Aurealis #72 features the testing and touching ‘Age’ from Ashlee Jade and the tough and turbulent ‘Ballard and Ballard: A Biopunk Detective Tale of 2080 AD’ from Steven Ma. Shane M Brown offers some salient advice with ‘The Pitfalls of Self-Publishing’. With some of the most searching SF/Fantasy reviews available anywhere and top-notch artwork, Aurealis #72 is bursting with goodness.
Last month’s Aurealis editorial concentrated on what we don’t want to see in stories submitted to this publication. This month, in a fit of positivity, we want to share with you some of the things we look for, the aspects of Fantasy and SF writing that charm us and are likely to get the nod for inclusion in Aurealis, Australia’s longest-running speculative fiction magazine.
1. Good writing. By this, we mean more than a simple facility with written English. Even though this is important, it should be a given, a basic expectation of any submission. Rather, we enjoy apposite language, sentences with flexibility and rhythm, dialogue that is alive with character and intonation, complexity of construction and stark simplicity used in the right times and places.
2. Voice. This is hard to define, and has much to do with the point above. Your story should sound individual and alive through its narrative point of view.
3. Characters. Your main character should be engaging. That’s it in a nutshell. Of course, there are a million different ways to make your main character engaging. You just have to choose the right one and implement it deftly.
4. Originality. This doesn’t necessarily mean that your central premise needs to be wildly new, although this is desirable. A fresh take on a well-established concept is good. Quirky, idiosyncratic characters are also useful in upping your originality quotient.
5. Conciseness. Be economical with your story.
6. Quick movement into the heart of the story. We are a short story journal, which means you don’t have unlimited space to work with. This can be a challenge in Fantasy and SF, where world-building and background detail is important, but do your best. Don’t linger too long in the set-up. You’ll lose us.
7. Hard SF. We don’t get enough of these sort of stories.
8. Humour—but it has to be really funny.
9. Diversity. Think about your characters. Are you making unwarranted assumptions about dominant cultures? Are you overlooking possibilities?
10. The X Factor. It could be freshness, it could be the unexpected, it could be something shocking, or it could be something that makes us grin or wince or sit up straight after the first paragraph. We can’t tell you what the X Factor is, exactly, but we know it when we see it. Including it is a good thing.
Aurealis is, and always has been, committed to publishing the finest in Australian speculative fiction. With your help, we will continue to do so.
From Age by Ashlee Jade:
Fifteen stories stretch below me. Fifteen layers of concrete and glass and blackened air leading to the inevitable crunch at the bottom. He’ll call soon. I guess I should wait for that. I’d hate to be on the ground by the time he calls. It’d be unbelievably anticlimactic and a little immature. He’d want me to answer before I jumped. He’d want a chance to talk me out of it. I don’t know why he bothers. It’s not like he can’t understand, after all he’s in this boat too.
From Ballard and Ballard by Steven Ma:
Green ichor leeches into the street drain. The blood—his blood—cools on my face. The nitro-glycerine still hangs. Sirens lash the air as the rain begins to pour.
A thousand tiny orbs blink beneath my feet. Their irises form a subterranean constellation. I know I fear what happens next.
I get ahead of myself—I’ll tell it from the start.