All posts by ReNewZ

About ReNewZ

Privately intellectualising since 1994.

Thoughts on the Ockhams

I’m going to rip into a long delayed round of reviews – or at least responses -to novels I’ve read over the past year. Starting with a response to the novels nominated for Ockham NZ Book Awards for 2016, just in time for the new longlist to be announced in November.

To quote myself:

Mostly though, I think I’ll veer towards reviewing for a bit. Works of note, hidden gems. NZ books, yes, but not only, and especially those with something to say. Starting with an appraisal of the NZ Book Awards longlist for 2016. I was, of course, eligible (and not nominated) so reading the chosen works this year has been interesting… to say the least.

The delay stems mostly from most of my time being taken up with the planning and assessing, and documenting, that is the workload of the modern NZ classroom teacher.

The additional problem I found is that when I actually read most of the novels, I did not really feel inclined to bother reviewing them. Now, they were all “good”, at least to a technical degree, hence being longlisted.  But, whatever the various strengths of the novels, I was more interested in exploring the texts’ flaws, which often held a lot more interest for me than the story being told. But I didn’t want to write x-hundred words and have it all come out like critique: not unless that book is impervious and I still recommend reading it anyway. That’s not a review, nor a fair reflection of the text itself.

So, flag that.

I suppose what I really underwent in reading the longlist was an appraisal of my interests and tastes versus those of the Ockham Award judges.


Not a fan

Upon reading, I discovered I was not a fan of most these novels. I did not enjoy them. I did not have my imagination captured by these texts: not enough to complete reading two, or overlook the flaws in the execution from two others.

In counterpoint, I’d assert the judges obviously were fans of their longlisted texts, making the issues with the texts, for them, non-existent or forgiveable.

Coming Rain by Stephen Daisley (Text Publishing) – Winner
The Chimes by Anna Smaill (Hodder & Stoughton)
Chappy by Patricia Grace (Penguin Random House) (shortlisted) DNF
The Back of His Head by Patrick Evans (Victoria University Press) (shortlisted) DNF
The Legend of Winstone Blackhat by Tanya Moir (Penguin Random House)
The Invisible Mile by David Coventry (Victoria University Press) (shortlisted)
Reach by Laurence Fearnley (Penguin Random House)
The Pale North by Hamish Clayton (Penguin Random House)
The Antipodeans by Greg McGee (Upstart Press)
Astonished Dice: Collected Short Stories by Geoff Cochrane (Victoria University Press)

I did not read all of the longlist: the ones in grey, I chose not to. Some I just couldn’t get my hands on at the right time. I enjoyed Clayton’s Wulf, so will check out The Pale North at some point, and The Antipodeans – I like the premise, and the idea of reading all three of the “rogue” publishers. Not for me, but here’s a review of Reach, too.

As someone who had good skin in the game this one year, the biggest disappointment was seeing a collection of previously published short stories make the list. First, short stories are a fundamentally different text – they honestly did not have enough novels to choose from? And previously published? Now if they were irrefusable, something world-changing like George Saunders, fine – but they didn’t even make the shortlist.

Of the remaining six, there were two reads I found most frustrating. I can see why the judges were fans of them, but to me, they were not wholly successful as texts.
The Legend of Winstone Blackhat had some lovely writing and imagery, particularly in the wind-blown wasteland of the protagonist’s cinema-inspired Western alternate reality. The story tackles a subject of real importance in NZ culture. But. The monotone misery of the boy’s actual life lacked vitality, and its telling simply did not ring true. Poverty and abuse are serious topics and I didn’t feel the author had anything authentic to say.

The other was The Invisible Mile. Coventry creates some lovely sentences and images, tending towards stream-of-consciousness, and the story concept is full of ambition, a drug-fuelled narrator reconstructing his life, that of others, some whole chunks of history while riding the Tour de France. Put those two strengths together and perhaps you can imagine the problem.
Among other things, this book seriously needed editing. At least one more draft. The key issue is that the narrator is insufficiently defined, and his lack of identity – indicative or mingled with a lack of authorial clarity -means we get a load of redundant digressions, internal commentary and orphaned “darlings” in often scatter-shot fashion. I found the writing was best and most readable when the narrative was grounded in a scene, in interaction, and this did not happen often enough. As such, the view of the Tour de France, and the world around him, lacked selection or focus. Some might say this jumble was artistic. For me, the text failed to communicate.


