Archive for September, 2014

The FFANZ race for 2015 is now open. We are inviting delegates who would like to attend the NZ Natcon, Reconnaissance to be held in Rororua in NZ’s north island over Easter (3-6 April, 2015.) to apply now. (Applications close on 2nd November!)

If you are thinking of being the FFANZ delegate, here are the details:

Candidates should file
-a brief letter stating their intent to run for FFANZ 2015

– A nominator and a seconder, preferably a nominator from Australia and a seconder from New Zealand.

·- A 100 word or less platform statement specifying the candidate’s reasons for running and qualifications for becoming the 2014 FFANZ delegate.

with for New Zealand fans and for Australian fans BY 2nd NOVEMBER, 2014

The duties of the winning candidate will be as follows:

· Travel to New Zealand to attend Reconnaissance, to be held in Rotorua, NZ over Easter, 3rd – 6th April, 2015.

Visit and get to know as many New Zealand Science Fiction fans as time will permit.
Become the Australian FFANZ administrator until a replacement administrator is found, normally this happens when the administrator role is handed over to the succeeding NZ-bound delegate (in 2017 if a race is run every year).

Raise funds and maintain an account to be used by the next Aus delegate(s) in 2016.
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


Slaves of Socorro

There is a reason why Flanagan’s “Socorro” sounds like Morocco… it is plainly based on the Morocco of the Barbary slave traders, who preyed upon the European coasts as far north as Iceland through the 16th to 19th century (until they finally got pummelled by the Americans). Problem is that the Vikings raided and traded from the 9th to 11th centuries, so there is no way in our history that a band of Vikings would find themselves rescuing a bunch of Anglo-Saxons from Barbary slavers – which is essentially the plotline of this novel.

It may be young adult fantasy… but I do find the constant anachronisms jarring. Flanagan has put a great deal of research into his sailing ships, but seemingly rather less into other matters – foodstuffs for one thing. Without magic or technology foods just don’t keep unless you get into salting and pickling, so how Edwin’s fillet of beef was edible after a sea voyage of some days I cannot guess. And let’s not get into coffee and potatoes…

But at the same time, Flanagan’s prose is very readable, his characters memorable, and his plot, if a little obvious, is carried off with panache. He’s fun to read, and I know he’s popular with his audience. It’s just that I wish he had been either more realistic or more fantastic in his world construction.

Random House

Supplied by Random House NZ

Reviewed by Jacqui

The Marriage Game

The young Queen Elizabeth was considered a bastard, a heretic, and a usurper, though many nobles sought her hand in marriage in order to rule over Tudor England. Elizabeth kept them all waiting for a yes, while enjoying a close relationship with her Master of the Horse, Robert Dudley. The son and grandson of traitors to the crown, Dudley was dashing but married, leading to scurrilous rumours about them at court. Most believed them to be lovers and Elizabeth not a virgin queen.

Fearing she’d lose her right to rule England to her husband, for over 20 years Elizabeth kept considering offers of marriage, thereby keeping suitors as friends rather than enemies of England. She also had a fear of childbirth and either dying or being supplanted by a male heir. Her advisors urged her to wed as women need a man to guide them and couldn’t rule by themselves and their hopes kept getting dashed.

A fictional story of Elizabeth’s rule, this book is very well researched and gives life to long-dead figures from history. You get a glimpse of what-might-have-been and what life inside the Tudor court must have been like. I thought the book would be dry and boring as the language was stiltingly old-fashioned but a few ages in I was hooked by the story. I have a deep admiration for Elizabeth and how she managed her affairs and kept everyone dangling for years. It must have been so hard being a woman then, not to mention ruling a country with people plotting your death.


Supplied by Random House New Zealand

Reviewed by Jan


The search for a reliable and portable method of determining longitude produced two instruments: the chronograph and the sextant. Dava Sobel has told the story of the chronograph, and David Barrie has stood up and told the story of the sextant. Both machines were the result of previous improvements, the chronograph descending from clocks while the sextant derives from the astrolabe and the quadrant.

