Getting Science Fiction And Fantasy Published In New Zealand. Part 1: Short Fiction

This is a post for NZ Speculative Fiction Blogging Week.

At Au Contraire, I gave a talk about getting speculative fiction published in New Zealand. This and the following post are an attempt to capture what I said at the workshop, and later said I would write up for SpecFicNZ. Part 1 focuses on short fiction. Part 2 will look at novels.

I am sure to have missed various things, so please give details of additional publishers and markets in the comments.

I’m in no way suggesting that speculative fiction writers should confine their efforts to submitting stories in New Zealand – but there are lots of guides to submitting to overseas markets, so you check these out if that’s where you want to concentrate your efforts.

Finally, I’m concentrating here on fiction written for adults, rather that written for the YA/MG/children’s markets.


There is one currently active magazine market for short speculative fiction (and poetry) that I know of in New Zealand: Semaphore Magazine. Semaphore Magazine is published quarterly, with an annual anthology. It pays for short fiction and poetry. Editor Marie Hodgkinson says “I want to further increase the proportion of work written by New Zealanders that is published in the magazine, with particular regard to the representation of non-Pakeha and LGBQT writers”.

Other paying sf magazine markets, like Prima Storia, appear to have come and gone. If you know of any others that are active, please let me know.

The good news is that it is possible to get speculative fiction published in several New Zealand literary magazines. JAAM, Sport, Bravado and Turbine have all published stories that can be considered speculative fiction, and Landfall’s recent themed issue on utopias and dystopias skirted similar territory.

Having said that, you probably wouldn’t get too far submitting that 9000-word interplanetary war story based on the latest developments on black hole physics to a New Zealand literary magazine, or for that matter your Xena-meets-Spartacus fanfic (though I’m there with bells on!). The softer, near-future end of SF; SF satires; urban fantasy; and stories which show an awareness of their own telling are more likely to appeal. If in doubt, add more irony – one writer told me that he sold two previously rejected stories to NZ literary magazines by retelling them in an ironic manner.


SF and fantasy will be a tough sell to most of the big New Zealand short story competitions, which tend to favour heads-down, no-nonsense mimetic realism, but the fiction section of the annual Royal Society of New Zealand Manhire Prize for Creative Science Writing has to be worth a crack – though this year’s deadline has just passed. Bugger!

Your chances of doing well in a competition are strongly correlated with who’s doing the judging. Check out what the judge writes, and what types of fiction they say they like, and then decide whether it’s worth submitting. (Of course, in a large competition, your story may have to survive a filtering process before it reaches the named judge.)


By their nature, anthologies are intermittent – other than the annual Best New Zealand Fiction series – so you have to keep a weather eye out for submission guidelines. I’ve had a number of stories published in New Zealand anthologies over the years: my first two published stories were in an anthology of sf stories for NZ secondary schools (though most of the stories had originally been written for an adult audience), and a new-writers’ anthology.

There have been occasional anthologies of New Zealand speculative fiction, such as Rutherford’s Dreams, and this year there’s a brand-new entrant in the field: A Foreign Country: New Zealand Speculative Fiction, published by Random Static. Random Static say that another short story anthology isn’t on their immediate horizon, but they will be looking to publish novellas.

I’ll return to Random Static when I cover markets for novels.

Just as the identity of the judge is the most important thing to know in a competition, so the name and inclinations of the editor are the most important thing to know when considering a submission to a general fiction anthology. Have they written SF or fantasy or horror, or anything that isn’t set in our consensus reality? Have they said nice things about speculative fiction? Have they included speculative fiction stories in previous anthologies?

Do the research, and then go for it.


You’ll be doing very well to get an entire collection of speculative fiction published by a mainstream New Zealand publisher. My recent collection Transported is about 1/3 sf and fantasy, and I think that hurt it with some mainstream reviewers (though others liked the mix).

However, in the publishing industry, all is in flux. As with any other aspect of publishing, you need to keep your ear to the ground, your eyes peeled, your shoulder to the grindstone, and in general contort yourself in strange ways to get the best picture of what’s going on and where the opportunities are.

“Hah!”, you might be thinking, “I don’t even get out of bed for less than 80,000 words”. In that case, stick around for Part 2, where I’ll look at the options for getting speculative fiction at novel length published in New Zealand.

