthropocentrism: the centering of humans to the detriment of all else. As the plot goes on, I increasingly shove the humans to the side and the nonhuman animal dialogue comes through. It’s still anthropomorphism, but (I hope) a respectful one that honours the agency of all characters.

The book is about a viral pandemic and features lots of the things we have sadly got used to, for example mask wearing and fear of infection. However, the book was conceived and written long before the present Covid 19 outbreak, which is both strange and startling. Can I ask you where you got your detailed knowledge of endemic viral outbreaks from?

In another life I was an aid worker doing communications writing for international aid organisations. I started in response to the 2004 tsunami and worked on lots of emergencies, including the SARS epidemic. Even though that wasn’t a conscious experience in writing Animals, it was something I gravitated towards. In bald craft terms I needed for a lot of characters to gain the power to be able to communicate with other animals at the same time – an outbreak with weird symptoms was familiar to me. I could write that. At the time though, I kept that plotline secret from people because it seemed too far-fetched. Now of course …!

The title of the book comes from a Margaret Atwood collection of poems, can you tell us why and what led you to choose it as the novels title?

For a long time the novel manuscript was simply called ‘Animals’. I came across Atwood’s incredible poem after a few years. I love how she talks about animals in the poem as having ‘the faces of animals’ (animals as animals) and later ‘the faces of people’ (the categorisations we attribute to them). I was so thrilled when Atwood granted permission to use a line from the poem in the epigraph, so that people could see the original context and hopefully seek out the poem themselves.

Can you tell us about authors you admired or influenced you as you grew up?

Our household in regional Australia was a big Footrot Flats comic book house. We blasted the movie theme song on camping trips. When I was little I thought it was an Australian comic (typical!) – but of course it’s so Aotearoa! When I moved to New Zealand I started collecting them again and realised what an influence these stories had on me and The Animals in That Country: talking animals, environmental themes, outcast characters. I owe Murray Ball a lot. In my early uni days I read a lot of Janet Frame and Raymond Carver – I’d attribute any writing technique I have to those incredible stylists. Carver is very out of fashion now, probably because his work cast too big a shadow over creative writing studies (there are other writers!), but I learned to edit my work by reading his and that’s a skill I’m forever grateful for. I got back to Frame’s short stories again and again to remember the importance of dialogue, style and heart.

The book is also a celebration of animal bodies and their extraordinary abilities. Is this something we need to as a society embrace more?

Absolutely. The celebration of other animals as animals rather than our categorisations of pet, food, wild, vermin etc would chart a big shift in human relations with other animals, I think. What would happen if we celebrated the insatiable curiosity of cows instead of treating them as milk machines?

The animals in the book refer to humans as “it”, echoing the way we dehumanise our fellow creatures. What you tell us about approach?

As I said earlier I often feel like I wrote three novels in one … There’s a gritty realist narrative about a woman going through a rough time; there’s a speculative fiction about a dingo (also going through a rough time!) in an epidemic world where humans can communicate with animals; and there’s another thread which is the interspecies communication itself – the animal dialogue. Animals in literature are so often equated with objects: as things to use and dispose of at human will. I thought it would be interesting to turn the tables. ‘It’ is a tiny word, but when a nonhuman animal character calls humans ‘it’, a big statement is made. I love how language works that way. Tiny changes can be powerful.

How does it feel to have the novel so well received? It has already received several major awards and glowing reviews!

The most honest word I could use is: relief. Anyone who has put a book out knows the terrifying silence that follows publication where you wonder if it will get reviewed or even read and if so, will people like it? My first book was a short story collection lucky enough to get on some shortlists and a few lovely reviews, but it didn’t set the world on fire. Still, I was encouraged and excited to write the second. When it became apparent that The Animals in That Country would be released into the pandemic I was terrified. All the book shops in New Zealand were closed in the first big lockdown and I didn’t know how people would even read it. The support that New Zealand and Australian readers, festivals and book shops showed for books published in that time was incredible. And thanks to the hard work of my amazing publisher, Scribe, the book got in people’s hands early, and has since been released in the UK and US and is now in translation. It was such a strange feeling when it became apparent that this wasn’t going to be a quiet book – a relief, a thrill and an ongoing privilege.

You have a PhD in literary animal studies, can you tell us how that informed the book?

Once you start looking into human-nonhuman animal relationships, you fall down a series of rabbit holes. With every word I wrote, every thing I read, every thought I had about Animals, a new question would come up. I was so lucky to be held by amazing supervisors (Kevin Brophy and Amanda Johnson) who not only thought this relentless questioning was okay, but encouraged it. In my time as a PhD student I also came across an amazing network of people in what is known as the animal studies field. One of these people was Siobhan O’Sullivan who welcomed me into the Knowing Animals reading group and later interviewed me for her podcast. I’m now a passionate committee member of the Australasian Animal Studies Association, who work to help scholars like me to access information in the field.

Our final question is, have you got any future plans to write something else ? Would like to share some aspect of those plans with us?

A novel manuscript and I are currently circling each other. At some point one of us will strike.

The animals in that country / McKay, Laura Jean
“Hard-drinking, foul-mouthed, and allergic to bullshit, Jean is not your usual grandma. She’s never been good at getting on with other humans, apart from her beloved granddaughter, Kimberly. Instead, she surrounds herself with animals, working as a guide in an outback wildlife park. And although Jean talks to all her charges, she has a particular soft spot for a young dingo called Sue. As disturbing news arrives of a pandemic sweeping the country, Jean realises this is no ordinary flu: its chief symptom is that its victims begin to understand the language of animals – first mammals, then birds and insects, too… ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Also available as an eBook.

 

The Year’s Best Aotearoa New Zealand Science Fiction and Fantasy : Interview with editor Marie Hodgkinson

Cover of The Year’s Best Aotearoa New Zealand Science Fiction & Fantasy

Cover image of The Year’s Best Aotearoa New Zealand Science Fiction and Fantasy Volume Three

One of our favourite annual anthologies (and an excellent way to find rising stars of the genre) is the wonderful award-winning The Year’s Best Aotearoa New Zealand Science Fiction & Fantasy (now in its third volume). An excellent all-in-one survey of the latest in New Zealand Science Fiction and Fantasy; these anthologies continue to provide a fabulous platform and spotlight on the wide variety of talent and diversity in the Aotearoa.

This year’s anthology contains numerous award-winning and award-nominated stories,  such as “For Want of Human Parts”, by Casey Lucas, “Salt White, Rose Red” by Emily Brill-Holland, “Synaesthete” by Melanie Harding-Shaw and “How to Get a Girlfriend (When You’re a Terrifying Monster)” by Marie Cardn. Not to mention another particular highlight, Paul Veart’s Florentina. 

With this in mind, we decided it was long overdue to interview the editor of the series Marie Hodgkinson and ask her a few questions about the anthology. We wish to extend our heartfelt thanks and appreciation to Marie for taking the time out of her busy schedule to answer our questions, and for providing such an illuminating insight into her world and work. For more information about the anthology, check out the Paper Road Press website.

Links to borrow the various anthologies from the library can be found at the end of following interview.

The line between contemporary fiction and speculative fiction is often blurred. I was wondering how you went about navigating those definitions?

Sometimes, there are fairies, which should make the distinction easy to make – but sometimes the fairies are metaphorical, which complicates things again. In the end I think it is about the author’s intent and the reader’s interpretation of that intent. Many SFF readers have the experience of coming across books in their childhood in which the fairies were and only were metaphor, possibly for drugs, or dying of cancer. If there is space in a story, no matter how small, for the supernatural or one-second-ahead tech to exist within the scope of the story’s world, then I count it as speculative fiction.

The Year’s Best Aotearoa New Zealand Science Fiction & Fantasy has now made it to Volume Three, can you tell us a little bit about the origins of the series and its overall aims?

I started the anthology series because it became clear to me that Aotearoa authors were writing and publishing incredible short speculative fiction – but that local readers rarely heard about it because most of the stories were published overseas. My initial goal was to bring those stories back to be read and enjoyed here. Over the three years of the series so far however I am seeing more and more mainstream NZ media publishing short speculative fiction, such as Stuff’s Forever Project commissioning short climate fiction stories. So now it’s both a way to bring stories back home, and to celebrate the openness of local media to publishing speculative fiction.

There is a real diversity in the stories included. Could you tell us about that diversity, and how it is represented in the collection?

The diversity in the anthologies reflects the diversity of this country’s writers – perhaps seeing them all in one place just makes it more obvious!

How do you go about the selection process?

I read as much as I can throughout the year, and also contact publishers, writing groups and make public calls for submissions – because there’s no way I could find all the stories on my own, and I don’t want the anthologies to be limited by my normal reading. Once stories are sent in I read them several times. If a story sticks in my mind after multiple readings, it goes on the list.

We love the book cover this year! Can you tell us a little about the artist and the brief you gave them ?

This is the first year I have not briefed an artist to create a work for the cover – because the perfect artwork already existed! Rebekah Tisch painted ‘Goodbye 2020’ in response to – well, it goes without saying doesn’t it – and frankly I couldn’t imagine anything better for the anthology.

Are there any particularly precedent themes or topics that have come through this year? Perhaps stories revolving around to pandemics, environmental collapse etc…

Climate change is a perennial theme; several stories in this year’s volume, such as Renee Liang’s ‘The Waterfall’ and Tim Jones’s ‘The Double-Cab Club’, are about people living in a post-environmental-collapse world. Ecological collapse/change also features in PK Torrens’s ‘Crater Island’. I haven’t noticed either a sudden glut or lack of stories about pandemics – but where those themes do appear the focus is on individual, interpersonal response to events that seem overwhelming or incomprehensible, such as the infectious flora in Paul Veart’s ‘Florentina’ and the central positioning of the relationship between two old friends in Anthony Lapwood’s ‘Wild Horses’.

Is Science Fiction and Fantasy, in your opinion, the best literary genre to hold up a mirror to our existence? I was thinking about how it can easily be used to examine big, complex and seemingly strange ideas.

I think it’s the perfect genre to act as a warped mirror – science fiction and fantasy can help us explore concepts one step removed from our own reality, which can make them easier to play with or take to logical or illogical extremes.

Can you tell us about your impression of the current state of Science Fiction and Fantasy scene in New Zealand?

Science fiction and fantasy writing in Aotearoa is flourishing – particularly with the rise of self publishing. I’m cheerfully following the careers of authors like AJ Lancaster and Steff Green, who are thriving as indie publishers, as well as what feels like the constant rise of support for speculative fiction by traditional publishers. One of my top reads this year has been Butcherbird, a horror novel by Cassie Hart published by Huia.

And finally, with your crystal ball in hand, what do you think will be in store for Volume Four of the anthology?

I can’t know for certain, but I’m very excited to find out!

Year’s Best Aotearoa New Zealand science fiction and fantasy, V3
“When borders closed last year, Kiwi science fiction and fantasy took readers on flights of imagination through space and time. This anthology contains a selection of the best short science fiction and fantasy stories published by Aotearoa New Zealand writers in 2020. Inc.. New Zealand gothic by Jack Remiel Cottrell,  Synaesthete by  Melanie Harding-Shaw, Kōhuia by T Te Tau, Death confetti by Zoë Meager,  For want of human parts by Casey Lucas ,How to get a girlfriend (when you’re a terrifying monster) by Marie Cardno , Salt White, Rose Red by Emily Brill-Holland , Florentina by Paul Veart ,Otto Hahn speaks to the dead by Octavia Cade, The waterfall Renee Liang — The Double-Cab Club by Tim Jones , Wild horses by Anthony Lapwood , You and me at the end of the world by Dave Agnew , The secrets she eats by Nikky Lee , How to build a unicorn by AJ Fitzwater , Even the clearest water by Andi C. Buchanan , You can’t beat Wellington on a good day by Anna Kirtlan, The moamancer (a Musomancer short story) by Bing Turkby , They probably play the viola by Jack Remiel Cottrell , Crater Island by P.K. Torrens, A love note by Melanie Harding-Shaw and  The turbine at the end of the world by James Rowland.” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

Year’s best Aotearoa New Zealand science fiction & fantasy. V2
“Ancient myths go high-tech a decade after the New New Zealand Wars. Safe homes and harbours turn to strangeness within and without. Splintered selves come together again – or not. Twelve authors. Thirteen stories. The best short science fiction and fantasy from Aotearoa New Zealand in 2019. With works by: Juliet Marillier, Nic Low, Rem Wigmore, Andi C Buchanan, Octavia Cade, A.J. Fitzwater, Nicole Tan, Melanie Harding-Shaw, Alisha Tyson, James Rowland, Zoë Meager, and Casey Lucas.”–Publisher description.” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

Year’s best Aotearoa New Zealand science fiction & fantasy. V1
“For the first time ever, the best short SFF from Aotearoa New Zealand is collected together in a single volume. This inaugural edition of the Year’s Best Aotearoa New Zealand Science Fiction & Fantasy brings together the very best short speculative fiction published by Kiwi authors in 2018. Explore worlds of hope and wonder, and worlds where hope and wonder are luxuries we wasted long ago; histories given new life, and futures you might prefer to avoid.” (Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

 

“We have no need of other worlds. We need mirrors”: new Sci Fi & Fantasy

ray harryhausen the beast from 20000 fathoms GIF by Warner Archive

“We have no need of other worlds. We need mirrors. We don’t know what to do with other worlds. A single world, our own, suffices us; but we can’t accept it for what it is.”
― Stanisław Lem, Solaris

This month’s newly acquired science fiction and fantasy features not one but two of the titans of the science fiction genre. A newly published collection of Ray Bradbury stories. And the one we are particularly excited about; a new collection of Stanisław Lem, including nine stories never published before.

