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Aurealis #44

Aurealis #44
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


Past Feature Reviews
A review by Rich Horton

The latest issue of Aurealis is the 20th Anniversary issue. One highlight is a memoir by cofounder Dirk Strasser of the circumstances around the founding and early history of the magazine -- very entertaining. (And I recall seeing at least one issue of the abortive attempt to distribute Aurealis in the US that Strasser describes.) Patricia L. O'Neill's science article, "Underbelly -- A Feast for the Census II," looks at some of the critters we harbor internally. The book review column is former editor Keith Stevenson's farewell, and there is an editorial from current editor Stuart Mayne.

Jason Fischer offers another piece in the same milieu as his story from #42, "for want of a jesusman." "gunning for a tinkerman" features a former "jesusman," Lanyard Everett, looking for another despised character, a "tinkerman," who keeps mechanical things going but is blamed for the state of their strange world. His journey on a cranky "skiff" (a sort of landboat) brings him against a monstrous snake, sinister witches, and a town of "crooked men." It's a dark and cynical tale of multiple betrayals. My other favorite this issue is Simon Petrie's "Storm in a T-Suit," about a man on Titan trying to rescue his daughter and two men, who had foolishly gone looking for evidence of alien life and ended up in a storm. Solid old-style Solar System adventure.

I didn't like the other stories quite as much, but there was some decent work. Kirstyn McDermott's "We All Fall Down" tells of a lesbian couple on a trip up to a cave who end up in an accident, and walk to a lonely house looking for help. It starts out looking like fairly conventional horror of one sort, but twists nicely to a different style of what still probably qualifies as a horror subgenre. And of course a story of a fraught relationship. "The Death of Skandar Taranisäii" by K.J. Taylor, is straight fantasy, about a band of people from a tribe of "Northerners" enslaved by a more "civilized" group, destined for the arena to face griffins. The complication is that the son of one of the men has been taken in, and even freed, by one of the enslaving class. The story doesn't do enough with its material though. Christopher Snape's "Runners" dangles hope of escape in front of a middle-aged couple in a future where the unemployed are sent to work camps. Their eventual fate is predictable -- what I missed here was a more convincing depiction of the future. Christopher Green's "Jumbuck" is Australian-flavored horror, nodding at "Waltzing Matilda" as a man comes to a billabong and meets a swagman -- with a dark fate awaiting. And the issue closes with a nice short-short from Adam Ford, "A Billion Tiny Lights," about an intelligent spaceship in the outer Solar System.

This issue is more SF-oriented than many issues of the magazine, which is a good thing in my opinion. But the stories, while mostly decent, aren't quite up to the best Aurealis has featured.

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

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