Archive for Sherryl Jordan

Apocalypses in New Zealand

Posted in Books, Science fiction with tags , , , , , , , , , on September 5, 2010 by Cara Marie

The last panel I went to today was ‘This is the way the world ends’, on YA post-apocalyptic SF, a topic of course near to my heart. I enjoyed it, but there was one point when I was scandalised! Leanne Hall was giving a list of her top five Australia YA-PA-SF, and had decided to include Bernard Beckett’s Genesis on the list ‘in the great Australian tradition of claiming New Zealanders’. What? He lives in Wellington! He teaches at Onslow College! His first books were only ever published in New Zealand! I am not aware that he has any connection to Australia!

It is possible though that the main reason for my annoyance is that I think there are far better NZ post-apocalypses. Genesis felt to me like a book that got all its accolades from people who didn’t actually read a lot of science fiction, and there were points I didn’t buy into the conceit. (And as the woman behind me commented afterwards, Genesis seems more ‘Plato-en than post-apocalyptic’.)

So: other New Zealand books! My favourite is probably Anna Mackenzie’s series, which begins with The Sea-Wreck Stranger. The second book, Ebony Hill came out earlier this year. Note that my definition of post-apocalyptic includes well-established societies, just as long is there is an apocalypse in the past. A man washes up on an island; our heroine rescues him, against the wishes of her society, and learns of the rest of the surviving world, which her luddite people would like to ignore. To talk about the second book would be spoilerish, but they are both gripping stories that I have no reservations about loving.

Sandy, L and I were discussing potential settings for post-apocalyptic movies recently, L commenting on how they were always set in cities – and that cities would be hard to do. And thinking of Anna Mackenzie, I said a lot of the NZ books were set in rural areas. And that’s something I think she does extremely well: her books are very practical about what it actually takes to keep a society running, and I appreciate the value she puts on that (as opposed to the value in, fending off bandits, say).

Other NZ YA-PA-SF: Mandy Hagar’s series, which begins with Blood of the Lamb. I haven’t actually read the second one, and my mother didn’t like it, but we would recommend the first! Fleur Beale’s Juno of Taris, which has a sequel due this month. Which is along the same lines as Allegra Goodman’s The Other Side of the Island, which Leanne mentioned, but I prefer Fleur’s book. Neither of them, of course, are as good as my memories of Louise Lawrence’s Andra.

I mentioned during the panel Sherryl Jordan’s Rocco as an example of a story where the post-apocalyptic society wasn’t a dystopia, which is an older New Zealand book. Others I liked as a kid, where the apocalypse is in the distant past, are Margaret Beames’ Outlanders and Caroline Macdonald’s The Lake at the End of the World. It’s worth noting, after the panel discussion of age-appropriateness, that the latter is a book aimed at 8-12 year olds, but then both of these are more about how the outside world has recovered.

I think it’s interesting that back in the day, none of these books were series. Fleur’s Juno of Taris, for example, follows the same pattern as these standalones, so I find it intriguing as to why Fleur felt the need to write a follow-up when none of the earlier authors did. (Maybe we could say these sequels are novels set after the post-apocalyptic society has had its apocalypse.)

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While I am speaking of catastrophes. I am grateful that my whanau in Christchurch are okay, that so few people were hurt, that it was the middle of the night. The structural damage is pretty devastating. Christchurch, you are in my thoughts.

Recent kids’ fantasy

Posted in Books with tags , , on November 12, 2007 by Cara Marie

Three fantasy novels: one by an old favourite I’d become indifferent to; one I’d been really excited by, and thus was let down; and one which had the right ingredients – for an end result I can only pick at.

Cybele’s Secret – Juliet Marillier