Barrie divides the book into two threads – the development and use of the sextant and his own use of it. Like the chronograph, the sextant is falling out of use due to the rise of GPS navigation and Barrie felt forced to relate the importance of the instrument before its use completely disappeared, much like David Lewis did with Polynesian celestial navigation in The Voyaging Stars. Barrie’s book works as a moderator to that of Sobel’s, and proves the case that both chronograph and sextant were necessary for an accurate longitude placement.

The style of Sextant is such that it is an easy read. Barrie’s personal experience with the sextant gives him a degree of authority necessary to explain its workings and uses. He then proceeds to highlight some of the more extreme situations the instrument had been used in. Due to it being used primarily with naval navigation, these situations usually involved strong winds and icebergs or roughing it in the Pacific. The navigators Barrie selects to highlight the importance of the sextant – Bligh, Frank Worsley, Joshua Slocum, Flinders et al. – may not all be famous for navigation, but therein lies the vagaries of history.

The text is generally easy to read, and Barrie has provided a decent set of illustrations and maps to illuminate the text. There are also two sets of plates covering both the historical journeys as well as Barrie’s voyages. All that is needed now is a volume on the men and women responsible for providing the data and observations without which both the chronograph and sextant were useless. But that really is a nerdy subject.

William Collins

Supplied by HarperCollins New Zealand

Reviewed by Steve

Singing Home the Whale

City boy Will Jackson is hiding out in a small South Island fishing community while he recovers from a humiliating incident that was filmed and has gone viral. When he discovers an abandoned baby Orca, his life becomes more chaotic as he calls for help to protect it from hostile locals. The orca and Will develop a unique bond through his love of singing, as well as Will finding friends that help him recover.

Each chapter is told from a different perspective, Will’s or the orca’s, and gives the heartbreaking back story to the baby whale. The plot moves quickly and is full of drama, tension, and romance, with the characters real and well-rounded. The story explores many environmental issues and shows how important it is to be involved.

This book made me laugh, made me cry, made me think. I recommend it for adults and teens alike, and anyone with the faintest interest in marine life will love it.


Supplied by Random House New Zealand

Reviewed by Jan

George and the Unbreakable Code

Stephen Hawking writing children’s fiction? Well, yes, along with his daughter Lucy, who is a trained journalist and an advocate for science education. This book is a mixture of a fictional story about a boy named George and his friend Annie with segments of non-fiction mainly on the subjects of astronomy and computer science. These non-fiction segments seemed rather more complex, and at a higher reading level than the fiction (they even used a smaller font) – and I’m sure that I’m not the only one who wishes that publishers would place these sections between chapters, and not in the middle of sentences, interrupting the flow of the story!

That story is quite simple, as you might expect, with the children looking for the creator of a computer virus that is causing havoc across the world, and of course, cleverly defeating him in a very classic “Famous Five” manner. A number of McGuffins are used to advance the plot, and allow the children to wander the Solar System, principally a supercomputer called Cosmos that can create a space door to pretty well anywhere.

Which does make this into something we see very little of, proper science fiction for kids, the kind that encourages them to become interested in the sciences, which is presumably the authors’ objective. By and large, they succeed, and you certainly don’t have to have read the earlier three books in the series. (However, I’m not sure that designating the villain’s title as “I AM” was entirely wise, since that is pretty well guaranteed to give offence in some quarters).

Random House

Supplied by Random House NZ

Reviewed by Jacqui

A Rough Ride to the Future

I don’t review a lot of non-fiction, but for James Lovelock I’ll make an exception, especially since this book relates very much to science and the future. If you’ve heard of James Lovelock you’ll no doubt be aware that he is responsible for the Gaia Hypothesis, the idea that that living and non-living parts of the Earth form a complex interacting system that can be thought of as a single organism. Now, while this idea has been embraced by some of the eco-nuts out there with a religious fervour (all too literally in some cases), they seem much more reluctant to take some of Lovelock’s other ideas on board – such as his support for nuclear power as being safer and far less dangerous to the environment than many alternatives. The book is, in fact, very much a collection of ideas gathered into chapters on more-or-less the same subject. I say more-or-less because Lovelock has a tendency to wander off topic and to reminisce. This is quite understandable, because the man is in his mid-90s (and if I can think and write as coherently and intelligently as he does at that age, I’ll be impressed).