The Voyagers Book Tour of New Zealand: The Press Release

The Unexpected in an Unexpected Form

IP presents Voyagers: Science Fiction Poetry from New Zealand

Speculative poetry! Never before has a unique anthology like this been released, and New Zealand is leading the way.

Voyagers is where poetry meets the essence of science fiction: aliens, space travel, time travel and the end of the world – as well as concepts you may not previously have thought of as science fiction. The result is a brilliant insight into the world of science fiction that will have the reader speculating right along with the poets.

Voyagers will be launched on a tour of the country at events in Dunedin, Christchurch, Wellington, Paraparaumu, Auckland and Devonport from 14-24 October.

Voyagers Tour Schedule

14 Oct: Dunedin Library, 5:30 pm
15 Oct: Circadian Rhythm Café (Dunedin), 7 pm
16 Oct: Madras Café (Christchurch), 5 pm
19 Oct: Wellington Central Library, 5:30 pm
20 Oct: Paraparaumu Library (Kapiti Coast), 5:30 pm
22 Oct: Auckland Central Library, 5:30 pm
24 Oct: Depot Artspace (Devonport), 6:30 pm

The tour will feature some of New Zealand’s most well-known names: highly acclaimed and award winning poets such as Alistair Paterson, Raewyn Alexander, James Dignan, Iain Britton, Rachel McAlpine, Harvey Molloy, Michael O’Leary, Stephen Oliver, Jenny Argante, Michael Morrissey, Sue Wootton, Michael O’Leary, Andrew Fagan, Jenny Powell. Marilyn Duckworth, Helen Rickerby, Thomas Mitchell, Janet Charman, Anna Rugis, James Norcliffe, David Gregory and Owen Marshall among others.

Wellington-born writer, editor, publisher and critic Mark Pirie is one
of the editors of the anthology. Pirie initiated, co-edited and produced the literary magazine JAAM (Just Another Art Movement) from 1995-2005, and currently edits the HeadworX New Poetry Series and the poetry journal broadsheet.

Tim Jones, the other editor, is also a poet, short story writer and novelist. His most recent books include the short story collection Transported (Vintage, 2008), which was longlisted for the 2008 Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award; the poetry collection All Blacks’ Kitchen Gardens (HeadworX, 2007); and the fantasy novel Anarya’s Secret (RedBrick, 2007).

The new publication follows hot on the heels of IP’s first New Zealand releases, Harmonic by Stephen Oliver and the Text + Audio CD by Stephen Oliver and Matt Ottley, King Hit. Based in Brisbane, IP is Australia’s most innovative independent publisher. It publishes about 24 titles per year and is one of the few independents regularly supported by the Australia Council.

IP’s Director, the noted author Dr David Reiter, whose most recent books are Primary Instinct, a satire on the education system, and the children’s novel Global Cooling, will spearhead the tour, which will also showcase New Zealand authors Iain Britton’s new poetry collection Liquefaction and Euan McCabe’s sports memoir The World Cup Baby.

For more information regarding Voyagers or to schedule an interview before the tour begins, please email or call +61 (0)7 3324 9319. During the tour, Dr Reiter can be contacted via SMS to his mobile +61 (0)412 313 923 or email to

The Voyagers Book Tour Of New Zealand

This is a post for New Zealand Speculative Fiction Blogging Week, though I’m pushing it a bit because it’s really about speculative poetry.

With the lights barely down on Fantastic Voyages, it’s time to announce the next bit of book promotion I’m going to be involved in — although I am not responsible for organising it, which is a mercy.

Interactive Publications, the publishers of Voyagers: Science Fiction Poetry from New Zealand, which I co-edited with Mark Pirie, are organising a book tour for it, and for their other titles by New Zealand authors (such as Liquefaction by Iain Britton). Not all the dates and details are finalised yet, but here’s what we have so far:


Dunedin Library from 5:30 pm on Wednesday 14 Oct
Circadian Rhythm Café from 7 pm on Thursday 15 Oct


Madras Café from 5pm on Friday 16 Oct


Wellington Library, 5:30pm on Monday 19 Oct

(Note: this is a couple of hours before Helen Rickerby is the guest reader at that night’s New Zealand Poetry Society meeting. Make a poetry night of it!)

Kapiti Library, 5:30pm on Tuesday 20 Oct

21st: Other North Island events


Auckland City Library, 5:30? pm on Thursday 22 Oct
Depot Arts Gallery, Devonport, 6:30pm on Saturday 24 Oct

PLEASE NOTE: Details are subject to change without notice, although I’ll keep this list as current as I can.

