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My CoNZealand Climate Change Panels

Panel replays currently available for ConZealand members include these panels I took part in:

Climate Change and Conventions (first panel on this list)

Climate Fiction/Climate Fact (fifth panel on this list)

Check out all the great panels, readings etc that are available on replay!

What’s this all about?

CoNZealand, the 78th World Science Fiction Convention is over! The first to be based in Aotearoa, and the first to be held virtually.

There is so much to say about the convention – for now, I’m just going to congratulate the organisers for all the effort they put in to change a planned in-person convention to a virtual convention at a few months’ notice. There were a whole bunch of teething problems that affected many participants – one of my events vanished into a time-zone ether – but the impressive thing is that some many things worked, or were made to work after people spoke up to get them fixed.

For a few more days, many of the panels, readings and other events are available on replay. My personal highlight of the Con was the Climate Fiction/Climate Fact Panel, but right at the start of the Con, I also took part in the Climate Change and Conventions panel – here’s the presentation I prepared for that panel.

My First CoNZealand Panel: “Climate Change and Conventions” – Can We Go On Meeting Like This?


World War 2 poster showing a couple pondering a journey, with caption "Is Your Journey Really Necessary"?

The 78th World Science Fiction Convention, CoNZealand, is underway. (There is also a free fringe conference, CoNZealand Fringe!)

I’m getting fully into panel-going from tomorrow, but today I attended my first event as a panelist – “Climate Change and Conventions”, moderated by Erin Underwood with panelists Kyoko Ogushi and Cameron Bolinger. It was an excellent, wide-ranging discussion in a Q&A format, with lots of knowledgeable and helpful contributions in the chat.

There was general – although not universal – agreement that intercontinental travel for science fiction conventions needs to be restricted, and plenty of discussion of other ways in which conventions contribute to climate change – including the energy costs of virtual conventions.

Here’s the presentation I prepared for the panel: We Can’t Go On Meeting Like This (PDF, 385 KB)

Climate Fiction in New Zealand’s Mainstream Media: Stuff’s “Forever Project”

The Double-Cab Club, by Tim Jones (Forever Project, March 2020)

Resilience, by Octavia Cade (Forever Project, June 2020)

In March, New Zealand’s largest news outlet, Stuff, launched its Forever Project, which editor Eloise Gibson describes as “our way of saying we’re committed to clear-eyed, insistent coverage of the epoch-defining challenges of climate change and sustainability.”

The Forever Project represents a major change in the way Stuff has decided to cover climate change. Until a couple of years ago, Stuff was giving plenty of space to climate deniers and climate trolls: now, they’ve stopped doing that, and are writing many more in-depth stories on climate change and the promise and pitfalls of various approaches to addressing it. Their coverage isn’t perfect, but it’s a huge improvement.

The Forever Project has a print as well as an online component. Two copies of the Forever Project magazine have been distributed to Stuff subscribers so far, and each has included a climate fiction story – which is also available online.

I was delighted to be asked to write the story that appeared in the March 2020 edition of the Forever Project – a story set in 2030, as Aotearoa struggles to deal with both the causes and the effects of climate change – and also that Dr Octavia Cade was commissioned to write the story that appeared in the second issue.

Here’s how you can subscribe to the Forever Project newsletter.

As a bonus, the illustration for my story was created by the wonderful illustrator Ruby Jones – it was a pleasure to work with her.








Jeanette Fitzsimons’ Memorial Service, Wellington, 20 July 2020

I was honoured to have a small role in the memorial service for Jeanette Fitzsimons: former Green Party co-leader, activist, musician, farmer. I first met Jeanette in my teens and, since 2011, worked closely with her in Coal Action Network Aotearoa.

At the memorial service, I read a poem I’d been asked to write for the occasion, “What You Leave Behind”. The text of the poem is at the end of this post, and you can view Jeanette’s memorial service, and take a look at the programme, at the links below.

Watch Jeanette Fitzsimons Memorial Service

Download your copy of the programme here.

