New Diane Awerbuck Narration live at Tales to Terrify

diane_awerbuckOver the past couple of years, I’ve been quite privileged to be the first port of call for narrations on the Tales to Terrify podcast that require an Antipodean voice, which has meant that just recently I’ve been reading stories by one of my new favourite authors, South African writer Diane Awerbuck. Awerbuck has a dark, understated style that draws out the horror just below the surface of our reality, from a uniquely South African perspective. I’ve really enjoyed reading and narrating her work, the first of which is now live at the podcast, with another due to drop in a few weeks.

You can listen to my reading of Duiweltjie (Day-vil-kay), free as always, on Tales to Terrify.

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And… Here’s 2017

RDSP logoWell, 2016 was quite a year all round, wasn’t it? Good with the bad and all that. The highlight for me had to be signing a two-book deal for The Path of Ra series with Raw Dog Screaming Press, and Lee and I will be busy over the coming months writing the second book to follow Hounds of the Underworld, due out this year.

Sir Julius Vogel Time

It’s SJV nomination time again, and I have a couple of eligible works that you might like to consider having a look at and maybe nominating if you think they deserve it. They are:

At The Edge – an anthology of dark Antipodean short fiction, published by Paper Road Press, edited by myself and Lee Murray; About half the stories in At The Edge are also eligible for the SJVs, just as the other half are eligible for the Aurealis and Ditmar Awards, and most the stories are eligible for the Australian Shadows Awards, so please do take a minute to nominate those stories you think are deserving of mention. I certainly will be.

Spindle – a science fiction horror novella published in ASIM #63

Tipuna Tapu – a dieselpunk adventure novella published in And Then… Volume 1

I’d also like to recommend the cover art for At The Edge, by Emma Weakley, as it is quite a stunning piece of work.

FB bannerTipuna Tapu available in And Then…

And Then Vol 1My post-apocalyptic dieselpunk novella Tipuna Tapu has been published in And Then… The Great Big Book of Awesome Adventure Tales Volume 1, from Clan Destine Press in Australia. And Then… is available in paperback and ebook, and Volume 2 is not far away.

New Narration Online

You can now hear my narration of Cameron Trost’s Redback Jack over at the Tales to Terrify Podcast, in the episode released on January 6th.


So that’s 2016 done and dusted, put to bed. Bring on 2017, I say. Heaps to look forward to, including LexiCon, the national SF convention in Taupo in June, which I’m helping organise, and writing another book with Lee Murray. Full steam ahead!


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FFANZ Announce New Delegate


The Fan Fund of Australia and New Zealand (FFANZ) are very pleased to announce that the race for Melbourne has been won, and we are excited to have Lynelle Howell as our new delegate.

Lynelle has been a tireless champion of the New Zealand science fiction community for many years, and now she will be heading to Melbourne in 2017 to meet and greet with Australian fandom and share her knowledge and enthusiasm across the ditch.

Thanks to everyone who voted for Lynelle, and to all those who have otherwise supported or signal-boosted the fan funds. It is much appreciated.

If you would like to help in our mission to promote New Zealand and Australian fandom and writing and continue to strengthen the bonds between our communities, please contact the fund administrators, Dan Rabarts in New Zealand or David McDonald in Australia, to see how you can help. We’re always open to donations which can be auctioned at cons, or any other creative means of raising funds and raising awareness and keeping good things happening. We can both be found on Facebook or Twitter.

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New Narration live at Tales to Terrify

dow-patreon-cover1Head over to the Tales to Terrify website to check out my latest narration, Memoirs of a Teenage Antichrist, by Shane J. Cummings.

While you’re there, you might like to consider supporting the show by becoming a Patron through Patreon. The District of Wonders podcast family has been delivering quality fiction for free for over ten years now, and relies on donations to keep going. So if you subscribe and enjoy the podcasts, you can donate as little as $1 a month to keep the Tales to Terrify cabin in cobwebs and candles.

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FFANZ 2017 Candidate Announced: Lynelle Howell!

FFANZ logo2 copyThe FFANZ administrators are very pleased to announce that we have a candidate in the running to attend Continuum 13, in Melbourne, 2017:

Lynelle Howell!

