Aurealis #160


Aurealis #160 features the stylish ‘The Palm Leaf’ by Deborah Sheldon, the poignant ‘Dreams of You’ by John Davis and the engrossing ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ by James Milton. We also have top non-fiction from Kris Ashton, David Ellrod and by Emmet O’Cuana. Our dazzling internal art comes from Leah Clementson, Chris Catlin and Andrew Saltmarsh, while our comprehensive Reviews section isn’t to be missed.

Aurealis, unbelievable value for money.


Fantasy is the home of the series. After all that worldbuilding, one volume isn’t enough, right? The vast canvas of most imagined worlds need two, three, four or more books in order to do it justice.

In many cases, this is true and there’s nothing like the deep and total immersion in an invented world with all its characters and knowing that, as a reader, you can stay under for a good, long, rewarding time.

On the other hand, sometimes we need the standalone novel, a single volume that is entire unto itself, when all is said and done at the close of that back cover. Here are some of our favourites.

Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke. Elegant, brittle, period perfect in its pitch, Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell is a gracious dream where magic, politics and ways of being intersect in a stately dance.

Stardust by Neil Gaiman. Swashbuckling, derring-do and adventures ahoy, and full of Gaiman charm, it has a melancholy side that adds to its wistfulness. It doesn’t overstay its welcome.

Perdido Street Station by China Miéville. Fantasy? Science fiction? Fever dream? Perdido Street Station is dark and allusive, rich and pointed, sardonic and memorable.

The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon. A lush and fragrant fantasy that transports readers in the best traditions of the genre.

To those of you who say that some of the single volumes we suggest above are monstrously long and could really be split into two or three books thereby invalidating our argument, we say ‘Maybe they could, maybe they could…’

All the best from the cloud!

Michael Pryor

From The Palm Leaf by Deborah Sheldon

About Deborah Sheldon

Deborah Sheldon is a multi-award-winning author, anthology editor, script editor and medical writer from Melbourne, Australia. She writes across the darker spectrum of horror, crime and noir.

Although not seriously, not really, Fay has thought about killing her husband for a long time.

From Dreams of You by John Davis

About John Davis

John Davis is a writer from south-west Victoria. His favourite genres are fantasy and science fiction, and his hobbies include watching films, playing video games with friends, learning about history, and kicking back with a nice cold beer. He’s a farm labourer and is currently studying to become an education support worker.

Last night I dreamt that we were at the beach. The day was hot and dry, the sun glaring like an angry eye in the cloudless sky, and the air carried the smell of sunscreen and saltwater peculiar to the beach. A little out to sea, the waves were swelling, and I felt worried, but your dad told me everything would be fine, and I believed him.

From You’ll Never Walk Alone by James Milton

About James Milton

James Milton lives in tropical North Queensland. Recently, he’s been neglecting science fiction and writing to focus on earning a sociology PhD from James Cook University, ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ being the first thing he did on finishing. James’s short fiction has appeared in Aurealis and a number of Doctor Who-related anthologies.


You sit on a park bench in deep readaptive fugue, neural activity minimal. The park is empty but for a few families. A jogger pounds along the river. This unit is in control, maintaining the status quo per its directives, keeping you from being noticed.

From Cockroach Horror by Kris Ashton

About Kris Ashton

Kris Ashton is an Australian writer, editor and katsaridaphobe. His fiction, essays and reviews have appeared in Aurealis, Andromeda Spaceways, Midnight Echo and numerous international publications. He tweets about writing and grammar @wordsmanship and sometimes updates his blog at

Creepshow is a prime example of getting an assistant to do something that I don’t want to do. Would never do. Can’t do. Afraid to do.

This quote comes from an early 1980s interview with horror movie make-up maestro, Tom Savini.

From What’s So Cosy About Cosy Catastrophes? by David F Ellrod Sr

About David F Ellrod Sr

David Ellrod is a science fiction, steampunk and horror author. As a lifelong aficionado of both history and fiction, he remains most interested in how the former informs the latter. He lives in Maryland with his wife, four children, and one very excitable dog. He can be reached on Twitter @davidellrod.

Many science fiction fans are familiar with the term ‘cosy catastrophe’, invented by Brian Aldiss in his 1973 survey of science fiction, Billion Year Spree. He noticed and named a previously unnamed subgenre—but launched a decades-long argument about what its definition should be.

From Paying to Pay: The Monetisation of Dungeons & Dragons by Emmet O’Cuana

About Emmet O’Cuana

Emmet O’Cuana is a critic and comic book writer. He co-hosts Hopscotch Friday with Stevie O’Cuana, is a confirmed cat daddy and, thanks to COVID-19, recently discovered Dungeons and Dragons. He is the writer of Faraway, and The Beating of Wings with Jeferson Sadzinski. He is currently working on a graphic novel set in 80s Sydney with artist Lynore Avery titled 'The Shadow of Night'.

In 2024, the fantasy roleplaying adventure game Dungeons & Dragons will turn 50.