What You Leave Behind

The final movement of the last quartet
stumbles to an end. The players
raise their bows from the strings,
stand, incline their heads,

And wait as the silence stretches on.
The hall is empty. Only microphones
connect them with the world. Where
are you, where have you gone?

Gone from the valley, gone from the hill.
Gone your prodigious memory, your mind.
You were not a kind person, you told me once.
But your forte was kindness in action.

You planted a thousand thousand seeds.
Stony ground devoured some. Others
were taken by drought, swept away
by sudden flood and rising sea.

Yet hundreds still grow, seedlings
sheltered so long by the mighty parent tree
now spiraling upwards in the clearing
made by your fall from the canopy.

Silence in the hall, silence on the Hill.
The air lies thick and curdled.
In our lungs and in our bones
we feel the cost of consequences rise.

All voices end. Yours lives on
in wisdom, friendship, in example.
Be kind. Speak clearly. Be unafraid.
Block the gates of power and greed.

The players leave. The music hides
between the pages of the score.
Alone on stage, one music stand,
one violin, one bow, one empty chair.

Transformative Works: a poem for Level 3

This is the daily shipping news. Jashley,
Ashinda: behind them, the promise
of transformative works, the old Ministry
reassembling from neoliberal dust.

The old and the new scramble
for debt-free gold at the rainbow’s end,
the schemers of irrigation schemes
circling the circular economy.

Tunnel borers sharpen iron teeth.
Laws join the bonfire of regulations.
“What’ll it be, New Zealand –
the money or the body bags?”

What You Leave Behind: my tribute to Jeanette Fitzsimons

I was asked to write a poem in tribute to Jeanette Fitzsimons for her Wellington memorial service. That service, along with so much else, has now been postponed, but here is the poem – with thanks to Jenny Campbell for suggesting the whakatauki that precedes it.

This poem was published as part of Coal Action Network Aotearoa’s tribute to Jeanette Fitzsimons – Jeanette and I were members of the Coal Action Network Aotearoa Organising Group, and here is the full tribute, which has some wonderfully-written pieces about Jeanette.

What You Leave Behind

Whakatauki

Ehara i te tii e wana ake.
It is not like the ever-renewed shoots of the cabbage tree .

Death is final & irrevocable. The tii or cabbage tree is hard to kill, because new shoots spring from apparently dead branches.

The final movement of the last quartet
stumbles to an end. The players
raise their bows from the strings,
stand, incline their heads,

And wait as the silence stretches on.
The hall is empty. Only microphones
connect them with the world. Where
are you, where have you gone?

Gone from the valley, gone from the hill.
Gone your prodigious memory, your mind.
You were not a kind person, you told me once.
But your forte was kindness in action.

You planted a thousand thousand seeds.
Stony ground devoured some. Others
were taken by drought, swept away
by sudden flood and rising sea.

Yet hundreds still grow, seedlings
sheltered so long by the mighty parent tree
now spiraling upwards in the clearing
made by your fall from the canopy.

Silence in the hall, silence on the Hill.
The air lies thick and curdled.
In our lungs and in our bones
we feel the cost of consequences rise.

All voices end. Yours lives on
in wisdom, friendship, in example.
Be kind. Speak clearly. Be unafraid.
Block the gates of power and greed.

The players leave. The music hides
between the pages of the score.
Alone on stage, one music stand,
one violin, one bow, one empty chair.

Blackball Readers and Writers Festival 2020

I’m very happy to have been invited to take part in the second Blackball Readers and Writers Festival at Queen’s Birthday Weekend.

Below is info about the Festival from Paul Maunder. Check out Paul Maunder’s blog for a lot of very interesting thinking on climate change, just transition and many other things!

As someone who lived for 18 months on the West Coast as a child, I’m especially pleased to be going back to the Coast for this Festival.

The second Blackball Readers and Writers Festival will take place at Queen’s Birthday Weekend, running from midday Saturday 30th May to Sunday evening. This year’s theme is activists, renegades and recluses. It will take place once again in the beautiful setting of the local school.

