I love speculative fiction and I am a keen follower of emerging and established New Zealand writers. So it was with a huge sense of anticipation that I bought a copy of the recently published book 'New Hokkaido', by first time Wellington author James McNaughton.
McNaughton posits a fascinating past in which Japan stops its planned attack on the Americans at Pearl Harbour in 1941, bypassing Australia and invading New Zealand. The consequences as he builds the story are that America never enters the war, with the Soviet Union therefore defeating Nazi Germany single-handedly and Britain never invading in Normandy in 1944. Europe is therefore a Soviet domain, and the USA still sits in isolation. New Zealand is an outlying Japanese province named New Hokkaido. The story build tension, sees the appearance of the Australian air force, with a touch of sumo wrestling and a romantic interest that ends with a twist.
The outcome is fascinating, and if you are a lover of stories even the slightest bit dystopian you'll love this. The book is well written, perhaps I should say crafted, the prose enjoyable to read and the story engaging.
McNaughton is yet another product of the Victoria University Masters programme in creative writing and I have no doubt that he will be enormously proud of this first effort. The story ends in such a way that a sequel is totally plausible although there is no indication of whether or not one is planned. However the characters tend to be one dimensional, and McNaughton uses stereotypes and cliches a little too much for my liking.
The book is recommended. You can hear the NewstalkZB review here.
'New Hokkaido", Victoria University Press, 2015 (ISBN 978-0-86473-976-6)