The Chimes

The Invisible Mile demands attention principally because it was shortlisted, taking the place of, in my view, a superior novel: Anna Smail’s The Chimes. This text was also ambitious, also unfortunately flawed, but to nowhere near the same degree. Indeed, the first half of the text approaches perfection. Yes, I am a huge fan of this novel. It achieves so much, was so readable, did something so new that despite its flaws, it deserves attention.

A London where memory and words are replaced by song, wiped out by the Chimes. This world is beautifully realised, developed layer-on-layer as our hero, Simon, acclimatises to this new city he has entered, only to be constantly disrupted by the systematic erasure of memory – whereon Smaill uses her musical knowledge and artistry to smooth over this narrative complication and we are awed all over again. This is the aspect most reviews focus on, it is where the literary merits and the fantasy storytelling is strongest. If only Smaill had allowed her narrative – with Simon, Lucien, the pactrunners, hunted by the Order – to just stay there, resolve the tale within the city-world she had so powerfully constructed.

Unfortunately, instead of just having her characters survive the imposing world she’d created, she sent them off to destroy The Order and save the world. Smaill’s writing holds up, and the finale will not dismay, but to get to her end, the story becomes ever more convenient and contrived. In the Chimes, the thrall in which the Order held the world was terrifyingly convincing; so the relative ease of Simon’s adventures away from the city makes the oppression of London suddenly seem a Potemkin Village. Those of us who have read and written speculative fiction and SFF know that the bigger you build up the evil, the more you have to do to earn the right to pull it down, and it is damned hard to justify pulling off in the second half of a single book. These stories don’t typically run to trilogies just for royalties and movie rights.

My other mild disappointment was that I had, at a couple of points, thought Smaill was having a shot at the role of the media in our public discourse (the fuckers). The Chimes wipe history, meaning and context, and leave only select repeated truths, creating “an eternal present”; and this chimes with the literary criticism of those such as Frederic Jameson who argue that the establishment media perform the same as a function of late capitalism.  However these thoughts were always dispelled only a few pages later, and the story makes it very plain that the Order are misguided Utopians. This is disappointing because, despite the trope, human existence is certainly not, nor has ever been, in danger of misguided Utopians. Resource-swallowing combines and selfish, greedy, imperialist elites remain the Monster of the Day.

The Chimes is a must-read for anyone who considers themselves a reader. I wish it had been that bit more perfect, because, yes, let the “London” setting disarm the collective prejudices (and hook a UK publisher, a great strategy), but this is straight, great fantasy. There is no intrinsic connection to the contemporary world, just character, and humanity and adventure in the best SFF tradition, and it’d be nice to see NZ publishers and readers start backing those qualities straight off the bat.


Coming Rain; daylight second

In my view, what Smail attempted, and achieved, eclipsed all but one other that I’ve read from the longlist. Two books I did not finish: Chappy because while the concept was interesting, I found the writing lacked texture, with not enough detail to let me into the world; whereas I enjoyed the busy style of Back of his Head, but simply wasn’t hooked in by the story. They seemed strong texts, just not my cup of tea.

Coming Rain, though, I read before it was declared the winner, and the sheer pleasure of it was like the sun bursting through the eponymous veil.

Pitch perfect prose. A simple period story told with intimate knowledge and detail. I wouldn’t change a thing. My only query over this text is that it’s more of a 1-act play padded out with a parallel narrative; there is no arc of transformation that I’d typically expect of a novel.  But that is only relevant as a judging criteria, had it been necessary to compare more thoroughly with the other nominated texts: it wasn’t. We recognise the characters; we anticipate what will happen; this was far and away the most riveting read on the list, and while others showed more ambition, no one else came as close to perfection in executing their vision. I’m reminded of John Banville when he won the Booker for “The Sea”: he was pleased to see “an art book” rewarded, and this is the same.


