I Blurbed a Book

I was fortunate enough to receive an advance copy of Remains to be Told: Dark Tales of Aotearoa, edited by Lee Murray and published by Clan Destine Press and given the opportunity to write a review.

I’ve put the whole review below, but the publishers have also used an exerpt in the opening pages, along with blurbs from Richard Thomas, Eric J. Guignard and Christa Carmen. All high praise and all quite right – it’s a remarkable collection.


Remains To Be Told

Dark Tales of Aotearoa

Edited by Lee Murray

Review by Sean Monaghan

It’s always a treat to dip into a collection of short stories by different authors. The eclectic mix of styles and voices creates a wonderful smorgasbord of flavours and feelings. There are stories you will love and stories that will leave you perplexed, stories that are heartwarming and stories that are challenging, stories that are straightforward and predictable until the last moment and stories that seem to come from the strangest of places, make a brief visit to startled readers and depart back to their odd origins.

This anthology has all of this, with the remarkable addition of a deep Aotearoa/New Zealand feel, and another layer in that the stories are startlingly prickly and uncanny horror tales. The title gives that away, of course, but what one forgets, in the midst of New Zealand fiction and, in particular, New Zealand speculative fiction, is that we can be a little bit nice.

Sure our fiction is filled with family drama and challenging situations, but often we skate over the surface and miss plunging into the very visceral mire these stories present.

It’s an eclectic mix and I’d like to avoid singling out any particular stories–my favourites would quite possibly be different to yours anyway (which is one of the delightful aspects of multi-author collections). What I will mention is something that the stories have in common; these are stories of the land, about the history and the geography of our odd nation. These are stories that invoke our remarkable blending of cultures.

Colonization and decolonization stand side by side. The intertwining of Māori myth and oral history with the day to day practicalities of raising families in this twenty-first century capitalist world is one of the key threads that unify these stories as they bob and weave around social commentary, entertainment and pointed, bald and wry–even witty–observations.

A supremely readable collection that deserves high recognition and a wide readership.

I’ve written numerous book reviews over the years, for newspapers, and that’s always been fun. With changing times, there are fewer newspaper review slots around, so it’s nice to have the opportunity again. Even cooler to have an exerpt included


The volume contains stories by Kathryn Burnett, Helena Claudia, Gina Cole, William Cook, Debbie Cowens, Neil Gaiman, Del Gibson, Jacqui Greaves, Denver Grenell, Tim Jones, Nikky Lee, Paul Mannering, Owen Marshall, Tracie McBride, Kirsten McKenzie, Celine Murray, Lee Murray, Dan Rabarts, Bryce Stevens, and Marty Young.

Te Kōrero Ahi Kā – To Speak of the Home Fires Burning

KoreroAhiKa-FrontCoverI have a story the new New Zealand speculative fiction anthology Te Kōrero Ahi Kā –  To Speak of the Home Fires Burning. Edited by Grace Bridges, Lee Murray and Aaron Compton.

This is a wonderful collection, and I’m thrilled to be included. There are familiar names, and some new names, which is always good.

The publisher, SpecFicNZ, exists to promote and support speculative writers in New Zealand.

I haven’t read all the stories yet, but I do like Mark English’s story especially. Despite having been writing for, well, many years now, this is the first time I’ve been in an anthology with so many people I actually know and have met in person, and consider friends.

My own story, “Dance, Tiny Particles, Dance” had an interesting genesis, dating back a couple of years when I went to enter the Gernsback Amazing Stories contest. I wrote the story, then went back to the contest guidelines and realized that, happy as I was with the story, I’d strayed significantly. (I wrote another story, which actually co-won the contest – it’s available to read for free here: “Penny of Tharsis Montes” at the Amazing Stories site).

I’m pleased that the story has found a home, especially pleased that it’s here in New Zealand too. That’s kind of cool.

Te Kōrero Ahi Kā is available directly from Amazon, and other online retailers, and should show up in local bookshops pretty soon.


Sir Julius Vogel Award nominations open.

smFront-v5The Sir Julius Vogel Awards are New Zealand’s science fiction awards. Presented annually at the convention in June.

The ceremony brings out the cream of the New Zealand science fiction scene – too many to list here, but I’d include Lee Murray and Octavia Cade, both of whom won awards in categories for which I was a finalist last year.

I am eligible once again, though this time just in the short story category.

I had the a few stories published during 2015 which are eligible and some of which are available as free reads.

Scour in New Myths (click to read for free)
Penny of Tharsis Montes in Amazing Stories (click to read for free)
The Bubbcat in Cirsova Issue 4
The Root Bridges of Haemae in Aurealis
Wakers in Asimov’s
Go For The Dome in Perihelion (click to read for free)
Ink for a Verbal Contract in Ad Astra (click to read for free)

I’d also like to do a shout out for a couple of others here – Lee Murray for her novel Into The Mist, and Octavia Cade for her novella Eating Science with Ghosts – Asimov’s October/November 2016. If I am fortunate enough to be nominated this year, at least it it won’t be up against these two, since they’re different categories (then again, they may have placed stories I haven’t spotted yet).

Previous winner AJ Fitwater also has some eligible stories, listed on her website there – a nice tale in Shimmer – “An Atlas in Sgraffito Style”.

Dan Rabarts and Lee Murray deserve an editors’ nomination for At The Edge, their Science Fiction / Fantasy / Horror anthology. This also includes AC Buchanan’s story And Still the Forests Grow though we are Gone.

Nominations are open at the SFFANZ site, through until March 31st. Good luck to everyone.

My current story in Asimov’s – “Crimson Birds of Small Miracles” is not eligible, since it’s in the January issue. The story will be eligible for the 2018 awards.