Aurealis #130 features Anya Ow’s gritty space marines’ adventure ‘Last Light’, Stephen Dedman’s post-apocalyptic ‘Bid Time Return’, and R B Kelly’s exploration of identity in ‘Pineapples are Not the Only Bromeliad’. Find out about the real-life ‘Demon Bushranger’ and ‘How to Create Advanced Humans and Aliens’. Lachlan Walter discusses ‘Science Fiction, Politics and the Evolving Nature of Remakes’. Plus Dirk Strasser’s CONQUIST Part 4 ‘By the Throne of the King’ and 20 SF book reviews!
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- From the Cloud — Dirk Strasser
- Last Light — Anya Ow
- Bid Time Return — Stephen Dedman
- Pineapples are Not the Only Bromeliad — R B Kelly
- CONQUIST Part 4: By the Throne of the King — Dirk Strasser
- True Gothic: The Case of the Demon Bushranger — Gillian Polack
- How to Create Advanced Humans (and Aliens) 101 — B P Marshall
- Science Fiction, Politics and the Evolving Nature of Remakes — Lachlan Walter
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 Light by Anya 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 Return by Stephen 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 Bromeliad by R 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 King by Dirk 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 Bushranger by Gillian 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) 101 by B 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 Remakes by Lachlan 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.