Emergency Weather: A Storm Warning

Tuesday 12 December 2023 dawned a fine summer’s day in Wellington. But in mid-afternoon, the weather changed. A southerly front raced up the country, bringing very strong winds, heavy rain and hail to Wellington and the Hutt. 

I was sitting at my desk, and I felt and saw the change: the temperature dropped abruptly, and sunshine was abruptly replaced by cascading rain. It was all over within 90 minutes, and despite over 20 mm of rain falling at our place within a few minutes, we got off fairly lightly.

But friends I’ve talked to since weren’t so lucky. One was inside a mall that rapidly flooded; another had part of their roof torn off their house – one of a number of buildings in the Hutt that suffered serious damage.

Author Andy Southall captures it well in his Goodreads review of my novel Emergency Weather:

“A day after finishing this book, a sudden and savage storm struck Wellington. At 2.50pm the sun was shining on what seemed to be a pleasant summer day. Ten minutes later the sky turned black, violent winds blew out windows, hail was smashing into the deck and sheets of water poured from the gutters. And that was in a less extreme part of the storm’s path. Elsewhere it was much, much worse.”

and this Radio New Zealand report gives the bigger picture.

My novel Emergency Weather begins and ends with storms – the first causes death and damage from north to south, while the second and stronger storm zeroes in on Wellington. Wellington has always been prone to storms, but climate change is loading the dice, making it more likely that when storms come, they will be damaging and destructive.

Emergency Weather cover at Petone beach

My novel is set against the context of a government in which (some) Ministers are at least trying to do the right thing. But the recent election, which Labour lost by a combination of its own timidity and many voters’ desire for something different, has brought to power a government including climate deniers, environmental vandals, and worshippers at the altar of the car. If climate change is on their agenda at all, it’s well below culture wars.

But physical reality doesn’t care about ideology. So long as we keep loading the climate dice by burning fossil fuels and forcing cows to produce milk, piss nitrates and burp methane, the storms and the fires and the flooding will get worse. If we stop, the climate will have a chance to recover. No amount of denialism changes that.

(Excuse me, Tim! It’s just before Christmas and you’re supposed to be encouraging people to buy your book!)

Err … buy my book if you’re looking for a good summer read – it’s not all, or even mostly, doom and gloom! – and have a great holiday! Here’s to lots of good reading, and good organising for change, in 2024.

Emergency Weather: Successfully Launched, Well Reviewed, and More to Come!

Successfully Launched

Mandy Hager launches Emergency Weather
Mandy Hager launches Emergency Weather. Photo: Stephen Olsen

I was nervous heading into the launch of Emergency Weather. Unity is a great place for a launch, but it looks very empty if no-one comes – and there were other launches, as well as election meetings, on in downtown Wellington at the same time.

I needn’t have worried! Around 100 lovely people came to the launch, we sold plenty of books and I had a great time. It was good to see old friends, new friends, and people I’d never seen before!

Kate from Unity Books introduced the launch, then we heard from Paul from The Cuba Press and Cadence from the Whitireia Publishing programme before the book was launched by author Mandy Hager, whose speech really moved me. Then it was time for me to speak, read the very beginning of the novel, and sign lots of copies! If you missed the launch, the YouTube video is available or you can read Stephen Olsen’s report: https://wellington.scoop.co.nz/?p=155655 (he also took the photo above).

If you didn’t make the launch but would like to get on trend and buy a copy of Emergency Weather, it’s available:

* At Unity Books and Good Books in Wellington, and other independent bookshops nationwide, including UBS in Dunedin – if it’s not available from your nearest independent bookshop or Paper Plus, please ask them to order it in.

* Directly from The Cuba Press: https://thecubapress.nz/shop/emergency-weather/

* From Wheelers: https://www.wheelers.co.nz/books/9781988595726-emergency-weather/

* Through the new NZ BookHub site, launched three days after my book!

