Reviews Logo
SearchHomeContents PageSite Map
Aurealis #40

Aurealis #40
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 edited by Stuart Mayne. The non-fiction includes and interesting science article from Patricia L. O'Neill -- here lamenting the failure of the future we have to live up to the future that SF promised us. (That is, this is another "what happened to my flying car?" article -- and nicely done, though O'Neill explicitly denies caring that her car doesn't fly.) Book reviews are by Keith Stevenson (SF) and Kate Forsyth (Fantasy).

Aurealis usually mixes SF and Fantasy fairly evenly, but this time around all the stories are Fantasy. Lee Battersby's "Never Grow Old" is another in a long list of Peter Pan stories (are there as many Peter Pan variants as Oz variants?), but nicely done, telling of a young girl, afraid of her father's abuse now that her sister had grown too old, who decides never to grow old herself. Battersby's stark unforgiving telling is a strong tonic to the urge of sentimentality that dogs such themes. Stephen Dedman's "Adaption" is a rather cute modern variation on the Kelpie legend, with a different sort of horse serving as the Kelpie. Paul Haines, in "The Festival of Colour" (which also appeared in GUD issue 2), probably goes on a bit too long, but still interests us in telling of a visitor to India becoming too involved in a mysterious local festival.

Pamela Freeman's "Sacrifice" is a fairly well handled take on a fairly familiar idea: the woman sacrificed to a dragon who forges some variety of relationship with her captor, in part, in this case, as a reaction against her abusive home life. Not much new here, but what is here is solid work. "Spirals in the Sky," by Paul Burrage, sets up an interesting problem: mysterious storms taking lives at well-defined intervals on a Texas farm. And it has an interesting main character, an Australian Aboriginal called to Texas to mediate. But I found the combination -- essentially, having an Aboriginal stand in for what seemed more appropriately a Native American's role -- unsatisfying and unconvincing. And the final twist to the story, intended to drive home the notion of white guilt in relations with all sorts of aboriginal peoples, simply too forced. Some good ideas, and some good writing, in a story that just doesn't come together. Finally, Karen Simpson Nikakis's "The Gift" is a brief fantasy about the aftermath to a terrible war, as the winner regrets his bargain with some sort of spirit woman, leading to more sadness a generation later. Again, I don't think the author quite delivered on an emotionally promising setup.

I find myself mildly disappointed this time around. None of the stories here are bad, and several have quite nice ideas, but none really blew my socks off either. Perhaps that's too much to ask -- quiet competence is, after all, a virtue of its own. But sometimes I'd like a little more.

Copyright © 2008 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

SearchContents PageSite MapContact UsCopyright

If you find any errors, typos or anything else worth mentioning, please send it to
Copyright © 1996-2014 SF Site All Rights Reserved Worldwide