The Fan Fund for Australia and New Zealand was created to strengthen the ties between Australian and New Zealand fandom.  FFANZ assists fans with travel to the Natcon of the other nation, and assists with as many of the attendant costs of travel as practical, as well as facilitating connections between fans.

This year’s FFANZ race is a westward bound one, facilitating travel by a New Zealand fan to the 56th Australian Speculative Fiction National Convention, Continuum XIII – Triskaidekaphilia, to be held in Melbourne, Victoria, over Queen’s Birthday Weekend, 9th-12th June, 2017. It is expected that after the trip the winner takes over as administrator of the fund, engages in fundraising for the fund, and that they promote links between the two fandoms via a trip report or other means.

This year there is one candidate. They have provided a statement to support their candidacy.

Lynelle Howell

Hi, my name is Lynelle Howell and I’m a fan. I’ve been involved in fandom for over 20 years, being involved where I can, when I see something that needs doing. I’ve chaired two natcons, was on the concom for another and helped set up SFFANZ (the Science Fiction and Fantasy Association of New Zealand). I have been a sitting member of its board since its inception in 2002 and administered the Association’s premier awards, the Sir Julius Vogel Awards (SJVs), for more than 10 years.

When not working at a national level, I’m working with my local club, Phoenix Science Fiction Society, based in Wellington. I am the co-editor (with my husband) of the club magazine, Phoenixine. I’m proud to say that since we took over the publication of the ‘xine in 2006 we’ve won a number of SJVs for best fan publication and services to fandom.

I’m running for FFANZ because I’ve met a number of Australians during my 20-plus years of organising and attending events and I’d love to meet more. I am also keen to see how NZ conventions differ from those across the Tasman.

 Nominated by Norman Cates (NZ) and Donna Maree Hanson (Aus).

All members of Australian and New Zealand fandom are eligible to vote. The voting process contributes to the fundraising, so in order to vote you must pay $5NZD, $5AUD or $5USD. If you wish to pay via direct deposit or Paypal, please make contact with the administrator, Dan Rabarts, via email [rabarts AT gmail DOT com] with a completed Voting Form (download from here). Postal votes can be sent to FFANZ, c/- 63 Albatross Close, Whitby, Porirua, in New Zealand or to David McDonald, FFANZ c/- PO Box 32, Blackburn, Melbourne 3130 in Victoria, Australia. Cheques should be made out to the administrators, David McDonald in Australia or Dan Rabarts in New Zealand. Ballots may also be handed directly to any of the Administrators in person.

You may also choose to vote ‘Hold over funds’ if you think that a delegate should not be selected this year.

If you vote by PayPal there is no need to return a completed Ballot Form. To donate and vote, you can PayPal your donation (minimum NZ $5) to e-mail address at: [rabarts AT gmail DOT com], indicating in the comments field which voting option you support.

Voting concludes Sunday the 9th of October, 2016.

The Voting Form can be downloaded here.

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Hounds of the Underworld

RDSP logoMy partner in darkness, Lee Murray, and I are thrilled to announce that the first book in our collaborative novel series, Hounds of the Underworld: Book 1 of The Path of Ra has found a home with Raw Dog Screaming Press, to be released in 2017.  For more details see the Raw Dog Screaming press release here. With a dual protagonist structure, Hounds of the Underworld is set in a future New Zealand, and is speculative fusion of horror, detective noir, and black comedy:

On the verge of losing her laboratory, her savings, and all respect for herself, Pandora Yee lands a contract as scientific consult to the police. And with seventeen murder cases on the go, the surly inspector is happy to leave her to it. Only she’s going to need to get around, and that means her slightly unhinged little brother, Matiu, will be doing the driving, whether she likes it or not. But something about the case spooks Matiu, something other than the absence of a body in the congealing pool of blood at the warehouse, or that odd little bowl.

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 his past, a man who takes pleasure in watching dogs tear each other to pieces for profit and entertainment. He wants to protect Pandora from this, but the deeper they get, the more he realises that they’ll have to fall into hell before they have any chance of walking away. And hell is a long way down.