Tim Jones signs a copy of Emergency Weather
Tim Jones signs a copy of Emergency Weather (photo: Kate, Unity Books)

Well Reviewed

It’s also been good – and again, a testament to the hard work of The Cuba Press and Whitireia Publishing – to see reviews of Emergency Weather appearing. Online reviews:

Radio New Zealand: https://www.rnz.co.nz/national/programmes/afternoons/audio/2018910488/book-critic-catherine-roberston

Kete: https://www.ketebooks.co.nz/all-book-reviews/emergency-weather-jones

Aotearoa Review of Books: https://www.nzreviewofbooks.com/emergency-weather-by-tim-jones/

You can help a lot by adding the book to your Goodreads library and rating or reviewing it: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/198972056-emergency-weather

More to Come

It’s not quite the Taylor Swift Eras Tour, but here are some upcoming Wellington events I’m involved in that you’re warmly invited to attend:

Unity Books Panel, Wednesday 18 October, 12.30-1.30pm: “Talking Up a Storm: The Making of Emergency Weather”: https://www.facebook.com/events/288705720676072/ (Facebook event link). Find out how a novel is written, edited, published and marketed.

Verb Wellington event, 11 November, 3-5pm – this one is for Remains to be Told, but I might weave in a mention or two of Emergency Weather as well.

Invitation to the launch of my new novel Emergency Weather

You are officially invited to the launch of my new climate fiction novel Emergency Weather – and here’s a look at the cover!

Emergency Weather launch invitation and cover image

The launch will take place on Wednesday 4 October at Unity Books Wellington, 57 Willis St, from 6pm – please encourage your friends to come along too!

Here is the Facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/667791528368999

Please sign up for this if you use Facebook, as it helps us know numbers attending.

Emergency Weather will be available from all good bookshops from 2 October – and also through https://thecubapress.nz/shop/

Writers on Mondays – August 2023

Full programme for 2023: https://www.wgtn.ac.nz/modernletters/about/events/writers-mondays

Events run from 12.15 to 1.15 pm on
Mondays at Rongomaraeroa, Te Marae,
Level 4, Te Papa


I’m looking forward to the 21st!

7 August
Other Worlds

Pip Adam‘s Audition features three giants: Alba, Stanley and Drew, who are squashed into a spaceship hurtling through space, and must talk to keep the spaceship moving. Tīhema Baker‘s Turncoat is set on a distant future Earth, colonised by aliens, where Daniel –a young, idealistic Human–is determined to make a difference for his people. These works of speculative fiction are exciting, inventive and compassionate in their exploration of systems of power. Dougal McNeill will talk to Pip and Tīhema about these other worlds in fiction, and the mirror they hold up to our world today.

14 August
Lioness

A new novel by Emily Perkins is an event in the literature of Aotearoa. Lioness is Emily’s first book in ten years and is set to be one of the most talked about novels of 2023. Join Damien Wilkins as he talks to Emily about Lioness and about a stunning career spanning more than 25 years, beginning with her classic debut Not Her Real Name, taking in her years in London, her time as a television books show presenter and a university teacher, and her more recent work for the theatre.

21 August
Ōrongohau | Best New Zealand Poems 2022

‘I tried to think of a visitor to our poetry shore—what could I include to show its terrain?’ wrote editor Louise Wallace, introducing some of our poetic landmarks of 2022. Hear Nick AscroftMorgan BachJames BrownTim JonesAnahera GildeaMichaela KeebleFrankie McMillanKhadro Mohamed, and Sarah Scott,  and  read work from this annual anthology in a warm-up for National Poetry Day. Introduced by Damien Wilkins.

28 August
Home and Away: Noelle McCarthy

Early in 2020, Noelle McCarthy travelled to Ireland where her mammy, Carol, was dying, then back to New Zealand as borders were slamming shut. Written through the years of the pandemic, Grand is about mothers and daughters, running away and going home, Noelle and Carol. It’s been a best-seller here, winning the E.H. McCormick Prize at the 2023 Ockham Awards. This June, Noelle flew to Ireland to launch the UK and Irish edition. Kate Duignan talks to 2023 Writer-in-Residence Noelle about the reception of the book on both sides of the world, and what’s left to write after a memoir.

Novella Review: “A Sky of Wretched Shells,” by Mark Blackham

Cover image of "A Sky of Wretched Shells", a novella by Mark Blackham


Mark Blackham’s A Sky of Wretched Shells is the third book in The Cuba Press’ novella series, following my novella Where We Land and Zirk van den Berg’s I Wish, I Wish. Both Where We Land and A Sky of Wretched Shells are climate fiction novellas, but they’re very different: Where We Land is about our near-future response to climate change, while A Sky of Wretched Shells is set further in the future, when most of the world has fallen victim to ecological disaster and only one island offers hope for survival.