A judge’s duty

My verdict then, is less on these novels than on the merits of the first Ockham NZ Book Awards themselves. They got the winner right, from my reckoning. It’s interesting to me there was such a convergence of publishers this year, yet my best two texts came from overseas. With the publishing industry in such straits, the longlist is important to NZ authors. It is valuable marketing space. If it is a benchmark of quality, it has to have integrity. Or why have it?

This all ties in to the swirling murk that is the “Is NZ fiction boring?” debate that surfaced again this past week as a result of the Book Council report into reader attitudes to our fiction. My answer: well, yes, it’s going to look “boring” if the stories that get published and promoted and celebrated consistently represent a narrow wedge of interests and tastes. Of fans.

And so I come to my conclusion. If we accept that most novels are flawed – that’s not controversial, certainly if you are looking at as small a pool as NZ fiction – then that’s where the judges really begin to earn their bacon, as close, critical readers.Not just as fans.

I was not a fan of Chappy or Back of his Head. However, I could see their clear literary qualities, and had I been an Ockham judge it would have been my duty to not put down those books, not act like a fan. Weigh their merits clearly against my fan-love of The Chimes. Put aside prejudice and respect not the author, or publisher, or genre, but the text. 

Yes, it’s a small a pool in NZ. We will not get 10 works of literary fiction of the standard of Coming Rain every year, not like the Booker. So quality “genre” novels – (what the fuck is genre? a matter for another time) – should inevitably make that list some years. By considering that there might be quality writing beyond the bailiwick of the “lit fic” genre conventions the judges would raise the diversity of the longlist at the same time as populating it with more wholly successful works.

Now it’s 2017. The judges have been named. Their longlist is announced on 22nd of November. I am sure they’ll do their best. It’s always going to be apples v oranges v tomatoes, but that is what they are paid for.

I just hope to hear one of them say, “I’m not a fan of all the books on this list, but I’m damn proud to have put them there.”



Recent reviews, scandalous gossip

“An epic adventure of High Fantasy and High Stakes;
deserves a place next to Pratchett or Goodkind.” -Nebula Books

Nebula Books has reviewed The Sovereign Hand. It was a positive review, but more importantly, it was detailed and really engaged with the perceived strengths and weaknesses, which I  greatly appreciate. Gadammit, if I don’t love me some feedback to mull with me wine!

Under-utilised and forced elements of worldbuilding; Late arrival of an antagonist; Unanswered questions and loose ends to finish. Check. Check. Check. Fair enough. I can see why it might read that way. I knew what I was doing, all deliberate. All by design.

So, I want to briefly discuss why this design, but not to rebut the review, which I accept 100%. It is a thoughtful, well-written response to the text, and this is valuable. Everyone reads differently, yet I am certain that other potential readers will interpret The Sovereign Hand similarly to the reviewer. Just as other readers will not, and have not, because the text is rich enough for people to make meaning in a variety of ways.

The first, easy response, is that many lingering questions of plot and redundant detail in The Sovereign Hand might be answered by a return to the text, whereon the reader can make new connections in fuller knowledge of where things are headed. I can almost guarantee it rewards any second read. But this is not the whole answer.

More significant is the fact that while carrying its own story, I also burdened The Sovereign Hand with the duty of being the base slab on a pyramid comprised of two further novels, forming one larger, deeper field of text. It was a big ask, and a risk, and I accept that my compromises made the shape of the text unconventional and a less streamlined read. I just had to hope that despite the potential costs, in this text and the bigger picture, the benefits paid off.
So from this review, 7/10 tells me, okay, there’s enough in there for this reader, and that helps inform what I try to get away with next time. (Writers always want to get away with something. You just hope to be elegant about it.) My hope for this time is that the review might encourage others to get the book out of the Have-Not-Finished pile.


