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.








Tuesday Poem: Video Poems from the Book Tour + Radio Interview

I was going to resume normal Tuesday Poem service this week, but instead, here is some YouTube video from the Men Briefly Explained / Tongues of Ash book tour, plus a radio interview I did for Radio New Zealand’s “Arts on Sunday” programme.

If you think “I would love to buy one of the shiny books featured in this video”, here is how to do so:

Video Poems from the Book Tour

These video highlights from our Wellington event at the Wellington Central Library and our Eastbourne event at the Rona Gallery and Bookshop include (a) Keith Westwater reading (actually, this is the whole vid) …

… and (b) Tim Jones reading:

Radio New Zealand interview

Sonia Sly of Radio New Zealand interviewed me for the “Arts on Sunday” programme on Radio New Zealand. Here is the interview in mp3 format:

http://podcast.radionz.co.nz/art/art-20111113-1435-chapter_and_verse_-_tim_jones-048.mp3

Next week, I promise, I’ll have an actual Tuesday Poem up on my blog! In the meantime, you can check out this week’s Tuesday Poems here: http://tuesdaypoem.blogspot.com

Available On Amazon In Paperback And Kindle Ebook: Men Briefly Explained And Tongues Of Ash

 

STOP PRESS: Men Briefly Explained is now available on Amazon in print and Kindle ebook formats!

Print: http://www.amazon.com/Men-Briefly-Explained-Tim-Jones/dp/1921869321/

Kindle: http://www.amazon.com/Men-Briefly-Explained-ebook/dp/B005HRYM32/

Keith Westwater’s Tongues Of Ash is also available on Amazon in these two formats:

Print: http://www.amazon.com/Tongues-Ash-Keith-Westwater/dp/1921869267/

Kindle: http://www.amazon.com/Tongues-of-Ash-ebook/dp/B005HIV6J4/

Now, back to our regular programming:

In late October, Lower Hutt poet Keith Westwater and I are setting out on a book tour to promote our new poetry collections, my Men Briefly Explained and his Tongues Of Ash.

You can use this link to pre-order the paperback versions.

The Kindle versions are not yet available, and so the “Buy Kindle” links on these pages do not work yet. They will be updated once the Kindle versions are available.

Both books are being published by Interactive Press of Brisbane, who published Voyagers: Science Fiction Poetry from New Zealand in 2009.

Almost all the events on the book tour are now confirmed, and we’ll be releasing the tour details once all events are confirmed – but we start in Dunedin on Tuesday 25 October and end in Auckland a week later, winding through Christchurch, Wellington, and Eastbourne en route. Watch out for more details soon!

Welcome To My Blog

Welcome! If you’re visiting for the first time, here are some of my books, and how to get hold of them.

You should also check out Helen Lowe’s Australia/New Zealand F&SF Author Series, which she’s organised to celebrate the release of her novel The Heir of Night.

Fantastic Voyages: Credits, Thanks and Podcast

Fantastic Voyages: Writing Speculative Fiction went very well last night, in this reporter’s opinion – and also in the opinion of my fellow panelists. Under the expert chairpersonship of Lynn Freeman, Helen Lowe and I each read from our work, and fielded questions from Lynn and from an audience which included many writers and readers of speculative fiction. Some people told me afterwards they felt inspired by the event, which makes me very happy!

Anna Caro, initiator of New Zealand Speculative Fiction Blogging Week, very kindly recorded the event after our original recordist wasn’t able to attend. You can find the podcast, and a brief report of the event, on Anna’s blog.

I’d like to thank everyone for their support and help: Random House New Zealand; Unity Books and in particular Anna and Cameron; Toi Poneke/Wellington Arts Centre and in particular Will; chairperson (and spec fic enthusiast) Lynn Freeman; my fellow panelist Helen; all those who came along on the night and the many others who couldn’t be there but sent their best wishes. Thank you!

UPDATE: Jenni Talula has written a report of Fantastic Voyages on her blog that made me feel very happy. And Sally McLennan has added a lovely report, with photos.

Fantastic Voyages, This Thursday Evening

Here is the press release for Fantastic Voyages: Writing Speculative Fiction, which is happening in Wellington this Thursday evening. If you’re interested in reading, writing or publishing science fiction or fantasy, this is the place to be!

Fantastic Voyages:
Two Breakthrough NZ Writers
Talk About Their Love of SciFi-Fantasy:

An Evening with Tim Jones & Helen Lowe, chaired by Lynn Freeman
7.30-9pm, Thursday 17 September

Double Sir Julius Vogel Award winning author, Helen Lowe, and author, anthologist and editor, Tim Jones, are getting together on Thursday 17 September in an evening event chaired by Radio New Zealand’s Lynn Freeman, to talk about their love of writing science fiction and fantasy, the challenges and rewards of being a speculative fiction writer, and how they’ve gone about getting published, both in NZ and overseas.

