10 May 2016

Tuesday Poem: Kraken - now in the 2016 Rhysling Anthology

My poem "Kraken", below, which won second prize in the Interstellar Award for Speculative Poetry 2015, has now been included in the Science Fiction Poetry Association's 2016 Rhysling Anthology of the best science fiction, fantasy and horror poetry published in 2015. It's a fine-looking book and it's lovely to be in the company of many fine poets, not least Christina Sng and P. S. Cottier. My copy has recently arrived in the mail, and I'm looking forwards to reading the anthology.


Millennia of sunlight passed the Kraken by.
He slept where he had fallen, each molecule
bound up in water ice, kept safe by permafrost
or the pressure of the deep. Kraken lay
unmoved beneath the waves, deep in his dreams
of fire and air, while the ice sat heavy on the poles
and the clever, clever apes, fizzing with language,
trudged northwards out of Africa.

Unperturbed slept Kraken as the glaciers withdrew.
Lapping at their tongues came the clever apes,
furred, speared, striding on. Wintering in caves,
they met and mated with their slow-tongued cousins,
gaining their immunities, their thicker skins.
Tinder sparked to flame in the wolf-howled night,
each tribe protected in its ring of fire,
but Kraken took no notice of such things.

Light disturbed Kraken’s millennial dreams,
sunlight no longer reflected by protective ice
but slanting down into the depths, unchecked,
warming the shallow seas, permafrost
proving to be less than permanent. In his sleep,
Kraken rolled over, farted, belched. Siberia trembled,
craters forming where none had been, methane
bursting skyward across the Arctic night.

The clever apes looked, and shrugged, and looked away.
They had bigger fish to fry: death, war,
their endless clawing at the Earth for fuel. Kraken
had been banished from their world. He was a relic of myth,
terror of the Greenland Sea, muse to Tennyson,
John Wyndham antagonist, large-boned
inhabitant of green-screened Greek epics,
set free to give Perseus something to kill.

The old Norse knew his nature well. Hafgufa
they named him, sea steam: and so he rose,
bubbling up beneath the circumpolar seas,
so much methane rising to warm the skies
that it roused him more, the loop reinforcing,
unstoppable, his coils releasing, sea floor gaping open,
undersea landslides lashing crowded coasts with waves,
the clever apes at last obliged to pay attention —

but too late. The Kraken is awake.
Flares light the Arctic night to write his name.
His is the fire that heats the deep, that scours the land
clean of everything that flies and walks and crawls —
the few survivors, vainly fleeing south,
hearing his voice forever louder at their backs.
The Kraken roars, and as he roars
soon every trace of clever ape is burned away.

This poem refers to “The Kraken Wakes” by Alfred, Lord Tennyson (1830).

Credit note: This poem was published for the first time on the Interstellar Awards website on 12 June 2015, and has subsequently been published in the 2016 Rhysling Anthology, edited by Charles Christian (Science Fiction Poetry Association, 2016).

03 May 2016

Tuesday Poem: Steady State, by Hugh Isdale

The machines took over.
We devised them
To do
Then we retreated
Into sterile pornography,
And disappeared.

They are very efficient.
They do not discuss guilt,
Or souls.
They have turned the planet
Into a garden
That grows
Very well.

Credit note: "Steady State" by Hugh Isdale is previously unpublished and is reproduced here by permission of the author. My thanks to Mark Pirie for bringing Hugh's work to my attention.

Tim says: As well as his own poetry, Mark Pirie continues to be a very active promoter and historian of poetry - not least in bringing both new and neglected poets to light. With Niel Wright and Dr Michael O'Leary, he founded the Poetry Archive of New Zealand Aotearoa, which publishes Poetry Notes, and is also the publisher of broadsheet - Issue 17 of which has just been published.

Hugh Isdale is a Christchurch poet whose work is featured in in Poetry Notes, Summer 2016 (Volume 6, Issue 4) . When Mark and I co-edited Voyagers: Science Fiction Poetry from New Zealand in 2009, we made a valiant - and I hope largely availing - effort to consider work by every published NZ science fiction poet we could find as well as some then-unpublished ones, but we knew there must have been poets we missed - so it's good to be able to publish this thought-provoking poem by Hugh.

In less good news, it was sad to hear of the death of poet Ruth Gilbert (1917-2016). There's a fine obituary for Ruth on the PANZA site, which details her long and distinguished career as a poet:

Chief among her works is The Luthier sequence first published by Reed in 1966, a remarkable work detailing the musical appreciation in her family between the poet and her father, a maker of violins. The sequence shared the Jessie Mackay Memorial Prize for 1968 with James K Baxter. Three times Gilbert won the award.

Her other works such as her Lazarus sequence from Lazarus and Other Poems(1949) were widely acclaimed in New Zealand poetry circles. She also wrote poetry on her experiences in New York and Western Samoa.
The PANZA site has Ruth's full obituary.

