Steam Press

Superb, award winning speculative fiction - science fiction and fantasy at its best

What we do

Founded by entrepreneur Wellington publisher Stephen Minchin, Steam Press specialises in speculative fiction. Fantasy, horror, and science fiction; utopias, dystopias, and the coming apocalypse; punks of the cyber, steam, and diesel persuasion – these are our raison d’être. Established in 2011, Steam Press published three books in 2012 and all of these were shortlisted for Sir Julius Vogel Awards, with both The Prince of Soul and The Lighthouse and Mansfield with Monsters going on to win. Meanwhile, Stephen (the publisher at Steam Press) won an SJV for services to sci fi, fantasy, and horror. It was a pretty good night out. Three further books followed in 2013, two were released in 2014, and one book was released in 2015. 

 

 

Mansfield with Monsters

To put it simply, Mansfield with Monsters is quite brilliant. Funny, dark and seamless – Mansfield’s moody characters only seem enhanced by a bit of blood and gore
— Herald on Sunday
The untold stories of a New Zealand icon

Katherine Mansfield is one of New Zealand’s most famous and influential writers. While her work is well known, many will be surprised to learn that the ‘accepted’ versions of her stories are often pale reflections of the original manuscripts. For the first time that Mansfield’s vision of the supernatural has been published in full – a dream that she often spoke of in her correspondence with occultist Aleister Crowley and American author H. P. Lovecraft. Matt and Debbie Cowens have pieced together recently recovered fragments of her work, recreating Mansfield’s beloved tales as they were first written, complete with vampires, ghouls, and alien monsters. These versions will delight those in the literary community who always suspected that there was more to Mansfield’s work than we had been led to believe.

Winner of the 2013 Sir Julius Vogel Award for best collected work.
New Zealand Listener’s 100 Best Books of 2012
Matt & Debbie Cowens, Co-editors

Matt & Debbie Cowens, Co-editors

Katherine Mansfield, Author

Katherine Mansfield, Author

 

The Wind City

From the very first page, it is clear that this is something different. The writing is exuberant, the descriptions fantastical...Wigmore has brought Maori myth to life in a completely new, unexpected way
— New Zealand Booklovers
Wellington. The wind city. New Zealand’s home of art and culture, but darker forces, forgotten forces, are starting to reappear.

Aotearoa’s displaced gods and monsters – the patupaiarehe, taniwha, and ponaturi of legend – have decided to make Wellington their home, and while some have come looking for love, others have arrived in search of blood. A war is coming, and few can stand in their way. Saint (lovably fearless, temporarily destitute, currently unable to find a shirt) may be our only hope. Tony, suddenly unemployed and potentially a taniwha herself, has little choice but to accept the role her bloodline dictates. And Hinewai, who fell with the rain? If she can’t find her one true love, there’s a good chance that none will live to see the morning. Wellington will never be the same again. 

Shortlisted for the 2014 Sir Julius Vogel Award for Best Novel
Summer Wigmore, Author

Summer Wigmore, Author

 

The Sovereign Hand

A grand and highly original work of fantasy ... Quite possibly one of the best works of fantasy ever published in New Zealand
— SFFANZ Reviews
The difference between hope and despair turns on the tiniest thing

Thorn, the gilded capital: bedecked in steam and the dust of convoys bearing riches from all across the earth. From here, wise and ruling hands have ensnared all Aurawn ina great story, a Primacy of Peace. A land where every person – human, gobelin, or drake – can dream, toil hard and succeed. Of course, not everyone sees things that way. But when Alexa Temperen stands above Crucible Square and denounces the First and all his government for their injustices, the last thing she imagines is that she’ll soon be working for them, as a champion: one of the Sovereign Hand. Because prophecy has spoken.

Evil is stirring, and Alexa is just one of five unlikely heroes chosen to face it. They each have their doubts, and in her darkest moment Alexa still must decide: put pride aside and fight for a government she despises, or turn her back on her calling, leaving millions at the mercy of an unimaginable terror ... 

