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Aurealis, #42

Aurealis, #42
Aurealis
Aurealis, Australian Fantasy & Science Fiction, is an Australian semiprozine, edited by Stephen Higgins and Dirk Strasser. It has published a number of stories by the new stars of Australian science fiction such as: Greg Egan, Sean McMullen, Terry Dowling, and Stephen Dedman. Issues are very Australian, including Australian-related SF news, reviews of Australian SF, as well as guidelines in helping Australian writers crack the foreign markets. A 4-issue subscription is $38.50 (Australian), with a surcharge for overseas orders.
Chimaera Publications
PO Box 2164
Waverley VIC 3149, Australia

Aurealis

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Rich Horton

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The latest issue of Aurealis is again edited by Stuart Mayne. It's copyright 2008 again but did not appear until late 2009. Patricia O'Neill's science article, "Private I," is an interesting look at how our sensory perceptions of the world are unique to ourselves (and how they differ, in a more extreme way, from those of other species). The book review column is by Keith Stevenson, and there is an interview with Greg Egan, conducted by Russell Blackford.

I thought it was a particularly good issue for the fiction. The editorial hints that horror is the predominant mode this time around, but I didn't quite find that so, although there certainly are some horror stories. For example, Trent Jamieson's "The Neighbourhood of Dead Monsters," in which a normal man slowly works his way around to revealing the horrible secret about his mother. And "The Haunting that Jack Built," by Andrew J McKiernan, nice fairly traditional horror about a self-made man slowly building a house, while the locals become convinced, quite without proof, that women keep disappearing. And "Burnt," by Rick Kennett, a short piece about a burglar who encounters a type of resistance to his crime that scares him completely.

Jason Fischer's "for want of a jesusman" is one of my favorite pieces here. It might be called horror, in that it features a violent protagonist, who is a killer himself and who is tortured horrifically during the story. But what fascinated me was the strange setting, apparently some sort of alternate world, inhabited by humans and aliens with glass-like spines and by "witches," who may have something to do with travelling between this world and a world more like ours. Another wild setting is behind Brendan Duffy's "Muleskinner Blues." Benny is the heir to a commercial empire, but against his father's wishes, he is a "muleskinner," tracking down rogue AIs. His father is desperately trying to cheat death, and his mother has long since escaped to virtual reality. Benny, while mourning his dead girlfriend (to the point of using robots as substitutes), also is dealing with his father's disapproval. That's the plot, but the strange future, with fractally expanding suburbs, virtual worlds, and rogue AIs, is what held my interest.

In "Something Better than Death," Lucy Sussex tells a curious romantic story about a woman going to Germany to meet a man, with whom she hopes to make a life, and then encountering another man with whom she swaps variants of the Grimm story "The Four Musicians of Bremen." Finally, Brendan Carson's "Yellow Mary's Lamp" is a dark story set in colonial era Australia, featuring a brutal criminal who is oddly afraid of the title character, on the surface, his downtrodden mistress.

I found this one of the best issues I've seen of Aurealis. There's a nice fantasy/SF/horror mix. The range of tone and style remains very good.

Copyright © 2010 Rich Horton

Rich Horton is an eclectic reader in and out of the SF and fantasy genres. He's been reading SF since before the Golden Age (that is, since before he was 13). Born in Naperville, IL, he lives and works (as a Software Engineer for the proverbial Major Aerospace Company) in St. Louis area and is a regular contributor to Tangent. Stop by his website at http://www.sff.net/people/richard.horton.


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