Am I the only one who feels like we’re all inside a science fiction story? An alien invasion by an invisible enemy that strives for existence at our expense? An adversary we don’t understand that is suddenly everywhere at once. An exponential force dominating our world. Who would have thought, outside our fictional speculations, that our way of life was really so fragile? How could our societies be turned upside down so easily? Our natural inclinations so rapidly forced into hibernation?
Of course, it’s not actually like a science fiction story, is it? Not when it really comes down to it. Isolation is too mundane, too mind-numbingly monotonous. The days run together. As we wait for the COVID-19 curve to flatten, it’s our own biological rhythms that are flatlining. If we were in a story, we would have already met our hero, the one who is going to save the world. In real life we don’t know who will find the vaccine. In fact, we don’t even know if one is possible. A vaccine for the common cold has, after all, proved to be elusive. So, what do we do while the world’s best scientists grapple with the problem?
We wait. We self-isolate. We engage in social distancing. We protect the elderly and the vulnerable. And we wait. Waiting isn’t a story. It’s passive. Its heroes are unsung. It has no narrative drive. No palpable antagonist. No climax. No denouement.
So, what does a magazine like Aurealis do in these times? We continue to send out true stories. You know, the fictional kind. The ones that you can experience in every way, the highest and lowest of emotional curves, but then walk away from and head through a portal into yet another story. One of my favourite quotes is by George R R Martin: ‘A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies… The man who never reads lives only one.’
Here are some more lives for you.
All the best from the cloud.
From Last LightAnya Ow
On her birthday, Laura killed herself eight times. It was a good omen, she told Pinn later. Eight was a lucky number.
From Bid Time ReturnStephen Dedman
The Greyhound groaned and shuddered as it pulled up outside the roadhouse, and the driver turned his head to look at Rob. ‘You sure you want to get out here?’
From Pineapples are Not the Only BromeliadR B Kelly
It’s a Moment, no doubt about that. But life is made up of moments, an endless parade of freeze-frames collapsing into each other like dominoes, and sometimes you can only see the big ones when they’re already behind you.
From CONQUIST Part 4: By the Throne of the KingDirk Strasser
Perhaps nobility isn’t a dawn but is, in truth, a flame which burns brightly, shedding heat and light on those in its orbit. Like any flame, it can be quickly extinguished by a gust of ill wind, vanishing as if it never existed and bestowing only darkness on all those that once flourished in its radiance.
And as with any flame in a storm, once it is extinguished, it is impossible to rekindle.
Cristóbal put his quill down and looked up from his diary at the candle. The last words he had written resounded in his head. He reached out and put his finger into the flame, holding it there and watching the light flicker around his skin.
From True Gothic: The Case of the Demon BushrangerGillian Polack
Once upon a time, a young man attracted the description of ‘the demon bushranger’. His name was Michael Howe.
How his life links to speculative fiction will be slow to explain, but is important.
From How to Create Advanced Humans (and Aliens) 101B P Marshall
Premise #1: The most complex object in the known universe is between your ears, reading this.
Premise #2: Humans are about to collectively destroy their own planet, perhaps even their own species.
Premise #3: Only species that evolve beyond collective suicide will be regarded as ‘advanced’.
Premise #4: Only advanced species will travel from their home planet to engage with other species.
Question: How does a mere sci-fi writer compete with evolution to design an advanced species that won’t inevitably destroy its home planet?
From Science Fiction, Politics and the Evolving Nature of RemakesLachlan Walter
Though it might seem an ungracious thing to say, there’s a problem with being a science fiction fan nowadays: there are too many new books to read, and too many new shows and films to watch.
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 email@example.com 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!