Stanislaw Lem’s work has proved ferociously difficult to translate due to his use of Neologism’s –  “new words created by Lem that are rooted in the Polish language.” He was born on the 13th of September 1921, though his birth certificate says the 12th due to reasons of superstation. He was born in the second Polish Republic (now the Ukraine). He rose to fame in the 1950’s with works of poetry and essays on philosophy, futurology and literary criticism, but it was his science fiction which often included aspects of these subjects that was to shoot him to international fame.

He held a very low opinion of the vast bulk of American science fiction, with the exception of the works of Philip K Dick whose works he helped get translated into Polish. The movie adaptation of his novel Solaris by Andrei Tarkovsky is regarded as one of the classics of the genre, and the more recent Steven Soderbergh version starring George Clooney and Natascha McElhone is pretty good, too.

The other books we are particularly thrilled to see arrive this month were Under the Whispering Door by T.J. Klune, who we recently had the great pleasure of interviewing. See the end of the blog for that and Alex Pheby’s sprawling gothic fantasy Mordew.

The truth and other stories / Lem, Stanisław
” The stories display the full range of Lem’s intense curiosity about scientific ideas as well as his sardonic approach to human nature, presenting as multifarious a collection of mad scientists as any reader could wish for. Many of these stories feature artificial intelligences or artificial life forms, long a Lem preoccupation; some feature quite insane theories of cosmology or evolution. All are thought provoking and scathingly funny. Written from 1956 to 1993, the stories are arranged in chronological order. These stories are peak Lem, exploring ideas and themes that resonate throughout his writing.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Novels & story cycles / Bradbury, Ray
“Contains four classics from the master storyteller and visionary champion of creative freedom–the complete “Martian Chronicles,” “Fahrenheit 451,” “Dandelion Wine,” and “Something Wicked This Way Comes.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

 

 

Noor / Okorafor, Nnedi
“Anwuli Okwudili prefers to be called AO. To her, these initials have always stood for Artificial Organism. AO has never really felt…natural, and that’s putting it lightly.  AO embraces all that she is: a woman with a ton of major and necessary body augmentations. And then one day she goes to her local market and everything goes wrong. Once on the run, she meets a Fulani herdsman named DNA and the race against time across the deserts of Northern Nigeria begins. In a world where all things are streamed, everyone is watching the “reckoning of the murderess and the terrorist” and the “saga of the wicked woman and mad man” unfold.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Slewfoot : a tale of bewitchery / Brom
” Connecticut, 1666. An ancient spirit awakens in a dark wood. The wildfolk call him Father, slayer, protector. The colonists call him Slewfoot, demon, devil. To Abitha, a recently widowed outcast, alone and vulnerable in her pious village, he is the only one she can turn to for help. Together, they ignite a battle between pagan and Puritan – one that threatens to destroy the entire village, leaving nothing but ashes and bloodshed in their wake. “If it is a devil you seek, then it is a devil you shall have!” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Far from the light of heaven / Thompson, Tade
“The colony ship Ragtime docks in the Lagos system, having traveled light-years to bring one thousand sleeping souls to a new home among the stars. But when first mate Michelle Campion rouses, she discovers some of the sleepers will never wake. Answering Campion’s distress call, investigator Rasheed Fin is tasked with finding out who is responsible for these deaths. Soon a sinister mystery unfolds aboard the gigantic vessel, one that will have repercussions for the entire system–from the scheming politicians of Lagos station, to the colony planet Bloodroot, to other far-flung systems, and indeed to Earth itself.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Harrow : a novel / Williams, Joy “In her first novel since The Quick and the Dead, the legendary writer takes us into an uncertain landscape after the environmental apocalypse, a world in which only the man-made has value, but some still wish to salvage the authentic. Once nature as we know it is dead, the pursuit of happiness fades into insignificance, food is scarce, and even time doesn’t progress in an organized fashion. Harrow follows the picaresque journey of Khristen–a teenager who, her mother believes, was marked by greatness as a baby when she died for a moment and then came back to life.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Mordew / Pheby, Alex
” God is dead, his corpse hidden in the catacombs beneath Mordew. In the slums of the sea-battered city, a young boy called Nathan Treeves lives with his parents, eking out a meager existence by picking treasures from the Living Mud and the half-formed, short-lived creatures it spawns. Until one day his desperate mother sells him to the mysterious Master of Mordew. The Master derives his magical power from feeding on the corpse of God. But Nathan, despite his fear and lowly station, has his own strength–and it is greater than the Master has ever known. ” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

Under the whispering door / Klune, TJ
“A Man Called Ove meets The Good Place in Under the Whispering Door, a delightful queer love story from TJ Klune, author of the New York Times and USA Today bestseller The House in the Cerulean Sea. When a reaper comes to collect Wallace from his own funeral, Wallace begins to suspect he might be dead. And when Hugo, the owner of a peculiar tea shop, promises to help him cross over, Wallace decides he’s definitely dead. But even in death he’s not ready to abandon the life he barely lived, so when Wallace is given one week to cross over, he sets about living a lifetime in seven days. Hilarious, haunting, and kind, Under the Whispering Door is an uplifting story about a life spent at the office and a death spent building a home”– Provided by publisher.” (Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

Below T. J Klune talking about Under the Whispering Door

Q&A with author T. J. Klune

We are absolutely thrilled to announce the release of our recent interview with the wonderful T.J. Klune!

T.J. is one of the world’s most popular names in contemporary fantasy and romance fiction, whose work emphasizes positive LGBTQ+ characters. His just-released novel Under the Whispering Door is compelling and engrossing, a romantic fantasy story which deals with universal themes of life, death, grief and second chances.

Picture of T. J. Klune, seated outside in the snow with his dog

If you haven’t come across his works, his breakout novel The House in the Cerulean Sea, set in an orphanage for magical beings on an island, has justifiably been called a “Warm hug of a book”; a thoroughly recommended read with important messages about, friendship healing, inclusion and finding out who you really are.

Under the Whispering Door is equally compelling and engrossing — about a ghost who refuses to cross over, and the ferryman and his team tasked with helping him. Both novels have been huge bestsellers, and T.J. Klune is also a nominee for the 2021 Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Adult Literature and won the Alex Award.

So, we are delighted to be posting  this touching, entertaining, insightful, poignant, and funny interview. We thoroughly enjoyed doing the interview and think you will enjoy hearing it just as much. We wish to extend our most heartfelt thanks to T.J. Klune, Tor Books and Macmillan Publishers for making it happen.

You can borrow T.J. Klune’s books from the library (see below) or buy them from any good bookshop.

Catalogue links for T.J. Klune’s books

Under the Whispering Door / Klune, TJ
The tea is hot, the scones are fresh, and the dead are just passing through.” When a reaper comes to collect Wallace from his own funeral, Wallace begins to suspect he might be dead. And when Hugo, the owner of a peculiar tea shop, promises to help him cross over, Wallace decides he’s definitely dead.
But even in death he’s not ready to abandon the life he barely lived, so when Wallace is given one week to cross over, he sets about living a lifetime in seven days. An uplifting story about a life spent at the office and a death spent building a home..” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook and an Audiobook

The house in the Cerulean Sea / Klune, TJ
“A magical island. A dangerous task. A burning secret. Linus Baker leads a quiet, solitary life. At forty, he lives in a tiny house with a devious cat and his old records. As a Case Worker at the Department in Charge Of Magical Youth, he spends his days overseeing the well-being of children in government-sanctioned orphanages. When Linus is unexpectedly summoned by Extremely Upper Management he’s given a curious and highly classified assignment: travel to Marsyas Island Orphanage, where six dangerous children reside: a gnome, a sprite, a wyvern, an unidentifiable green blob, a were-Pomeranian, and the Antichrist.” ( Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook and an Audiobook.

The Extraordinaries / Klune, TJ
“If being the most popular fanfiction writer in the Extraordinaries fandom was a superpower, Nick Bell would be a hero. Instead he’s just a fanboy with ADHD, posting online. After a chance encounter with Shadow Star, Nova City’s mightiest hero (and Nick’s biggest crush), he sets out to make himself extraordinary. And he’ll do it with or without the reluctant help of Seth Gray, Nick’s best friend (and maybe the love of his life).” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Flash fire / Klune, TJ
“Through bravery, charm, and an alarming amount of enthusiasm, Nick landed himself the superhero boyfriend of his dreams. Now instead of just writing stories about him, Nick actually gets to kiss him. But having a superhero boyfriend isn’t everything Nick thought it would be–he’s still struggling to make peace with his own lack of extraordinary powers. When new Extraordinaries begin arriving in Nova City–siblings who can manipulate smoke and ice, a mysterious hero who can move objects with their mind, and a drag queen superhero with the best name and the most-sequined costume anyone has ever had–it’s up to Nick and his friends Seth, Gibby, and Jazz to determine who is virtuous and who is villainous.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Overdrive coverBrothersong, TJ Klune (ebook)
“In the ruins of Caswell, Maine, Carter Bennett learned the truth of what had been right in front of him the entire time. And then it—he—was gone.
Desperate for answers, Carter takes to the road, leaving family and the safety of his pack behind, all in the name of a man he only knows as a feral wolf. But therein lies the danger: wolves are pack animals, and the longer Carter is on his own, the more his mind slips toward the endless void of Omega insanity.
What Carter finds will change the course of the wolves forever.” (adapted from Overdrive description)

Overdrive coverHow to Be a Normal Person, TJ Klune (ebook)
“Gustavo Tiberius is not normal. He knows this. Everyone in his small town of Abby, Oregon, knows this. Until Casey, an asexual stoner hipster and the newest employee at Lottie’s Lattes, enters his life. For some reason, Casey thinks Gus is the greatest thing ever. And maybe Gus is starting to think the same thing about Casey, even if Casey is obsessive about Instagramming his food. But Gus isn’t normal and Casey deserves someone who can be. Suddenly wanting to be that someone, Gus steps out of his comfort zone and plans to become the most normal person ever. After all, what could possibly go wrong?” (Adapted from Overdrive description)

Overdrive coverThe Art of Breathing, TJ Klune (ebook)
“Tyson Thompson graduated high school at 16 and left the town of Seafare, Oregon, bound for what he assumed would be bigger and better things. He soon found out the real world has teeth, and he returns to the coast with four years of failure, addiction, and a diagnosis of panic disorder trailing behind him. But shortly after he arrives home, Tyson comes face to face with inevitability in the form of his childhood friend and first love, Dominic Miller, who he hasn’t seen since the day he left Seafare. As their paths cross, old wounds reopen, new secrets are revealed, and Tyson discovers there is more to his own story than he was told all those years ago.” (Adapted from Overdrive description)

Coming Soon: Exclusive Q&A with bestselling Fantasy & Romance author T. J. Klune

 “Change often starts with the smallest of whispers. Like-minded people building it up to a roar.”

― T.J. Klune, The House in the Cerulean Sea

We have a real treat coming up soon (19th November to be exact) on our various social media outlets.

T. J. Klune  is one of the world’s biggest and most popular names in contemporary fantasy and romance fiction, whose works emphasises positive gay and LGBTQ+ characters, has very kindly agreed to an exclusive filmed Q and A with Wellington City Libraries.

If you haven’t come across his works, his breakout novel The House in the Cerulean Sea, set in an orphanage for magical beings on an island, has justifiably been called a “Warm hug of a book”; a thoroughly recommended read with important messages about, friendship healing, inclusion and finding out who you really are, and it’s also funny, unexpected, and thrilling.

