- Editorial – Stephen Higgins
- Groundswell – Robert Hood
- The Crack in the Pavement – Keith Walters
- Playing Shadows – Jai S Russell
- Mind-Pro – Michele Winter
- Acts of Faith – James Milton
- Wintering Over – Tim Jones
- The Boy Who Believed in Dragons – Denis Knight
- The Crows – Bart Meehan
- The Buyer – Leanne Frahm
- Book Review: Terry Dowling's Wormwood – Sean McMullen
- The Science Fiction Hall of Fame: Bamber Fortescue
- Cover illustration – Shaun Tan
I could start this editorial by saying that once again we have an excellent selection of stories… but I'm not going to because a) the fact is self evident, and b) it sounds a bit trite. They are very good though (told you it sounded trite).
We've also included another book review. As most of you know, we don't publish many book reviews, and when we do, it is only if the book is something special. In this case it is a review of Terry Dowling's Wormwood, in my opinion one of the best collections produced in Australia. I do not want to pre-empt Sean McMullen's review, but Terry is a fine writer and Wormwood contains some of his best work bone-hard images of a transformed Outback blend into claustrophobic, medieval interiors with startling ease. The collection also features one of sf's more memorable characters in Aspen Dirk, a figure that cries out for a novel length work. However…read the review, then buy the book.
The response to our first readers' poll has been interesting and encouraging. Of the thirty-five eligible stories, twenty-eight received votes and fourteen received first preferences. This must be a reflection of the overall quality of our stories and an indication that we are catering to a wide variety of tastes. There was very little difference between the top three stories and at least a dozen others. The overall winner was George Turner's "I Still Call Australia Home", second was Greg Egan's "The Moat" and third was Simon Brown's "The Final Machine". Other stories to poll particularly well were: David Tansey's "And They Shall Wander All Their Days", Michael Pryor's "Talent", Sean McMullen's "The Dominant Style", Stephen Dedman's "But Smile No More", Peter Trueman's "The Hunt" and Dirk Strasser's "The Final Birthplace".
We hope you enjoy this issue of Aurealis. I suggest you get a drink of whatever relaxes you, get comfortable, and leave reality for a while. It will still be there when you get back… although it might look a bit different!
Groundswell – Robert Hood
…Somewhere deep inside himself, he knew they were in grave danger. Not from the wind, or the falling temperature, not from Patrick McGaw or someone like him, not from the desert or technical failure; but from something older, wiser, more elemental than any of these things. He had no reason to think this, could not have rationalised it he simply understood it to be true, as though a spirit were breathing ancient secrets in his ear…
The Crack in the Pavement – Keith Walters
…At first glance, a Horpst looked like nothing so much as a giant slater. They had the same light colouring and a similarly segmented body.
There the resemblance ended. Although arthropod-like in appearance, internally they were nothing like arthropod. Each of a Horpst's twenty-one body segments contained a complete set of vital organs and a part of its brain. The organs themselves were surprisingly vertebrate-like in function and structure, a pattern Dr Martin had found common throughout the galaxy…
Playing Shadows – Jai S Russell
…One afternoon, some shapes crept out upon the stone from the dark worlds of nightmare. Misshapen, crawly things that sent the twins in a squealing scatter of fright into the sunny wells of the familiar woods…
Mind-Pro – Michele Winter
…He closed his eyes, she noted, and relaxed and opened his mind easily. Damn bastard was a class-one telepath himself and didn't even realise it! This could be tricky, came her belated thought just as their minds contacted fully.
The telepathic contact hit Kaasa and Tomaz simultaneously like riding the crest of a wave and being thrown against a white, silent sheet of ecstasy a moment later. Shocked, Kaasa struggled to regain some control, but the effort only caused pain, the sort of mind-burning pain that only exists in the worst imaginings. She had to let things ride … or risk killing them both…
Acts of Faith – James Milton
There were seven of us in the carriage, and the road is long between Nasil and Rapin. To pass the time as our hot, smelly conveyance danced down the heat-shimmered road in the funnel of dust left behind by the women's carriage, I subjected my brothers in suffering to the minute scrutiny that is the habit of my profession.
All were men, of course, all wrapped from ankle to neck in quite proper bodywraps that would seem almost heretical by today's stricter doctrine.
On my left sat the reason for my own presence: a bald merchant so fat that he filled the space of two, who wore a grey bodywrap which clung to his round body like a coarse fungus. His pale hands lay entwined in his lap, reminding me of copulating fish, and in his worry-knotted face amphibian's eyes bulged with the red of kla addiction…
Wintering Over – Tim Jones
He was not a strong man. The others knew that and had not been surprised when he left. Perhaps there had been relief on their faces. He said his farewells and did not look back.
Having no idea where he was going, he did not know how far he had travelled, or whether he had moved in a straight line. For all he knew, he was walking straight back to the tent. He could pop in for a visit, a cup of tea and a chat…
The Boy who Believed in Dragons – Denis Knight
…"I want to believe in dragons!" said Timothy. "I will find my own dragon!"
So Timothy quit his job and sold his house and went to look for his dragon…
The Crows – Bart Meehan
…We have known each other for years, Tommy and I. We were both born in the same nursery and attended the same classes. For a time we slept side by side in the row of beds that divided our dormitory. It was there, in the darkness after lights out, that we became friends. He initiated it. One night, I heard him whispering:
"Hello? Hello? Do you want to know a secret?"…
The Buyer – Leanne Frahm
…As she approaches, the figure lightens, solidifies against its curtained background; and she is surprised, but happy, to see that her first impression had been, intuitively, pretty close to the mark. He is old, yes; the wrinkles aren't so much kindly as etched, the eyes rheumy instead of piercing, but he looks benign and ordinary. She relaxes as she reaches the counter and sets her purse on it.
"I believe you buy…" she begins, then pauses, suddenly aware that the overhead light is misplaced. It seems to be focused on her, rather than on the counter. When she looks ahead, everything, even H. Lemmin's wrinkled face, takes on an ashy fuzziness. She frowns and blinks. "…certain items," she finishes…