Shortlisted for the 2015 Sir Julius Vogel Award for Best Novel
A wonderfully energetic debut, a celebration of form and expression.
— Bernard Beckett
Paul Gilbert, Author

Paul Gilbert, Author

 

The Prince of Soul and the Lighthouse

Quirky, colourful, and speckled with confetti-style humour
— Landfall
Swedish he may be, but Brounéus comes perilously close to having written the great New Zealand visionary fiction novel
— Sunday Star Times
“Great characters . . . laugh out oud material . . . just brilliant
— Radio New Zealand

What happens when we die. This has been the third question on mankind’s FAQ list since the dawn of time (numbers one and two being: Is this edible? and Excuse me, would you care to breed?). I know what happens. Believe me, I’d rather not. But I do. There is a lighthouse, and it guides our souls along the narrow path to being reborn as humans. It’s the light at the end of the tunnel. Unfortunately, as my undead granddad and the Tibetan special mission monk in my kitchen have kindly told me, there’s a problem with the lighthouse. And if the world is to be saved, someone needs to fix it. Which is where I come in: George Larson, eighteen years old. Who could possibly be better suited to save the world? Well, almost anyone. Especially as being a teenage guy is nothing at all about question three but all about questions one and two. And really, that’s complicated enough as it is.

Winner of the 2013 Sir Julius Vogel Award for best youth novel
Fredrik Brounéus, Author

Fredrik Brounéus, Author

 

The Tropic of Skorpeo

Skorpeo reminds me of Jasper Fforde’s books, and also of Lewis Carroll and Thomas Pynchon as if seen on a Hunter S Thompson acid trip. Hilarious, often very sexual, occasionally puerile, undoubtedly clever.
— New Zealand Listener
Princess Juraletta has spent her entire life in Venera Castle but is about to be married to the crusty old Fissionable Duke.

Will her life ever be interesting? And, given his medical condition, will her husband survive their wedding night? Meanwhile, Rhameo is having more adventures than one young prince can handle. Whoring in the Gardens of Fleschimor, hunting tigers in the jungles of ancient Erath, being kidnapped by Amazons and sauced up for the evening meal. But his ambitious mother is arranging his marriage in the hopes of stabilising a galaxy riven by war. This does not bode well. Thankfully, the machinations of Lord Maledor, invading armies of Punkoids, Slutoids, and Sleazoids, space sirens, the amorous Octopus, and the mysterious Dark Magician should help bring the already simmering plot to the boil.

 Shortlisted for the 2013 Sir Julius Vogel Award for best novel.
Alternately sexy, silly, surreal, sensuous, and satirical, it’s like nothing else I’ve ever read
— Novazine
Michael Morrissey, Author

Michael Morrissey, Author


Downmind

DownMind is ‘a measurement of collective mood’ in the Science Fiction Pacific. Cognitively estranging, richly imagined, and splendidly paranoid.
— Dr Dougal McNeill, Victoria University of Wellington
2025. Suicide is rampant, people are gasping in the streets, and planes fall from the sky.

Medicine and technology can reverse the course, but humanity can’t seem to rally. By chance, a young Kiwi chemist stumbles across evidence that suggests that gravity and the air, indeed consciousness itself, are responding to a dispiriting force. But who – or what – is directing this energy? And can the mystery be solved before humanity sinks into the abyss? 

Best novella in 2012 SpecFicNZ
Gnaws away at our (Western) affection for and stubborn loyalty to the res cogitans, the ideal of the sovereign, rational, skull-encased, autonomous mind ... Playful wit and a strong sense of historical gravity are the twin faces of this Möbius strip
— Dr Luke Goode, University of Auckland
Vo Blum, Author

Vo Blum, Author

 

Generation Icarus: First Flight

This series has a massive following on social media with over 1.5 million reads on Wattpad alone as at September 2016

 

All my life I’d tried to be more than ordinary  

Then everything changed. All my hard work, my dreams of being a fighter pilot - my entire life was destroyed in an instant.