And his just-released afterlife fantasy novel Under the Whispering Door is equally compelling and engrossing; another romantic fantasy story which deals with universal themes of life, death, grief and second chances. It’s about a ghost who refuses to cross over, and the ferryman and his team tasked with helping him.

Both have been huge bestsellers. T.J Klune is also a nominee for the 2021 Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Adult Literature and won the Alex Award.

His other books include Bear, Otter and the Kid, Burn, The Lambda Award Winner Into This River I Drown, Murmuration, The Bones Beneath My Skin, Wolfsong, Ravensong, Heartsong and Brothersong, The Lightning-Struck Heart, A Destiny of Dragons, The Consumption of Magic, A Wish Upon the Stars, Fairytales from VeraniaandExtraordinaries which has a sequel, Flash Fire just out.

So, on the 19th of  November  on our YouTube channel and on our Facebook page we will be putting up this touching, entertaining, insightful, poignant, and funny interview.  We thoroughly enjoyed doing the interview and think you will enjoy hearing it just as much. We wish to extend our most heartfelt thanks to T.J. Klune, Tor Books and Macmillan Publishers for making this happen.

You can borrow T.J. Klune books from the library ( see below)  or buy them from any good bookshop.

Under the Whispering Door / Klune, TJ
The tea is hot, the scones are fresh, and the dead are just passing through.” When a reaper comes to collect Wallace from his own funeral, Wallace begins to suspect he might be dead. And when Hugo, the owner of a peculiar tea shop, promises to help him cross over, Wallace decides he’s definitely dead.
But even in death he’s not ready to abandon the life he barely lived, so when Wallace is given one week to cross over, he sets about living a lifetime in seven days. An uplifting story about a life spent at the office and a death spent building a home..” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook and an Audiobook

The house in the Cerulean Sea / Klune, TJ
“A magical island. A dangerous task. A burning secret. Linus Baker leads a quiet, solitary life. At forty, he lives in a tiny house with a devious cat and his old records. As a Case Worker at the Department in Charge Of Magical Youth, he spends his days overseeing the well-being of children in government-sanctioned orphanages. When Linus is unexpectedly summoned by Extremely Upper Management he’s given a curious and highly classified assignment: travel to Marsyas Island Orphanage, where six dangerous children reside: a gnome, a sprite, a wyvern, an unidentifiable green blob, a were-Pomeranian, and the Antichrist.” ( Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook and an Audiobook.

The Extraordinaries / Klune, TJ
“If being the most popular fanfiction writer in the Extraordinaries fandom was a superpower, Nick Bell would be a hero. Instead he’s just a fanboy with ADHD, posting online. After a chance encounter with Shadow Star, Nova City’s mightiest hero (and Nick’s biggest crush), he sets out to make himself extraordinary. And he’ll do it with or without the reluctant help of Seth Gray, Nick’s best friend (and maybe the love of his life).” (Adapted from Catalogue)

 

Flash fire / Klune, TJ
“Through bravery, charm, and an alarming amount of enthusiasm, Nick landed himself the superhero boyfriend of his dreams. Now instead of just writing stories about him, Nick actually gets to kiss him. But having a superhero boyfriend isn’t everything Nick thought it would be–he’s still struggling to make peace with his own lack of extraordinary powers. When new Extraordinaries begin arriving in Nova City–siblings who can manipulate smoke and ice, a mysterious hero who can move objects with their mind, and a drag queen superhero with the best name and the most-sequined costume anyone has ever had–it’s up to Nick and his friends Seth, Gibby, and Jazz to determine who is virtuous and who is villainous.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Overdrive cover Brothersong, TJ Klune (ebook)
“In the ruins of Caswell, Maine, Carter Bennett learned the truth of what had been right in front of him the entire time. And then it—he—was gone.
Desperate for answers, Carter takes to the road, leaving family and the safety of his pack behind, all in the name of a man he only knows as a feral wolf. But therein lies the danger: wolves are pack animals, and the longer Carter is on his own, the more his mind slips toward the endless void of Omega insanity.
What Carter finds will change the course of the wolves forever.” (adapted from Overdrive description)

Overdrive cover How to Be a Normal Person, TJ Klune (ebook)
“Gustavo Tiberius is not normal. He knows this. Everyone in his small town of Abby, Oregon, knows this. Until Casey, an asexual stoner hipster and the newest employee at Lottie’s Lattes, enters his life. For some reason, Casey thinks Gus is the greatest thing ever. And maybe Gus is starting to think the same thing about Casey, even if Casey is obsessive about Instagramming his food. But Gus isn’t normal and Casey deserves someone who can be. Suddenly wanting to be that someone, Gus steps out of his comfort zone and plans to become the most normal person ever. After all, what could possibly go wrong?” (Adapted from Overdrive description)

Overdrive cover The Art of Breathing, TJ Klune (ebook)
Tyson Thompson graduated high school at 16 and left the town of Seafare, Oregon, bound for what he assumed would be bigger and better things. He soon found out the real world has teeth, and he returns to the coast with four years of failure, addiction, and a diagnosis of panic disorder trailing behind him. But shortly after he arrives home, Tyson comes face to face with inevitability in the form of his childhood friend and first love, Dominic Miller, who he hasn’t seen since the day he left Seafare. As their paths cross, old wounds reopen, new secrets are revealed, and Tyson discovers there is more to his own story than he was told all those years ago. (Adapted from Overdrive description)

Historical Fantasy and beyond: new Science Fiction and Fantasy

“A library of books is the fairest garden in the world, and to walk there is an ecstasy.”

― E. Powys Mathers, The Arabian Nights

Historical fantasy is a genre of fantasy where fantastic elements such as magic are incorporated into a realistic often historical narrative. The genre is one of the oldest forms of fiction around with many early examples such as One Thousand and One Nights and spans a wide diversity of cultures and time periods. These days the genre itself is split into numerous sub genres from wuxia (a martial arts version of historical fantasy) to gunpowder fantasy (an offshoot of Steampunk), prehistoric fantasy to Celtic fantasy.

If you are unfamiliar with this genre just a few recommended titles are Diana Wynne Jones’ Castle in the Air, Alan Garner’s The Weirdstone of Brisingamen, The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley, Fullmetal Alchemist by Hiromu Arakawa and the Earth’s Children series by Jean M. Auel.

And this month’s newly acquired selection of science fiction and fantasy titles have two very fine examples of this genre – She Who Became the Sun by Shelley Parker-Chan, set in China in 1345, and A Radical Act of Free Magic by the fabulous Aotearoa / New Zealand author H.G. Parry, set during the time of the Napoleonic war (you can hear H.G. Parry talk exclusively to us about this novel by clicking the link below.) We also have a very small selection of  non historical fantasy newly-acquired science fiction and fantasy titles as well.

A radical act of free magic : a novel / Parry, H. G.
“The Concord has been broken, and a war of magic engulfs the world. In France, the brilliant young battle-mage Napoleon Bonaparte has summoned a kraken from the depths, and under his command the Army of the Dead have all but conquered Europe. Britain fights back, protected by the gulf of the channel and powerful fire-magic, but Wilberforce’s own battle to bring about free magic and abolition has met a dead end in the face of an increasingly fearful and repressive government. But there is another, even darker war being fought beneath the surface: the first vampire war in hundreds of years…” (Adapted from Catalogue)

She who became the sun / Parker-Chan, Shelley
” In 1345, China lies under harsh Mongol rule. For the starving peasants of the Central Plains, greatness is something found only in stories. When the Zhu family’s eighth-born son, Zhu Chongba, is given a fate of greatness, everyone is mystified as to how it will come to pass. The fate of nothingness received by the family’s clever and capable second daughter, on the other hand, is only as expected. When a bandit attack orphans the two children, though, it is Zhu Chongba who succumbs to despair and dies. Desperate to escape her own fated death, the girl uses her brother’s identity to enter a monastery as a young male novice. …..” (Adapted from Catalogue)

A song of flight / Marillier, Juliet
“After a violent encounter with masked men and the sinister Crow Folk, Prince Aolu of Dalriada disappears without a trace, and his companion Galen is seriously injured. Liobhan and the Swan Island warriors seek answers to the prince’s abduction. For Liobhan this mission is personal, as Galen is her beloved brother. While she and her team investigate, Liobhan’s younger brother Brocc is in serious trouble. Brocc’s secret attempt to communicate with the Crow Folk triggers a shocking incident, and sends him on a path which endangers the one he loves above all else. What brought the Crow Folk to Erin? And who plots to use them in an unscrupulous bid for power? ” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

Paris by starlight / Dinsdale, Robert
“Every night on their long journey to Paris from their troubled homeland, Levon’s grandmother has read to them from a very special book. Called The Nocturne, it is a book full of fairy stories and the heroic adventures of their people who generations before chose to live by starlight. And with every story that Levon’s grandmother tells them in their new home, the desire to live as their ancestors did grows. And that is when the magic begins…” (Adapted from Catalogue)

 

Thread needle / Thomas, Cari
“Within the boroughs of London, nestled among its streets, hides another city, filled with magic. Magic is the first sin. It must be bound. Ever since Anna can remember, her aunt has warned her of the dangers of magic. She has taught her to fear how it twists and knots and turns into something dark and deadly. It was, after all, magic that killed her parents and left her in her aunt’s care. It’s why she has been protected from the magical world and, in one year’s time, what little magic she has will be bound. ………..” (Adapted from Catalogue)

In the watchful city / Lu, S. Qiouyi
“The city of Ora is watching. Anima is an extrasensory human tasked with surveilling and protecting Ora’s citizens via a complex living network called the Gleaming. Although ær world is restricted to what æ can see and experience through the Gleaming, Anima takes pride and comfort in keeping Ora safe from harm. When a mysterious outsider enters the city carrying a cabinet of curiosities from around with the world with a story attached to each item, Anima’s world expands beyond the borders of Ora to places–and possibilities–æ never before imagined to exist. But such knowledge leaves Anima with a question that throws into doubt ær entire purpose: What good is a city if it can’t protect its people?” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The past is red / Valente, Catherynne M.
” The future is blue. Endless blue… except for a few small places that float across the hot, drowned world left behind by long-gone fossil fuel-guzzlers. One of those patches is a magical place called Garbagetown. Tetley Abednego is the most beloved girl in Garbagetown, but she’s the only one who knows it. She’s the only one who knows a lot of things: that Garbagetown is the most wonderful place in the world, that it’s full of hope, that you can love someone and 66% hate them all at the same time. But Earth is a terrible mess, hope is a fragile thing, and a lot of people are very angry with her. Then Tetley discovers a new friend, a terrible secret, and more to her world than she ever expected.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Notes from the burning age / North, Claire
“Ven was once a holy man, a keeper of ancient archives. It was his duty to interpret archaic texts, sorting useful knowledge from the heretical ideas of the Burning Age–a time of excess and climate disaster. For in Ven’s world, such material must be closely guarded so that the ills that led to that cataclysmic era can never be repeated. But when the revolutionary Brotherhood approaches Ven, pressuring him to translate stolen writings that threaten everything he once held dear, his life will be turned upside down. Torn between friendship and faith, Ven must decide how far he’s willing to go to save this new world–and how much he is willing to lose” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The long shadow of Frank Herbert’s Dune

Oscar Isaac Dune GIF by Nerdist.com

“Deep in the human unconscious is a pervasive need for a logical universe that makes sense, But the real universe is always one step beyond logic.”
– Frank Herbert, Dune.

On its first publication in 1965, Dune was originally released as two separate serials in the legendary ‘Analog’ magazine. And even more strangely, the novel’s first combined print publication was by Chilton publishing, a publishing house that up to that point had only published automobile repair manuals. However, the remarkable nature of the novel was quickly recognised and the following year the book won both the Hugo and the inaugural Nebula Award for Best Novel. And since its publication it has gone on to become the world’s bestselling science fiction book, as well as being regarded by some critics as the best science fiction book ever written.

Dune fever has reignited recently with the forthcoming release of the much delayed, much anticipated and already critically acclaimed Denis Villeneuve movie.

Continue reading “The long shadow of Frank Herbert’s Dune”

“Here lies Arthur:” New Science Fiction & Fantasy

Sword In The Stone Disney GIF

Here lies Arthur, King that was, King that will be.”

― Thomas Malory

The myths legends and mysteries surrounding King Arthur and the knights of the round table have for a very long time held a particular fascination on the imagination of writers, artists and film makers.