To begin the festival, biographer, Pat White and editor and environmental writer, David Young will ‘recover’ the work of Greymouth born, Peter Hooper, poet, teacher, novelist, environmentalist and mentor to young writers. Choosing to stay and write on the Coast, he was in some ways, a tragic figure.

After a break, Caroline Selwood will interview Sandra Arnold, whose work includes two novels, a book on parental bereavement, a short fiction collection and her third, recent historical novel, The Ash, the Well and the Bluebell. To conclude the afternoon, Pat White will then read some of his own poems.

After dinner, Paul Maunder’s Waiting for Greta, a remake of the theatre classic, Waiting for Godot will be performed.

Sunday morning, Paddy Richardson will talk with Becky Manawatu, whose first novel, Auē, dealing with ‘kids, gangs and curdled masculinity’, has been very well received. Elspeth Sandys will then speak with David Young about her extensive writing life with a focus on her latest work, A Communist in the Family: Searching for Rewi Alley, a story that combines family memoir, biography, history and travelogue.

After lunch, Paul Maunder will talk with Nicky Hager, NZ’s best known investigative Journalist, whose books have uncovered environmental, political and military skulduggery. How did his work begin? What is the role of the journalist-writer, what is the methodology, what are the ethical issues?

The afternoon will conclude with a panel discussion with two writers, their source material and their motivation, chaired by Kennedy Warne. Tim Jones, whose latest novel is a Cli-Fi book, Where We Land will be joined by Kathleen Gallagher, whose recent novel Inangahua Gold is inspired by local history and environment. The festival will conclude with a dinner at which people can read a letter of importance in their lives, part of the festival’s aim to resurrect the art of the letter. A wide range of accommodation is available in Blackball.

Registration: wkcultur@gmail.com
Full festival: $80, including lunches and Saturday dinner. One day: $40. Session: $20

Two More Great Reviews For “Where We Land”

My climate fiction (clifi) novella Where We Land has been getting good reviews on Goodreads and elsewhere – and it’s now had good reviews in Pukapuka Aotearoa and Landfall Review Online as well.

Harvey Molloy reviews “Where We Land” for New Zealand Review of Books Pukapuka Aotearoa

Harvey Molloy writes:

What makes the novella such a compelling read is the fast-paced narration, coupled with descriptions that world-build a future Auckland in bold strokes: “In those years of the relentlessly rising sea, wealth brought elevation: the only people who lived close to the ever-advancing shoreline were those who could not afford to live further away.”

Climate fiction (cli-fi) can sometimes be a dry, ponderous genre…. Not so with Jones, whose sense of mischief is at times reminiscent of Margaret Atwood. There’s … a wry, often dark sense of humour at work.

Thanks, Harvey! For the full review, see New Zealand Review of Books Pukapuka Aotearoa 29(4) Summer 2019, p 35.

Rushi Vyas reviews “Where We Land” for Landfall Review Online 

Rushi Vyas writes:

Jones deftly world builds through dialogue and details that underscore language’s impact on how we relate to one another…. This dialogue enables Jones to paint, without exposition, his new New Zealand as a land ruled by xenophobia, sexism, a feared Navy and nationalism.

He wants readers to grapple with difficult questions. What happens when global warming meets nationalism and scarcity of resources? How does language condition our responses to human suffering? Donna’s relatable, easy foul mouth and difficult situation ensures that readers cannot simply assume, ‘yes, I would help the refugee’.

Jones makes us embody the situation, where it seems that struggling to get by competes against helping those on the brink of death. While Jones, a climate activist himself, wished action would have been taken before it made sense to republish this book, Where We Land is still a timely and gripping novella, one that does the stunning work that fiction can do – suspend our disbelief enough to help us rehearse our response to future tragedy.

Check out the full review, in which Rushi Vyas has good things to say about three books: Where We Land, The Everrumble by Michelle Elvy, and Soul Etchings by Sandra Arnold.

Tim Jones October Book News: Events and Calls for Submissions

After a quiet month on the book front due to protests and elections, I’m back into it! Below are several upcoming Wellington book events I’m going to be at – featuring climate fiction, science fiction poetry, writers from Matairangi / Mt Victoria, and the launch of two new speculative fiction books.