But it is for those ideas that you should read this book. Lovelock updates his previous works, bringing his Gaia hypothesis into the 2010’s. He addresses the question of why global warming hasn’t been as apparent as expected – it comes down to the fact that we don’t understand climate as much as we thought. He muses on the subject of the lone scientist, and whether the specialisation of much of modern scientific enquiry is a good thing. He presents the intriguing concept of the Anthropocene – the age of men, with its birth in the invention of the steam engine. But to me, the most important idea is the one that humans must try to survive through the rough times ahead, because humans are the mechanism by which Gaia can expand and grow beyond our Earth. And if that isn’t a cool SF concept, I don’t know what it is.


Supplied by Penguin NZ

Reviewed by Jacqui

Review of Sand – Hugh Howey

Posted: September 17, 2014 in Review, science fiction


Palmer’s family has been falling apart since his father walked out on them one night. His youngest brother Rob wasn’t born, their middle brother Conner wants to be him, his older sister Vic is running from her past, their mother Rose is struggling to survive. Palmer is a sand diver, someone that dives beneath the sands to scavenge anything useful or a relic from the world before the sands buried it. He and his best friend sign on to join a secretive team looking for something and he comes across something that will change his life, and the future of his people, forever.

Told from the different perspectives of the family members, the plot weaves its way together by the first third of the book. I found it hard to get into the story at first but once I figured out the whole diving thing, it became clearer and the separate plots meshed seamlessly together.   The story is not related to the Wool trilogy yet I saw similarities in the worlds that made me wonder.

I don’t like this genre – I find it depressing and boring, yet Hugh Howey compels me to read every word he’s written while enjoying the story. I can’t explain it, he’s either into the dark arts or is an extraordinarily gifted writer.


Supplied by Random House New Zealand

Reviewed by Jan

The Bonded By Blood Vampire Chronicles by Arial Burnz is the saga of Broderick MacDougal following the soul of his true love through the centuries.

bonded by blood 1

Broderick MacDougal follows the familiar yearning of his soul to a fierce warrior who is as seductive as a siren at sea – and she is just as deadly. The world of the supernatural opens to Broderick as he not only finds himself in the midst of an ancient war of shapeshifters, but the devious Cordelia Lynn Harley has re-entered his life and has a few of her own surprises.

Born into a hated race of Norse wolf shifters, Celina Hunter knows all too well the dangers of trusting anyone other than her two brothers. And yet the survival of her family hinges on trusting the strangely familiar vampire, a natural enemy of her kind…yet her tribe’s Shaman advisers confirm he is her soul mate. Enemy or not, Celina slips into the spell of Broderick’s promises of eternal love, gambling with all she holds dear.

Broderick and Celina are bound by a curse, but having come this far through the centuries, Broderick is not about to risk his chance at having his soul mate for eternity. The price, however, may be more than Celina is willing to pay as there is more at stake than just her immortal soul

Bio: Broderick “Rick” MacDougal

  • Born: April 4, 1450
  • Crossed Over: October 11, 1486
  • Height: 6′ 3″
  • Weight: 220 lbs (15.7 stones)
  • Role: Hero and Main Character of the Bonded By Blood Vampire Chronicles

Born with a sword in his hand and raised in the Highlands…

…Broderick is a rugged Scotsman through and through! Son to Hamish and Moira, he was the elder of his two siblings – Maxwell the middle son, and Donnell the youngest. In 1478, Broderick’s mother died in battle beside her sons and husband during a raid orchestrated by Angus Campbell and his father Fraser. At Moira’s funeral, Hamish MacDougal threw himself from the highest tower of the MacDougal estate. Though his sons had tried to talk him down, Hamish could not be swayed from his deed and shouted, “’Tis my fault she is dead! I’ve brought this upon all of you,” before he fell to his death.

