Do you remember when ‘going viral’ was likely to be a cause for celebration? Only a few short months ago it was the ultimate measure of success in the world. It was the exponential shortcut to fame, fortune and influence. Now it feels like another world.
The recent publication of Adam Kucharski’s book The Rules of Contagion: Why Things Spread – and Why They Stop, seems to be perfectly timed to go viral. However, it doesn’t mention COVID-19, so there appears to be an element of chance in the timing (much like in viral spreads themselves).
Kucharski, an associate professor at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, points out that the mathematical principles of contagion can be applied to everything from folk stories, ideas and innovation to obesity, loneliness and yawning. It turns out that the virus is the underlying concept behind much of the phenomena around us. It explains how fish populations vary as well as how financial markets act. It illuminates knife crime and smoking rates. It even has something to say about how itches work.
It all comes down to the reproduction number R which is the average number of infections passed on by one infectious person. For something to ‘go viral’, R needs to be greater than 1. While epidemiologists’ life work is to minimise R, there are people in other fields who strive to maximise it, such as marketers striving for brand awareness, and those web denizens wanting to spread fake news.
While Aurealis hasn’t exactly ‘gone viral’ during the pandemic, we must be experiencing an R value greater than 1 because there has been a noticeable increase in our subscriptions. Welcome to all the new subscribers who have joined us from March! By the way, I’ve decided I won’t be mentioning COVID-19 again in my editorials. I think we’ve all heard enough, haven’t we?
Arun looked at his watch again. He had been sitting at his verandah for over an hour. He stroked his chest gently, wishing the pain would go away. It didn’t. The pain never went away.
From In MemoriamJ Ashley-Smith
All that is left are memories.
Like that time on the shingle beach at Aldeburgh. The ocean grey as slate, crests ruffled like white frosting. The thump of waves and rasp of small stones and, everywhere, the seashell roar like an endless breath. No horizon where the sky meets the sea, only the blur of cloud banks gathering. A tang in the air, of salt and electric tension, of the storm that will hit that afternoon.
From A Piece of the ActionDavide Mana
The place looked like any other street in any other low-rent neighborhood after the Crisis hit. Boarded up windows and graffiti on the walls, the grass growing tall and yellowish in once nicely kept lawns. A single car, parked in front of a closed garage attached to a white box house. The upper story windows had been smashed. By whom, I wondered. The car, an old station wagon the color of a bathroom closet, had four flat tires.
From CONQUIST Part 5: The Curse of HonourDirk Strasser
The duendes continued to circle like condors above the carnage long after the meagre remnants of the ñakaq army had been imprisoned and the surviving soldiers had collected conquistador bodies. As the Spaniards buried their four hundred dead, Padre Núñez performed the final rites for those men who would not survive their injuries. In the eerie after-battle stillness, Cristóbal stood over his cousin’s grave and wept. A hand fell on his shoulder. Héctor’s.
From The Life and Times of a Steampunk EnthusiastLynne Lumsden Green
I like shiny things, ask anyone in my family. First, it was science fiction, discovered as a child by watching Doctor Who (1963–) and by reading I, Robot (1950) by Isaac Asimov.
From What We Can Learn from Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett’s Good OmensClaire Fitzpatrick
Remember when books were funny? And not just funny, but genuinely so laugh-out-loud funny people looked at you like you were a lunatic when you cackled on the bus? Remember when books were clever and insightful, and so ridiculously delightful they left a lasting impression on you long after you read it?
From The Trouble with TerminatorsDaniel Thompson
Terrifying, unstoppable, insanely strong, covert, cunning and unpersuadable—there are many words with which we could describe our coming silicon servants.
New non-Australian/NZ Submission WindowApril 27, 2020
Due to a large number of submissions from outside Australia and New Zealand, the next window for non-Australian/NZ submissions to Aurealis will now be from 1 July 2021 to 31 July 2021. See Submissions.
Isabel Cabrera created and supplied this wondrous graphic. She says:
‘With the recent success of Annihilation and Ad Astra, science fiction films are proving to be as popular as ever.
And most of the great science fiction films of the past three decades were actually based on epic science fiction books, including The Martian and Blade Runner (based on the book Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep).
To help celebrate National Science Fiction Day held on January 2 each year, Global English Editing rounded up the best sci-fi novels that deserve a spot on your bookshelf.
From Dune and its intergalactic messiah, to the earth’s final survivor in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, to the iconic Frankenstein, this list features the best science fiction books from the past 200 years.
Over this time, science fiction has created some of the most profound, compelling and popular novels ever written.
The key theme connecting the best of these books is how emotional and primal humans fare in the face of the powerful scientific advances they create. So, although sci-fi delves into the unknown, the stories aren’t pure fantasy: they exist in settings in some way connected to our own human experience.’
Are you a New Zealander? Have you published or self-published a science fiction, fantasy or horror book in the last year?
Aurealis would like to consider your book for review in its all-New Zealand issue to be published at CoNZealand. Send eBooks only in both epub and mobi format to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line: Ebook for NZ special issue by 31 March 2020 at the latest.
Now that the last issue of Aurealis for 2019 has been published, here’s the Big List of all this year’s stories: The Moonstone in the Dust by Carolyn Hine The Excuses We Make For Our Children by Rebecca Fung In the Mountain Valley by Gordon Grice Of Roses and Electric Shock by Joshua Caleb Wilson Tales of the Flame by Dirk Strasser Getting Home by P.K. Torrens Renascent by Pauline Yates Leisure Culture by Maddison Stoff Drink with the Dead by Craig Blane Marked for Life by J.R. Schuyler The Moth Tapes by Joseph Ashley-Smith Ogali by Nuzo Onoh Abomination by Michelle Birkette To Hell and Back by Michael Pryor The Stranger of Morden by Mike Adamson Serine by Shane Drury Wreck Diving by Joanne Anderton Nie among the Tree People by Emma Mann The Witch who Wove Dreams by Mike Adamson Cradle by Stephen Higgins She Sells Sea-Hells by the C Door by Eric Del Carlo Dog Nebula by Subo Wijeyeratne Fracture Line by Chris Walker Timbuktu by Gerri Brightwell Club Fiends by Paul Alex Gray Tigers of Mars by Conor DiViesti Big Heart by Lynn Wohlwend Inheritance by James Rowland Data by Laurence Barratt-Manning Flesh of the Other by Eric Del Carlo
We’ve published stories from Australia, New Zealand, Japan, UK, Canada and USA and it’s been an abundance of riches. You can still get all 2019 issues by subscribing at aurealis.com.au.
And stay tuned! 2020 is going to be bigger and better than ever in the Aurealis universe!