Welcome to Aurealis for 2021.
The temptation at this time is to ruminate on what a dreadful year 2020 was and express the hope that 2021 will be much better. There seems to be a lot of reasons to feel that 2021 will indeed be an improvement on the previous year, what with vaccines for Covid-19 being rushed out and major changes on the world political stage, but as I write many places in the world are still in lockdown and being subjected to very substantial challenges.
On a lighter note, I am pleased to inform our readers that I have had the opportunity to look over much of the material that we will be presenting to the world in Aurealis over the next few months and I can confidently say that there is a lot to look forward to in the near future. And I should point out that the quality of the stories is matched by the quality of the artwork that will be accompanying them.
We don’t really make enough of a fuss about the art that graces our pages. Oh, we point out that it is good, and that we are pleased to provide a platform for so many artists to showcase their work, but when you actually go back and look at just the images, rather than just glancing at them as you read the story, you get an idea of the talent in our pool of artists. I have always liked much of the art that accompanies science fiction. I love a good spaceship as much as the next person. Even have a CD by Andy Partridge (XTC) that he recorded as a soundtrack to the science fiction artwork of Richard M Powers (It is called ‘Powers’ and is very hard to get). I often joke with my fellow editors that, of the three of us, I have the best taste when it comes to choosing cover art. I say ‘joke’ but I really mean it. I chose the cover art for this issue. In simpler times you would have just flipped a few pages back to have a look at it, but by all means swipe that screen to look at it now. I can wait.
Good isn’t it?
Of course, back in the days when Aurealis was a print magazine, the cover had to attract a person from some distance and ‘sell’ the contents of the magazine. We probably don’t sell too many issues just based on the cover art, but if we had to, I am sure this issue’s cover would do well. And that’s not even mentioning the interior art. We have discovered many fine artists and featured their art as accompaniment to the stories. We make it a point to include the websites of our artists so that our readers can delve a bit more deeply into their work. If you like the look of a particular image in Aurealis, have a look at more of the artist’s work. Quite often they have art for sale, and often at very reasonable rates.
Enjoy the fiction, admire the art and think about the articles.
Have a good read.
All the best from the cloud!
From For Sale Michael Gardner
I followed, but found my eyes drawn to the next display. It housed dead insects pinned to boards. None of them looked right. What I first took to be a large moth, on closer inspection, had too many legs. There was a scorpion with two tails. And then a number of large ants riddled with bumps, and tumours. I shuddered, moved on.
The next case contained bones–small skeletons of birds and animal skulls, along with a variety of miscellaneous fragments, some tiny, some large, all old and yellowed. There was something wrong with them. As I stared, they played tricks with my eyes, seemed to vibrate under my gaze, which was a crazy thought I instantly tried to dismiss, but couldn’t quite get rid of. They were shivering, I thought. Like they were cold. I felt that cold in my guts. It made me feel sick.
“See anything you like?” Sticks said, watching me carefully.
I cleared my throat.
“What are they?”
He grinned around his smoke, the red light making him look deranged.
“My personal collection,” he said. “They’re each very special. See this one?” he said moving closer and pointing at a small fragment. “That came from a woman. She was about forty, and she’d been beaten as a kid. She had so much hate for her father. So much hate.”
From PistrisBethany Doherty
I dreamt of the beach. The early morning tug of the water against the cold, damp sand. The whippets of wind urging me closer. This time, instead of clams, we found a mermaid. She’d likely been washed up at high-tide, high-moon, which wasn’t that high in the bay. I’d like to say we heard her pretty call, and helped her back into the water, where she dashed back under the surface to her own home.
But she was dead.
From The Redemption of Declan CallahanSteve DuBois
The video board displays our career highlights. Mine go on longer than most. And when it’s time to pay me tribute, it’s Callahan, bloody Callahan, who steps to the mic. ‘Nicky was special,’ he says. ‘And it wasn’t just what you could see about him—the speed, the skill on the ball, the relentless work rate—that made him great. It was in his soul. The press and the commentators called him “The Little Devil”—but he was our angel.’ He swallows and looks up, all glimmer-eyed. In the crowd, women gasp—this beautiful, heartbroken boy has lost his mentor and his best friend; please, won’t somebody give him a cuddle? I’d puke my guts out if I still had them.
What if an army of Spanish conquistadors, the most brutally effective conquerors in history, found their way into a truly new world beyond the New World of the Americas? Conquist tells the story of Captain Cristóbal de Varga whose drive for glory and power leads him to a place from which he can’t escape and a people he can’t conquer. Caught in a war between two eternal enemies that seem at first to be angels and demons, he must choose sides. When he loses everything he holds dear – his command, his Incan princess, his honor, his God – he needs to find a path to redemption by conquering his obsessions.
This time they’ve found a New World that refuses to be conquered.
The past is a foreign country, all right, but it’s chock full of great SF&F titles to get us through Corona Days. Here are the latest offerings from the Aurealis Editors, complete with our pithy teasers.
Overlooked: Darkfall by Isobelle Carmody (1997). Immersive, transfixing, interwoven.
Underrated: The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch by Philip K. Dick (1965). Unsettling, bleak, hallucinatory.
Forgotten: Out of the Silence by Erle Cox (1925). Ground-breaking, best-selling, Australian.
What better time to read? And, as such, Aurealis is continuing our deep dive into the SF/Fantasy of the past, those books that have been sitting at the back of bookshelves for ages awaiting a re-read. Why not these give a try?
Overlooked: The Prestige by Christopher Priest, 1995 . Imaginative, intelligent, gripping .
Underrated: Star Gate by Andre Norton, 1958. Engaging, robust, brisk.
Forgotten: The Devil’s Elixirs by E T A Hoffmann, 1815 in German, 2009 Oneworld Classics English translation. Macabre, disorienting, labyrinthine.