August Fantasy Newsletter

Here’s a selection of covers from our August Fantasy newsletter.

Cover of Joe Abercrombie's Half a King Cover of Sarah Beth Durst's The Lost  Cover of Charlie Fletcher's The Oversight Cover of Erika Johansen's The Queen of the Tearling Cover of Simon R. Green's Property of a Lady Faire Cover of The Given by Vicki Pettersson


As well as short stories this month’s newsletter features collections of short stories by the likes of Terry Pratchett, Patricia McKillip, and Sherrilyn Kenyon. You can read the whole newsletter one our website or subscribe and it will get delivered to your inbox every month.

Barnaby Bennett: WORD Christchurch Writers and Readers Festival

WORD Christchurch Writers and Readers Festival kicks off on 27 August. We’ve asked three quick questions of festival guests:

Barnaby Bennett

Cover of Peace, power, and politicsWhat (or who) are you most looking forward to at WORD Christchurch?

I’m mostly looking forward to launching our book Once in a Lifetime: City-building after Disaster in Christchurch. We’ve had amazing support in creating it and it has the voices of so many people in it who will be at the launch, so I’m mainly excited (and a little scared) to let it out into the world. Also pretty excited to see people like Nicky Hager, Gerard Smyth, and Maire Leadbeater talk about their work. We are blessed with a great lineage of articulate activists in this country.

What do you think about libraries?

Well, as a Ph.D student libraries are incredibly important, they the heart of research. I don’t think contemporary society could exist without them. It’s obvious that new technologies are changing them, but in all my experiences librarians are the people most on top of what that change means to libraries and how to adapt to the new opportunities.

Cover of Barnaby BennettShare a surprising fact about yourself.

Um, my name got borrowed for a brilliant children’s book by Hannah Rainforth called Barnaby Bennett which is all about a little Māori boy who always wears red. Also I was born in the year (1980) that humans exceeded the carrying capacity of the earth for the first time, I sometimes worry I was the one that put us over the edge.

In praise of the cuddly detective

Cover of The Lewis manHow do you like your detectives?  These days you have a choice – and it boils down to full cream and frothy or black and bitter.

That is: fat or thin.

For some time now the lure of the thin, fraught, whisky drinking, cigarette smoking, dark and brooding detective has held sway. Their love lives are a shambles, they have few friends, long memories for cold cases and, coincidentally, they almost always work in bleak, sleety climates and in landscapes that feature a lot of rocks. Like Inspector Lewis in Peter May‘s Lewis Trilogy, or Michael Connelly‘s Harry Bosch (tough, complex and unflinching) and Karin Slaughter‘s Will Trent who has: more issues than you can shake a stick at.

Cover of The No. 1 Ladies' Detective AgencyAnd then along came Alexander McCall Smith‘s Precious Ramotswe and her The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency. Set in hot, dry Botswana, Mma Ramotswe (fuelled by tea and biscuits), runs a cheerful establishment in pursuit of Botswana’s criminals. With a happy home life and a healthy appetite, she was the forerunner (in 1998) of a  whole slew of fat, happy detectives.

Like Dr Siri, the plump State Coroner in Laos, who solves exceedingly grisly murders with the help of a motley crew, a wife, a best friend and a good supply of favourite foods. Colin Cotterill has won numerous crime writing awards; his most recent offering is The Woman Who Wouldn’t Die.

Still in the Tropics: Tarquin Hall‘s Vish Puri solves multiple cases in between Cover of The Case of the Deadly Butter Chickenepisodes of gluttony. The Case of the Deadly Butter Chicken would have you believe that is all there is to his writing, but like any good Indian meal, there are a number of accompanying side dishes and perplexing red herrings.

Finally there is Inspector Singh, a fat Sikh who works in South East Asia. The parallels are all there: the heat, the food, the marriage. But Inspector Singh is quite a prickly gent who  hasn’t endeared himself to his superiors. So he is allocated all the cases in far-flung outposts in Cambodia, Bali and Malaysia. And of course, he hates to fly.

I hope you never have to choose a Detective Inspector in real life. But, when you are cosied up in front of the fire on a cold winter’s night with a good murder mystery, will your detective be cuddly or sinewy?

Take your pick.


Michael Corballis: WORD Christchurch Writers and Readers Festival

WORD Christchurch Writers and Readers Festival kicks off on 27 August. We’ve asked three quick questions of festival guests:

Michael Corballis

Cover of The wandering mindWhat (or who) are you most looking forward to at WORD Christchurch?

My visit will be too brief to take full advantage of the festival,  but I’ll be interested to hear what I can. I look also  forward to catching up with some old friends (some of whom will be at my talk), and seeing how Christchurch itself is progressing. I haven’t been there since the earthquake.

What do you think about libraries?

I love libraries.  Most of my working life involves electronic access to knowledge from my desk, but it remains a pleasure to browse in a good library and get the feel of books while we still have them. I think that the modern libraries I know have adapted well to the electronic age, and are pleasant and relaxing places to visit. Browsing in a library is in many ways complementary to browsing on a search engine (like Google) and sometimes more rewarding.

Share a surprising fact about yourself.

Cover of Pieces of mindHmm. Here are some possibilities:
1. I started my university career as an engineering student at the University of Canterbury, but my main ambition at the time was to be a cartoonist.
2. I used to play squash with Ken Strongman but he always beat me.
3. I am addicted to cryptic crosswords, especially those in the London Spectator. Happiness is completing one in a single day.
4. I am not left-handed. (I don’t know why some people find this surprising).

Te Kupu o te Wiki – The Word of the Week

Kia ora. To celebrate Te Reo Māori  we are publishing kupu (words) every week.

Kīwaha (colloquialism)

Ki hori
Step aside

Kupu (word)


I whakapae au ka heke te ua engari kei te whiti kē mai te rā.
I thought that it was going to rain but instead the sun is shining.

Browse our Te Reo Māori resources.

Christchurch – this week in history (18 to 24 August)

Cover of French Akaroa.19 August 1840
French settlers land at Akaroa.

19 August 1859
Chamber of Commerce established in Lyttelton.

22 August 1910
Ilam homestead (on the site of the present university staff club) destroyed by fire.

22 August 1925
Radio Broadcasting Company of N.Z. incorporated in Christchurch – the country’s first public radio company. The company became the major force in early radio, eventually owning and operating a chain of YA stations throughout the country.

Photo of 3YA Christchurch Station
3YA Christchurch Station of the Radio Broadcasting Company of New Zealand [1927]
CCL PhotoCD 3, IMG0057, Christchurch City Libraries
It had steel towers 154 feet high, aerial 170 feet long, a 500-watt ouput, and operated on a wave length of 405 metres.
24 August 1857
Evans Pass road over the Port Hills opens.

Christchurch chronology
A timeline of Christchurch events in
chronological order from pre-European times to 1989.

More August events in the Chronology.