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Paper Road Press Pukapuka Honoured As Award Finalists

Wellington-based whare perehi (publishing house) Paper Road Press is proud to announce that several of its pukapuka (books) and kaituhi (authors) have been honoured in the list of Sir Julius Vogel Award finalists published today.

The Sir Julius Vogel Awards recognise excellence in science fiction, fantasy, or horror works created by New Zealanders. They are named for the eighth Premier of New Zealand, who in 1889 wrote what was probably the first sci-fi novel by a New Zealander, Anno Domini 2000 – A Woman’s Destiny. This pukapuka promotes a utopian view of the future in which women would hold many positions of authority.

This year Paper Road Press has the following finalists, all of which were published in 2020. Award winners will be announced next month.

  • The Stone Wētā by Octavia Cade is a finalist for Best Novel
  • No Man’s Land by AJ Fitzwater is a finalist for Best Novella
  • Year's Best Aotearoa New Zealand Science Fiction & Fantasy Volume 2 edited by Marie Hodgkinson is a finalist for Best Collected Work
  • Cover art for No Man’s Land and Year's Best… by Laya Rose are finalists for Best Professional Artwork
  • Cover art for The Stone Wētā by Emma Weakley is also a finalist for Best Professional Artwork

Paper Road Press publisher Marie Hodgkinson says:

“Publishing is often like walking a tightrope, but in 2020 it was more like walking a tightrope blindfolded through a maze. At the same time, though, local support for local speculative fiction writing soared. The Stone Wētā came out while Octavia was Massey University's author in residence under lockdown; the launch party for No Man's Land was rescheduled several times due to level vagaries; and the Year's Best Aotearoa New Zealand Science Fiction & Fantasy launched via a grid of Zoom faces.

“But despite authors being locked in arts centres, calendar changes, and most of us never wanting to open a Zoom meeting ever again, people showed up. And nowhere is that more evident than in our three 2020 titles being finalists in the Sir Julius Vogel Awards this year. I am so grateful to all the readers who found something to love in Octavia and AJ's books and in the Year's Best anthology.”

In addition, Paper Road Press kaituhi Andi Buchanan’s “Alone Together at the Edge of the World” and AJ Fitzwater’s “Queer Speculative Aotearoa New Zealand” are both finalists for Best Fan Writing. Fitzwater’s The Voyages of Cinrak the Dapper from Queen of Swords Press in the US is also up for Best Collected Work.


  • AJ Fitzwater and Octavia Cade are available for interview. Please contact publicist Elizabeth Heritage on 022 652 3981 or
  • Review copies of all pukapuka are available upon request
  • Full product details of all pukapuka at; kaituhi bios and pukapuka blurbs below

Kaituhi bios

AJ Fitzwater

AJ Fitzwater lives between the cracks of Ōtautahi / Christchurch. Their work focuses on feminist and queer themes, and has appeared in venues of repute such as Clarkesworld, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Shimmer, Giganotosaurus, GlitterShip, and in various anthologies. They are the author of rodent pirate escapades in The Voyages of Cinrak the Dapper, and the WW2 land girls shape-shifter novella No Man’s Land. With a background in radio, AJ lends their voice to podcast narrations, including for the Escape Artists universe. They enjoy maintaining a collection of bow ties. A unicorn disguised in a snappy blazer, they tweet @AJFitzwater. AJ uses they/them pronouns.

Octavia Cade

Octavia has a PhD in science communication from Otago University and themes of climate change and conservation run strongly through her fiction writing. She has also written a series of columns and edited a book on the intersection between food and horror. Octavia has extensive public speaking and debating experience. She has appeared on writers’ panels in Aotearoa and Australia and at academic conferences such as the New Research on Horror Conference (Otago University, 2016). Octavia uses she/her pronouns.


No Man’s Land by AJ Fitzwater

No Man’s Land is a historical fantasy and a love story set in the golden plains of North Otago, in the South Island of Aotearoa New Zealand.

Dorothea ‘Tea’ Gray joins the Land Service and is sent to work on a remote farm, one of many young women left to fill the empty shoes left by fathers and brothers serving in the Second World War.

But Tea finds more than hard work and hot sun in the dusty North Otago nowhere—she finds a magic inside herself she never could have imagined, a way to save her brother in a distant land she never thought she could reach, and a love she never knew existed.

Inspired by feminist and LGBTQ+ history and family memories of North Otago in wartime, A.J Fitzwater has turned a piece of forgotten women’s history into a tapestry of furious pride and love that crosses cultures, countries and decades.

The Stone Wētā, by Octavia Cade

We talk about the tyranny of distance a lot in this country. That distance will not save us.

With governments denying climate science, scientists from affected countries and organisations are forced to traffic data to ensure the preservation of research that could in turn preserve the world. From Antarctica, to the Chihuahuan Desert, to the International Space Station, a fragile network forms. A web of knowledge. Secret. But not secret enough.

When the cold war of data preservation turns bloody – and then explosive – an underground network of scientists, all working in isolation, must decide how much they are willing to risk for the truth. For themselves, their colleagues, and their future.

Murder on Antarctic ice. A university lecturer’s car, found abandoned on a desert road. And the first crewed mission to colonise Mars, isolated and vulnerable in the depths of space.

How far would you go to save the world?

Year’s Best Aotearoa New Zealand Science Fiction & Fantasy: Volume 2, edited by Marie Hodgkinson

Ancient myths go high-tech a decade after the New New Zealand Wars. Safe homes and harbours turn to strangeness within and without. Splintered selves come together again – or not.

Twelve authors. Thirteen stories. The best short science fiction and fantasy from Aotearoa New Zealand in 2019. Featuring:

‘Good Dog, Alice’, by Juliet Marillier

‘Te Ara Poutini’, by Nic Low

‘Inside the Body of Relatives’, by Octavia Cade

‘Henrietta and the End of the Line’, by Andi C. Buchanan

‘Hearts made Marble, Weapons Shaped from Bone,’ by A.J. Fitzwater

‘Who Watches’, by Rem Wigmore

‘The Fisher’, by Melanie Harding-Shaw

‘Fission’, by Nicole Tan

‘A Shriek Across the Sky’, by Casey Lucas

‘Moving House’, by Alisha Tyson

‘Proof of Concept’, by James Rowland

‘Spontaneous Applause’ and ‘First dispatch from the front’, by Zoë Meager

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