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Aurealis #37

Aurealis #37
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 $28.00 (Australian), with a 30% 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 the long-running Australian magazine Aurealis is edited by Stephen Higgins and Michael Pryor. It features an editorial by Higgins, a science article by Patricia O'Neill about our food habits, and potential alien food habits, and two review columns (SF reviewed by Bill Congreve, Fantasy by Kate Forsyth). And seven stories.

I thought the stories in this issue to be quite ambitious. Perhaps inevitably, most of them don't quite succeed, but it is nice to see authors stretching themselves. One of the most intriguing opens the 'zine: Kaaron Warren's "Coalescence," about an unpleasant man who helps arrange for the minds of dying rich or influential people to be implanted in younger host bodies. This seems an accepted practice, if a bit creepy -- but inevitably a few people will want to get special advantages. The whole idea is effective in its creepiness, but the plot built around it seemed just a tad too ad hoc. Still, it's nice work on the whole.

I'm always glad to see another Father Muerte story from Lee Battersby. "Father Muerte & the Joy of Warfare" shows us several odd inhabitants of the Father's curious town, particularly a certain German Baron who seems to be turning into a bird. These stories are really quite decidedly odd: this one went in an unexpected direction indeed.

Other stories include Sophie Masson's "Dreamer," in which a rather arrogant psychologist treats a boy's unusual dreams. At first our sympathy is naturally with the tormented child -- but his dreams turn out to be different to what we expect, and the ending is a dark twist. Rjurik Davidson has done some quite interesting stuff during his young career, but "Domine" is a bit disappointingly ordinary in the end: a man trying to deal with the return of his glamourous spaceman father amid guilt about his failed relationship with his ex-wife and their son. Not bad, really, but I was never excited. Andrew Lyall's "Beautiful Decay" concerns a sick man who meets -- or thinks he meets -- a beautiful woman, hoping eventually to go off with her. The ending seems too predictably metaphorical, but I may have missed the point. Adam Browne's "Postdiluvian" is a short-short about some beings that didn't make it onto the Ark. And, finally, Ben Peek's "John Wayne" is a really curious story -- an alternate history, it seems, of John Wayne's life and death, featuring a meeting with Orson Welles and an encounter with Stalinist assassins. The story is certainly politically energized -- with Wayne shown fearing Koreans and Hispanics before finally meeting the real menace. But I confess it all seemed out of focus to me -- almost trivial -- Wayne simply doesn't have enough resonance to me to make the story really matter. That said, I did feel in the presence of an engaged writer -- which is always worth something.

Aurealis is by now a rather venerable presence in the Australian SF scene, with a decidedly irregular history -- but they continue to publish enough interesting stuff to make us look for more.

Copyright © 2007 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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