Raw Dog Screaming Press is an independent American publisher dedicated to putting into print the highest quality literature from the fringe. If it’s dark, deviant, off-kilter then they will sniff it out. And they do, with not one but two Bram Stoker Awards collected by authors Lucy A Snyder and Maria Alexander this past year, and a great stack of fiction in their stable, all of which “foams at the mouth”. We hope that Hounds of the Underworld fits that description!

Jennifer Barnes of RDSP says of the acquisition: “In addition to being excited about the book, we’re excited about the prospects of bringing genre work from New Zealand authors to the U.S.”

We’re excited too, and Lee and I already at work on the second book, to be released by Raw Dog Screaming Press in 2018.

(And thanks to Lee for letting me steal her web post and change the names…)

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Au Contraire 3

Well, I made it.

Au Contraire 3, New Zealand’s 37th National Science Fiction and Fantasy Convention, is done and dusted, and I lived to tell the tale.

I worked with Lee Murray to programme the Writers’ Stream of panels and events, which was a formidable task but one that we put our best into and turned out what most reports describe as a fairly well-balanced selection of topics and workshops, with something to suit everyone. As well as the coverage of literary topics, the convention also boasted cosplay and filking, and of course featured the highlight of the weekend, New Zealand’s Sir Julius Vogel Awards for Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror.

Great to catch up with so many old friends and make some new ones during the course of the weekend. Had a fantastic time being part of some lively discussions about horror, steampunk, podcasting, community building and more. One of the highlights was working with Star Wars Origami Guru Martin Hunt to help build a life-sized BB8 droid, which looked pretty amazing by the time we were done. Several members of the convention helped with the folding, making this world first a reality.

Another highlight was the book launch for At The Edge, the anthology of dark antipodean speculative fiction edited by Lee Murray and myself, now availalbe from Paper Road Press. Had a whole raft of authors there to sign books, and had readings from Paul Mannering and AJ Fitzwater, which made for an excellent event.

A few photos below to round out this record, with lots more over on my Facebook feed.

Now, time to start planning in earnest for LexiCon in 2017. I’m overall Programming Co-ordinator for next year’s convention, and I want to hear from you if you have ideas about the sort of panels, discussions and events you’d like to see. Drop me a comment here, and check out our registration page at:

At The Edge book launch with Lee Murray, Marie Hodgkinson, AJ Fitzwater, and Paul Mannering

At The Edge book launch with Lee Murray, Marie Hodgkinson,AJ Fitzwater, and Paul Mannering

Star Wars Origami guru Martin Hunt puts the finishing touches on BB8

Star Wars Origami guru Martin Hunt puts the finishing touches on BB8

2016 SJV winners, as wrangled by MC Norman Cates

2016 SJV winners, as wrangled by MC Norman Cates

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…And Then Pre-orders now live

And Then offer

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Nominations for FFANZ 2016 Now Open!

FFANZ logo2 copyNominations are now open for the 2017 Fan Fund of Australia and New Zealand (FFANZ).

The Fan Fund for Australian and New Zealand (FFANZ) was created to strengthen ties between Australian and New Zealand fandom. This fan fund financially assists the winning FFANZ delegate with travel and associated costs to attend the Natcon of the other nation.

In 2017 FFANZ will send one New Zealand science fiction fan to the 2017 Australian Speculative Fiction Natcon, Continuum XIII, to be held in Melbourne, Victoria, over Queen’s Birthday Weekend, 9th-12th June, 2017.

Prospective candidates have until 8th May 2016 to file the documents required to nominate to run for the FFANZ ballot. Voting will run from 16th May 2016 to 12th June 2016.

Candidates should file the following documents:

  • A brief letter stating their intent to run for FFANZ 2017.
  • A nominator and a seconder, preferably a nominator from New Zealand and a seconder from Australia.
  • A 100 word or less platform statement specifying the candidate’s reasons for running and qualifications for becoming the 2017 FFANZ delegate.

The duties of the winning candidate will be as follows:

Travel to Australia to attend Continuum XIII, to be held in Melbourne, Victoria, over Queen’s Birthday Weekend, 9th-12th June, 2017.