I will admit one query from the review, over the criteria for “overwritten”. To me that’s a technical term, and on a technical level, even The Sovereign Hand’s most colourful passages do parse as “trim” or “lean”.
More likely this is a reference to style. The Sovereign Hand occasionally affects a bombastic style to complement the themes and narrative, and tends to illustrate in close or particular detail – then, fine, that is a matter of personal taste.


In the end, everything in TSH is there for a purpose, and any inelegance at least leaves the story perched, ready for take-off in Book 2 – hence the scandalous gossip. With the purchase of Steam Press by Eunoia, I’ve started drafting the following, and final, two books. Book 2 has a title and an outline.

And I’m really excited about it.


Got your own thoughts on The Sovereign Hand? Leave a review at Amazon or Goodreads




What happens next.

A fitting enough title: the last line from The Sovereign Hand. What does happen next?

Just the asking begs a dozen more questions, a deeply personal interrogation that has kept the authorly part of my brain occupied with reflection, conjecture, and outright battle with a few heaving chunks of reality for several months. Even now I’m not sure of the full answer, but I’m more sure of what I want to say.  What to make explicit, implicit, ambiguous. Or totally leave out.

The easy part is, yes, I know what is next in the story. I wrote The Sovereign Hand to be coherent and complete in itself as a stand-alone novel… for myriad reasons. But any reader can see there is clearly a larger story, the transformations of Alexa and Tanner having passed through only one, naive, revolution, there having been much foreshadowing, and other characters still to be fully revealed.  As such there are two, and only two, more books in this wider arc,  much like Raymond E. Feist’s first novels (Magician/Silverthorn/Darkness at Sethanon) or even the original Star Wars Trilogy: the original, and then a duology.

So will I write them?

The trickier part. I really want to. My love of the story drove me through the writing and publishing of The Sovereign Hand, and would do so again. The difference being, I was younger, unmarried, childless, and cheerily sans career back then, not to mention full of “optimism” about how quality writing – plus a more mainstream enthusiasm for “fantasy” (LotR/GoT style) – could overcome the typical prejudice towards a story featuring the occasional goblin or scales and horns.

And so things are no longer so simple, and I know a few things better. Significantly that I can not expect an interested reception from the NZ “book scene” if it looks like fantasy. And to be fair, the only reason I thought that might happen is that Steam Press had already established itself as a quality publisher: we thought that bridge had been crossed. By 2014, though, the “scene” wasn’t so welcoming to Steam Press publications, whether for review or on shelves.  Large volume of a tight selection of works is now the prevailing business model, and it flows from publishers, to booksellers and into which texts are selected for review. All informed by data on who can actually afford to buy books from booksellers in our depressed political economy. The tastes of a older, conservative, wealthy demographic reins supreme.
So, no immediate hopes of springing from NZ to Australia to other international publishers and thereby funding my next novel – although Steam Press may well be front-and-centre at Frankfurt this year, where genre sell well.

To the internet, then, where the conventional theory it seems is your first novel is the peanuts-grade marketing for your second novel in a whole series of novels you can pump out featuring your world and characters which your readership has hooked into. Which I can appreciate, but ain’t what I’m doing (this time, at least) and it stings me like a fissure in my arse (H/T: Maury Ballstein, Zoolander) cos its kinda the inverse of how I was hoping it would work. I know. Boo hoo.

So with that dubious fucking incentive, will I write a follow-up to The Sovereign Hand?
Yes. You can never be read enough, but besides its inability to help me fund a second novel, I’m really happy with how the first one turned out.
Do I know when? No. It is even possible I will write other things first, maybe some short stories set in the same world. Family and work will keep time at a premium this year, and we have a nation-state falling to bits around us. Time to start putting the P back into participatory democracy.

And this site? I’ll always have something to say, including on The Sovereign Hand. Next time I’ll write a bit about the novel’s successes, and may indulge in what it’s “about”.

