The Treaty of Waitangi and ‘Hobson’s pledge’

I have always thought it ironic that the Treaty of Waitangi was signed on 6 February 1840 largely by accident. If everything had gone according to prospective governor William Hobson’s plans, it would have been signed on 5 February. That was the day Maori assembled outside the house of James Busby at Waitangi to discuss … More The Treaty of Waitangi and ‘Hobson’s pledge’

Is high-tech REALLY indistinguishable from magic?

A fellow blogger asked for help the other week. What was the specific source – by page reference – to Arthur C. Clarke’s ‘Third Law’? It was first published in his book Profiles of the Future – which was variously issued from 1958. My edition is the revised version published by Pan Books of London … More Is high-tech REALLY indistinguishable from magic?

How professional book reviewing works – ideally

A week or so back my publicist at Penguin sent me the reviews of my book Convicts: New Zealand’s Hidden Criminal Past, that have been published since that title came out. They got me thinking about reviews and reviewing. I write such things myself for New Zealand newspapers and magazines. And at that professional level, reviewers are … More How professional book reviewing works – ideally

Remembering an act of selfless kindness amidst memories of horror

‘Kindness,’ I wrote to a friend of mine in the UK last week, ‘is a simple human virtue and I always marvel at how some people seem able to intellectualise it away so thoroughly.’ It was a muggy May day in 2001 when my wife and I walked over the bridge on the River Kwai. Yes, that bridge. I counted every … More Remembering an act of selfless kindness amidst memories of horror

Worldbuilding: inspired by history – and Peter Jackson

The other week I had lunch with a PhD student from Wyoming who’d tracked me down for advice on the New Zealand Wars and the similarities between New Zealand’s nineteenth century experience and that of the US. History informs writers when it comes to creating worlds. And there’s a world which has largely gone entirely … More Worldbuilding: inspired by history – and Peter Jackson

Wrapping it all up – blog meltdown, book launch, radio promos and earthquake

What a month. My book Convicts – New Zealand’s Hidden Criminal Past was published. The city I live in was shaken by a larger-than-usual quake the same week. My blog blew up. Our internet connection kept going on the fritz. And I was embroiled in a promotion frenzy. The key way to push books in New Zealand, … More Wrapping it all up – blog meltdown, book launch, radio promos and earthquake