28 March 2016

Going Off The Page In Palmerston North, 15-16 April

I'm going to be taking part in two speculative fiction events in Palmerston North in mid-April: a panel on the evening of Friday 15 April with writer Jessica Richards as one of Massey University's regular Off the Page series of events, - and then a two hour workshop on writing speculative fiction at Palmerston North Library the following morning. Details:

Panel: 6.30pm on, Friday 15 April, Palmerston North City Library:

6.30pm: Reception
7.00pm: Panel discussion
8.00pm: Book signing 

Workshop: 10am-12 noon, Saturday 16 April, Palmerston North City Library (Writers who don't normally write speculative fiction are welcome to attend!)

For more details, contact Palmerston North City Library: http://citylibrary.pncc.govt.nz/about-us/contact-us/

I've enjoyed my two previous trips to Palmerston North to take part in poetry readings - and I'm looking forwards to a return visit that takes advantage of a different side of my writing.

22 March 2016

Tuesday Poem: Soprano, by MaryJane Thomson

The gloved hand tapping the table,
hiding its nail from the world,
clawing to come out and show you
things are never as they seem,
the stage is set, they’re ready to
 leave as you enter.

The gloves come off, time has passed,
it’s all too late, no stool to sit on,
just leather shoes on the floor board
and a lone figure smoking,
you wonder where they’re from,
you know you ought to know,

You’re looking for a way out,
like when at a party and someone
enters you into a conversation,
you see the exit,
their foot hits the ground,
you turn around, they shoot you dead
square between the eyes.

The gloves go back on,
the gun sits there,
they leave a trace.

Credit note: "Soprano" by MaryJane Thomson is published in her collection Lonely Earth (HeadworX, 2015), which is available from HeadworX.

Tim says: Whether the "Soprano" in question is Tony I'm not sure, but I like this ominous, tightly wound poem from MaryJane's new collection.

MaryJane Thomson is an artist, writer and photographer living in Wellington, New Zealand. Her poems are from her second poetry collection Lonely Earth (HeadworX, 2015). Her website is www.maryjanethomson.com

MaryJane's poems have appeared in Black Mail Press, Valley Micropress and broadsheet. Her first book, a memoir Sarah Vaughan is Not my Mother (Awa Press, 2013), was widely reviewed in NZ papers/magazines. Kim Hill interviewed Thomson in 2013. In 2015, the international website Outcryer (USA) featured her poetry.

01 March 2016

My novella "Landfall" has been reviewed ... in Landfall!

In the week that Leonardo DiCaprio finally won his Oscar, I've had my own brush with a literary form of Inception: my novella "Landfall" has been reviewed in Landfall magazine (well, to be fair, the review is in the associated Landfall Review Online, but you get the point.)

Reviewer Michelle Elvy sets the scene:

The book opens with twin torpedoes sinking a rickety Bangladeshi river ferry carrying refugees just off the coast of New Zealand; and it follows two characters in alternating chapters towards an inevitable encounter with each other. We are first introduced to Nasimul, who survives not only the loss of his wife and son but also the sinking of the ferry and the ensuing firestorm of the determined New Zealand navy and finds himself, by the end of the first chapter, clinging to a remnant from a lifeboat, floating on the tide towards shore. The tone shifts dramatically when we come to the second chapter, in which we meet foul-mouthed Donna, a new and inexperienced recruit in the Shore Patrol who shows little potential but a good deal of enthusiasm.
and ends her review by saying:

Whether Nasimul and Donna will survive is one question, but also looming large at the heart of this timely tale is the dark space where fear of the unknown is met by firepower. Tim Jones deftly tackles the big themes of racism and xenophobia in the small space of this novella, and the reader is left with the unsettling knowledge that the problems that manifest in the littoral zone between first-world bravado and the needs of the rest of the world will not wash away with the tide.
For the most part, she likes what she reads, and as the author I found her review incisive and thought-provoking.

Thanks for this review, Michelle, and thanks to Landfall Review Online for publishing the review - and, of course, Paper Road Press for publishing the novella!

How to buy Landfall

Right, my path is clear. What should I start work on next: new literary novella "The Listener", Donald Trump biography "The New Yorker", or that adorable tale of a child who gets mixed up between his Grandpa and his Grandpa's first name, a little thing I like to call "Granta"?

21 February 2016

Angela Oliver Reviews "Shortcuts: Track 1" For Booksellers NZ - And Likes What She Finds

The anthology Shortcuts: Track 1, which collected six New Zealand science fiction and fantasy novellas including my novella Landfall, has been getting good reviews, on Amazon and elsewhere.

Angela Oliver from Booksellers NZ has now reviewed Shortcuts: Track 1, and it's another good review. About the collection as a whole, she says:

The tales are diverse and engaging, long enough to immerse and engage the reader, but short enough to devour in a single sitting.

When it comes to "Landfall", she says:

We begin with ‘Landfall’ by Tim Jones, a chilling near-future tale. New Zealand has become a distant haven for refugees escaping a world altered by climate change. However, it is not, truly, a haven, for the beaches are patrolled, and outsiders − and those who aid them − are greeted with guns and hostility.

It's good to hear that Shortcuts: Track 1 continues to be well received. You can purchase it as a paperback or ebook from Amazon, or as a paperback through your local bookshop.

You can also purchase each novella individually as an ebook - including Landfall, which is $2.90 on Amazon right now.