The events are concentrated on the venues where there are substantial numbers of Voyagers poets available to read, but there are two tantalising days between the Wellington and Auckland events. If anyone thinks that a Voyagers event might be a starter in their town on those days, please get in touch a.s.a.p. and I’ll pass this on to Interactive Publications.

I am taking a week off work to go on the South Island leg of the tour, and will also be at the Wellington event. I’d love to accompany the whole tour, but family and work commitments won’t allow that this time.

An Interview with Iain Britton

Iain Britton had his first collection of poems, Hauled Head First into a Leviathan, which was a Forward Poetry Prize nomination, published by Cinnamon Press (UK) in February 2008. Interactive Press (Australia) is about to publish his second collection, Liquefaction.

Iain, let’s start with Liquefaction, your new collection. What would you like readers of this blog to know about it?

Liquefaction is a collection of 35 poems following no specific theme, although I would like to think my work does have connecting lines of thought that can be identified when one reads through it. Each poem should be approached as a portal for the eyes to ‘walk’ into, for the reader to pass through and hopefully experience something different and then elicit pictures, images, word associations that they will find interesting.

The collection will be released on 15 May and is available through or it can be ordered directly through Interactive Publications –

At the moment, my understanding is that the collection will be launched in New Zealand in July 2009, when Interactive Press will also be promoting two other NZ publications – Voyagers: Science Fiction Poetry from New Zealand, editors Mark Pirie and Tim Jones, plus The World Cup Baby by Euan McCabe. I presume the three books will then be available in bookshops in New Zealand.

You have been extensively published overseas, and your previous collection, Hauled Head First into a Leviathan, was published by Cinnamon Press in the UK and nominated for the Forward Poetry Prize for Best First Collection. Have you published primarily overseas by choice, or is that just how things worked out?

As a poet, I enjoy the challenge of publishing offshore and watching how my poems are accepted or rejected and also observing how NZ poetry is generally received overseas. We have many fine poets pushing their poems around the world and it’s great to see we are prepared to promote this aspect of our culture internationally. It’s a huge and essential learning curve to try and stand beside the best poets in the UK and US and elsewhere. I see everything ‘right’ in that.

How long have you been writing poetry, and what motivated you to start?

I have been writing poetry seriously since my first NZ publication in 2000. Prior to that I had a long haul through years of writing – completing 5 very unpublishable novels, all now consigned to some bin. I also had a number of years spent writing plays in the UK. I really enjoyed writing plays and even had the audacity to try to get major repertory theatres to accept them … of course, they didn’t! However, poetry has always been a real life force within me, so it was only a matter of time till mind, body and soul coalesced and began pushing the pen with a degree of success.

Can you identify poets, or poetic movements, that have influenced your own poetry, and if so, who or what are these?

Learning to be a good poet requires total commitment and an inner sense of belief in oneself, that this is what you want to do, combined with a feeling of allowing yourself to be driven by it. I have had the privilege of seeing/hearing such great poets as Thom Gunn, WH Auden, Robert Lowell, Octavio Paz, Yevgeny Yevtushenko, Robert Graves and many others during years spent in London. It is also where I first heard Fleur Adcock read her poetry. Once I had decided that poetry was what I wanted to do, I was hooked.

My reading has been wide and varied and I have involved myself in most movements of one sort or another. The Americans of the middle and latter part of the 20th Century impressed me with their willingness to experiment and push literary boundaries. Many poets have influenced my writing over the years and each one has contributed to my ability as a poet eg T S Eliot, Dylan Thomas, Robert Lowell, Sylvia Plath, Rae Armantrout, Robert Creeley, Seamus Heaney, John Ashbery, August Kleinzahler, Charles Bernstein, Jorie Graham, the NZ poets Allen Curnow, James Baxter, Hone Tuwhare, Bill Manhire and so on. Even the great Romantics have a place in my learning. Perhaps, my small knowledge of Te Reo and Tikanga Maori and all they entail has been vital to the sounds and rhythms of my writing also.

Consequently, you can see the field of influence is huge and those groups of individuals associated with poetic movements are part and parcel of this learning process too.

Your poem “Departing Takaparawha” is included in the forthcoming anthology Voyagers: Science Fiction Poetry from New Zealand. Do you write much poetry that falls within the “speculative poetry” genres (science fiction, fantasy, horror), or were your submissions to that anthology fairly much a one-off?