The Arthurian legend has inspired films as varied as Disney’s The Sword in the Stone, Terry Gilliam’s The Fisher King , Monty Python and the Holy Grail,   King Arthur Legend of the sword starring Charlie Hunnam there is even a Scooby Doo adventure about the legend called Scooby-Doo! The Sword and the Scoob. And authors as diverse as Kazuo Ishiguro, Stephen King, Kevin Crossley-Holland, Bernard Cornwell, C. S. Lewis, T.H. White and John Steinbeck have all tied to pull out their own literary works from the fabled stone (to name but a few).

So, it is fabulous to see in this month’s list of recently acquired Science Fiction and Fantasy titles another author joining these illustrious ranks. Half Sick of Shadows by Laura Sebastian brings a fresh and new feminist reimagining of the Arthurian tale, whilst retaining much of the original source material such Malory’s Le Morte d’Arthur at its core, pleasing both newbies and Arthurian buffs alike. For details of Half Sick of Shadows and our other selected recently acquired Science Fiction and Fantasy titles, please see below.

Half sick of shadows / Sebastian, Laura
” Everyone knows the legend. Of Arthur, destined to be a king. Of the beautiful Guinevere, who will betray him with his most loyal knight, Lancelot. Of the bitter sorceress, Morgana, who will turn against them all. But Elaine alone carries the burden of knowing what is to come — for Elaine of Shalott is cursed to see the future. On the mystical isle of Avalon, Elaine runs free and learns of the ancient prophecies surrounding her and her friends — countless possibilities, almost all of them tragic. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The stranding / Sawyer, Kate
“Ruth lives in the heart of the city. When a new romance becomes claustrophobic, Ruth chooses to leave behind the failing relationship, but also her beloved friends and family, and travels to the other side of the world in pursuit of her dream life working with whales in New Zealand. But when Ruth arrives, the news cycle she has been ignoring for so long is now the new reality. Far from home and with no real hope of survival, she finds herself climbing into the mouth of a beached whale alongside a stranger. When she emerges, it is to a landscape that bears no relation to the world they knew before. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The crow folk / Stay, Mark
“As Spitfires roar overhead and a dark figure stalks the village of Woodville, a young woman will discover her destiny…Faye Bright always felt a little bit different. And today she’s found out why. She’s just stumbled across her late mother’s diary which includes not only a spiffing recipe for jam roly-poly, but spells, incantations, runes and recitations… a witch’s notebook. And Faye has inherited her mother’s abilities. Just in time, too. The Crow Folk are coming. Led by the charismatic Pumpkinhead, their strange magic threatens Faye and the villagers. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

 

The weight of a thousand oceans / Webster, Jillian
“In a world where cities sprawl like half-submerged skeletons, Maia has spent her entire life hidden within the mountains of New Zealand. Her only companions being her ailing grandfather and a nomadic dog named Huck, Maia resents being alone. She spends her days wandering the ruins of a population long-gone, dreaming of a place where the few humans left behind can start again-a place her grandfather insists is a myth. But Maia cannot escape a strong and mysterious force calling her out into the world, as well as bizarre events following her around the island. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

This fragile earth / Wise, Susannah
“Signy and Matthew lead a dull, difficult life. But they’re surviving, just about. Until the day the technology that runs their world stops working.  Matthew assumes that this is just a momentary glitch in the computers that now run the world. But then the electricity and gas are cut off. Even the water stops running. And the pollination drones – vital to the world, ever since the bees all died – are behaving oddly. People are going missing. Soldiers are on the streets. London is no longer safe. Determined to protect her son, Signy will do almost anything to survive as the world falls apart around them. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Appleseed : a novel / Bell, Matt
“Eighteenth-century Ohio: two brothers travel into the wooded frontier, planting apple orchards from which they plan to profit in the years to come. As they plan for a future of settlement and civilization. In the second half of the twenty-first century: climate change has ravaged the Earth. Having invested early in genetic engineering and food science, one company now owns all the world’s resources. In a pivotal moment for the future of humanity, one of the company’s original founders returns to headquarters, intending to destroy what he helped build. A thousand years in the future: North America is covered by a massive sheet of ice. One lonely sentient being inhabits a tech station on top of the glacier, and sets out to follow a homing beacon across the continent in the hopes of discovering the last remnant of civilization.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

A psalm for the wild-built / Chambers, Becky
“It’s been centuries since the robots of Panga gained self-awareness and laid down their tools; centuries since they wandered, en masse, into the wilderness, never to be seen again; centuries since they faded into myth and urban legend. One day, the life of a tea monk is upended by the arrival of a robot, there to honor the old promise of checking in. The robot cannot go back until the question of “what do people need?” is answered. But the answer to that question depends on who you ask, and how. They’re going to need to ask it a lot. ” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

Strange beasts of China / Yan, Ge
“In the fictional Chinese city of Yong’an, an amateur cryptozoologist is tasked with uncovering the stories of its fabled beasts, which draws her deep within a mystery that threatens her very sense of self.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Library Lockdown Distractions: WCL podcast series

 

Turn It Up Movie GIF

In this series of blogs, we want to focus on some small element of our fabulous resources and in this blog, we would like to place the spotlight on our very own podcast collection, which features a wide diversity of recordings made especially by the library, often in conjunction with partners.

The recordings vary in length from 15 mins to an hour; from concise, in-depth one to one interviews with award winning authors, to recordings of some of our many and diverse public events. They include a wide range of content: African poetry readings to Ngaio Marsh mystery fiction panels to Comicfest panels and beyond.  Click here to access the full list but for a small taster of what we have on offer just look below. Perfect long or short term lockdown distractions.

Now available to watch: Our interview with multi award-winning New Zealand author Lee Murray

The fabulous Lee Murray recently won two Bram Stoker Awards®; the Oscars for dark writing and the world’s premier literary horror awards!  One in the category Superior Achievement in a Fiction Collection for Grotesque: Monster Stories and the other for Black Cranes: Tales of Unquiet Women in the category of Superior Achievement in an Anthology.

Lee has also recently been nominated in the Shirley Jackson Awards for Black Cranes,  shortlisted for the Ladies of Horror Fiction Awards in the Short Fiction Category for ‘Heart Music’ from Grotesque: Monster Stories, is a nominee in Horror Fiction in the Skoutz Awards for Beutezeit, the German translation of Into the Mist and is also currently nominated in four categories of New Zealand’s Sir Julius Vogel Awards (Novel, Short Fiction, Collection, and Services to Science Fiction and Horror).

So, with all these awards and accolades pouring in we approached Lee about the possibility of doing an online interview. Which she very kindly agreed to. So, for your delight and edification we have an exclusive in-depth interview and reading with Lee where she talks in detail about her work, inspirations, background, and a whole host of other topics. For anyone interested in Lee’s work or, indeed, speculative fiction or horror in general, the interview is unmissable. Both the interview and a special reading from Black Cranes: tales of unquiet women are available to watch below.

We wish to expend our heartfelt thanks to Lee and her film crew Dhaivat Mehta and Harry Oram.

Browse Lee’s work in our catalogue:

Black cranes : tales of unquiet women
“Almond-eyed celestial, the filial daughter, the perfect wife. Quiet, submissive, demure. In Black Cranes, Southeast Asian writers of horror both embrace and reject these traditional roles in a unique collection of stories which dissect their experiences of ‘otherness,’ be it in the colour of their skin, the angle of their cheekbones, the things they dare to write, or the places they have made for themselves in the world. Black Cranes is a dark and intimate exploration of what it is to be a perpetual outsider.” (Catalogue)

Into the ashes / Murray, Lee
“The nation’s leaders scoff at the danger. That is; until the ground opens and all hell breaks loose. The armed forces are hastily deployed; NZDF Sergeant Taine McKenna and his section tasked with evacuating civilians and tourists from Tongariro National Park. It is too little, too late. With earthquakes coming thick and fast and the mountains spewing rock and ash, McKenna and his men are cut off. Their only hope of rescuing the stranded civilians is to find another route out, but a busload of prison evacuees has other ideas. And, deep beneath the earth’s crust, other forces are stirring, ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Into the sounds / Murray, Lee
“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. 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. 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?​”(Adapted from Catalogue)

Into the mist / Murray, Lee
“When New Zealand Defense Force Sergeant Taine McKenna and his squad are tasked with escorting a bunch of civilian contractors into Te Urewera National Park, it seems a strange job for the army. Taine draws on ancient tribal wisdom as he becomes desperate to bring his charges out alive. Will it be enough to stop the nightmare? And when the mist clears, will anyone be left?” (Adapted from Catalogue)

 

Te korero ahi kā : To speak of the home fires burning
“Here, between the realms of the Sky Father and Earth Mother, hellhounds race, ghosts drift and the taniwha stalks. Home fires drive them back, sparking stories and poems that traverse seconds, eons, and parsecs. Tales of gatekeepers, cloak wearers, and secrets. Of pigs with AK-47s or ruby-hued eyes, of love-struck moa, and unruly reflections. Stark truths and beautiful possibilities. Te Korero Ahi Kā-to speak of the home fires burning-is an anthology of science fiction, fantasy, and horror, showcasing work from award-winning and emerging members of SpecFicNZ (New Zealand authors, poets, artists of speculative fiction. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

At the edge
“Step up, as close as you dare… …to a place at the edge of sanity, where cicadas scritch across balmy summer nights, at the edge of town, where the cellphone coverage is decidedly dodgy, at the edge of space, where a Mimbinus argut bounds among snowy rocks, at the edge of the page, where demon princes prance in the shadows, at the edge of despair, where 10 darushas will get you a vodka lime and a ring side seat, at the edge of the universe, where time stops but space goes on… From the brink of civilisation, the fringe of reason, and the border of reality, come 23 stories infused with the bloody-minded spirit of the Antipodes. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Blood of the sun / Rabarts, Dan
“There’s been a gang massacre on Auckland’s Freyberg Wharf. Body parts everywhere. And with the police’s go-to laboratory out of action, it’s up to scientific consult Pandora (Penny) Yee to sort through the mess. It’s a hellish task, made worse by the earthquake swarms, the insufferable heat, and Cerberus’ infernal barking. And what’s got into her brother Matiu? Does it have something to do with the ship’s consignment? Or is Matiu running with the gangs again? Join Penny and Matiu Yee for the family reunion to end all family reunions, as the struggle between light and dark erupts across Auckland’s volcanic skyline.”–Publisher description.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Teeth of the wolf / Rabarts, Dan
“Scientific consultant Penny Yee has barely drawn breath before Detective Inspector Tanner assigns her another suspicious death, with Matiu tagging along for the ride. That’s fine as long as he stays outside the crime scene tape, but when one of Matiu’s former cronies turns up dead, Penny wonders if her brother might be more than just an innocent bystander. While she’s figuring that out, the entire universe conspires against her, with a cadaver going AWOL, her DNA sequencer spitting the dummy, and the rent due any day.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Hounds of the underworld / Rabarts, Dan
“On the verge of losing her laboratory, her savings, and all respect for herself, Pandora (Penny) Yee lands her first contract as scientific consult to the police department. Only she’s going to need to get around, and that means her slightly unhinged adopted brother, Matiu, will be doing the driving.  Matiu doesn’t like anything about this case, from the voices that screamed at him when he touched that bowl, to the way his hateful imaginary friend Makere has come back to torment him, to the fact that the victim seems to be tied up with a man from Matiu’s past, a man who takes pleasure in watching dogs tear each other to pieces for profit and entertainment.” (Catalogue)

A foreign country : New Zealand speculative fiction
“Strange creatures are loose in Miramar, desperate survivors cling to the remains of a submerged country, humanity’s descendants seek to regain what they’ve lost, and the residents of Gisborne reluctantly serve alien masters. The visions of New Zealand – and beyond – painted in this collection of short stories are both instantly recognisable, and nothing like the place we know. A FOREIGN COUNTRY brings together the work of established authors and fresh voices to showcase the range of stories produced by New Zealand’s growing community of speculative fiction writers.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Regeneration : New Zealand speculative fiction II
“Some things are gone forever; but that is not the end. There are new lives to be lived, new discoveries to be made, changes to be fought for, enjoyed, or feared. Experience worlds where existence continues beyond death and much-wanted babies become something else entirely. Where humanity endures in hostile environments, societies adapt to new challenges and inventions, and strange creatures live secretly among us. Travel from a curiously altered Second World War to other universes at the end of time, taking in diverse visions of New Zealand and worlds beyond along the way. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Winged horses and a trio of New Zealand titles to be found in this month’s selection of newly acquired Science Fiction, Horror and Fantasy books

MiraX via GIPHY

‘It’s your worst nightmare. That’s why you’re writing it.’

