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Aurealis #67

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More of the world’s best new speculative fiction. The new year’s first edition of Aurealis has a lot of bases covered with wildly different stories by Jennie Rix and Tsana Dolichva, plus an interview with actor Pierre Perrier about French Director Fabrice Gobert’s new zombie/ghost series, The Returned, considered to be one of the most gripping television dramas of recent years. Do not miss this.

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From the Cloud — Stephen Higgins

Transit of Hadley — Tsana Dolichva

Flood Samaritan Law — Jennie A Rix

Interview with Pierre Perrier — Dan Allan

Reviews

Editorial

Happy New Year! It’s nice to get back into the swing of things with a new issue and a whole year’s worth of reading ahead of us. If you’re new to Aurealis, we welcome you and hope you enjoy the ride. If you’ve been with us for a while, we hope you’re still enjoying the new format of the magazine. This is probably going to sound weird coming from someone who helps publish a digital magazine, but I’ve only really recently started reading e-books and mags. I don’t know why it’s taken me so long. I’ve had an iPad for two years, yet I’ve also have been supplying e-books for my mother-in-law’s Kindle for quite some time. For some reason, I was hesitant to read books in any other than the traditional manner. 

The actual change came over a period of time. For many years now my study has been lined with books. They looked great, had a nice feel, and the room had a weight of literature to it. The bookshelves supporting all those books had been made by a variety of people and added to over the years. The books on the shelves were in fact two deep. When other book lovers visited me, they were impressed by all of the books that were visible, and then stunned when I showed them that there were in fact many more books in the room than was immediately apparent. 

One day as I was pulling books out and scanning the shelves in search of a particular title, I realised that many of the books I had I would never read again. In fact many of the books I owned I hadn’t read at all. I went through a phase of acquiring second-hand library books very cheaply; I just used to grab anything and shove it in a bag. All of these Gollancz classics with their distinctive yellow jackets and lurid paperbacks were never likely to be opened. Anyway, I decluttered or debooked or whatever the term might be. 

I kept the books that I loved and knew would read again. I kept all of the Philip K Dick books simply because there were so many of them and they looked impressive. I kept the books received as special gifts or that had some other significance such as a memorable place of purchase. I kept some books that have been with me since my youth and also kept all of my hard copies of Aurealis. We still have a select few of these for sale. (Sorry, but I had to get that in as they are taking up room in my otherwise clean and uncluttered study.) In all, I got rid of nine boxes of books. Those large removalist boxes. And they were incredibly heavy! 

So when I was looking at my iPad with its very own bookshops on it, I started to appreciate the idea of the virtual library (as depicted a little clumsily) on the iBooks opening page. The first book I read was Hide Me Among the Graves by Tim Powers. It was such a page turner that I soon forgot that it didn’t feel like a book or smell like a book. I’ve found that I now read The Age online rather than get the hard copy newspaper.

While I love my books, I’ve realised I love reading more. I’m beginning to acquire a decent sized library that doesn’t take up room. My digital collection of Aurealis will soon be bigger numerically than my hard copy collection. Overall, the actual number of stories we have published is impressive, but what is more impressive is the quality. I love having my Aurealis… but I love reading it more. 

And I’m not alone in feeling way. I was just informed that seven of the stories published in Aurealis in 2013 made it into the Tangent Online recommended reading list for the year. Congratulations to the authors involved! You can view the list at www.tangentonline.com.

Transit of Hadley by Tsana Dolichva

Xia looked up from her microscope at the sound of the rain thudding on the roof of her lab. Again. Stupid planet, didn’t it know the pontoon didn’t require rain?

Gritting her teeth, she lowered her eye back to the lens but along with her train of thought, she’d lost track of where she was up to. Sighing, she pushed her chair away from the bench—too hard in her frustration—and ended up on the far side of the lab, scrambling for a handhold. The chair ran into another bench, jarring a rack of test tubes onto the floor. Two of them smashed. So much for familiarising herself with the new samples before class tomorrow.

Damn the rain. She missed the Pursuit. And sensible gravity. And the controlled dry atmosphere onboard. After almost an Earth year working on Posidonius, with its rain, endless ocean, and the floating platforms they were forced to live on, Xia still just wanted to go home. Even though home could never be how she remembered it.

 

Flood Samaritan by Jennie Rix

Excerpt from the Flood Samaritan Act, Department of Family Affairs, Queensland Government, 2020:

It is the obligation of any person who retrieved, rescued or otherwise adopted an unrelated child during the course of the Great Flood to present themselves and said child (or children) to the registrar of Flood Samaritans and to sign the Declaration of Flood Samaritanism. The parental competency of the Flood Samaritan will then be assessed and, if possible, the child returned to its biological parent(s).

Oil is scarce, but Pete uses the motor instead of the oar when they leave the courts. He knows Nate and Susan want to get home quickly, and the wordlessness of propellers shredding water is better than the wordlessness of legal jargon replaying in his head like an old commercial he can’t seem to forget. It was a commercial about spring water, and it was legal jargon about Susan.