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Aurealis, #41

Aurealis, #41
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 again edited by Stuart Mayne. It's copyright 2008 but as far as I can tell it did not appear until the Spring of 2009 (or, I suppose I should say, the Autumn of 2009, in the Southern Hemisphere). Patricia O'Neill's science article this time is about diseases, scary new diseases that might seem science-fictional but are only too real, including Ebola, AIDS, and bird flu. O'Neill's angle is informed by SF (and the title invokes The Andromeda Strain), giving it a nice perspective. There are also book reviews by Keith Stevenson (SF) and Kate Forsyth (Fantasy).

As it happens the fiction is all by women, which the editorial hints might have been on purpose. It needn't have been, though -- in quality and range this is a typical issue of the magazine, as one ought to have expected. The issue opens with Sue Isle's "I Can Run Faster," which concerns a middle-aged woman and some rather eerie children, and which winds around to an unexpected, slightly creepy, and quite logical conclusion. Miranda Siemienowicz is a first-rate writer whom I've known mainly for some intriguing more or less contemporary horror stories. "Aleph, Mem, Tav" is perhaps a bit of a departure, and it is an interesting, different piece of outwardly fairly traditional fantasy: a Queen, unhappy with her arranged marriage, magically creates a sort of demon. The demon's offer of escape is tempting, but Siemienowicz is more interested in responsibility, in consequences, than in simple escape. I'm not sure the story is fully successful, but it is an intriguing effort.

"Ladies' Day," by Helen Patrice, is a brief and amusing look at an overbearing woman and a couple of friends travelling back to Jane Austen's time, with wild results. Julie Turner's "The Class of 2054" is an over the top look at the future of education, in particular overspecialization, and parents'overreactions -- it didn't quite click for me. Jenny Blackford's "Ariadne" is a retelling of the story of the Minotaur from the point of view of the Princess Ariadne, taking a rather dark view of the title character. "The Hounds of Wychwood" by L.J. Hayward, features Barnaby Archibald of the Society for the Investigation of Supernatural Oddities investigating horrifying occurrences at the village of Barton-upon-Wychwood. I thought it a bit too routine, and perhaps not quite sure of its desired tone -- arch or serious -- but it did hold my interest. And the final story is another tale of Zeem the Djinn from R.J. Astruc, "A Hat Full of Leaves." I'm really enjoying Zeem's stories, set in a convincing (to me) South of England working class milieu. Here Zeem is commandeered, sort of, by a colourful witch named Trinket, to resolve the issues caused by the appearance of a wild sort of creature in the park she uses for her rituals. As ever, Zeem has a down-to-earth sensible approach to what turns out to be an interesting supernatural being. Fun stuff.

On balance, I'd rate this a pretty strong outing for Aurealis. Compared to the last issue, the magazine returns to a fairly even SF/Fantasy mix, which I prefer, though there is still a bit of a Fantasy tilt. And the range of tone and style is quite good.

Copyright © 2009 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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