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 - 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. 


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The Commonwealth Series: Orion Rising

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All the promise of a sci-fi classic married to an all-action thriller.

It’s 2080 and Earth’s remaining population is crammed into the last habitable lands on the globe, where two warring factions – the Commonwealth and the Fringes – vie for dominance.

With the rest of the planet a post-apocalyptic wasteland, all food is farmed on vast offshore barges, but it’s scarcely enough. Orion is second officer on the Cassiopeia, one of the many ships that ferries food from the sea-fields to Auckland’s insatiable population. His job made more complicated by the fact that the Cassiopeia’s captain, Danny, is also his father. And the two are barely civil, since his mother’s death 15 years ago. Orion’s life is turned around when the beautiful Samara joins the crew, but any complications which stem from their evolving relationship soon become irrelevant as clues about his mother’s death surface, setting the couple on the trail of her murderer. Their investigation uncovers terrorism on a massive scale as the true extent of the Fringe’s ambitions are laid bare. 

Chard Andrews, Author

Chard Andrews, Author


The Commonwealth Series: Polaris Burning

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Eighty years after the Apocalypse Wars, the northern hemisphere and most of the southern is a chemical wasteland.

Cyn was not the first a prisoner of the Polaris Syndicate, to be held in a secret subterranean facility at Cape Horn. She is the first ever to escape. Reaching Indonesia – the heart of the Fringes – Cyn sets out to destroy Astor, head of Polaris, who murdered her family and experimented on her mind. She flees to the Commonwealth, where she meets Bligh, a naval lieutenant in trouble for protesting the maltreatment of an illegal refugee. When a sea-rise is attacked by Syndicate forces and the inhabitants taken, Bligh’s brother Mylas and his childhood friend Alea are among those missing. Bligh believes they’re dead, until Cyn reveals the truth about the Cape, and makes a deal with him to get them back. But neither of them can imagine the horrifying truth at the heart of the Polaris Syndicate.

Chard Andrews, Author

Chard Andrews, Author


Fresh, funny and riotously entertaining…
— Peter Whittaker, New Internationalist

A fable for our times...

Aliens taking the form of pop star Elvis Presley and Antarctic explorer Roald Amundsen visit earth to buy the continent of Antarctica, asking human society to decide whether or not planet Earth should sell. 

When global leaders and institutions are unable to deal with the situation, fate falls upon young sculptor Tanisha Voyce whose own art forms cause her to become embroiled in the aliens’ enterprise.

Paul Hewlett, Author

Paul Hewlett, Author


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


House of Spirits

‘Awake but not awake, asleep but not asleep, the house breathing like a live thing. Memories  come  back  to  me,  like  regurgitated  parts of  my  life.  I’ve  heard  that’s what drowning’s like. Maybe that’s what I’m doing, drowning. I’m not sure why I’ve started  writing  the  memories  out,  giving  them  titles.  Could it  be  that  part  of  me  is trying  to  work out  what  happened,  how  it  came  to  be this  way?  Or  am I  hoping  that whoever reads them will bear witness to my life? It could be both. When I’m not drowning, I’m fifteen.’

The rambling ancestral house in the bush has always been home to fifteen year-old Simone. Amid holographic images of past events and in the company of a Great Grandmother who died before she was born, is where she feels safe. But something has happened, so much has changed. Her mother, sister, and best friend are no longer around and the house with its surrounding landscape has become her world. Dad comes by every now and then. He walks about the house and talks to her. But he can’t see her, can’t hear her. 

Now there are tenants: Annabel, Duncan, and Jae, who holes up in his room all day. It is through memories that come instead of sleep that Simone begins to piece together her life, tracking through the years as the past falls into place behind her. But as the memories close in on her fifteenth birthday she starts to worry. Frightened, she turns to the only ones she can, Annabel, who wants to help her, and Jae, who she’s grown to love. Then it comes, the fearful memory, the tragic accident that killed Simone and her best friend, and the real mystery of her existence is revealed.

Julie Lamb, Author

Julie Lamb, 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 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: Air Born

Russian and Chinese (traditional) rights have been sold.

Generation Icarus has been optioned for TV and film.


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. 



JL Pawley, Author

JL Pawley, Author

Generation Icarus: Take Flight

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2019 Storylines Notable Book Award

Capture. Rebellion. Revelation.

The Flight is recovering in a remote mountain hideaway. They think they're safe, but they couldn't be more wrong.

When Evolutionary Corp mercenaries in helicopters hunt them down, only Condor and Kestrel manage to escape. With nowhere else to turn and desperate for help to save their friends, the two flee across the country to the jubilant Angelists.

Meanwhile, a nightmare unfolds for the imprisoned teenage Icari. A shocking bond is revealed which changes everything.

Pushed to the limits of endurance, somehow they must survive the most dangerous place they can imagine.

Somehow, they must fly free.

J L Pawley, Author

J L Pawley, Author


Generation Icarus Books 3 & 4 Coming Soon!

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.

The Keeper series is currently under development. If you wish to learn more, please feel free to contact us. 

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