Tim Jones is a Wellington based writer, editor and literary blogger whose short story collection Transported (Vintage, 2008) ties together speculative fiction, which encompasses science fiction, fantasy and horror, and literary fiction in one collection. Transported was longlisted for the 2008 Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award and a science fiction story from the collection, “The New Neighbours”, is included in the recently released Penguin Book of Contemporary New Zealand Short Stories.

Helen Lowe’s first novel, Thornspell, is published by Knopf (Random House Children’s Books) in the United States and is a Storylines Notable Book 2008 as well as winning the Sir Julius Vogel Award 2009 for Best Novel: Young Adult. Lowe also won the Sir Julius Vogel award for Best New Talent and has the first book in an epic Fantasy quartet, The Wall of Night, coming out with Eos (HarperCollins USA) in September 2010.

In the past, speculative fiction has tended to fly beneath the radar on the NZ writing scene. “But that’s changing fast,” says Jones. “The barriers that have divided speculative fiction from literary fiction are coming down and there is now a thriving New Zealand speculative fiction scene, with many writers of SF, Fantasy and Horror for adults now coming through to join the growing numbers writing speculative fiction for children and young adults.”

Lowe agrees. “And I’m finding that there’s a hunger out there, especially amongst younger readers and writers who love the genre, to find out how to go about writing SciFi-Fantasy successfully and get it published. So Tim and I thought, why not get together and talk about why we love writing speculative fiction and how we’ve gone about things, as well as sharing some of our own work.”

The event, which is supported by Random House New Zealand & Unity Books, is being held on Thursday September 17 at 7.30 pm in the Upper Chamber, Wellington Arts Centre/Toi Poneke, 61 Abel Smith Street in central Wellington. Admission is free.

For further information, contact senjmito (at) gmail.com

All welcome!

A Day In The Life Of An Easily Distracted Writer

9.00am: Yay, writing day*, my favourite day of the week.

9.15am: Put load of washing on. Almost out of shirts.

9.30am: Check emails, Twitter – in other words, do those things I keep telling myself I won’t do until I have written my first 1000 words of the day. Still, pleased to see reply from Sydney Padua responding to my previous humorous sally to her re Charles Babbage. Unwisely, devote time to thinking of a yet more humorous riposte. Check Facebook page for Fantastic Voyages: Writing Speculative Fiction. Only two weeks to go!

10.00am: So. Last week, I outlined the final eight chapters of my novel. Now to commence the actual writing, starting with Chapter 17. It’s a new beginning of sorts, with my protagonist and his comrades admitting defeat and moving on, leaving shattered hopes and shattered lives behind. (Never let me write a blurb.)

10.15am: Oh, so that’s what “bounding main” means. Wikipedia rocks!

10.20am: Close down, abjure, put behind me all distracting technologies.

10.30am: Check mail (the physical, in-a-letterbox kind). Nothing.

11.00am: Pleased with how this is going. Stretching out in long passage of descriptive prose.

11.30am: Check mail. Big moment! My contributor’s copy of The Penguin Book of Contemporary New Zealand Short Stories has arrived. Cool! It’s a large book. Skim introduction by Paula Morris – looks good. Check contributor’s note. The Walt Whitman-like epic I provided has been trimmed down a bit, producing interesting floaty effect. Still, cool! Set aside to be read later (two books for review to read first).

12.25am: 850 words written. Check Twitter. Yes, I know that’s not 1000 words, but I have reached the end of a scene. Surely that counts for something.

12.30am: It starts hailing. Bad weather from the south, as foreshadowed by Art And My Life, has arrived. Should have hung washing out earlier. Make tentative start on next scene.

1.00pm: Hail has cleared. Time to hang out washing, then have lunch.

1.10pm: Outside conditions surprisingly pleasant. Discuss plot of novel with cat.

1.30pm: Arrive back inside singing theme from Teletubbies: “Tinky Winky, Dipsy, La La, Po”. Have had idea for the blog post I should have written last night.

1.50pm: Must remember to eat lunch when actually ready. Now cold.

2.15pm: 90 minutes till son returns from school. Time to get on with it.

2.35pm: Megan Fox.

2.40pm: Coffee.

2.45pm: Making good progress. Hard to write a dialogue-heavy scene, this far into the novel, in a way that keeps it fresh. Though both the medium and the tone are different, Buffy the Vampire Slayer does this very, very well. Two key principles I have learned from looking at how dialogue is handled in Buffy: serious dialogue can still have a humorous edge, and let the least trustworthy character in the scene be the most truthful. Only problem is, neither of these apply to what I am writing. Cursed mimesis!

