Aurealis #44 – review

I subscribed to the magazine in mid-2011 and they recently sent out a copy of issue #44. This edition was published in 2010 and afterwards the magazine went into an extended hiatus (I believe the editor, Stuart Mayne, retired). According to the Aurealis website the next edition should be out in late 2011/early 2012. I hope so, this was a good read.

I really enjoyed gunning for a tinker man by Jason Fischer, a story based in a post-apocalyptic world where the main character, Lanyard, is a fallen “jesusman” (a caste of warrior priest types who can kill the ‘witches’ that prey on the remnants of the human race). I also enjoyed for the want of a jesusman that I heard on the Terra Incognita Speculative Fiction podcast (number 18) set in the same world. The characters are not clean cut hero types and I enjoyed the way the world was described and realised. Fairly gritty and violent in places – not for the faint of heart or those that like a neat happy ending. I understand from Mr Fischer’s website that he is working on a full novel set in the same world, which I am now very much looking forward to reading.

I also particularly enjoyed Storm in a T-Suit by Simon Petrie (a good rescue story based in an interesting depiction of the frontiers of colonisation of the solar system), The Death of Skandar Taranisaii by K J Taylor (love a bit of swords and sandals action) and A Billion Tiny Lights by Adam Ford (I am quite fond of the flash fiction format at the moment).

The other stories in the edition were fine stories, overall I liked the magazine a lot.

  • Runners by Christopher Snape
  • We All Fall Down by Kirstyn McDermott
  • Jumbuck by Christopher Green

Analog – September 2011 – review

This month’s Analog is a bit of a mixed bag. I’ve been enjoying the serialised novella  Energized by Edward M. Lerner. It is part III of IV this month and the race by Russian sponsored terrorists to use a prototype microwave power transferring satellite as a weapon of mass destruction gathers pace. There is some interesting exploration of potential alternative energy sources when the world runs short of usable oil. The action in space is more interesting than on the ground, but this story has kept me engaged all the way through and I’m looking forward to the finale in next month’s issue.

I also enjoyed Asteroid Monte by Craig DeLancey – a short space detective story (but then I’ve always been a sucker for a space detective story). It’s a pretty straight forward and quickly resolved mystery with perhaps slightly too much time on the setup given the length of the overall story, but still I enjoyed it.

The other stories in the issue were OK, but none of them stood out for me. I don’t know that I would strongly recommend them but none of them were offensively bad or anything.

  • Therapeutic Mathematics and the Physics of Curve Balls by Gray Rineheart
  • Helix of Friends by Carl Frederick
  • Hostile Environment by Emily Mah
  • The Chaplain’s Assistant by Brad R. Torgersen

Game of Thrones – Season 1 – review

I suspect that anyone that isn’t already thoroughly sick of people reviewing Game of Thrones has probably spent the last 6 months in the speculative fiction version of Siberia, but for those that haven’t heard of it Game of Thrones is a new American TV series (10 episodes) based around the A Song of Ice and Fire (ASIF) series of books by George RR Martin.

I’ll be clear up front – it has been over a decade since I read any of the ASIF books. I read the first three and really liked them, but it was so long between drinks that by the time the fourth book came out (A Feast for Crows) I would have had to go back and read the first three again, which I never quite found time to do. There are 7 books in the ASIF series (5 released, 2 more planned) and I’ll probably wait until all 7 are out before I try to read the lot (I’ve learned my lesson from trying to keep up with the Robert Jordan Wheel of Time series).

Each season of GoT is based around one of the books in ASIF series. So I had a hazy recollection of the plot, just enough for me to remember major plot points about 5 minutes before they happened. This was a bit distracting.

Putting that aside, I really liked this series. The acting was excellent. At the time of writing, Peter Dinklage (playing Tyrion Lannister) has just won an Emmy for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or Movie and it was absolutely deserved. While his was the stand out performance, I find it hard to fault any of the actors.

The plot stayed true to my (admittedly incomplete) memory of the novel. The opening credits are something to behold – I believe they might have won an Emmy for those too (although why there is a “Best Opening Credits” Emmy is beyond me).

I won’t give any spoilers – many Australians without pay TV may not have had a chance to see the series as yet. But if you like your fantasy to reflect a cold, hard world and you don’t mind a bit of nudity, this is almost certainly the TV series for you.

Worldshaker by Richard Harland – review

Went on a course by Richard Harland at the NSW Writer’s Centre on September 3 2011. Thought I better know something about his work, so I’ve started reading one of his successful recent novels Worldshaker. Alternate history steam punk styled work, based on a society that lives in a juggernaut – a giant mobile fortress rolling across the world (called Worldshaker of course). Aimed at young adults but interesting so far for adults as well.

Wish there had been more novels like this when I was a young adult!