On the island of Woleai, 15-year-old Mala and his people live in relative peace and safety as the rest of the world falls apart. The arrival of two Western outsiders brings an end to this fragile equilibrium.

I won’t say more about the plot, because a lot happens in this novella that it would be a shame to spoil. I will say that there’s some really beautiful descriptive writing and imagery in A Sky of Wretched Shells: I got a strong sense of place from Mark Blackham’s novella.

Nevertheless, I struggled with some of the choices the central character, Mala, made – from my point of view, he persistently makes choices that puts his island and his people at greater risk. (Though my decision-making at age 15 may not have been the greatest, either, and the end of the novel suggests that he has made better choices than it first appears.)

The ending took the story in directions I didn’t expect, reactivating the sense of wonder I used to get as a teenager from reading science fiction, even as my adult eye was casting a more sceptical gaze over proceedings. So I ended the novella with mixed feelings: but given the quality of his descriptive writing and the scope of his imagination, I’m keen to see what stories Mark Blackham writes next.

Year’s Best Aotearoa New Zealand Science Fiction & Fantasy, Volume III

Cover of Year's Best Aotearoa New Zealand Science Fiction & Fantasy Volume III

I’m really pleased that my climate fiction story “The Double-Cab Club”, first published in Stuff’s Forever Project in January 2020, was selected for inclusion in this excellent annual anthology from Paper Road Press, edited by Marie Hodgkinson. Check out the Table of Contents – lots of fine writers and stories included! – and get your print or ebook copy.

Year’s Best Aotearoa New Zealand Science Fiction & Fantasy: Volume 3, edited by Marie Hodgkinson

The third volume in our annual anthology series celebrating the strength and diversity of local SFF writing.

Cover by Rebekah Tisch.

Buy the paperback here, or the ebook at all major ebook retailers.

Table of Contents:

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, by 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
The Turbine at the End of the World, by James Rowland

Year’s Best Aotearoa New Zealand Science Fiction & Fantasy: Volume 3
Edited by Marie Hodgkinson
ISBN 978-1-99-115030-1

Good Reviews on Goodreads For “Where We Land”

My climate fiction (cli-fi) novella Where We Land has been getting good reviews on Goodreads. Here are some excerpts from those reviews:

On Goodreads:

“This novella set in the near future deals with the human impact of the worsening climate crisis…. Amid societal brutality and xenophobia, there are still a few glimmers of compassion.

“This is a beautifully written novella in the cli-fi genre…. The characters are compelling and the story gripping. Highly recommend it!!”

(Read the full reviews here: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/46028957-where-we-land)


From Tabatha Wood’s review for SpecFicNZ:

“Jones talks in depth about human resilience and the determination to survive. The ability to keep going even when all seems lost. He examines our humanity; how we respond to threats and challenges, but ultimately how we, as a global species, behave to one another. The tension is high, the characters relatable, and Jones deftly manoeuvres you into bearing witness to the unfolding plot. He places you squarely in both Nasimul and Donna’s shoes. What would you do if…? he asks.”

Read the full review: https://specfic.nz/2019/08/12/book-review-where-we-land-by-tim-jones/

You can read more of Tabatha’s reviews and her writing on her blog.

“Where We Land” is a print novella – but you can also buy an earlier version of this story as “Landfall”, an ebook from Amazon.

Sir Julius Vogel Award Nominations Open For 2009 Calendar Year

The Sir Julius Vogel Awards, New Zealand’s equivalent of the Hugo Awards, have recently opened for nominations. Nominations close on 31 March 2010.

Grant Stone has listed some possible contenders for the Vogels on his blog, and I naturally endorse his selection of Voyagers: Science Fiction Poetry From New Zealand as one of the candidates! You can find SFFANZ’s list of eligible novels on their site; I recently reviewed one of the listed novels, Lee Pletzers’ The Last Church.

Short stories and collections are also listed – look for the 2009 publication dates – and I was pleased to see Voyagers contributions and contributors included on the list.

I want to browse through the lists and catch up on some work that I’ve missed out on reading before deciding what I’d like to nominate – but if you are ready to go with your nominations, here is the official word on how to proceed.

Nomination Procedure

The Sir Julius Vogel sub-committee of SFFANZ is currently accepting nominations for science fiction and fantasy works first published or released in the 2009 calendar year.

Nominations open on 1 January 2010 and close on 31 March 2010 at 8pm.