This is an interesting question for me to answer as my poetry probably does at times verge on the fantastic. For many poets the metaphor is an integral literary device and this can lead to highly imaginative pieces of work. My poetry could be said to tend towards the surreal sometimes. It is open to many interpretations but I don’t write with any exclusive kind of poetical form in mind.

Do you regard yourself as an “Auckland poet”, or is it simply the case that you are a poet who lives in Auckland? Is there such a thing as a distinctively Auckland poet, and if so, what makes an Auckland poet distinctive?

My sister-in-law, who is based in the UK, once asked me a similar type of question after a poetry reading I had given at the London School of Economics a few years ago – whether I considered myself a poet (for everyone) or a NZ poet. My answer was ‘a poet first and foremost’. This applies also to the idea of being an Auckland poet or not. I don’t think of boundaries when it comes to poetry. Although I am aware of these city differences, I don’t particularly espouse to any of them. Good poetry should cross borders and touch hearts regardless.

Do you enjoy performing your poetry, and are you planning launches, readings and so forth to mark the publication of Liquefaction?

Yes, I enjoy the challenge of reading my work, rather than performing it. Reading is never easy. The inner voices are an interesting mob to deal with when you stand and deliver. They determine the sound, rhythm and nuances and I feel I must do justice to the poem that has been channeled through me. It is a big responsibility to get it right. But that is what being a poet is all about for me.

I hope to promote my poetry collection with readings at the launches, which are to be in July. The timing will be important to enable this to happen. As yet, I have no dates, but I know Interactive Publications are well into the planning stages.

On a final note relating to Liquefaction, I wish to express my gratitude and thanks to Gretchen Albrecht, for providing the incredible cover image from Chorus 2008.

Voyagers Cover Released, Microsite Up

Voyagers: Science Fiction Poetry from New Zealand, the anthology of New Zealand science fiction poetry Mark Pirie and I have co-edited, is moving closer to its publication date: we expect it to be available in New Zealand on 1 June.

The publishers, Interactive Publications Ltd (IP) of Brisbane, have now put up both a mini-site and an orders page for the book:

The IP mini-site is now up at:

The IP Orders page is:

And here’s the cover. (Voyagers authors: You are welcome to use the cover image on your own blogs and sites, but please also include both the IP links above, and mention when the book will be available in NZ.)

Voyagers: A New Zealand Science Fiction Poetry Anthology

In 2004, Mark Pirie and myself decided that it would be a good idea to put together an anthology of New Zealand science fiction poetry. We knew that there were people writing science fiction poetry in New Zealand, and we knew of a few published examples of NZ science fiction poetry. How hard could such a project be? So we put out a call for submissions, and many poets responded with new or previously-published work.

At the same time, we split the corpus of New Zealand poetry (hmmm, “corpus”, never thought I’d use that word in a blog post) between us and looked everywhere we could for published NZ SF poems. We were amazed how many we found: nuclear apocalypses from the 1950s and 1960s, utopias and dystopias from the 1960s and 1970s. We used a reasonably broad definition of science fiction, but even so, we found more poems than we could use. We discovered that poets such as Allen Curnow, James K. Baxter and Cilla McQueen had written science fiction poetry.

The next problem, finding a publisher for the anthology, proved to be a little harder. Most New Zealand publishers we approached did not think the anthology was a commercial proposition; one publisher took on the project subject to its receiving Creative New Zealand funding, but the publishing application was unfortunately unsuccessful.

It seemed that we had run out of options to have an anthology of the desired size and quality published, but then Mark approached Australian publisher Interactive Publications, having heard that they were to publish a book of Iain Britton’s poetry. We were very pleased to hear that Interactive Publications were willing to publish the anthology in a print run large enough to make it worthwhile.

The next step was to go through the lengthy process of getting permissions from authors and publishers to reprint poems which had previously appeared elsewhere. Interactive Publications was unable to offer payment to authors, something we had wanted to do, and understandably, some authors and publishers pulled work from the anthology because of this. However, this gave us the opportunity to refresh the anthology with some newer poems, and at last the manuscript has been completed and sent to the publishers – except for the Contributors’ Notes, which I’m currently collating.

I’m really pleased that we have finally got this project off the ground after many years of trying. I think it’s going to be a fine anthology. I’ll tell you more as the publication date approaches.