3.25pm: 1500 word mark passed. Had been hoping to write 2000 today. Do have some inkling of why I fell short.

3.40pm: Reached end of the second scene. Total of 1777 words today. Will gnaw on thoughts of next scene over next few days. I know what the fourth and final scene of the chapter is, but right now, have no detailed idea of what will happen in the third scene. I know what emotional tone I want it to have, however. Time for backups.

3.50pm: Front door opens: son arriving home from school. Time to find out how his day was, get him fed, check if he has homework, check the washing (and, OK, fair point, put out the rest of the socks), publish this blog post, reply to emails, and cook dinner.

*There are other days on which I write, but Thursdays are the one day of the week I dedicate to writing. Yes, you heard me. Dedicate!

Anomalous Appetites, Speculative Blogs, and a Very Good Cause

Anomalous Appetites

Shortly after the release of Voyagers: Science Fiction Poetry from New Zealand was announced, New Zealand poet and editor John Irvine got in touch to say that he had recently published an illustrated anthology of science fiction poetry, Anomalous Appetites. You can find out all about it on John’s website.

I’ve now read Anomalous Appetites, and I found it a mixed bag (like any anthology), with some parts very much to my taste and others less so. I’m impressed by the range of poets included, with contributors from the US, the UK and the Philippines as well as New Zealand. The most immediately impressive thing about the anthology is the design: this collection is lavishly illustrated, and I especially liked those sections, such as the haiku by Greg Schwartz, in which the poems are fully integrated with the illustrations.

In addition, I particularly enjoyed the poetry of Maureen Irvine, John Irvine, Ken Head’s “Imagining the Pandemia”, Kristine Ong Muslim, and Charles Christian. Although the brief of the anthology is speculative poetry, most of it is horror poetry: there’s plenty of vampirism and cannibalism doing the rounds. It was often the pieces that had at least a science fiction element, rather than being pure horror, that appealed to me most.

In any case, I think it’s a really good sign to see not one but two speculative poetry anthologies being produced in New Zealand, and I wish John and his collaborators all the best with future ventures.

New Zealand Speculative Fiction Blogging Week: 14-20 September

In an effort to raise the profile of speculative fiction writers in New Zealand, the week of 14-20 September has been declared New Zealand Speculative Fiction Blogging Week. By happy coincidence, Helen Lowe and I are holding our writing event in Wellington, Fantastic Voyages: Writing Speculative Fiction, during that week – see the poster below. So I expect I will blog about this – but that will leave room for one other NZ speculative fiction post during the week. Any suggestions of what you’d like me to cover?



Poets for Princess Ashika: Love, Loss and the Sea

This is a fundraiser for the victims and relatives of the Princess Ashika Ferry Disaster in Tonga. I won’t be able to attend, unfortunately, but if you’re in the area, I recommend both the lineup of poets and the cause.

Featuring Glenn Colquhoun, Karlo Mila, Apirana Taylor, David Geary and the Paekakariki School Kapa Haka group.

Saturday 5 September, 2pm
UPDATE: The venue has been moved to the larger capacity Paekakariki Memorial Hall, The Parade (next to Campbell Park on the seafront).

Afternoon tea

Koha entry, and raffle
Contact: Helen Keivom 04 905 7178 or helen.keivom (at) kapiticoast.govt.nz

Voyagers Gets A Great First Review

The Wellington launch of Voyagers: Science Fiction Poetry from New Zealand is next Monday at the New Zealand Poetry Society meeting, Thistle Inn, 7.30pm. The wonderful Meliors Simms passed on to me the first review of Voyagers, and I’m so happy with it that I’ve reproduced it below.

Review of Voyagers from Star*Line, Journal of the Science Fiction Poetry Association, May/June 2009, p. 19. Reviewed by Edward Cox.

Science fiction is a fertile ground for poetry. As easily as snapping fingers, it seems, imagery and ideas can kick the thought processes of readers into overdrive. The very mention of words like ‘galaxy’, ‘sky’, ‘Earth’, and ‘alien’, ‘robot’, ‘human’, can fill the imagination with all kinds of possibilities. With Voyagers, editors Mark Pirie and Tim Jones have gathered together some of New Zealand’s finest poets to compile a collection that shows us all why the realm of science fiction poetry knows no bounds.

The book is divided into six parts, with titles drawn from popular culture: “Back to the Future”, “Apocalypse Now”, “Altered States”, “ET”, “When Worlds Collide” and “The Final Frontier”. As these titles suggest, each part comes at science fiction from a different angle. In the introduction, the editors acknowledge that there is no universal definition for the genre, and with this in mind, all the poems herein are thought provoking, enigmatic and entertaining.