– Emily Perkins about the manuscript that became Unsheltered.

The thriving and diverse nature of New Zealand’s Science Fiction, Fantasy, Horror, and speculative fiction scene is very much to the fore and in evidence in this month’s selection of recently acquired titles with not one or two, but three New Zealand releases in the list.

First up we have Ghost bus: tales from Wellington’s dark side by Anna Kirtlan, a collection of comic supernatural stories featuring sea monsters, ghosts and troublesome witches in a collection that is a love letter to paranormal Wellington.

The second newly released title is Unsheltered by Clare Moleta, in which a mother travels across a disintegrating country marked by a collapsing ecosystem and the attendant social disintegration in search of her lost daughter. A taut and compulsive, page-turning read.

And rounding off these three we have Melanie Harding-Shaw’s, debut book Alt-ernate: A collection of 37 stories, gathered together from numerous publications since 2016, as well as a few previously unpublished works, and featuring a story for every year of her life. Melanie’s versatility as a writer really comes to the fore in the collection with strange, dark, and melancholic tales mingling with sweet or light-hearted yarns. A fabulous debut which was  followed up recently by Melanie’s lockdown witchy fiction  novella ‘Against the grain’; we very much look forward to more from Melanie. Below are these and a few other selected titles.

Ghost bus : tales from Wellington’s dark side / Kirtlan, Anna
“Ghosts, sea monsters and a rest home for troublesome witches all feature in this collection of paranormal short stories set in Wellington, New Zealand. By turns spooky and laugh out loud funny, these tales stew with malevolence and mischief. Climb aboard the ghost bus for a wild ride of sci-fi, fantasy, horror and humour and hop off a little more in love with Aotearoa’s capital city.” (Catalogue)

 

Unsheltered / Moleta, Clare
“Against a background of social breakdown and destructive weather, Unsheltered tells the story of a woman’s search for her daughter. Li never wanted to bring a child into a world like this but now that eight-year-old Matti is missing, she will stop at nothing to find her. As she crosses the great barren country alone and on foot, living on what she can find and fuelled by visions of her daughter just out of sight ahead, Li will have every instinct tested. She knows the odds against her: an uncompromising landscape, an uncaring system, time running out, and the risks of any encounters on the road. But her own failings and uncertainty might be the greatest obstacle of all. Because even if she finds her, how can she hope to shield Matti from the future?” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

Alt-ernate : a collection of 37 stories / Harding-Shaw, Melanie
“Alt-ernate is the debut short story collection from author Melanie Harding-Shaw, showcasing her versatility as a writer. This ability to write in many different voices and tones  really comes to the fore in this collection with strange, dark, and melancholic tales mingling with sweet or light-hearted yarns.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

 

The thief on the winged horse / Mascarenhas, Kate
“The Kendrick family have been making world-famous dolls for over 200 years. But their dolls aren’t coveted for the craftsmanship alone. Each one has a specific emotion laid on it by its creator. A magic that can make you feel bucolic bliss or consuming paranoia at a single touch. Though founded by sisters, now only men may know the secrets of the workshop. Persephone Kendrick longs to break tradition and learn her ancestors’ craft, and when a handsome stranger arrives claiming doll-making talent and blood ties to the family, she sees a chance to grasp all she desires. But then, one night, the firm’s most valuable doll is stolen. Only someone with knowledge of magic could have taken her. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Ariadne / Saint, Jennifer
“Ariadne, Princess of Crete, grows up greeting the dawn from her beautiful dancing floor and listening to her nursemaid’s stories of gods and heroes. But beneath her golden palace echo the ever-present hoofbeats of her brother, the Minotaur, a monster who demands blood sacrifice. When Theseus, Prince of Athens, arrives to vanquish the beast, Ariadne sees in his green eyes not a threat but an escape. Defying the gods, betraying her family and country, and risking everything for love, Ariadne helps Theseus kill the Minotaur. But will Ariadne’s decision ensure her happy ending? And what of Phaedra, the beloved younger sister she leaves behind?”(Adapted from Catalogue)

The helm of midnight / Lostetter, Marina J
“In a daring and deadly heist, thieves have made away with an artifact of terrible power-the death mask of Louis Charbon. Made by a master craftsman, it is imbued with the spirit of a monster from history, a serial murderer who terrorized the city. Now Charbon is loose once more, killing from beyond the grave. But these murders are different from before, not simply random but the work of a deliberate mind probing for answers to a sinister question. It is up to Krona Hirvath and her fellow Regulators to enter the mind of madness to stop this insatiable killer while facing the terrible truths left in his wake.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

A girl made of air / Hetherington, Nydia
“This is the story of The Greatest Funambulist Who Ever Lived… Born into a post-war circus family, our nameless star was unwanted and forgotten, abandoned in the shadows of the big top. until the bright light of Serendipity Wilson threw her into focus. Now an adult, haunted by an incident in which a child was lost from the circus, our narrator, a tightrope artiste, weaves together her spellbinding tales of circus legends, earthy magic and folklore, all in the hope of finding the child… But will her story be enough to bring the pair together again? Beautiful and intoxicating, A Girl Made of Air brings the circus to life in all of its grime and glory.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The shadow in the glass / Harwood, JJA
“When a fairy godmother makes her an offer that will change her life–seven wishes, hers to make as she pleases–lowly maid Ella soon discovers that each wish comes with a high price and must decide whether it’s one she is willing to pay.” (Catalogue)

 

 

The animals in that country / McKay, Laura Jean
“Hard-drinking, foul-mouthed, and allergic to bullshit, Jean is not your usual grandma. She’s never been good at getting on with other humans, apart from her beloved granddaughter, Kimberly. Instead, she surrounds herself with animals, working as a guide in an outback wildlife park. And although Jean talks to all her charges, she has a particular soft spot for a young dingo called Sue. As disturbing news arrives of a pandemic sweeping the country, Jean realises this is no ordinary flu: its chief symptom is that its victims begin to understand the language of animals – first mammals, then birds and insects, too. As the flu progresses, the unstoppable voices become overwhelming, and many people begin to lose their minds, including Jean’s infected son.” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an Ebook.

 

Event with H. G. Parry today – 22nd July

Catalogue link: Hannah Parry's A Radical Act of Free Magic

We are absolutely thrilled to announce that we will be hosting an event with Hannah Parry, in conversation with Casey Lucas-Quaid, to celebrate the launch of her latest novel A Radical Act of Free Magic.

Facebook event for Hannah Parry, in conversation with Casey Lucas-Quaid

Where? Te Awe Library, 29 Brandon Street

When? Thursday 22nd July at 6pm

Event on Facebook

Hannah's website
Hannah Parry

The internationally acclaimed and hugely popular H. G. Parry is truly a star of the New Zealand speculative fiction scene. Her first novel, The unlikely escape of Uriah Heep, quickly gained her a devoted fan base with its Wellington setting and magical host of characters. She has since followed up with A declaration of the rights of magicians, and we’re looking forward to the forthcoming A radical act of free magic — which advanced reviews have already described as “absolutely superb”.

Hannah holds a PhD in English Literature from Victoria University and currently lives in a book-infested flat on the Kapiti Coast, which she shares with her sister and an increasing menagerie of small animals. She lists her hobbies as: books, travelling, history, rabbits, tea, windy days, and Oxford commas (hooray!).

Casey Lucas-Quaid
Casey Lucas-Quaid

H.G. Parry will be in conversation with fellow science fiction and fantasy author, Casey Lucas-Quaid, winner of the 2020 Sir Julius Vogel Award for Best Short Story (as well as ice hockey reporter, games writer and NaNoWriMo devotee).

It promises to be an entertaining, enlightening, enthralling, and unmissable event, so put it in your calendar and come along!

Browse Hannah’s books:

The unlikely escape of Uriah Heep / Parry, H. G.
“For his entire life, Charley Sutherland has concealed a magical ability he can’t quite control: he can bring characters from books into the real world. His older brother, Rob – a young lawyer with a normal house, a normal fiancee, and an utterly normal life – hopes that this strange family secret will disappear with disuse, and he will be discharged from his life’s duty of protecting Charley and the real world from each other. But then, literary characters start causing trouble in their city, making threats about destroying the world… and for once, it isn’t Charley’s doing. There’s someone else who shares his powers. It’s up to Charley and a reluctant Rob to stop them, before these characters tear apart the fabric of reality.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

A declaration of the rights of magicians / Parry, H. G.
“A sweeping tale of revolution and wonder in a world not quite like our own. It is the Age of Enlightenment — of new and magical political movements, from the necromancer Robespierre calling for revolution in France to the weather mage Toussaint L’Ouverture leading the slaves of Haiti in their fight for freedom, to the bold new Prime Minister William Pitt weighing the legalization of magic amongst commoners in Britain and abolition throughout its colonies overseas. But amidst all of the upheaval of the early modern world, there is an unknown force inciting all of human civilization into violent conflict. And it will require the combined efforts of revolutionaries, magicians, and abolitionists to unmask this hidden enemy before the whole world falls to darkness and chaos.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

A radical act of free magic : a novel / Parry, H. G.
“The Concord has been broken, and a war of magic engulfs the world. In France, the brilliant young battle-mage Napoleon Bonaparte has summoned a kraken from the depths, and under his command, the Army of the Dead have all but conquered Europe.  In Saint Domingue, Fina watches as Toussaint Louverture navigates these opposing forces to liberate the country.But there is another, even darker war being fought beneath the surface: the first vampire war in hundreds of years. The enemy blood magician who orchestrated Robespierre’s downfall  to bring about a return to dark magic to claim all of Europe. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Find Casey’s work in…

Year’s best Aotearoa New Zealand science fiction & fantasy. V2
“Ancient myths go high-tech a decade after the New New Zealand Wars. Safe homes and harbours turn to strangeness within and without.Splintered selves come together again – or not. Twelve authors. Thirteen stories. The best short science fiction and fantasy from Aotearoa New Zealand in 2019. With works by: Juliet Marillier, Nic Low, Rem Wigmore, Andi C Buchanan, Octavia Cade, A.J. Fitzwater, Nicole Tan, Melanie Harding-Shaw, Alisha Tyson, James Rowland, Zoë Meager, and Casey Lucas.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Interview with award-winning NZ author Lee Murray – coming 25 July

The fabulous Lee Murray recently won two Bram Stoker Awards®; the Oscars for dark writing and the world’s premier literary horror awards!  One in the category Superior Achievement in a Fiction Collection for Grotesque: Monster Stories and the other for Black Cranes: Tales of Unquiet Women in the category of Superior Achievement in an Anthology.

Lee has also recently been nominated in the Shirley Jackson Awards for Black Cranes,  shortlisted for the Ladies of Horror Fiction Awards in the Short Fiction Category for ‘Heart Music’ from Grotesque: Monster Stories, is a nominee in Horror Fiction in the Skoutz Awards for Beutezeit, the German translation of Into the Mist and is also currently nominated in four categories of New Zealand’s Sir Julius Vogel Awards (Novel, Short Fiction, Collection, and Services to Science Fiction and Horror).

So, with all these awards and accolades pouring in we thought what better time to approach Lee about the possibility of doing an interview. So next Sunday 25 July at 7.30 pm as a Facebook premier FREE event we have an exclusive in-depth interview and reading with Lee where she talks in detail about her work, inspirations, background, and a whole host of other topics. For anyone interested in Lee’s work or, indeed, speculative fiction or horror in general, the interview is unmissable.

To make sure you are first in line to see this exclusive interview, keep a close eye on our Facebook page. After the premier on Sunday 25th of July 2021 the interview will be available to view at any time.

We wish to expend our heartfelt thanks to Lee and her film crew Dhaivat Mehta and Harry Oram. Find out more about Lee’s work by visiting her website.