Also, for the writers among us, I have included several calls for submissions. The first, the anthology “Ko Aotearoa Tātou | We Are New Zealand”, closes 31 October, so don’t delay in checking it out!

Events

Tuesday 29 October: Write, Hear in Mt Victoria, 6.30-8pm, Quaker Meeting House, 7 Moncrieff St: https://www.facebook.com/events/467749827145434/

“On Tuesday 29 October the Mt Victoria Hub is hosting an evening showcase of local writers’ work. Join our wordsmith residents from 6.30pm for a wine reception followed by a panel where we will hear from some of our writers themselves talking about their work. All are welcome.”

I’m looking forward to taking part in this event.

Wednesday 30 October: Star Words: Voyagers and Beyond: SF and Speculative Poetry, 5.30-7.30pm, VicBooks Pipitea, 27 Lambton Quay: https://www.facebook.com/events/373700766841217/

“It’s the 10th anniversary of Voyagers: Science Fiction Poetry from New Zealand, the groundbreaking anthology of New Zealand speculative (science fiction, fantasy and horror) poetry, edited by Mark Pirie and Tim Jones and published in 2009.

What’s changed in speculative poetry in Aotearoa since then? What’s stayed the same?

Hear poets represented in Voyagers read their poems from the anthology – and hear new work by Wellington speculative poets. Let us know in the comments if you’d like to read at the event!

Join us to celebrate 10 years of Voyagers.”

Thursday 31 October: Paper Road Press’s Halloween Double Book Launch, 5.30-7.30pm, VicBooks Pipitea, 27 Lambton Quay: https://www.facebook.com/events/505091606719099/

“Join Paper Road Press at Vic Books Pipitea this Halloween to celebrate the publication of two fantastic new books:
FROM A SHADOW GRAVE, by Andi C. Buchanan
YEAR’S BEST AOTEAROA NEW ZEALAND SCIENCE FICTION & FANTASY: Volume I, edited by Marie Hodgkinson”

Tim says: These books both sound great and I am looking forwards to buying them.

Saturday 9 November: CliFi Panel, 7.15-8.00pm, Theosophical Society, 19 Marion St, Wellington

The climate crisis is rapidly worsening – and writers are responding. Climate fiction is a feature of the Verb Wellington Festival – and I’m happy to say I’m on one of the panels about climate change and writing: https://www.verbwellington.nz/festival-2019/litcrawl-clifi

“We’re living amid a crisis of near apocalyptic proportions. Tim Jones (Where We Land), Nicola Easthope (Working the Tang), Maru Nihohino (Metia Interactive) and Jeff Murray (Melt) talk with writer Arihia Latham about how environmental catastrophe influences their creative lives.”

45 minutes and right to the point, as part of LitCrawl, the seed from which the Verb Wellington Festival has grown.


Calls for Submissions

Here are some submission opportunities I recommend. The deadline for the first one is 31 October, so you have less than two weeks left to submit:

Submissions close 31 October 2019: “Ko Aotearoa Tātou | We Are New Zealand”, edited by Michelle Elvy, Paula Morris and James Norcliffe (anthology of original work)

“The editors seek submissions in fiction and nonfiction, poetry and visual art. Submissions are open through 31 October 2019. Please read the description and send your submission to: wearenzanthology[at]gmail[dot]com”

Full details of this important anthology are at https://wearenewzealand.org/

Submissions close at stated dates: Flash Frontier, the magazine for short-short stories (generally 250 words or less). Check out the individual submission deadlines here: https://www.flash-frontier.com/submissions/.

Submissions close 28 February 2020: “Black Dogs, Black Tales” anthology, edited by Tabatha Wood (mainly original work, but with some space for reprints)

“Many writers and creatives are plagued by depression and anxiety, often referred to as ‘The Black Dog.’ Ironically, it is during these dark days that our furry friends become our strongest supporters.

I’m working with a fantastic team to put together a horror/dark fiction anthology with a strong, canine theme where all sales go towards supporting mental health and suicide prevention charity: The Mental Health Foundation of New Zealand.” – Tabatha Wood.