Janet Charman’s “in your dreams” is a nice reminder of where we are, and that all the poems in the book are by Girls and Boys from New Zealand. “Einstein’s Theory Simply Explained” by David Gregory is anything but simple, while Alistair Te Ariki Campbell’s “Looking at Kapiti” uses classic literature and Maori history to describe the destruction of an island. Without doubt, the most humorous poem of the collection is “Tabloid Headlines” by Helen Rickerby. This one is a list of headlines, which sometimes invert expectancies or carry quotes that will have you chuckling long after reading. The best headline, perhaps, is of the woman who walked on water, who then explained, “No I’m not the messiah, I’m just very clever.”

My favourite poem in Voyagers is also the very last poem in the book. “Space & Time” by Brian [sic] Sewell returns us to possibilities, fuelling the imagination, the heart of this collection. On one hand, the poem seems to wonder how far the human race can be trusted with space exploration and colonisation, given its history. On the other hand, it is a poem of imagery and ideas, adventure and peril, which opens in the way perhaps all great science fiction should:

a long time ago
in a galaxy far far away
are things that we know
and things that amaze—

Although Voyagers is a strong collection in its entirety, the bok is undoubtedly at its strongest when its source is New Zealand itself, and is often an education. For most, we only know this country from the stunning landscapes Mr Jackson showed us in the “The Lord of the Rings” movies. We tend to forget that New Zealand is a land of diverse cultures, mysticism and deep folklore. Editors Pirie and Jones have produced a collection that is an antidote to ignorance. The authors and their works have tapped into a fertile ground to ensure Voyagers is most worthy of note.

There will be copies of Voyagers available for sale at the meeting, but if you’re not going to be there and would like a copy, you can buy Voyagers from Amazon.com as a paperback or Kindle e-book; New Zealand Books Abroad; or Fishpond. You can also find out more about Voyagers, and buy it directly from the publisher, at the Voyagers mini-site.

UPDATE: My interview on Plains FM with Helen Lowe about Voyagers is now available as a podcast: http://bit.ly/9mxI3 (12 minutes)

Fantastic Voyages: Writing Speculative Fiction: Wellington, Thursday 17 September

Many thanks to Fitz for the poster

That’s right! Helen Lowe and I are going to be getting together on the 17th of September, under the guidance and chairpersonship of Radio New Zealand’s Arts on Sunday presenter Lynn Freeman, to discuss writing science fiction and fantasy in New Zealand — and getting it published too. Unity Books will be there to help sell books, and I hope that, if you’re able to make it, you’ll be there too.

If you’re keen on reading and/or writing science fiction and fantasy yourself, this is your chance to discuss that topic with two writers who have been there and are doing that; and if sf&f are not genres you’ve previously paid much attention to, come along anyway and hear from two writers whose work spans genres.

I hope to see you there!

Helen Lowe
http://www.helenlowe.info/
Helen Lowe’s first novel, Thornspell is published by Knopf (Random House Children’s Books) in the United States. Thornspell won the Sir Julius Vogel Award 2009 for Best Book: Young Adult while Helen herself won the award for Best New Talent. Thornspell was also a Storylines New Zealand Children’s Literature Trust Notable Book 2009. Helen also has the first book in an epic Fantasy quartet, The Wall of Night, coming out with Eos (HarperCollins USA) in September 2010. She has had speculative short fiction published in NZ, the USA and Australia and is represented by Robin Rue of Writers House Literary Agency in New York.

Tim Jones
http://timjonesbooks.blogspot.com/
Tim Jones is a writer, editor and literary blogger whose recent books include short story collection Transported (Vintage, 2008), which mixes science fiction and fantasy with literary fiction and was longlisted for the 2008 Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award; poetry anthology Voyagers: Science Fiction Poetry from New Zealand, co-edited with Mark Pirie (Interactive Publications, 2009); and fantasy novel Anarya’s Secret (RedBrick, 2007). Tim has had science fiction and fantasy stories published in the US, the UK, Australia, Canada and Vietnam as well as in New Zealand. His science fiction story “The New Neighbours”, from Transported, has been included in the forthcoming Penguin Book of Contemporary New Zealand Short Stories, edited by Paula Morris.

Lynn Freeman
http://www.radionz.co.nz/national/presenters/lynn_freeman
An award-winning arts journalist, Lynn Freeman hosts Radio New Zealand’s Arts on Sunday programme (12 noon to 4 pm), which focuses on theatre, film, comedy, books, dance, entertainment and music. Lynn is an experienced and knowledgeable interviewer who is in demand to chair events for arts and literature festivals around the country.