Broderick and his brothers had to forge on with their lives and occupied themselves with building their own estates. Maxwell and Donnell both married and had children while Broderick focused on finishing his own holdings of Glenstrae, where he eventually settled in with his own wife, Evangeline. However, during a May Day celebration in 1485 at his manor – with his brothers and their families in attendance – Angus Campbell attacked the estate and slaughtered all in attenance, leaving Broderick for dead. Evangeline escaped and was rescued by a convent. Rescued by Cordelia Lynn Harley and with her assistance, Rick crossed over into immortality a year later, seeking revenge against his clan enemy. Traveling as a Gypsy in a caravan of wagons, he hid his vampiric nature by using his immortal gifts to tell fortunes while he searched for Angus Campbell, who is also a vampire.

Rick is a very accomplished painter, and gets to indulge in this pastime when he isn’t fighting for those he loves.

Fact About Broderick MacDougal NOT in the Books

  1. Broderick had two brothers – Maxwell (3 years younger than Rick) and Donnell (5 years younger than Rick). Maxwell married Addy MacIntyre and they had two girls and one boy (Libby, Agnes and Richerde). Donnell married Elspet Murray and they had two boys (Johne and Will). Broderick and his brothers would have loved more siblings in the family, but their mother, Moira, had many miscarriages before she was told by the physicians that childbirth would endanger her life if she tried to bear anymore offspring. If Angus had known this about Broderick’s past…a lot of lives could have been saved.


Arial Burnz is giving away a TON of stuff during this tour! Please use the Giveaway Tools entry widget to be entered into the drawing. Each button will earn you more chances to win and you can keep coming back to earn more entries! All entrants will automatically become members of Arial’s VIP Club, which is free to join and has many more benefits, such as exclusive contests like this one. These are the prizes for the Character Reveal Tour featuring the characters in Midnight Conquest (Book 1) – winners will be chosen on Sep 27, 2014:

  • Vampire coaster set
  • 1 signed set of Books 1-3
  • $10 Amazon, B&N or iTunes gift card (winner’s choice)

Tour Grand Prize

Arial is also giving away a single Grand Prize of…

  • A $100 Amazon, B&N or iTunes gift card – winner’s choice
  • A signed set of Books 1-4 of the Bonded By Blood Vampire Chronicles

Winner will be chosen on 11/21/2014. Everyone who participated in any stops on the Midnight Eclipse tours (VIP Club members or not) will be entered for the grand prize drawing. The more you participate, the more chances you have to win. Use the Giveaway Tools buttons below to earn extra chances to win by tweeting, following and liking. For Official Contest Rules, click here.

Arial Burnz


Arial Burnz has been an avid reader of paranormal and fantasy for over thirty years. With bedtime stories filled with unicorns, hobbits, dragons and elves, she succumbed to crafting her own tales, penning to life the magical creatures roaming her dreams. Having a romantic husband who’s taught her the meaning of true love, she’s helpless to weave romance into her tales. Now she shares them with the world. Arial Burnz lives in Southern California, with her husband (a.k.a. her romance novel hero)—who is also, quite coincidentally, a descendant of Clan MacDougal.

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black moon

The scenario is an intriguing one. People stop being able to sleep, which brings about an apocalypse full of madness, as insomnia erodes their sanity. Calhoun writes cleverly enough with his lucid descriptions and dreamy philosophical musings, but ultimately the novel failed me for two reasons.

Firstly his characters although theoretically well-developed simply failed to gain my interest. And secondly, although I persisted right to the end (thankfully it’s a short book) there was no real resolution, and no satisfying explanation for the cause of the plague of sleeplessness. So, it’s very much a case of a potentially excellent premise that simply goes nowhere in particular. Maybe if I happened to suffer from insomnia, this book might have worked better for me, but I don’t…


Supplied by Random House NZ

Reviewed by Jacqui