We are definitely relocating back to London after 18 months in Aotearoa New Zealand, effective from April 20th. We leave with some sadness and regret - this is an especially beautiful country and we look forward to travelling up to Northland and then down to Queenstown and Aoraki Mount Cook in the South Island, before we go. Following through on the 'home' theme from my last blog, having lived in four countries, it is hard to locate a solitary place as definitively 'home.' I think perhaps I have several homes, but what feels like a 'heart' (origins) home, remains Africa. We have just had to complete a New Zealand census form before we leave and I have put down 'African Pakeha' under ethnic identity. I am not sure what the Brits might make of that classificatory term, if we have to fill out another census form when back in the UK, but I won't lose sleep over it.
I mentioned Octavia Butler's Wild Seed in my last blog, but have subsequently to report the awful news about her recent death, at the young age of 58 years. The world of sf is much poorer for her death - she had more great sf books in her, I am sure, and from all I have heard she was a wonderful human being too.
There have been many web tributes to OB, two samples at: http://blogcritics.org/archives/2006/02/27/093932.php and http://www.tayarijones.com/blog/archives/2006/02/remembering_oct.html.
My recent reading has included an interesting YA South African story called Jedro's Bane by Peter Slingsby, as well as a wonderfully evocative book called The Heart of Redness by Zakes Mda. The Mda book is also South African and the narrative involves the juxtaposition of prophetic amaXhosa dreams from the 19th century with post-apartheid issues in an Eastern Cape village. I have written an article on South African speculative fiction mentioning the Mda book, which I hope to be able to print here, if I get no traction from a magazine I am considering submitting it to.
With regard to short fiction I am half-way through PostScripts 5. So far the standout piece has been a gentle horror-film take on second chances by Joe Hill, Bobby Conroy Comes Back from the Dead. An interesting but slight hard sf
tale by Steven Baxter and a Lawrence Person story which, although well written and with some basis, still riffs on stereotypes to me, Starving Africans.
For a more upbeat contribution to African stories, there is a dedicated blog which hopes to promote young African writing too: http://www.jjafrican.blog.co.uk/
I have written a short story set on Robben island recently, as well as an academic article on racism and therapy. Other than that, I continue work on my second book, set on the Moon, although the move will no doubt interrupt the narrative flow. I also have a University job interview before the move, facing a telephonic panel late at night here in NZ, shortly before flying out to the UK.
So the next time I write an update will be from the colder and darker
climes of London, England, but hopefully already heading into a promising spring…!
With Best wishes
Nick Wood, February/March 2006