Aurealis #132


To celebrate CoNZealand, the 78th World Science Fiction Convention, we have published this all-New Zealand issue of Aurealis. There are short stories by New Zealand’s top science fiction and fantasy authors, articles on the history and current state of NZ speculative fiction, and reviews of 26 recently-released books by New Zealanders that should be on your reading list!

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We can’t tell you how much we at Aurealis were looking forward to attending CoNZealand, the 78th World Science Fiction Convention, running from 29 July to 2 August in Wellington. For a large number of the Aurealis team who are based in Australia, it would have been their first overseas WorldCon. We had big plans for Aurealis, so to say we’re disappointed now that it’s no longer a live event is an understatement.

Our disappointment, though, would have been trivial compared to how devastated the CoNZealand organising team must have felt after years of preparation. They could have thrown their hands up in frustration and just packed it all in. Instead, they’ve chosen to boldly go where no WorldCon has gone before and become virtual.

So here’s the Aurealis contribution: an all-New Zealand issue celebrating our cousin’s significant contribution to world science fiction and fantasy. Simon Litten and Sean McMullen begin their fascinating article on the history of New Zealand SF&F with the question ‘How has the most remote English-speaking country on the planet managed to develop fantastical worlds, visions, and futures that have gained so much international recognition and popularity?’ If the premise of this question surprises you, make sure you start this issue of Aurealis by reading their account, which takes us from the oral Maori tradition of ballads, similar to the Arthurian legends of Britain, and the Scandinavian Viking sagas, to New Zealand becoming the spiritual home of the most iconic fantasy world ever conceived, Middle-earth.

Lucy Sussex’s article on Julius Vogel tells the story of the man who both led his country and was the first New Zealander to write a science-fiction novel: Anno Domini 2000; or, Woman’s Destiny, published in 1889 which depicted a utopian world where women held many positions of authority. With New Zealand being the first country in the world to give women the vote, it makes you wonder what would happen if more world leaders had also been science-fiction writers! And if you want to find out more about the current SF&F scene in New Zealand, move onto Marie Hodgkinson’s article where she declares ‘If you’re waiting for the great renaissance of Aotearoa science fiction and fantasy, we’re already there.’

Aurealis has had a long relationship with New Zealand. Even way back when we billed ourselves as ‘The Australian Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction’, we published stories by New Zealanders. And in more recent times, Australians and New Zealanders share the same open-submissions dates. Identifying our first published story by a New Zealander is not as straightforward as you would expect. Paul Collins who was born in England, raised in New Zealand, but has lived for a long time in Australia, appeared in Aurealis #2 with his story ‘One Day Soon’. The first story to appear by a writer based in New Zealand was ‘Wintering Over’ by Dunedin (now Wellington) author Tim Jones in Aurealis #5. Since then, there have been many others.

We published Wellingtonian Peter Friend’s very first work of fiction ‘Outdoors’ in Aurealis #8, and he went on to be published in magazines such as Asimov’s Science Fiction and Interzone. Peter’s latest story ‘DogWorld’ appears in this issue. Also in this issue is another magical story, ‘Arachne’s Web’, by one of the upcoming stars of New Zealand SF&F, James Rowland. Another NZ shining light, Andi C Buchanan, also makes an appearance with ‘Like Clocks Work’.

Our reviewers have outdone themselves with this issue with a record 26 reviews of recently-released New Zealand works of SF&F – all on a much tighter deadline than usual. These books should become your go-to list for contemporary NZ speculative fiction. Reviewed books include The Dawnhounds by Sascha Stronach, From a Shadow Grave by Andi C Buchanan, and Year’s Best Aotearoa New Zealand Science Fiction & Fantasy Volume #1 edited by Marie Hodgkinson.

Most of the illustrations in this issue are by New Zealand artists Emma Weakley and Laya Rose. This issue’s cover is by Emma and features the native orange-feathered Kea parrots.

We would like to thank Scott Vandervalk, Terry Wood, Eugen Bacon, Cas Le Nevez, and all thirty members of our Editorial team for the tireless work they have put into this truly special issue.

All the best from the (long white) cloud!