Full submission guidelines for this speculative fiction anthology are here: http://tabathawood.com/open-call-for-submissions-black-dogs-black-tales/

Submissions close 1 March 2020: Year’s Best Aotearoa Science Fiction and Fantasy, Volume 2, edited by Marie Hodgkinson (reprint anthology)

“Editor Marie Hodgkinson is now seeking submissions to the second volume of the YEAR’S BEST AOTEAROA NEW ZEALAND SCIENCE FICTION AND FANTASY anthology.

Marie is looking for short stories (less than 10,000 words) from all genres and subgenres of science fiction and fantasy, by authors from Aotearoa New Zealand, and which were first published in 2019.”

Full guidelines: https://paperroadpress.co.nz/years-best/

I hope there is something in this list of events and submission calls that catches your eye – and i look forward to seeing you in person and/or in print!

How I Voted in Wellington’s Local Body Elections, and Why

Voting in Wellington’s local body elections closes on 12 October – and postal votes need to be posted before 8 October to make sure they arrive. I live in Pukehīnau /Lambton Ward and have recently voted in that ward, for Wellington Mayor and for the Wellington Ward of Greater Wellington Regional Council. Below are my thoughts on good people to vote for in those three races.

The main issue I voted on is support for stronger action on climate change – both reducing emissions and preparing Wellington for the effects of sea level rise, more flooding etc. 60% of Wellington’s emissions come from transport, which makes your Regional Council vote especially important, as they are responsible for land transport in the Wellington region.

If you want an explanation of how the STV voting system used in Wellington works, read this. You should keep ranking candidates until you get to the point that you can’t tell them apart any more.

Wellington Mayor: The 3 best candidates on climate action are Conor Hill, Jenny Condie and Norbert Hausberg. Of the 3 candidates most commentators regard as likely winners, I would rank Justin Lester ahead of Andy Foster, and Diane Calvert last. She is endorsed by the Wellington Party and wants “four lanes to the planes”. Don’t believe her answers on candidate scorecards – look at her actual policies. Also, the Wellington Party is a National Party front – as the Nats are blocking effective climate action nationwide, I ranked Wellington Party candidates last in all cases.

Justin and Andy have pros and cons on climate action. Justin has got it badly wrong in my view in supporting housing development at Shelly Bay and supporting a Wellington Airport runway extension – both major developments at or just above sea level, and both bad ideas in other ways too.

But as Justin is better on low-carbon transport overall – putting walking, cycling, better public transport and mass transit ahead of building more road capacity – and has generally delivered on other issues important to me, I gave Justin a higher ranking than Andy, who is promoting building more roads.

Pukehīnau /Lambton Ward [3 to be elected]: I gave my top 2 preferences to Green candidate Iona Pannett and Independent candidate Tamatha Paul (who are already working together well – check out their joint campaign video!).

Lee Orchard or Brian Dawson might be worth your 3rd ranking: Brian has been good in candidates’ meetings, but I have been less impressed with his performance as a Councillor. Nicola Young was the only Wellington councillor to vote against declaring a Climate & Ecological Emergency – sorry, Nicola, but for that I ranked you last!

Wellington Regional Council [5 to be elected from Wellington Ward]: This top 4 stood out for me: Roger Blakeley, Thomas Nash, Victoria Rhodes-Carlin, and Daran Ponter – the first 3 especially are strong on meaningful climate and environmental action, and Daran deserves credit for fronting on bus issues when other Regional Councillors wouldn’t.

Roger has a great deal of experience, is committed to getting light rail for Wellington, and has shown an ability to get good things done. Thomas and Victoria are outstanding new candidates who would bring energy, commitment, knowledge and diversity to a Council that has frequently lacked those qualities.

Jill Ford, David Lee, Yvonne Legarth and John Klaphake are all worth serious consideration for your fifth spot and the preferences that follow that. Jill is great on promoting active modes (cycling and walking), and David Lee, who’s stepping down from the City Council at this election, has done good work on strongly opposing the proposed airport runway extension, and other climate action.