Browse Lee’s work in our catalogue:

Black cranes : tales of unquiet women
“Almond-eyed celestial, the filial daughter, the perfect wife. Quiet, submissive, demure. In Black Cranes, Southeast Asian writers of horror both embrace and reject these traditional roles in a unique collection of stories which dissect their experiences of ‘otherness,’ be it in the colour of their skin, the angle of their cheekbones, the things they dare to write, or the places they have made for themselves in the world. Black Cranes is a dark and intimate exploration of what it is to be a perpetual outsider.” (Catalogue)

Into the ashes / Murray, Lee
” The nation’s leaders scoff at the danger. That is; until the ground opens and all hell breaks loose. The armed forces are hastily deployed; NZDF Sergeant Taine McKenna and his section tasked with evacuating civilians and tourists from Tongariro National Park. It is too little, too late. With earthquakes coming thick and fast and the mountains spewing rock and ash, McKenna and his men are cut off. Their only hope of rescuing the stranded civilians is to find another route out, but a busload of prison evacuees has other ideas. And, deep beneath the earth’s crust, other forces are stirring, ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Into the sounds / Murray, Lee
“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. 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. 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?​”(Adapted from Catalogue)

Into the mist / Murray, Lee
“When New Zealand Defense Force Sergeant Taine McKenna and his squad are tasked with escorting a bunch of civilian contractors into Te Urewera National Park, it seems a strange job for the army. Taine draws on ancient tribal wisdom as he becomes desperate to bring his charges out alive. Will it be enough to stop the nightmare? And when the mist clears, will anyone be left?” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Te korero ahi kā : To speak of the home fires burning
“Here, between the realms of the Sky Father and Earth Mother, hellhounds race, ghosts drift and the taniwha stalks. Home fires drive them back, sparking stories and poems that traverse seconds, eons, and parsecs. Tales of gatekeepers, cloak wearers, and secrets. Of pigs with AK-47s or ruby-hued eyes, of love-struck moa, and unruly reflections. Stark truths and beautiful possibilities. Te Korero Ahi Kā-to speak of the home fires burning-is an anthology of science fiction, fantasy, and horror, showcasing work from award-winning and emerging members of SpecFicNZ (New Zealand authors, poets, artists of speculative fiction. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

At the edge
“Step up, as close as you dare… …to a place at the edge of sanity, where cicadas scritch across balmy summer nights, at the edge of town, where the cellphone coverage is decidedly dodgy, at the edge of space, where a Mimbinus argut bounds among snowy rocks, at the edge of the page, where demon princes prance in the shadows, at the edge of despair, where 10 darushas will get you a vodka lime and a ring side seat, at the edge of the universe, where time stops but space goes on… From the brink of civilisation, the fringe of reason, and the border of reality, come 23 stories infused with the bloody-minded spirit of the Antipodes. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Blood of the sun / Rabarts, Dan
“There’s been a gang massacre on Auckland’s Freyberg Wharf. Body parts everywhere. And with the police’s go-to laboratory out of action, it’s up to scientific consult Pandora (Penny) Yee to sort through the mess. It’s a hellish task, made worse by the earthquake swarms, the insufferable heat, and Cerberus’ infernal barking. And what’s got into her brother Matiu? Does it have something to do with the ship’s consignment? Or is Matiu running with the gangs again? Join Penny and Matiu Yee for the family reunion to end all family reunions, as the struggle between light and dark erupts across Auckland’s volcanic skyline.”–Publisher description.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Teeth of the wolf / Rabarts, Dan
“Scientific consultant Penny Yee has barely drawn breath before Detective Inspector Tanner assigns her another suspicious death, with Matiu tagging along for the ride. That’s fine as long as he stays outside the crime scene tape, but when one of Matiu’s former cronies turns up dead, Penny wonders if her brother might be more than just an innocent bystander. While she’s figuring that out, the entire universe conspires against her, with a cadaver going AWOL, her DNA sequencer spitting the dummy, and the rent due any day.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Hounds of the underworld / Rabarts, Dan
“On the verge of losing her laboratory, her savings, and all respect for herself, Pandora (Penny) Yee lands her first contract as scientific consult to the police department. Only she’s going to need to get around, and that means her slightly unhinged adopted brother, Matiu, will be doing the driving.  Matiu doesn’t like anything about this case, from the voices that screamed at him when he touched that bowl, to the way his hateful imaginary friend Makere has come back to torment him, to the fact that the victim seems to be tied up with a man from Matiu’s past, a man who takes pleasure in watching dogs tear each other to pieces for profit and entertainment.” (Catalogue)

A foreign country : New Zealand speculative fiction
“Strange creatures are loose in Miramar, desperate survivors cling to the remains of a submerged country, humanity’s descendants seek to regain what they’ve lost, and the residents of Gisborne reluctantly serve alien masters. The visions of New Zealand – and beyond – painted in this collection of short stories are both instantly recognisable, and nothing like the place we know. A FOREIGN COUNTRY brings together the work of established authors and fresh voices to showcase the range of stories produced by New Zealand’s growing community of speculative fiction writers.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Regeneration : New Zealand speculative fiction II
“Some things are gone forever; but that is not the end. There are new lives to be lived, new discoveries to be made, changes to be fought for, enjoyed, or feared. Experience worlds where existence continues beyond death and much-wanted babies become something else entirely. Where humanity endures in hostile environments, societies adapt to new challenges and inventions, and strange creatures live secretly among us. Travel from a curiously altered Second World War to other universes at the end of time, taking in diverse visions of New Zealand and worlds beyond along the way. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Listen to our interview with H. G. Parry

Catalogue link: Hannah Parry's A Radical Act of Free Magic

Facebook event for Hannah Parry, in conversation with Casey Lucas-QuaidWe are totally thrilled to be hosting an exclusive launch event with the wonderful H.G. Parry, in conversation with Casey Lucas-Quaid, to celebrate the release of her latest novel A Radical Act of Free Magic at Te Awe Brandon Street Library on 22 July at 6pm!

Hannah is an internationally acclaimed Historical Fantasy fiction writer whose previous books The Unlikely Escape of Uriah Heep and A Declaration of the Rights of Magicians have gained her an ever-growing, dedicated, passionate, and loyal fanbase. And to get you in the zone for this event we had the rare chance to catch up and interview Hannah about her work, done in conjunction with our friends at Radio Active FM88.6.

You can listen to the interview by clicking below:

 

The unlikely escape of Uriah Heep / Parry, H. G.
“For his entire life, Charley Sutherland has concealed a magical ability he can’t quite control: he can bring characters from books into the real world. His older brother, Rob – a young lawyer with a normal house, a normal fiancee, and an utterly normal life – hopes that this strange family secret will disappear with disuse, and he will be discharged from his life’s duty of protecting Charley and the real world from each other. But then, literary characters start causing trouble in their city, making threats about destroying the world… and for once, it isn’t Charley’s doing.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

A declaration of the rights of magicians / Parry, H. G.
“It is the Age of Enlightenment — of new and magical political movements, from the necromancer Robespierre calling for revolution in France to the weather mage Toussaint L’Ouverture leading the slaves of Haiti in their fight for freedom, to the bold new Prime Minister William Pitt weighing the legalisation of magic amongst commoners in Britain and abolition throughout its colonies overseas. But amidst all of the upheaval of the early modern world, there is an unknown force inciting all of human civilization into violent conflict.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

A radical act of free magic : a novel / Parry, H. G.
“A war of magic engulfs the world. In France, the brilliant tactician Napoléon Bonaparte has risen to power, and under his command, the army of the dead have all but conquered Europe. Britain fights back, but Wilberforce’s own battle to bring about free magic and abolition has met a dead end in the face of an increasingly repressive government. In Saint-Domingue, Fina aids as Toussaint Louverture navigates these opposing forces to liberate the country. But there is another, even darker war being fought beneath the surface: the first vampire war in hundreds of years.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

“Writers use everything” – Octavia E. Butler: Our selection of newly acquired Science Fiction and Fantasy titles

“Writers use everything. We can’t help it. Whatever touches us touches our writing.”
Octavia E. Butler Landing

When NASA’s  Perseverance rover landed on mars it did so at a landing location called “Octavia E. Butler Landing,” after the acclaimed science fiction author Octavia E. Butler.


MISSION: Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter : SPACECRAFT Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) :
INSTRUMENT  High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) Image credit NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona

Amongst this month’s recently acquired Science Fiction and Fantasy writers we have a newly-released collection of Octavia E Butler works from The Library of America. Octavia E Butler was a painfully shy child who sought refuge in Pasadena Central Library reading and writing fantasy; at age ten she begged her mother to buy a Remington typewriter and rarely wavered from that point onward in her quest to become a writer.

She attended community college during the time of the Black Power movement where she was encouraged to continue writing science fiction. Octavia E Butler was dismayed by the genre’s unimaginative portrayal of class and ethnicity, not to mention lack of female protagonists and set about writing works that addressed this bias.  She sold her first stories to the American Science Fiction writer Harlan Ellison, an early supporter of her work.

Octavia E  Butler works often explore issues of race, sex and power in an unsentimental and evocative way.  In her works she foresaw the major issues of the 21st century: environmental collapse, corporate greed, political and socio-economic decay and the ever-growing gap between the wealthy and the poor. She went on to become a multiple recipient of both the Nebula and the Hugo awards as well as a host of other accolades; her work is cited as a major influence by many of today’s Science Fiction authors. She passed in 2006.

Other fabulous titles we have in this month’s selection include Ben Aaronovitch’s latest work, a powerful new voice in the form of South Korean Kim Bo Young and the much anticipated The Memory Theater from Karin Tidbeck.

Octavia E. Butler : Kindred, Fledgling, collected stories / Butler, Octavia E
“This first volume in the Library of America edition of Octavia E. Butler’s collected works opens with her masterpiece, Kindred, one of the landmark American novels of the last half century. Its heroine, Dana, a Black woman, is pulled back and forth between the present and the pre-Civil War past, where she finds herself enslaved on the plantation of a white ancestor whose life she must save to preserve her own. In Fledgling, an amnesiac discovers that she is a vampire, with a difference: she is a new, experimental birth with brown skin, giving her the fearful ability to go out in sunlight. Rounding out the volume are eight short stories and five essays–including two never before collected.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

I’m waiting for you : and other stories / Kim, Bo Young
“In this mind-expanding work of speculative fiction, available in English for the first time, one of South Korea’s most treasured writers explores the driving forces of humanity–love, hope, creation, destruction, and the very meaning of existence–in two pairs of thematically interconnected stories. Four tales of speculative fiction includes the story of an engaged couple trying to fight time and space to get married and a story featuring godlike beings who created Earth and humanity and pass judgement on them” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The memory theater / Tidbeck, Karin
“In a world just parallel to ours exists a mystical realm known only as the Gardens. It is a place where feasts never end, games of croquette have devastating consequences, and teenagers are punished for growing up. For a select group of Masters, it’s a decadent paradise where time stands still. For those who serve them, however, it’s a slow torture where their lives can be ended in a blink. In a bid to escape before their youth betrays them, Dora and Thistle–best friends and confidants–set out on a remarkable journey through time and space.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

In the quick : a novel / Day, Kate Hope
“June is a brilliant but difficult girl with a gift for mechanical invention who leaves home to begin a grueling astronaut training program. Six years later, she has gained a coveted post as an engineer on a space station, but is haunted by the mystery of Inquiry, a revolutionary spacecraft powered by her beloved late uncle’s fuel cells. The spacecraft went missing when June was twelve years old, and while the rest of the world has forgotten them, June alone has evidence that makes her believe the crew is still alive…” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Dark lullaby / Ho-Yen, Polly
“The world is suffering an infertility crisis, the last natural birth was over twenty years ago and now the only way to conceive is through a painful fertility treatment. Any children born are strictly monitored, and if you are deemed an unfit parent then your child is extracted. After witnessing so many struggling to conceive – and then keep – their babies, Kit thought she didn’t want children. But then she meets Thomas and they have a baby girl, Mimi. Soon the small mistakes build up and suddenly Kit is faced with the possibility of losing her daughter, and she is forced to ask herself how far she will go to keep her family together.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The ladies of the secret circus / Sayers, Constance
“Paris, 1925: To enter the Secret Circus is to enter a world of wonder–a world where women weave illusions of magnificent beasts, carousels take you back in time, and trapeze artists float across the sky. Bound to her family’s circus, it’s the only world Cecile Cabot knows until she meets a charismatic young painter and embarks on a passionate affair that could cost her everything. Virginia, 2004: Lara Barnes is on top of the world, but when her fiancé disappears on their wedding day every plan she has for the future comes crashing down… ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The fall of Koli / Carey, M. R.
““What will the future hold for those who are left? Koli has come a long way since being exiled from his small village of Mythen Rood. In his search for the fabled tech of the Old Times, he knew he’d be battling shunned men, strange beasts, and trees that move as fast as whips. But he has already encountered so much more than he bargained for. Now that Koli and his companions have found the source of the signal they’ve been following—the mysterious “Sword of Albion”—there is hope that their perilous journey will finally be worth something. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Doors ? Colony / Heitz, Markus
“When his beloved only daughter goes missing, millionaire entrepreneur Walter van Dam calls in a team of experts to find her. But the rescuers are not the only people on her trail, and there are dangers in the underground labyrinth that no one could ever have foreseen. In a gigantic cavern the would-be rescuers come across a number of strange doors marked with enigmatic symbols. Anna-Lena must be behind one of them, but time is running out and they need to choose, quickly, for suddenly, they are all at risk. They little expect DOOR ? to take them back to the 1940s — but this is not the 1940s they know….” (Adapted from Catalogue)

What Abigail did that summer / Aaronovitch, Ben
“Ghost hunter, fox whisperer, troublemaker. It is the summer of 2013 and Abigail Kamara has been left to her own devices. This might, by those who know her, be considered a mistake. While her cousin, police constable and apprentice wizard Peter Grant, is off in the sticks chasing unicorns, Abigail is chasing her own mystery. Teenagers around Hampstead Heath have been going missing but before the police can get fully engaged, the teens return home – unharmed but vague about where they’ve been. Aided only by her new friend Simon, her knowledge that magic is real, and a posse of talking foxes that think they’re spies, Abigail must venture into the wilds of Hampstead to discover who is luring the teenagers and more importantly – why?” (Adapted from Catalogue) Check out our interview with Ben Aaronovitch ( see below)

NZ author Lee Murray picks up two Bram Stoker Awards®

A huge congratulations to the fabulous Lee Murray for her double win at the recent Bram Stoker Awards®  — the Oscars for dark writing and the world’s premier literary horror awards!

