This is a review of Aurealis #87, edited by Dirk Strasser
It has been over 25 years since the journal Aurealis was established. Its aim: to create a market for Australia’s healthy speculative fiction-reading population, and a friendly place to submit for those writers with the need to delve into the unreal, the fantastical and the theoretical.
In the intervening time, Aurealis journal has become one of the mainstays of the Australian literary scene. The monthly journal helps to publish emerging writers of speculative fiction across Australia, and the annual Aurealis Awards – instituted by Chimaera Publications, the publisher of Aurealis – has helped to promote internationally best-selling Australian authors such as Sara Douglass, Kate Forsyth, Margo Lanagan, Sonya Hartnett, Victor Kelleher, Jennifer Fallon, Kerry Greenwood, Garth Nix, John Birmingham (yes, really, he has a science fiction series), Trudy Canavan, Isobel Carmody, Shaun Tan, Greg Egan, John Marsden and Carole Wilkinson.
The structure of Aurealis journal is, despite its eBook format, grounded in the traditional literary style, with three main feature stories, two interviews, and a series of reviews for upcoming books.
The latest issue of the journal, Aurealis #87, is the first issue that has been open to submissions from the international writing community. It has warmed the cockles of my heart then, to find that most pieces in the publication are from Australian-based writers, the one exception being Sean Monaghan, a New Zealander.
The structure of Aurealis journal is, despite its eBook format, grounded in the traditional literary format, with three main feature stories, two interviews, and a series of reviews for upcoming books.
My personal favourite was Sean Monaghan’s ‘The Root Bridges of Haemae’, a soft science fiction story that deals with an age-old sociological question: how to study an element of society without altering its nature.
Aurealis #87 features stories from across the wide and complex arena that is speculative fiction. Deborah Sheldon’s ‘Across the White Desert’ horror/sci fi short story grips the reader’s primitive survival instinct (including more than a few nods towards Jack London’s Call of the Wild) and pulls them along on a life-or-death journey across the Australian Alps. Ian Bell’s ‘Elven Blades’ is similarly action-packed, but places the reader in an urban fantasy setting where elves, magic and technology exist side-by-side. My personal favourite was Sean Monaghan’s ‘The Root Bridges of Haemae’, a soft science fiction story that deals with an age-old sociological question: how to study an element of society without altering its nature.
The journal also features reviews for new release novels, both international and Australian – as an interesting sidenote, there is a list of upcoming fantasy and science fiction books available for readers on the Aurealis website. There is also an interview with Australian fantasy luminary Trudy Canavan about her writing strategies – an interesting read for new and emerging writers looking to venture into the fantasy genre.
All-in-all, Aurealis #87 was a solid issue in the tradition of the journal and helped to cement my belief that Australian science fiction and fantasy authors are definitely the best in the biz.
The journal has been in eBook format for the past five years, you can pick it up from Smashwords for $2.99, which is a right steal for a few hour’s enjoyment
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Raphaelle Race is Deputy Editor at Writers Bloc. She is based in Melbourne and works as a freelance journalist and editor. Her writing can be seen in Overland, Junkee, The Big Issue, Kill Your Darlings, Phantasmagoria and Feminartsy.