Mostly though, I think I’ll veer towards reviewing for a bit. Works of note, hidden gems. NZ books, yes, but not only, and especially those with something to say. Starting with an appraisal of the NZ Book Awards longlist for 2016. I was, of course, eligible (and not nominated) so reading the chosen works this year has been interesting… to say the least.


Interviewed by: Dab of Darkness

Dab of DarknessProlific reviewer and interviewer, Susan Voss at Dab of Darkness, posed me some searching questions recently, and my answers on The Sovereign Hand, genre, and writing in general are up now for everyone’s reading enjoyment.

I like Dab of Darkness. I like that her interview questions have a useful focus, yet allow the scope for the author to go to places they care about.

I also appreciate the wide range of books Susan covers. She does not truck the easy review route of established names, or churning the stuff being pushed en masse by the big publishers. This gives readers a chance to explore their interests more widely. Her review format allows her to be positive, but not uncritical of the texts she reads.

As far as reviews go, Dab of Darkness does on a huge scale what I’d like to do on a tiny corner boutique scale here. Hopefully I’ll have some of that on the horizon.

Sir Julius Vogel Awards – shortlist is out, convention ahead

SJV award - shiny!The Sir Julius Vogel Awards shortlist for 2015 has been published, and The Sovereign Hand has made it on to the final ballot for “Best Novel”, and also scored me a place on “Best New Talent” (cue a becoming blush).

Many thanks to those who showed support for my work and made this happen.

Now it’s up to the members of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Association of New Zealand as they vote at the annual convention, held this year at Easter in Rotorua.

Happily, I’m already attending as part of a panel discussion on “The World of Worldbuilding” – the approaches, the whys and the where-in-the-hells of creating alternate realities. Right up my alley, so yeah, kinda jazzed for that.

It’s still possible to pick up memberships for the convention (which also gets you a vote). So if you’re in the area at Easter, sign up, and stop on by.

Eleanor Catton, Braveheart. Copyright Robert Catto

Eleanor Catton: NZ’s Braveheart? Not just yet.

I have been writing this since Thursday, recollecting and ruminating, but it has been hard keeping up since each day seems to bring another twist in the tale that has sprung from Eleanor Catton’s uncommon, but largely unremarkable remarks, made at the Jaipur Writers Festival in India.

To sum, she felt “uncomfortable” with being seen as an ambassador for New Zealand given her feelings about how our government – and she’s careful to include the Australian and Canadian governments also – are dominated by “profit-obsessed” neo-liberal politicians who “would destroy the planet in order to be able to have the life they want.”

And something of a media furore erupted.

Here is what I wrote on this site way back when her Booker win was announced:

“Beyond the novel, success at the Booker has given Eleanor Catton a profile, and I hope she works hard to make it one that truly reflects the person she is, the things she values, her depth of thought. The mainstream media is trite, superficial, and loves gossip, even the erudite sectors. She has already, by her own admission, tripped up talking too loosely to journalists (New Zealand lacking a culture of reviewing, she said), and she has to decide how to use the power the spotlight brings. Arundhati Roy, for instance, has not written a novel since The God of Small Things, but used her profile to fight for justice and sovereignty in India – duly ignored by the mainstream media (see how quickly Catton would become “that crazy astrology lady” if she starts banging on too much on the wrong topic – say, the impact of industry on global warming).”


And also:

I hope someone as appealing and articulate as Eleanor Catton can make an impact on the fortunes of the NZ literary environment, at least lifting the profile of NZ writers, if not encouraging more funding. Given, the current government’s bullying approach to public intellectuals and culture, she could be just the person to take them on.

Lo and behold. Kinda.

Catton said her thing; in response, radio journalist Sean Plunket pushed the rhetorical boat to the limit, calling her an “ungrateful hua” and traitor” for her comments about our great country/government. And of course Catton’s remarks couldn’t go reported for even one day before Prime Minster John Key’s rebuttal had to be tacked on to them. Whenever someone says something disquieting about our country, he’s where our media go to “balance” the picture.

