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Aurealis #68

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More of the best speculative fiction from Aurealis. This issue contains fiction, reviews and general information that provides a wealth of entertainment. If you love speculative fiction (and even if you don’t) you should get this.

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From the Cloud—Stephen Higgins

Icarus—Tara Calaby

Avoiding Gagarin—David Stevens

So you want to be a fantasy writer—Stephen Higgins

Interview with Raymond E Feist—Dan Allan

Reviews

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Credits

From the Cloud

Stephen Higgins

Isn’t it amazing how good writing just persists? I just had a look at the first volume of the collected stories of Brian Aldiss. I can remember reading his short stories when I was a teenager, and they had that WOW, OMG factor in a big way. Have they dated? No. They are well written and contain good ideas, and for the most part, this provides an extended use by date. Well maybe some have dated, but Speculative Fiction readers have this in built facility to not only suspend disbelief (ok I know dragons don’t exist but for the sake of this story I will allow that they do), but to also suspend the passage of time, the development of technology and the advancement of various rights. You can accept computers the size of large rooms. You can accept corny electronic newspapers… Oh, wait a minute… can we accept the sexist portrayal of women? Have you looked at some of the covers from the 60s? Okay, maybe you aren’t into soft porn… I just saw the cover of an old SF favourite of mine. It had a well-endowed woman with some sort of armament fitted to her bra. I mean, you wouldn’t get a bloke with a cannon in his boxers would you? No, it has to be a scantily clad woman. The really shocking aspect to all of this is that we are still dealing with this sort of controversy today. There was a recent major debate about a cover used in the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America newsletter. It was all over the internet; look it up.

And before you write in, yes we have had a couple of scantily clad females on the cover of Aurealis at times as well. Mind you, we have also had a few scantily clad blokes too. Are we guilty of sexism? Well, I don’t think so. I think we were guilty of a dearth of cover art at times, way back in the dim and distant past, but I think we have been scrupulously aware of how people might react to certain images.

Anyway, where was I? Oh yes, old SF. These stories from the 50s are fantastic. They are evocative of an age gone by, but the writing is so good. The ideas are so good. And that’s all you really need, isn’t it? Good ideas… good writing. Then it all comes together. The really great writing, speculative fiction or not, has this combination of good ideas presented well. These stories have depth. They have layers of meaning. It is the one constant that lays a golden seam through all of fantasy, science fiction, horror and whatever sub-genres you want to discuss. The odd thing is, that’s such a bloody obvious statement… I am basically saying that good writing is good writing. (Here is the link back to my opening comments.) I am absolutely convinced that we here at Aurealis, as well as a few other places, are publishing the cream of speculative fiction today. This is good stuff! The stories we are discovering are fantastic. Brian Aldiss would be proud of the ideas and of the writing. Are these stories different to the SF of the past? No. When we read the stories to decide what will be in each issue of Aurealis, we are just reading SF stories. Are they well written? By the time they get to us they have been through a barrage of readers. Do they have good ideas? These readers have been reading SF for ages. Do they have female characters packing armament in their underwear? If they do it had better be for a reason. And well done. And maybe there should be a bloke with a cannon… oh I will leave it there.

 

The stories that follow have been through an exhaustive editorial process. Like the stories from SF’s golden Age, they have been approved by the peers of the writers. One of the overriding reasons we publish a given story is, we like it. It is as simple as that. We read SF for fun. We hope you find the stories in this issue fun, or complex, or thoughtful, or challenging, or informative, or educational, or amusing, or, well… anything that good fiction should be. That is all it is—good fiction.

The first shipment of wings sold out within two hours of Alex's arrival at the shop. Morgan flipped the sign on the door to CLOSED at five minutes to eleven, settled down in his office to add and re-add the day's receipts, and nursed a mug of black coffee while smiling like the rich man he was about to become. The atmosphere in the shop's small workroom was less relaxed, however. A ceiling-high wall of boxes was an ever-present reminder of the hours of unpaid overtime that would be expected of Alex in the coming weeks.