Turns out I’m not ordinary after all ... I’m not even human.  

Terrified and confused, all I could do was run away. Find somewhere safe to hide and figure things out. Then I discovered I wasn’t alone. 

 When 17-year-old Tyler Owen starts having back pain, he doesn’t think it’s a big deal. He’s wrong. A strange swelling develops between his shoulder blades. He has a sudden, enormous growth spurt and he can’t stop eating. But nothing can prepare him for the shocking emergence of his brand new wings. Wings that will simultaneously save and destroy his life.  

 Caught on camera, he’s an instant viral hit, attracting unwanted attention from everyone - including the sinister Evolutionary Corporation and a dubious religious cult known as the Angelists. But the widespread media coverage also brings forward others like him.  Together they form the Flight. Finding out the hard way what it means to be the first of a new species.  

They have only one way to survive. 

Fly.

 

JL Pawley, Author 

JL Pawley, Author 

 

Generation Icarus: Second Chance

 

We don't know where we come from but we do know who we are.
We are the Flight.

And somewhere out there are others like us. But can we find them before our enemies destroy us all? We are the hunters and the hunted. Survival comes down to one thing. We can fly.

Barely recovered from their its recent escape, the Flight is under pressure from inside and out. Miguel has taken the name Condor and his loyalty is now unquestioned. But tension is quietly building between him and Hawk as they vie for Kestrel's attention. 

When Hawk mysteriously disappears, his friends have no choice but to continue their search for the elusive White Wings. But are they flying into a trap? Their enemies, the malevolent Evolutionary Corporation and the fanatical Angelist cult, always seem to be one step ahead.  

 

JL Prawley, Author

JL Prawley, Author

Generation Icarus: Third Time Lucky

The Flight has been safe for months now.
The locals have no idea that we spend every spare hour soaring high above their tiny rural town. It's been the best summer ever. Of course, nothing lasts.

When a stranger appears, asking awkward questions, the young Icari knows the fragile peace is over. Their cover is blown, and their enemies are closing in. But even with the promise of another Icarus, and the possibility of a new haven, the Flight is divided. Tensions rise, tempers flare and loyalties are tested. With the Flight splintering, Kestrel is once again caught in the middle. Her conscience pushes her after Condor, while her heart is not ready to give up Hawk. And she doesn’t know it, but there’s a new threat that will put all their lives at risk. Their only salvation lies in the last place they would ever want to go.

Love. Loss. Sacrifice.

How far will they go to protect each other?

JL Pawley, Author

JL Pawley, Author

 

Final Stand

At first all we wanted was to be free. To be safe. But survival is not enough. Survival is not living.

Still reeling from the loss of two of its own, the Flight works hard to rebuild. When a broken heart and the promise of divine answers lures Condor back to the Angelists, Kestrel fears the Reverend’s plans are less than godly. But even she can’t predict what he has in store.

Back at the Flight’s refortified sanctuary, Hawk and the others are shocked when the Flock - a new group of Icari - makes contact. But how did they know where to find them? Where did they come from? And is their arrival a promise ... or a threat?

Both the Angelists and the Evolutionary Corporation are poised to destroy everything the Flight has fought for. With no way to escape and nowhere to fly, the Flight will be forced to make its final stand.

 

 
JL Pawley, Author

JL Pawley, Author

 

The Knowledge Keeper

All surviving knowledge is kept in the central Library and completely inaccessible to the last isolated human settlements. So if the people cannot come to the Library, then the Library comes to them.

