Why I’m keen for some world-building, Aotearoa-styles

I love me some speculative fiction (which encompasses genres with unrealistic elements - often found in fantasy, sci-fi, and horror, for instance).

A large part of what appeals to people who read "spec-fic" is the setting. Sometimes this is really, really different from the real world we live in (there's a desert planet with giant sandworms!) or mostly recognisable or realistic but changed in some crucial way (set 20 years in the future, witches are real). Either way, where the story goes is determined by what's possible in the world that it's set in. Paul Atreides may well commune with aforementioned sandworms but he's not shooting photon blasts from his hands (strictly a Captain Marvel, badass move, that one).

So clearly, world-building is really important in spec-fic but how do writers go about making those choices and crafting those worlds? And when it comes to stories set in our own country what are the challenges in creating a different version of Aotearoa?

Questions like these will be posed at a free WORD Christchurch session this week at The Arts Centre Te Matatiki Toi Ora. Local spec-fic authors AJ Fitzwater and Karen Healey will have a good old yarn about speculative fiction, and if attendance at many literary festival sessions over the years has taught me anything it's that I love listening to a couple of book nerds get into their favourite topic. It should make for a really interesting, lively session.

Both are eminently qualified - Fitzwater is a guest curator for this year's WORD Christchurch festival, is one of the 2021 Arts Four Creative in Residence at The Arts Centre, and the author of The Voyages of Cinrak the Dapper and No Man's Land (and numerous short stories). Whereas Healey has written several spec-fic novels for young adults as well as being a secondary school teacher, which includes teaching English. So who better to hear from?

I'm also keen for this session because if the pandemic has taught us anying it's that "buy local" is more important than ever.. and this applies to writers and storytellers too. I've been trying to expand my reading by including more Kiwi writers the last couple of years and this seems like a great opportunity to learn more and get some great local spec-fic recommendations.

Also, did I mention this is FREE?

All great reasons to head along on Wednesday night - bookings (and book love) are required.

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