Aurealis #48 (March 2012) – review

Issue #48 is the latest edition of the Aurealis magazine, a quick monthly read showcasing some excellent Australian speculative fiction. It’s nice to get a monthly magazine that is short enough to not give me a sense of dread and guilt when I add it to my reading list.

There were three stories in this edition. The first, The Descent of Traag by Matt Bissett-Johnson, was a graphic story which was something a bit different, although interestingly it followed very closely my reading of the Sprawl anthology which did something similar in the middle of the book. I enjoyed the artwork, which showed up nicely on my iPad.

Thirty Minutes for New Hell by Rick Kennett was a well executed story about an Earth based mission to covertly observe the Dhooj, an alien race making their first manned space mission to another world in their solar system. It was an interesting premise to the story and well executed, with a fairly standard intervene/don’t intervene scenario but a nice little twist at the end. I enjoyed this one. A minor quibble – there were points in the story where I couldn’t immediately tell who was speaking and got pulled out of the story momentarily where I tried to work it out from context. It only happened a handful of times though and only slightly detracted from an otherwise very enjoyable story.

An excellent protagonist with an interesting savant ability to read people’s expressions in such minute detail he can tell what they are thinking and to represent that in art is the solid core of Eyes of Fire in my Waking Dreams by Greg Mellor. James Glazebrook is a very interesting character and his ability allows Mr Mellor to describe the world around him in a very interesting way. I loved the concept of a speech interpreting device that sounded like Bruce Wayne. The ending was a little disturbing and made me concerned for Glazebrook’s ongoing mental health. A good read.

As always Carissa’s Weblog providing a round up of some of the more interesting articles around on the web in the area of Australian speculative fiction. This month’s edition also contained a very interesting piece by Crisetta MacLeod reviewing In Other Worlds by Margaret Atwood. I’m going to have to read this book, I’ve heard such a wide range of disparate feedback on it. Episode 71 of the Coode St podcast discussed the book at length with none other than Ursula le Guin herself, whose work is apparently explored in detail in the book. Their conclusion was that the book was flawed in many ways, with only a fairly narrow range of the field explored. They also contend that the book is somewhat negative about the genre. Other reviews, like Ms MacLeod’s, are extremely positive about the book and its take on the science fiction field. I love that the book has generated this kind of widely divergent reaction. After hearing the early negative reviews I was planning to steer clear of In Other Worlds, but this review has made me rethink that strategy – I’ve added the book to my ever growing to be read pile.

This month’s editorial focused on the decision by the Aurealis editorial team to publish in an eBook format rather than going purely online. I thought the arguments were well made and I tend to agree – making the magazine into an e-book format does make it feel more self contained and like a thing you can own. I always enjoy insight into the editing and publishing process.

The What do you Think? section of the magazine contains a link to my review of issue #47, which was cool. They are also running an online survey to get feedback on this month’s issue.

Creative Commons License
This work by Mark Webb is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Australia License.


Author: mark

A writer of speculative fiction and all round good egg. Well, mostly good. OK, sometimes good.

6 thoughts on “Aurealis #48 (March 2012) – review”

  1. Hi Mark

    I'm the author of The Descent of Traag, and probably making a first time author mistake of replying to the first review of my stuff I've ever read.I just wanted to state for the record I'd never heard of the Sprawl anthology until I read your well written review, and was mildly concerned that you perhaps thought it was somehow derivative, forgive me if I've misread your comments.I wrote this draft of Traag in June 2010, and the original draft was made about 6 months earlier, it's just taken quite a while for the wheels of the publishing machine to spit it out at your end.I'm glad you liked the artwork, many thanks for the link, I hope you enjoyed the read,

    Kind Regards


    1. Hi Matt

      Thanks for writing in and congratulations on your first publication.

      Didn't mean to imply your work was derivative. To clarify for any other readers, the graphical story in Sprawl and Matt's work in Aurealis are not similar or derivative of each other in any way. It was just that I've not often come across a graphical story in the middle of a primarily prose based publication. My comment was meant to highlight the coincidence of encountering the same phenomenon twice in a couple of days.

      Congratulations again Matt and I hope to see more of your work soon.


    1. Yes, I'm looking forward to reading it. I was going to get the Kindle edition today but it costs nearly $28 – when the hardcover version is only $15.

      That feels like a bit of a rip off to me, so I might wait for the price to come down a little! Not sure how it can be cheaper to fly a hardcover version of a book to Australia from the States than it is to send an electronic version over the ether!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.