They’re just the two highest profile retorts. There was support as well, of course, including from those already scourged, already tarred, or with nothing to lose. And there was Twitter. But Key and Plunkett are authority figures who create a great allowable arc of attacks and uninformed comment masquerading as debate, much effectively dismissing her as a silly girl, a know-nothing writer, or fanatical Green party advocate. The unthinking dismissal of someone who is not instantly and whole-heartedly celebrating the state of our society.

catt capt 2

Such is the bloody circus that performs as our public discourse.

This is not simple “tall-poppy” or even misogyny.  I call it our New Chauvinism, actively fostered since the Clark years as a sheepskin to bring the Right back to popularity and reinvigorate the very neo-liberal power base that Catton was criticising.

Is Eleanor Catton the braveheart to challenge this status quo? I’ll asssert, Catton is not an expert on politcal economy and power structures. Not yet. That does not diminish the value of her remarks; not in the way Key’s belated comeback attempts to suggest. She is intelligent and moral, and trusts her feelings – the latter is something our society could learn to respect a lot more. Society, elections, would be a lot different if people were encouraged to trust their gut feelings of right or wrong.

For Catton, I expect if it matters to her she will inform herself and become truly dangerous very very quickly indeed.

That is an if. She hasn’t shown her courage yet. She can still step back, although she has made a clear statement that she will not, and even pressed her point with regards to the cutting of National Library services to New Zealand schools. But she has been invited to rejoin the silent folds. She can still be politic. All will be forgiven.

And she is safe to criticise, to a certain extent. There will always be publishers willing to print her. She does not “need” New Zealand. She has a global base and can live quite well and afford to lose the outraged fans thought she was so nice when she shone for them through The Luminaries.

But Catton clearly cares about New Zealand, its people, its culture, its environment. So if she wants to continue to share her ideas, make a difference, she might talk to Robyn Malcolm, Keisha Castle-Hughes, Lucy Lawless for some insight on voicing values contrary to those driving our gears of power. Or Jon Stephenson, Nicky Hager. Mike Joy. Or columnists like Tapu Misa, disappeared and not published enough. Martyn Bradbury would have some interesting things to say about the double-standards at “our” Radio New Zealand – there’s no refuge there. Gareth Morgan – he was the mainstream economic golden boy once, but got sidelined once he started musing on democracy and social justice long before cat-control.

Dissident voices are heard for one day, maybe a week, but are inevitably buried beneath the myriad others that are constantly rewarded for recycling the chauvinist and neo-liberal norms; it is a career path in itself. For a glimpse of her future, Catton might chat to Germaine Greer. Or Julian Assange – the flipside of being a hua/hoor. Create a haven for truth and you get to be a rapist with no evidence of such, liberty gone, no charges, no public outcry.

Regardless of her publishing, Catton can expect to be scrutinised through the lens, as Plunkett put it, of a traitor: someone who does not celebrate the ideas dominant in NZ society with the appropriate level of “jingoistic fervor”. As if any criticism is therefore a criticism of rugby, beer, barbeques and WWI veterans – of “our” team. Which is, in the chauvinism of the current establishment, the happy, positive, winning “Team Key”. Doesn’t she want to be on our team? Isn’t she a “”winner”? The derision reserved for losers, critics and malcontents is well bedded.

This is chauvinism in action. And conscious of their own brand and image, people will be less gushing with praise for Catton because cattontwitthey know she is tainted. In award or review, they’ll find some reason to favour some other author, or novel, or point-of-view. The door is open – they’ll say that she opened the door – to scrutinise everything she writes and says for more evidence of her treachery. She may become satirised, to the point that she exists to the mainstream only as a caricature and grotesque – “elitist”, “traitor”, and the establishment favourite, “narcissist” – from behind which none of her thoughts and truths and arguments will be heard.

It’s not a dead end, nor a lost cause. Arundhati Roy has forged her own path. George Monbiot is the model of a wise, moral and intelligent person railing impotently from within the media system. Media critic Media Lens has advocated a donated fund to free thinkers, journalists and  writers to publish free of self-censorship, something I’ve personally always contended. Plus artists. Especially artists. Look at Russell Brand. Artists reach people. Especially the young.

