Jack Ross: NZSF website
When Massey flew me to Beijing late last year, I foresaw a certain amount of downtime between classes. It does sound strange to say that, doesn't it? Imagine a state of affairs where one could simply fly from country to country with minimum fuss! All Science Fiction to us now, of course.
Accordingly, I decided that I'd better bring some stuff to work on - and what better project to concentrate on than my long-projected, long-protracted series of essays on NZSF (whether defined as 'Science' or "Speculative' Fiction).
Things went much as I forecast. Nothing focusses the mind like being away from home comforts, in the somewhat inimical precincts of the Ariva Hotel:
Some of the essays first appeared in such scholarly contexts as Ingrid Horrocks and Cherie Lacey's 2016 VUP anthology Extraordinary Anywhere: Essays on Place from Aotearoa New Zealand, and John Geraets' special 'New Writing 1975-2000' issue of the Journal of New Zealand Literature (2016). One, on Mike Johnson's Lear (1986), was published in brief magazine. Quite a few of the others first saw the light of day on this very blog.
All this meant a certain amount of rewriting and reconciliation of various competing referencing systems had to be accomplished before I could think of the end result as in any way unified.
It did take a while. The main work was done in those ten concentrated days in the hotel in China, but putting the website together has taken me quite some time, too. Funnily enough, a thing called the Coronavirus interrupted all my lofty plans for 2020, and - like everyone in the education industry - I've been struggling ever since to roll with the punches and try to keep on top of my students' needs.
It's good to have a hobby, though - and this has been mine for the past decade or so, before more intensive work on it started this time last year.
And what have I ended up with? A series of essays on what I believe to be some of the true masterpieces of NZSF. I don't claim that anyone else would compile the same list, and I'm certain I've left out a lot of wonderful books, but the great advantage of a website is that it can be added to over time. I've provided a chronology at the end which will certainly be supplemented frequently.
I suspect that new essays will be added as well, however. In any case, if you're curious to know more about it, you can find the table of contents here.
The SF genre seems to be exploding in Aotearoa New Zealand at present, so it will become harder and harder to compile a comprehensive summary such as this. It's hard to move forwards if you don't know where you've been, however, so I don't myself see too much of a problem in taking such a long lingering look at the past. Way back is way forward, as they say, and if I know anything about SF fans (I should do, since I'm one myself), they love detail.
If you have any comments, queries or corrections, feel free to share them with me on this site or the relevant page of the NZSF. As for my dominant metaphor, Psychogeography, you can find out more about that here.
Will Self & Ralph Steadman: Psychogeography: Disentangling the Modern Conundrum of Psyche and Place (2007)