Catalogue link for Black CranesLee won in the category Superior Achievement in a Fiction Collection for Grotesque: Monster Stories (link goes to Lee’s website, look for our copy on the catalogue soon); and for Black Cranes: Tales of Unquiet Women (reserve your copy now) in the category of Superior Achievement in an Anthology.

Lee’s works and exploits in speculative fiction in New Zealand are numerous and wide-ranging. She has previously received the Sir Julius Vogel Award for Best Novel (Into the sounds) as well as Best Collected Work as one of three editors on Te Korero Ahi Kā collection, but Murray’s work isn’t just limited to the page. She has also helped establish key writing communities in New Zealand and been involved with events such as GeyserCon. In 2020, she was made an Honorary Literary Fellow in the New Zealand Society of Authors’ annual Waitangi Day Honours. Her other works include the Taine McKenna military thrillers, and supernatural crime-noir series The Path of Ra, co-written with Dan Rabarts, as well as several books for children.

Find out more about Murray’s work on her website:

Visit Lee Murray’s website

Below we’ve included our exclusive video featuring Lee Murray and her The Path of Ra co author Dan Rabarts reading their work in our Home With Ghosts series.

Browse Lee’s work:

Black cranes : Tales of unquiet women.
“Almond-eyed celestial, the filial daughter, the perfect wife. Quiet, submissive, demure. In Black Cranes, Southeast Asian writers of horror both embrace and reject these traditional roles in a unique collection of stories which dissect their experiences of ‘otherness’, be it in the colour of their skin, the angle of their cheekbones, the things they dare to write, or the places they have made for themselves in the world.Black Cranes is a dark and intimate exploration of what it is to be a perpetual outsider.” (Catalogue)


Into the ashes / Murray, Lee
” The nation’s leaders scoff at the danger. That is; until the ground opens and all hell breaks loose. The armed forces are hastily deployed; NZDF Sergeant Taine McKenna and his section tasked with evacuating civilians and tourists from Tongariro National Park. It is too little, too late. With earthquakes coming thick and fast and the mountains spewing rock and ash, McKenna and his men are cut off. Their only hope of rescuing the stranded civilians is to find another route out, but a busload of prison evacuees has other ideas. And, deep beneath the earth’s crust, other forces are stirring, ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Into the sounds / Murray, Lee
“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. 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. 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?​”(Adapted from Catalogue)

Into the mist / Murray, Lee
“When New Zealand Defense Force Sergeant Taine McKenna and his squad are tasked with escorting a bunch of civilian contractors into Te Urewera National Park, it seems a strange job for the army. Taine draws on ancient tribal wisdom as he becomes desperate to bring his charges out alive. Will it be enough to stop the nightmare? And when the mist clears, will anyone be left?” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Te korero ahi kā : To speak of the home fires burning
“Here, between the realms of the Sky Father and Earth Mother, hellhounds race, ghosts drift and the taniwha stalks. Home fires drive them back, sparking stories and poems that traverse seconds, eons, and parsecs. Tales of gatekeepers, cloak wearers, and secrets. Of pigs with AK-47s or ruby-hued eyes, of love-struck moa, and unruly reflections. Stark truths and beautiful possibilities. Te Korero Ahi Kā-to speak of the home fires burning-is an anthology of science fiction, fantasy, and horror, showcasing work from award-winning and emerging members of SpecFicNZ (New Zealand authors, poets, artists of speculative fiction. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

At the edge
“Step up, as close as you dare… …to a place at the edge of sanity, where cicadas scritch across balmy summer nights, at the edge of town, where the cellphone coverage is decidedly dodgy, at the edge of space, where a Mimbinus argut bounds among snowy rocks, at the edge of the page, where demon princes prance in the shadows, at the edge of despair, where 10 darushas will get you a vodka lime and a ring side seat, at the edge of the universe, where time stops but space goes on… From the brink of civilisation, the fringe of reason, and the border of reality, come 23 stories infused with the bloody-minded spirit of the Antipodes. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Blood of the sun / Rabarts, Dan
“There’s been a gang massacre on Auckland’s Freyberg Wharf. Body parts everywhere. And with the police’s go-to laboratory out of action, it’s up to scientific consult Pandora (Penny) Yee to sort through the mess. It’s a hellish task, made worse by the earthquake swarms, the insufferable heat, and Cerberus’ infernal barking. And what’s got into her brother Matiu? Does it have something to do with the ship’s consignment? Or is Matiu running with the gangs again? Join Penny and Matiu Yee for the family reunion to end all family reunions, as the struggle between light and dark erupts across Auckland’s volcanic skyline.”–Publisher description.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Teeth of the wolf / Rabarts, Dan
“Scientific consultant Penny Yee has barely drawn breath before Detective Inspector Tanner assigns her another suspicious death, with Matiu tagging along for the ride. That’s fine as long as he stays outside the crime scene tape, but when one of Matiu’s former cronies turns up dead, Penny wonders if her brother might be more than just an innocent bystander. While she’s figuring that out, the entire universe conspires against her, with a cadaver going AWOL, her DNA sequencer spitting the dummy, and the rent due any day.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Hounds of the underworld / Rabarts, Dan
“On the verge of losing her laboratory, her savings, and all respect for herself, Pandora (Penny) Yee lands her first contract as scientific consult to the police department. Only she’s going to need to get around, and that means her slightly unhinged adopted brother, Matiu, will be doing the driving.  Matiu doesn’t like anything about this case, from the voices that screamed at him when he touched that bowl, to the way his hateful imaginary friend Makere has come back to torment him, to the fact that the victim seems to be tied up with a man from Matiu’s past, a man who takes pleasure in watching dogs tear each other to pieces for profit and entertainment.” (Catalogue)

A foreign country : New Zealand speculative fiction
“Strange creatures are loose in Miramar, desperate survivors cling to the remains of a submerged country, humanity’s descendants seek to regain what they’ve lost, and the residents of Gisborne reluctantly serve alien masters. The visions of New Zealand – and beyond – painted in this collection of short stories are both instantly recognisable, and nothing like the place we know. A FOREIGN COUNTRY brings together the work of established authors and fresh voices to showcase the range of stories produced by New Zealand’s growing community of speculative fiction writers.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Regeneration : New Zealand speculative fiction II
“Some things are gone forever; but that is not the end. There are new lives to be lived, new discoveries to be made, changes to be fought for, enjoyed, or feared. Experience worlds where existence continues beyond death and much-wanted babies become something else entirely. Where humanity endures in hostile environments, societies adapt to new challenges and inventions, and strange creatures live secretly among us. Travel from a curiously altered Second World War to other universes at the end of time, taking in diverse visions of New Zealand and worlds beyond along the way. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Our selection of newly acquired Science Fiction and fantasy books for March

“Sourdough is basically an edible Tamagotchi.”
– Meik Wiking, The Little Book of Hygge: The Danish Way to Live Well
(Click here for availability of title).

Over the course of lockdown many of us discovered the magical powers of baking, but what if your baking was actually magical and you could make gingerbread people dance? Well, this is the fun and quirky premise of A wizard’s guide to defensive baking by T Kingfisher, a fantasy novel where Mona, the book’s protagonist, has to defend her embattled city using her unique magical powers. Other recently acquired titles include Samantha Shannon’s The Mask Falling, the very welcome release of Octavia E Butler’s Clay’s Ark,  the much-anticipated latest work from Lovecraft Country author Matt Ruff 88 names and Dealbreaker by L.X. Beckett, which should appeal to fans of Star Trek and Neuromancer.

A wizard’s guide to defensive baking / Kingfisher, T
“Fourteen-year-old Mona isn’t like the wizards charged with defending the city. She can’t control lightning or speak to water. Her familiar is a sourdough starter and her magic only works on bread. She has a comfortable life in her aunt’s bakery making gingerbread men dance. But Mona’s life is turned upside down when she finds a dead body on the bakery floor. An assassin is stalking the streets of Mona’s city, preying on magic folk, and it appears that Mona is his next target. And in an embattled city suddenly bereft of wizards, the assassin may be the least of Mona’s worries…” (Catalogue)

Fireheart tiger / Bodard, Aliette de
“Thanh is royalty in a beleaguered nation of scattered provinces pressured on all sides. The daughter of ancestors armed with swords and courage, she was fostered in a foreign capital to seal an alliance, and returned–to her powerful mother’s disappointment–quiet and thoughtful instead of brash and confident. Propped up by the guns and silver of Ephteria, a far more powerful empire, her country is losing the game of power. In Eldris, an Ephterian princess, Thanh finds both romance and intoxicating risk. Eldris may desire her, but she doesn’t respect what Thanh holds dear.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The mask falling / Shannon, Samantha
“Dreamwalker Paige Mahoney has eluded death again. Snatched from the jaws of captivity and consigned to a safe house in the Scion Citadel of Paris, she finds herself caught between those factions that seek Scion’s downfall and those who would kill to protect the Rephaim’s puppet empire. The mysterious Domino Program has plans for Paige, but she has ambitions of her own in this new citadel. With Arcturus Mesarthim-her former enemy-at her side, she embarks on an adventure that will lead her from the catacombs of Paris to the glittering hallways of Versailles. ” (Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

Dealbreaker / Beckett, L. X
“Rubi Whiting has done the impossible. She has proved that humanity deserves a seat at the galactic table. Well, at least a shot at a seat. Having convinced the galactic governing body that mankind deserves a chance at fixing their own problems, Rubi has done her part to launch the planet into a new golden age of scientific discovery and technological revolution. However, there are still those in the galactic community that think that humanity is too poisonous, too greedy, to be allowed in, and they will stop at nothing to sabotage a species determined to pull itself up.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Clay’s ark / Butler, Octavia E
“In an alternate America marked by volatile class warfare, Blake Maslin is traveling with his teenage twin daughters when their car is ambushed. Their attackers appear sickly yet possess inhuman strength, and they transport Blake’s family to an isolated compound. There, the three captives discover that the compound’s residents have a highly contagious alien disease that has mutated their DNA to make them powerful, dangerous, and compelled to infect others. If Blake and his daughters do not escape, they will be infected with a virus that will either kill them outright or transform them into outcasts whose very existence is a threat to the world around them.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

We could be heroes / Chen, Mike
Jamie woke up in an empty apartment with no memory and only a few clues to his identity, but with the ability to read and erase other people’s memories–a power he uses to hold up banks to buy coffee, cat food and books. Zoe is also searching for her past, and using her abilities of speed and strength. When the archrivals meet in a memory-loss support group, they realize the only way to reveal their hidden pasts might be through each other. As they uncover an ongoing threat, suddenly much more is at stake than their fragile friendship.” (Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

Beyond Kuiper : the galactic star alliance. Part one Volume one. / Medney, Matthew
“If our galaxy is so full of sentient life, why has no one said hello? We thought of a simple, logical reason: no one wants to. We possess extremely short memories and long grudges, and the likelihood of receiving alien tools to hasten our expansion seems downright foolhardy. The Galactic Star Alliance has been alive and well for millions of earth years. Hundreds of thousands of sentient worlds and trillions of beings walk, run, and crawl across the many home worlds of the Alliance. This revelation led to many questions. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

A history of what comes next / Neuvel, Sylvain
Always run, never fight. Preserve the knowledge. Survive at all costs.
Take them to the stars. Over 99 identical generations, Mia’s family has shaped human history to push them to the stars, making brutal, wrenching choices and sacrificing countless lives. Her turn comes at the dawn of the age of rocketry. Her mission: to lure Wernher Von Braun away from the Nazi party and into the American rocket program, and secure the future of the space race. But Mia’s family is not the only group pushing the levers of history: an even more ruthless enemy lurks behind the scenes. ” (Catalogue)

88 names : a novel / Ruff, Matt
“John Chu is a “sherpa”–a paid guide to online role-playing games like the popular Call to Wizardry. For a fee, he and his crew will provide you with a top-flight character. Chu’s new client, the pseudonymous Mr. Jones, claims to be a “wealthy, famous person” with powerful enemies, and he’s offering a ridiculous amount of money for a comprehensive tour of the world of virtual-reality gaming.  What begins as a whirlwind online adventure soon spills over into the real world. Chu must use every trick and resource at his disposal to stay one step ahead–because in real life, there is no reset button.” (Catalogue)

“Is there life on Mars?” Our selection of Martian novels.

