Aurealis #165


Aurealis #165 provides another serve of fantastic new fiction, interesting non fiction and of course, our usual roundup of reviews. Plus our great artwork!

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From the Cloud
Stephen Higgins

Many years ago the science fiction genre was broken up into a few main sub-genres. We had Time Travel, Aliens (a sort of catch all category), Disaster, Bug-eyed Monsters and Space Travel. There has been a constant fracturing of the genre to the point where it is almost impossible to cater for all of the sub-genres in a single magazine. Soon, there might be magazines dedicated to just one or two of these sub-genres. This process continues apace and we now have ‘Cosy’ science fiction. You know a sub-genre has really arrived when an example gets onto the Hugo Award shortlist. A lot of people pour scorn upon each new sub-genre as it seemingly springs into existence in an instant. They say it’s derivative, or too ‘light’ and not worthy of serious consideration. I’m guilty of this myself, but I’m aware that sub-genres only exist if there is a readership for them. I initially was dismissive of ‘Cosy’ SF until I realised that I had already read and enjoyed some ‘Cosy’ novels. Sometimes I’ll re-read a novel just to get that ‘cosy’ familiarity from a previously loved novel. The two texts I’ve re-read the most would be The Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkein and The Anubis Gates by Tim Powers. Neither of these are what you would call ‘Cosy’ reading. But I do derive pleasure from my familiarity with these two texts. I enjoy the anticipation of events coming and there is no diminishing of the pleasure of reading in having that knowledge of what is to come. I’ve also read the Aubrey/Maturin books by Patrick O’Brien and I get a kick just out of the use of language in those books. I often read and re-read sentences and paragraphs by O’Brien simply because the writing is so good.
Anyway, I don’t think Cosy fantasy is my cup to tea, nor is Cosy science fiction, for that matter, but I’m not a huge fan of all of the other sub-genres either.
‘I don’t know much about art, but I know what I don’t like.’

All the best from the cloud!

Stephen Higgins

From The Last Day by Rodney Smith

About Rodney Smith

Rodney J Smith is a speculative fiction writer from Melbourne. His stories have appeared in Aliterate, Midnight Echo, Horror Library, and elsewhere.

A pair of angels scuttled down the Spine, limbs clicking and whirring, their eyes sweeping fluorescent light over pale faces. Brothers and sisters slowed at their stations as the angels passed but did not stop, for the Glorious Work must never cease.
Jelana held her breath as the angels drew near, but they hadn’t come for her; they detached at the next platform down, landing with a thud beside Tolgin, the eldest brother there.
One of the angels took Tolgin’s thin arm in its claws, tested his elbow and shoulder; the other pawed at his cheeks and mouth. The Glorious Work thrummed on around them, but all eyes remained fixed on the three. At last, the angels pointed across the chasm. Tolgin had been called.

From Tipping Points by Kai Holmwood

About Kai Holmwood

Kai Holmwood, a fifth-generation Californian and third-generation UC Berkeley graduate, has been a freelance nonfiction writer for over a decade. She recently completed a Master of Writing degree at the University of Canterbury while living in Christchurch, Aotearoa New Zealand with her husband and their squeaky two-toothed former street cat, Halloumi.

All these years later, it still wasn’t clear what had caused the Westport Disaster. The alerts for the two cities had ‘mistakenly been switched’, the official report said, its passive phrasing indicative of the fact that no-one had been able to figure out how or why.
Tahni knew her dad had been correct—there was no way switching the gameboard locations could have also switched the disaster alert settings—but some part of her had never been able to stop asking, ‘what if?’ Her long days of manual labour, by choice rather than necessity given the fleet of drones and machines there to work with her, felt like atonement. She spent day after day dragging heavy stones from the earth to make room for new plants and cutting back overgrown thickets, piling their thorny branches into spiky heaps to decompose and nourish new life. Calluses formed on her hands, and brambles scratched beads of blood from her arms, and yet the ‘what if?’ kept whispering in her mind.

From Dreams in Ink by Erin L. Swann

About Erin L. Swann

Erin L Swann is a lifelong lover of fantasy and space adventures living in Central Maryland, USA. She’s an avid home cook and works as an art teacher, feeding the imaginations of others while fuelling her own creativity. Her work appears in numerous publications including Factor Four Magazine, The Colored Lens and She is currently querying her debut science fantasy novel Awakener.

Brecka didn’t consider herself a witch. She was an artist; her work just had… side effects. Still, the patrons she attracted rarely called her anything else.
Perhaps that was why she took an instant liking to this particular client.
‘Are you the artist who can paint dreams into reality?’
What a beautiful phrase. Maybe she should reprint her ad in the local paper.
‘I am,’ Brecka said.
The man fidgeting with his coat at her door couldn’t have been more than a few years her senior, but the wisps of remaining hair on his scalp were prematurely grey. Blue veins branched under translucent skin, drab clothes far too large draped over his form. He reminded Brecka of those weird, lab-grown clones on TV dramas. The ones that never saw daylight.
Life had worn this man thin in more ways than one. And magic already touched him. She could see the fractal patterns glistening around him in a halo, though few others would recognise it. That magic wasn’t like her craft; it encased him in an incandescent cage, locking him in. But he was unaware of it.