Because of this, Catton and those like her are a threat to the status quo. They become authorities we feel we know and trust, in the same way some people feel Queen Elizabeth is a trusted member of their own family. That’s why they get torn down. They can become leaders, if they have something to say. They need to be patronised, co-opted, sullied, or stigmatised because no amount of media whitewash can drown them out. Give them too much of a start and they won’t need a masthead, nor a media-constructed image, like a Key. They just connect and connect and connect. And then…?

That’s what makes them scared.

The Booker was Catton’s start. This furore, all over a simple statement of views not proportionally reflected in our public discourse, was the first step.

Red pill, blue pill. I’m with her if she goes down the rabbit hole. So should everyone of a like mind and the courage to say it. Fund change. Form an alliance.

But I would not fault her for going the other way, either.

The Sir Julius Vogel Awards – nominations open

The Sir Julius Vogel Awards are held each year to celebrate the best in New Zealand sci-fi, fantasy, and horror. The Sovereign Hand is eligible for 2015, and any person, or body corporate, can nominate.

Yes – even you!

The Science Fiction and Fantasy Association of NZ will vote on the final winner, but the number of nominations help with getting short-listed. This system provides a pretty level playing field for NZ authors and their readers and supporters across the world.

So if you’ve read and enjoyed The Sovereign Hand, and hope to see more in the future, or would just like to show your support, nomination could not be easier:

  1. Open an email to
  2. Copy and paste the field below into the email.
  3. Enter your own NAME and CONTACT EMAIL (or other contact details) for each category. (This is important, to ensure the nomination is valid.)

Only one nomination can be sent per email, but if you would like to nominate another work here is the SJV’s list of some other eligible works.

Thanks for your support.

– SJV Nomination –
Nomination category: Best novel 

Title of work: The Sovereign Hand
Name of Author: Paul Gilbert
What the work is: Novel
Year of First Release: 2014
Publisher: Steam Press
How to contact the publisher/author:
Genre: Fantasy
Your contact details: ………..(important)

Send to:

Roll on 2015

My last post was in September, regarding a book reading in Kilbirnie. My grandmother died the day before that event. It was about then that I lost my voice.

Not my physical voice, of course. But beyond the publication of The Sovereign Hand, it was a truly dismal year. Personally, yes, with my father’s death and various other trials and disappointments; but as someone who cares, it was pretty dire for the world and the country as well, with democracy continuing to wither everywhere unattended.

2014 – I’m happy to make a clean break with it.

So roll on 2015. I’ll be back on 5th of January with some news about me, The Sovereign Hand, awards and events – and in particular, a new focus for this site with regards to reviewing other authors’ works.

Till then I wish everyone well and safe. You can check back for more here soon.

Reading at Kilbirnie Library, Thursday 25/9

First big date since the launch. Kilbirnie Library is having a Science Fiction/Fantasy reading evening on Thursday the 25th. That’s this week! Other great NZ writers reading are Dan Rabarts, Lee Murray and Paul Mannering. So for anyone devoted enough to want to hear me read from The Sovereign Hand, and maybe a bit of chitter-chatter on the side, drop on by.

For more on these authors, try
Lee Murray –
Paul Mannering –
Dan Rabarts –

Also, I’m reliably informed there should be an article about me and The Sovereign Hand in this weekend’s Dominion Post and (I guess) Christchurch Press. Blush.

Latest review – Herald on Sunday

The Sovereign Hand has been receiving some good coverage locally, including a nice interview and piece in the Kapiti Observer. If you’re following your nose here from those stories, welcome! And see here for a guide on the best places to buy.

Also just seen the latest review, in the Herald on Sunday (7th of Sept), as reported here on Bookiemonster, and it couldn’t be sweeter given the column-width available -can’t complain about comparisons with Gormenghast and China Miéville.

(Just my luck, though, the Herald screwed up their links and has the previous week’s reviews up on the link for the 7th.  Sigh. I musta broken a mirror or walked under a ladder or something the last few years.)