Auckland Libraries

New and Recommended


The Listener

Michael Larsen

VO Blum’s DownMind is ... a rewarding novella ... Blum sure packs much intriguing fact and entertaining fiction into a small space. Like any good sci-fi, what starts as an improbable artistic idea starts to develop its own weight and credence. Although the concept is never truly believable, by the end you are left thinking: hmmm, what if?


Dr Dougal McNeill (lecturer in literature and technology, Victoria University at Wellington)

Cognitively estranging, richly imagined, and splendidly paranoid ...


Dr Niklaus R Schweizer (honorary consul emeritus to Hawai'i on behalf of the Swiss Confederation)

An unbelievable – and at the same time realistic – warning of what might soon happen to our blue and white globe suspended in the darkness of the universe. DownMind conjures Western ghosts, US schizophrenia, and Pacific optimism … in places as far apart as Boston, Washington, Aotearoa/New Zealand, and the Kingdom of Tonga. The author’s imagination is always fascinating and the story captivates right to the unsuspected end.


Prof Peter S Field (dean, School of Humanities, University of Canterbury)

Serious novels are grave. Humorous novels are droll. To weave the two together as DownMind does – environmental tragedy, political comedy, psychology and history – surpasses fiction. It becomes art.


Reading the Maps

Dr Scott Hamilton (RtM Contributor, and author of The Crisis of Theory: E. P. Thompson, the New Left and Postwar British Politics)

DownMind is ostensibly a fantasy set in the near future, but like all the best science fiction it deals with the present ... a novella that's very Tongan, even if its concerns are global.


Public Films

Paul Janman (director of the documentary Tongan Ark)

Blum has the ability to be both subversive and supportive in the same breath. A reverence for the apocalyptic Jewish intellectual legacy is bathed in Nietzschean ambivalence, Eastern mysticism, South Pacific politics and ambitious metaphors of apathy and deliverance. Ignore them at your peril.


Science Fiction and Fantasy Association of New Zealand

Jacqui Smith

DownMind takes a serious view of the future, something we don't see nearly enough of these days … Blum gave me an idea or two to think over, and that's what this novella is really about. Read it for the ideas, some of them will blow your mind.


Auckland Zen Centre

Richard von Sturmer (AZC Monitor, and author of Suchness, A Network of Dissolving Threads, and The Book of Equanimity Verses )

From a Buddhist perspective, there is Mind with a capital M, the Mind not only of humans and animals, but of mountains and rivers, oceans and forests. In the human sphere, what would happen if an individual mind, tapping into our basic interconnectedness, had the power to cause mass depression and even suicide? This frightening prospect is at the core of V O Blum’s DownMind. And you have to admire the mind of the author himself as he whips up a heady mix of psychology, politics, the Holocaust, Pacific culture and Kiwi stoicism (to name just a few of the ingredients). All underpinned by a simmering anger at what we are doing to our planet and illuminated by flashes of humour and (perhaps unique in the field of science fiction) loving kindness.


Dr Murray Edmond (associate professor drama, University of Auckland, and author of the classic NZ poem "Von Tempsky's Dance")

From the Coleridge musical Opium on Broadway to the ancient Greek philosopher Herakleitos promising poor Earth a “savage recovery", VO Blum’s DownMind is both an entertaining thriller and teasing puzzle about the future of our blue planet.


Sandy Pearlman (founder of Blue Ōyster Cult; Centenary Fellow, McLuhan Program in Culture and Technology, University of Toronto)

Couldn't put DownMind down!


Elinor Langer (editorial board member of the Nation, and author of Josephine Herbst: The Story She Could Never Tell and A Hundred Little Hitlers)

The parts I liked best were the parts set in the South Pacific islands – based on such deep and rare knowledge. And the climactic pages were terrific.