Oh man, wonder if he’ll ever know
He’s in the best selling show
Is there life on Mars?” — David Bowie Life on Mars? lyrics

Gif Credit  NASA/JPL-Caltech

The Red Planet is very much in the news at the moment with the NASA’s Perseverance rover at this very moment trundling around its surface looking for life and sending back some astounding images in the process.

Click here for the latest news and images from the Perseverance mission.

However, Science fiction authors have for well over one hundred years, had a long romance with Mars with many finding life on the fourth planet from the sun.

Some of the most celebrated names in Science Fiction have looked to Mars for inspiration and, in the process, have created some of the most iconic novels in the genre. From the imperial fantasies of Edgar Rice Burroughs to realistic portrayals of survival on the Red  planet as portrayed in Andy Weirs The Martian, from the dying embers of a fading civilisation as documented by Ray Bradbury in The Martian Chronicles, to a future terra formed world where we can live as written in the Mars series by Kim Stanley Robinson. Below are just a few of the Science Fiction masterworks that use Mars as a point of inspiration.


Red Mars / Robinson, Kim Stanley
” Mars – the barren, forbidding planet that epitomises mankind’s dreams of space conquest. From the first pioneers who looked back at Earth and saw a small blue star, to the first colonists – hand-picked scientists with the skills necessary to create life from cold desert – Red Mars is the story of a new genesis. It is also the story of how Man must struggle against his own self-destructive mechanisms to achieve his dreams: before he even sets foot on the red planet, factions are forming, tensions are rising and violence is brewing… for civilization can be very uncivilized.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The Martian chronicles / Bradbury, Ray
“Colonists from Earth were few at first, and most of them suffered the illness called The Loneliness – because when you saw your home town, then your home planet, dwindle to the size of a fist, you felt you had never been born. Then came the overwhelming strangeness they would find on Mars.” (Catalogue)

The war of the worlds / Wells, H. G.
“In the late 19th century, a cylinder crashes down near London.  When George investigates, a Martian activates an evil machine and begins destroying everything in its path!  George must find a way to survive a War of the Worlds. Destruction erupts – ten massive aliens roam England and destroy with heat rays everything in their path. Very soon mankind finds itself on the brink of extinction. Wells raises questions of mortality, man’s place in nature, and the evil lurking in the technological future.” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an Audiobook as read by Star Trek actors . And as movie click here for details.

Overdrive cover The Martian Megapack,
“Edgar Rice Burroughs (ebook)This volume in the Megapack series assembles classic Martian science fiction, including the first 5 volumes of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Barsoom saga (A Princess of Mars, The Gods of Mars, Warlord of Mars, Thuvia, Maid of Mars, and The Chessmen of Mars), plus six more Martian novels and stories by other great writers. More than 1,300 pages of classic science fiction in all!” (Overdrive description) Click here for details of the recent movie. 

The Martian : a novel / Weir, Andy
“Six days ago, astronaut Mark Watney became one of the first people to walk on Mars. Now, he’s sure he’ll be the first person to die there. After a dust storm nearly kills him and forces his crew to evacuate while thinking him dead, Mark finds himself stranded and completely alone with no way to even signal Earth that he’s alive–and even if he could get word out, his supplies would be gone long before a rescue could arrive. But Mark isn’t ready to give up yet. Will his resourcefulness be enough to overcome the impossible odds against him?” (Adapted from Catalogue) We also have the award winning film Click here for details.

The sands of Mars / Clarke, Arthur C.
Renowned science fiction writer Martin Gibson joins the spaceship Ares, the world’s first interplanetary ship for passenger travel, on its maiden voyage to Mars. His mission: to report back to the home planet about the new Mars colony and the progress it has been making. First published in 1951, before the achievement of space flight, Clarke addresses hard physical and scientific issues with aplomb—and the best scientific understanding of the times. Included are the challenges of differing air pressures, lack of oxygen, food provisions, severe weather patterns, construction on Mars, and methods of local travel—both on the surface and to the planet’s two moons.” ( Adapted from Catalogue)  Also Available as an eBook

Overdrive cover The Lady Astronaut of Mars, Mary Robinette Kowal (ebook)
” Thirty years ago, Elma York led the expedition that paved the way to life on Mars. For years she’s been longing to go back up there, to once more explore the stars. But there are few opportunities for an aging astronaut, even the famous Lady Astronaut of Mars. When her chance finally comes, it may be too late. Elma must decide whether to stay with her sickening husband in what will surely be the final years of his life, or to have her final adventure and plunge deeper into the well of space.” (Adapted from Overdrive description)

Stranger in a strange land / Heinlein, Robert A.
” A human raised on Mars, Valentine Michael Smith has just arrived on planet Earth. Among his people for the first time, he struggles to understand the social mores and prejudices of human nature that are so alien to him, while his own “psi” powers–including telepathy, clairvoyance, telekenesis, and teleportation–make him a type of messiah figure among humans.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Martian time-slip / Dick, Philip K
Mars is not a happy place–a planet for exiles, drifters, and psychics, who would otherwise be executed. One such psychic is a ten-year-old boy named Manfred, a boy so powerful he not only looks into the future, but can send people there. But with the turbulent politics of Mars, that future might not be any better than the present. This twisty novel from Philip K. Dick is combines political intrigue, time travel, family drama, and all the perils that come with being the first at anything.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Out of the silent planet / Lewis, C. S.
“The first novel in C.S. Lewis’s classic sci-fi trilogy which tells the adventure of Dr Ransom who is kidnapped and transported to Mars, Dr Ransom, a Cambridge academic, is abducted and taken on a spaceship to the red planet of Malacandra, which he knows as Mars. His captors are plotting to plunder the planet’s treasures and plan to offer Ransom as a sacrifice to the creatures who live there. Ransom discovers he has come from the ‘silent planet’ – Earth – whose tragic story is known throughout the universe.” (Adapted from Catalogue) also available as an Audiobook .

New Science fiction and Fantasy

She just wanted – had always wanted – a good book to read. Being chased by hellhounds and blowing things up were comparatively unimportant parts of the job. Getting the books – now, that was what really mattered to her.” ― Genevieve Cogman, The Invisible Library

For some mysterious reason we love to see novels that feature libraries or librarians crossing our paths. So we were particularly excited when Genevieve Cogman’s latest instalment of her Invisible Library series of novels recently arrived. The Dark Archive is the seventh title in the series that revolves around a multidimensional library which gathers fiction from various different realities and the exploits of the librarians as they travel multiple universes to acquire titles for their library, that exists outside the boundaries of normal space and time. Genevieve Cogman has also written role-playing game scenarios and works as a clinical classification’s specialist for the NHS. Other new Science Fiction and Fantasy acquisitions include The down days by Hugo Ilze, Earthlings by Sayaka Murata and Gods of jade and shadow by Silvia Moreno-Garcia.

The down days : a novel / Hugo, Ilze
“In the aftermath of a deadly outbreak–reminiscent of the 1962 event of mass hysteria that was the Tanganyika Laughter Epidemic–a city at the tip of Africa is losing its mind, with residents experiencing hallucinations and paranoia. In a quarantined city in which the inexplicable has already occurred, rumors, superstitions, and conspiracy theories abound. Over the course of a single week, the paths of Faith, Sans, and a cast of other hustlers–including a data dealer, a drug addict, a sin eater, and a hyena man–will cross and intertwine as they move about the city, looking for lost souls, uncertain absolution, and answers that may not exist.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Earthlings : a novel / Murata, Sayaka
” As a child, Natsuki doesn’t fit in with her family. Her parents favour her sister, and her best friend is a plush toy hedgehog named Piyyut, who talks to her. He tells her that he has come from the planet Popinpobopia on a special quest to help her save the Earth.  Later, as a grown woman, living a quiet life with her asexual husband, Natsuki is still pursued by dark shadows from her childhood, and decides to flee the “baby factory” of society for good, searching for answers about the vast and frightening mysteries of the universe. Dreamlike, sometimes shocking, and always strange and wonderful.” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

To sleep in a sea of stars / Paolini, Christopher
 Kira Nav rez dreamed of life on new worlds. Now she’s awakened a nightmare. During a routine survey mission on an uncolonized planet, Kira finds an alien relic. At first she’s delighted, but elation turns to terror when the ancient dust around her begins to move. As war erupts among the stars, Kira is launched into a galaxy-spanning odyssey of discovery and transformation. First contact isn’t at all what she imagined, and events push her to the very limits of what it means to be human. While Kira faces her own horrors, Earth and its colonies stand upon the brink of annihilation. Now, Kira might be humanity’s greatest and final hope . . .” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook. 

Gods of jade and shadow / Moreno-Garcia, Silvia
“The Jazz Age is in full swing, but Casiopea Tun is too busy cleaning the floors of her wealthy grandfather’s house to listen to any fast tunes. Nevertheless, she dreams of a life far from her dusty small town in southern Mexico. A life she can call her own.  Yet this new life seems as distant as the stars, until the day she finds a curious wooden box in her grandfather’s room. She opens it–and accidentally frees the spirit of the Mayan god of death, success could make her dreams come true. And take her on a cross-country odyssey from the jungles of Yucatán to the bright lights of Mexico City–and deep into the darkness of the Mayan underworld. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The dark archive / Cogman, Genevieve
“A professional spy for a mysterious multidimensional library  which harvests fiction from different realities, Irene faces a series of assassination attempts that threaten to destroy her and everything she has worked for. Irene is teaching her new assistant the fundamentals of a Librarian’s job, and finding that training a young Fae is more difficult than she expected. But when they both narrowly avoid getting killed in an assassination attempt, she decides that learning by doing is the only option they have left – especially when the assassins keep coming for them, and for Irene’s other friends as well… ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Soot : a novel / Vyleta, Dan
” The year is 1909. It has been ten years since Thomas Argyle, Charlie Cooper and Livia Naylor set off a revolution by releasing Smoke upon the world. They were raised to think Smoke was a sign of sin manifested, but learned its suppression was really a means of controlling society. Smoke allowed people to mingle their emotions, to truly connect, and the trio thought that freeing the Smoke would bring down the oppressive power structure and create a fair and open society. But the consequences were far greater than they had imagined, and the world has fractured.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Black sun / Roanhorse, Rebecca
” In the holy city of Tova, the winter solstice is usually a time for celebration and renewal, but this year it coincides with a solar eclipse, a rare celestial event proscribed by the Sun Priest as an unbalancing of the world. Meanwhile, a ship launches from a distant city bound for Tova and set to arrive on the solstice. The captain of the ship, Xiala, is a disgraced Teek whose song can calm the waters around her as easily as it can warp a man’s mind. Her ship carries one passenger. Described as harmless, the passenger, Serapio, is a young man, blind, scarred, and cloaked in destiny. As Xiala well knows, when a man is described as harmless, he usually ends up being a villain. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Stars beyond / Dunstall, S. K.
” An engineer with a fondness for weapons. A captain with no memory. An obsessive genemodder who loves to tinker. Meet the crew of Another Road. Josune, Roystan, and Nika have escaped the company thugs trying to kill them. They’ve gotten a new spaceship to replace The Road (after it was blown up underneath them).  All that’s left to do before they head out to find the legendary lode of transurides is to restore Roystan’s memory. To do that, they need to collect the genemod machine Nika has ordered. But first, they have to shake off the Justice Department agent and the Companies tracking them. It should be easy. They’ve done it before. What could possibly go wrong?” (Adapted from Catalogue)