For more information about SFFANZ and the SJV Awards, please go to the SFFANZ web-site http://sffanz.sf.org.nz/

To make a nomination please email sjv_awards (at) sffanz.sf.org.nz.. Anyone can make a nomination, and it is free of charge.

Please send one nomination per email and include as many contact details as possible for the nominee as well as yourself.

You can find full details about the nomination procedures and rules, including eligibility criteria at http://sffanz.sf.org.nz/sjv/sjvAwards.shtml

A detailed nomination FAQ can be found at http://sffanz.sf.org.nz/sjv/sjvAwardsNominationGuidelines.shtml

The voting will occur at Au Contraire, http://www.aucontraire.org.nz/ – the national science fiction convention being held in Wellington, New Zealand over the weekend of the 27 – 29 August 2010.

Book Review: The Last Church, by Lee Pletzers

The Last Church is available from Amazon.com. Other availability details are on Lee Pletzers’ website. The Last Church is published by Black Bed Sheet Books, RRP US $20.95.

New Zealand horror writer Lee Pletzers’ The Last Church does the job of a good horror novel (or, I suppose, any novel): it keeps you turning the pages, wanting to know what happens next, and hoping that at least some of the characters – not to mention the world – will make it out alive at the end of the story.

And the fate of the world is very much at stake. I don’t want to give too much away, so let’s just say that there’s a man with a plan for the future of the world which isn’t what most of us would wish for; that this man has, or embodies, demonic assistance; and that a diverse coalition of characters with less power but equal determination come together to stop him — or, at least, to try.

Along the way, quite a lot of the characters meet gruesome fates. And some of them are very gruesome: The Last Church doesn’t stint on sex, violence, and in some cases sexual violence. You have been warned.

It took me a while to get into the story. There is a large cast of characters to start with – before the main villain and his henchpeople start to whittle them down — and the story jumps between several time periods. I had trouble keep track of everything and everyone for about the first quarter of the novel. Also off-putting were quite a few proofreading and grammatical errors: mostly minor things, like missing apostrophes, but until I got into the flow of the story I found these distracting. I know only too well how hard it is to eliminate all such errors, but another proofreading run would benefit future printings of the novel.

As I read, I wasn’t always convinced that characters’ motivations for their actions were sufficiently well established. The principal villain is a nasty piece of work, but he has a goal, and his actions are consistent with that goal. On the other hand, to my eyes at least, the behaviour of his “dream woman” and subsequent consort seems inconsistent; or, put another way, I didn’t feel I had a clear enough understanding of her character, so that her actions sometimes seemed arbitrary rather than well-founded.

But it would be a mistake to dwell on the negatives. The Last Church is scary, gruesome at times, and increasingly gripping as it approaches its climax. If you like horror with a side order of apocalypse, The Last Church is worth a visit.

“The New Neighbours” In Good Company

A little piece of good news from the tail end of 2008: I received confirmation that my short story “The New Neighbours”, first published in Transported, had been selected for inclusion in the Penguin Book of Contemporary New Zealand Short Stories, an anthology edited by Paula Morris that covers the last ten years of short-fiction writing in New Zealand. It will be published in September 2009.

I’m very pleased to see “The New Neighbours” in such illustrious company. Here, to give you the flavour, are the first few paragraphs. All those references to high property values look nostalgic already.

The New Neighbours

High property values are the hallmark of a civilised society. Though our generation may never build cathedrals nor find a cure for cancer, may never save the whales nor end world hunger, yet we can die with smiles on our faces if we have left our homes better than we found them, if we have added decks, remodelled kitchens, and created indoor-outdoor flow.

Reaction in our street to the news that an alien family would soon move into Number 56 was therefore mixed. Number 56 was the proverbial worst house on the best street, and any family who could improve it — regardless of skin colour or number of limbs — was welcome, in my view. My wife Alison said she’d wait and see. Josh wondered if they had any kids his age.

Others near to the action, and particularly the Murrays at No. 54 and the Zhangs at No. 58, were less sanguine. “But it’s not as if they need a resource consent,” said my wife to Jessica Zhang, and she was right. Having bought the house at a legitimate auction through a telephone bidder, and paid the deposit, the alien family were well within their rights to settle in our street, and the rest of us would simply have to make the best of it.

But not everyone does try to make the best of it, and complications ensue … In my next post, a little about my writing and blogging plans for 2009.