Dirk Strasser

Stephen Higgins

Michael Pryor

From Arachne’s Web by James Rowland

About James Rowland

James Rowland is a New Zealand-based, British-born writer. His work has previously appeared at Aurealis, Compelling Science Fiction and NewMyths. When he’s not moonlighting as a writer of magical, strange or futuristic stories, he works as an intellectual property lawyer. You can find him at

The old woman vanished. In her place, wisdom herself stood in a fine gown of green. The visitors in the room bobbed like the tide against the shore. They lent in, ensnared by the metamorphosis, and then they recoiled, receding at the look of fury etched on the goddess’ face.

From Like Clocks Work by Andi C. Buchanan

About Andi C. Buchanan

Andi C Buchanan lives among streams and faultlines, just north of Wellington, Aotearoa New Zealand. Winner of a Sir Julius Vogel Award for their short story ‘Girls Who Do Not Drown’ (Apex, 2018), their 2019 novella From a Shadow Grave (Paper Road Press) uses a historical murder as a launching point into narratives of multiple possible futures. You can find Andi at

Jana looks out over the old town, over the towers in the distance and the greying sky behind. The clock is chiming behind her, metal clanging against metal. These streets, streets built and restored, bombed and rebuilt and polished, are now abandoned; squares where merchants and then tourists once thronged are now near empty.

From DogWorld by Peter Friend

About Peter Friend

Peter Friend has sold fiction to Asimov’s Science Fiction, Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine, Aurealis, Interzone and Aboriginal Science Fiction magazine. His stories twice won the Paul John Statham Memorial Fantasy and Science Fiction writing competition. In real life, he’s a computer analyst, but hopes to one day become a full-time living art treasure.

Emma needed an after-school job, but not at somewhere called DogWorld. Her Labrador, Jasper, had died a month ago. Just seeing another Lab was sometimes enough to make her tear up. But DogWorld was only five blocks from home, and paid two bucks an hour more than packing groceries way across town. It seemed the sensible choice, even after she’d checked the website and still wasn’t sure what DogWorld was.

From CONQUIST Part 6 – In the Palace of Angels by Dirk Strasser

About Dirk Strasser

Dirk Strasser has co-edited/co-published Australia’s premiere speculative fiction magazine Aurealis for 30 years and founded the Aurealis Awards. His screenplay of Conquist was a Finalist at the 2019 Cinequest Film & Creativity Festival, Richmond International Film Festival, the Fresh Voices Original Screenplay Competition and the Byron Bay Film Festival.

As dawn broke across the village, Rodrigo awoke dazed where he had collapsed the night before. Struggling to his feet, he blinked at the morning sun and ran his fingers along a thin cut that had appeared on his cheek. He kicked Luis who was lying near him until he stirred.

“Get up,” he cried. “The duendes will be here soon.”

Carlos and Martín ran towards him.

Martín shouted, “The Incas are gone.

From Julius Vogel and Anno Domini 2000; or, Woman’s Destiny by Lucy Sussex

About Lucy Sussex

Lucy Sussex was born in Christchurch, New Zealand. Her award-winning fiction includes the novel, The Scarlet Rider (1996, reprint Ticonderoga 2015), and her anthology She’s Fantastical was shortlisted for the World Fantasy Award. Her Blockbuster: Fergus Hume and The Mystery of a Hansom Cab (Text), won the 2015 Victorian Community History Award.

A noted development in recent SF&F has been the renaming of awards, from the Campbell to the Tiptree. It begs the question of who should be commemorated in awards, that area currently being a minefield.

From Where Is Aotearoa New Zealand’s Speculative Fiction? by Marie Hodgkinson

About Marie Hodgkinson

Marie Hodgkinson can’t imagine life without a book in her hand. She’s the publisher at the award-winning Paper Road Press, which specialises in science fiction and fantasy from Aotearoa New Zealand, is the editor of several anthologies, and writes her own stories in what free time is leftover. You can find her on Twitter @mariehodgkinson.

If you’re waiting for the great renaissance of Aotearoa science fiction and fantasy, we’re already there.

From New Zealand Science Fiction and Fantasy 1872 – 2019 by Simon Litten and Sean McMullen

About Simon Litten and Sean McMullen

Simon Litten lives in Wellington and won a Sir Julius Vogel Award in 2011 for Services to Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror.
Sean McMullen is the award-winning author of 25 SF&F novels and collections, and a hundred stories. He has been shortlisted for the BSFA and Hugo Awards.

How has the most remote English-speaking country on the planet managed to develop fantastical worlds, visions, and futures that have gained so much international recognition and popularity?