  • Visit and get to know as many Australian Science Fiction fans as time will permit.
  • Become the New Zealand FFANZ administrator until a replacement administrator is found. This normally happens when the administrator role is handed over to the succeeding NZ-bound delegate (in 2018 if a race is run every year).
  • Raise funds and maintain an account to be used by the next Australian delegate(s) in 2018.
  • Promote connections between Australian and New Zealand fandom by a trip report or other means.


Send required documents to: for New Zealand fans for Australian fans
More information about being a fan fund delegate can be found at or or

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Talks with the Boy

I’m a lucky guy. Several years ago, I fell on my feet when I met a lovely girl who has been with me ever since. We have two amazing kids, and I’m thankful for them, every day.

019We all know kids can be a handful, but they say that as they get older they become their own reward. I’d like to think that my kids have always been rewarding, despite the hard work that goes with raising them, but just recently this idea has taken on a whole new light, as my son has just turned nine and is growing up really fast. He’ll be a young man before I know it.

But let me jump back thirty years.

I remember my dad and mum taking my sisters and I out one dark night in 1986 to climb a hill and take a look through someone’s telescope at Halley’s Comet, fuelling my fascination with stars and all things space-like and science fiction-y. Amazing how a little investment in your kids can have a lifelong impact.

halleys-comet-1986So, on Saturday, we anchored up off a little island in Wellington Harbour and took the kids ashore to explore. We do this often, and every time we do it’s a new adventure. But this was a bit different. In places on the island, you can see layer upon layer of volcanic strata, pressed on top of each other, pocked through with hollow bubbles. These layers run vertically across the shore, evidence of how geologic layers have been pressed together and ultimately thrust back up from the earth’s crust to form these columns of striations that we can climb along, put our hands inside, crumble with our fingers. Fascinating just to look at, but even more so to explain to your nine-year-old how these rocks were formed millions of years ago. How this probably happened at a time when life was still just taking form on the planet, long before people, before the dinosaurs. Much longer ago than even I can remember. (At which point, he very kindly tells me that I’m not old. So sweet.)

We walk around the island, climb more rocks, and pick up shells. We look at how the rocks crumble under our hands; how the sun and rain and wind get into them and erode them away. How this island, with all its high peaks and points, is slowly wearing down into the sea, and eventually, after millions of years, will be drawn under the sea and turn back into magma and then into rock to be spurted out of a volcano, and so the cycle will start all over again.

When you can walk along a beach, and talk to your nine-year-old son about how the sun is a star, billions of years old, about halfway through its life, and how it will eventually swell to a blazing mass and its heat will destroy all life on earth, and he says, “But that’s not going to happen while I’m alive, right? Because that’s billions of years away. So I won’t need to worry about it.” That’s a comfort zone right there.

So then we talked about how no matter how far away in time that might be, the only way to escape it is for humans to find a way to travel to other stars and find other places to live, somehow. And he doesn’t reckon that will be too big a problem.

Some people say the vast majority of scientific endeavour is driven by the imagination; that science owes a lot to science fiction for inspiring generations of thinkers to consider what others treat as impossible as simply the next challenge to be overcome. Every year, science is breaking down the boundaries of the impossible. We can open our phones and look at photos taken on Mars, by a machine put there through passion, determination, technology and imagination.

And then tonight, turning over his space calendar to a picture of a pinwheel galaxy, he wants to know how long it would take to fly there. So we find ourselves talking about light years, and relativistic speeds and the alleged impossibility of travelling at the speed of light, and time dilation, and cryosleep, and generational arkships, and wormhole technology. And he tells me how all we need is a really smart computer, and a spaceship with a teleport in it, and it can land us anywhere we need to go and it won’t take us 15,000 years and however many civilisations might rise and fall while we cross 1500 light years at 10% the speed of light.

Because, when you’re nine, all these things are pretty damned straightforward.

I don’t remember what Halley’s Comet looked like. But I remember being there. I remember being amazed, and feeling so small and cold in the eye of the universe. There was something chilling in the knowledge that by the next time it passes Earth, my parents will be gone, and I will be old, if I live that long at all.

But I remember being there. I remember being inspired, and quietly terrified. Humbled.

In 1986, I was nine.



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