zine, [zeen] noun. 1. abbr. of fanzine; 2. any amateurly-published periodical. Oxford Reference


Monday, June 30, 2008

Review: Aurealis 40


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via HorrorScope by Mark Smith-Briggs on 6/28/08

Aurealis is a highly regarded, long-running magazine publication of Australian fantasy, horror and science fiction. It is edited by Stuart Mayne and produced by Chimaera Publications with the assistance of the Australia Council for the Arts. Issue #40 includes fiction from Paul Haines, Lee Battersby, Pamela Freeman, Stephen Dedman, Nathan Burrage, Adam Browne and Karen Simpson Nikakis.

Aurealis backs up its long-awaited return from hiatus earlier this year with another excellent effort that shows why this has long been regarded as a major coup in Australian writer's caps. Issue #40 delivers an all-star line up of speculative fiction from seven of the country's brightest stars with an assortment of tales that unsettle, delight and evoke; but never fail to entertain.

Not every story is going to win an award, and as with any non-themed publication that mixes genres, certain stories will appeal to some more than others. But if examine what each story is trying to achieve, then you'll have no doubt all of them earn their stripes.

The issue kicks off with a dark twist on the Peter Pan story with Lee Battersby's Never Grow Old. Within just a few short pages Battersby manages to draw us into an unsettling realities behind a girl's decision to stay young and the consequences that come with such a decision. Battersby doesn't give us all of the answers, allowing the mood to linger long after the final sentence.

Likewise Stephen Dedman's Adaptation blurs the lines between reality and fiction with an astonishing character piece about a joy ride that goes horribly wrong. With realistic characters and a beautiful flowing narrative, he transports the reader into the world with ease and keeps you there until the final, shocking revelation.

Paul Haines' psychedelic horror The Festival of Colours is another brilliant merging of reality and myth. This disturbingly surreal Indian version of the Wicker Man transports the reader into a world where sex, violence and murder are just part of a bigger trans-dimensional existence. As always you are left in awe at the author's understanding of other cultures and his ability to relate them to a western viewpoint while pushing the boundaries of horror fiction.

Other fiction highlights include Nathan Burrage's cross cultural ghost story Spirals in the Sky, and Pamela Freeman's original twist on the dragon genre Sacrifice.

Of the issue only Karen Simpson Nikakis' The Gift and Adam Browne's The Final Writings of Baron Sir Heinrich Proteus von Zuse, Botanist failed to impress, but it was more of a dislike to the genre's in which they were written than due to any fault in the story. Browne presents an odd-ball historical recounting of a Baron's scientific discover through a collection of rediscovered diary entries and recounts, while Nikakis presents a dense, traditional fantasy tale with a complex narrative style.

Aurealis #40 also includes non-fiction articles on extreme science and science fiction and fantasy book reviews. It is available as part of a subscription or as a single issue for $12.50.


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