Seventeen year old Jordan is a Knowledge Keeper, tasked with driving her nuclear-powered Library Bus through hostile terrain to the far-flung settlements and towns of the New Federation. At the first stop on her first mission, she is given the worrying news that the two preceding Buses never arrived. Despite strict Library rules, Jordan delays her schedule to give the settlers’ access to the information they desperately need. While she waits, she distracts herself by tinkering with the Bus’s on-board Artificial Intelligence, which begins to take on startlingly human-like characteristics. When a message from the Library sends her off route to investigate a signal that has been picked up from one of the missing Buses, Jordan is pulled into a complex and dangerous plot. And the Knowledge Keeper realises there is far more to the world, than even the Library knows.

JL Pawley, author 

JL Pawley, author 

 

The Ark Keeper

The Ark lies deep beneath the desert mountains; an oasis for life as it once was. But centuries of isolation have taken their toll and created deep divisions. Will Jordan and Kasper be welcomed, or reviled?

Following an attack by the barbaric Dikari, Jordan and Kasper are offered shelter in the Ark by a young scout called Zasha. Inside the Ark’s vast cave complex, generations have worked to preserve animal and plant species inside controlled biomes, supplied with water and geothermal energy from an underground river. But the Ark can no longer sustain itself. Jordan and Kasper’s skills and technology represent hope; yet some of the Ark residents are almost religiously opposed to any further meddling from human technology. Jordan’s bionic reliance and Kasper’s digitised form are considered near-abominations and spark bitter in-fighting, just at the point when their enemies seek to destroy the Ark and every living thing within it.

JL Pawley, Author

JL Pawley, Author

 

The Factory World

A considerable imaginative accomplishment, and definitely absorbing. Watch this guy’s space
— Herald on Sunday
A dream, and a thousand miles away is their only way home.

Some people can’t see certain things the world makes. It gets in them like a thorn and turns in a bad way. Cuts them up from inside, and gets a bleed going. And that makes a person weak. And in a world like this, kid, that’s enough to get you killed.”

Waking in a pipe in a silent forest, unable to remember how he got there or where he came from, Simon finds himself walking a rusting railway track with a mysterious stranger who cannot even remember his own name.

Abandoned factories and eerie mannequins dot their path, falling stars lighting the night sky and searing holes through the earth to reveal a maze of pipes beneath. A dream, and a thousand miles away is their only way home. But they are not alone on this factory world, and soon realise that they are fighting for their lives . . . 

“A highly accomplished first novel that shows great leaps of imagination and a firm handle on the sci-fi genre ... It has more than an echo of Cormac McCarthy’s The Road and transmits a similar feeling of melancholy and despair. Disturbing, engaging and thought-provoking
— New Zealand Listener
Joseph Edward Ryan, Author

Joseph Edward Ryan, Author

 

The Witches of Autumn Series: The Glass Projector

An energetic story which is vibrant in both plot and language. I lent the book to a twelve year old last week and he returned it (rather reluctantly) simply saying ‘more please’
— Barbara Murison

Thistle is having a terrible week. Her mother has been incarcerated after throwing a pickled pumpkin through a window of the War Office, and now Thistle has been sent to stay with her aunt in Lily Gate. Mappo, Thistle’s familiar, seems distinctly unimpressed, and even making friends with a gargoyle called Mr Pepper and a scheming snark called Epona hasn’t managed to improve his temper. 

Interesting and distinctive characters, a strong plot, and a unique background...I suspect that it will appeal to many an imaginative young reader – and to older readers too
— SFFANZ Reviews

Joseph Edward Ryan, Author

 

The Witches of Autumn Series: The Amber Fountain

The Ghost Trials are looming, the war is still raging in the north, and Thistle still hasn’t managed to figure out how to charm crows. Things can probably only improve, but then again, Epona’s plans surely won’t end well. And what’s that we heard about a kraken? 

The Witches of Autumn took off from where The Glass Projector had left... and rocketed on to a most satisfying climax...The characters are fun and fascinating, they get to be suitably heroic, the young heroine saves the day, and the villain gets his just desserts. I was engrossed.
— SFFANZ Reviews
Joseph Edward Ryan, Author

Joseph Edward Ryan, Author