Quick Review: Aurealis #122

Pretty good cover by Andrey Burmakin

Aurealis #122, edited by Stephen Higgins, is an enjoyable instalment of Australia’s leading speculative fiction magazine.

This issue comprises three stories, an editorial, a bit of historical literary criticism, a short interview with Victoria Schwab, and a lengthy section of reviews—a substantial amount of content for the relatively low price.

Here, I’ll only be commenting, spoiler-free, on the fiction. My current approach is to past the contents into my bullet journal and use a coloured highlighter to assign my opinion of the story. Red highlight is a bad rating, no highlight is a readable one, while yellow indicates good and green indicates fantastic.

The three stories in #122 are all science fiction.

Getting Home by P.K. Torrens follows a homesick scientist studying a medical mystery concerning aliens on a planet of what is probably Proxima Centauri. Overshadowing her work is an unreasonable, to say the least, military commander. The mystery is intriguing, the viewpoint character a bit miserable but still engaging, and the stakes are involving enough to make it a compelling read. If I were to complain, it would be that the military commander is a little one-note. That said, not intolerably so or beyond the reasonable bounds of human character. I gave it a yellow highlight, but with green around the edges.

Serine by Shan Drury is a space opera. Seline and her pseudo-AI sidekick investigate a structure in orbit around an out-of-the-way planet. Likable characters and amusing dialogue make for an enjoyable read, and there is ample suspense and surprise from the investigation. This is another one that got the yellow highlight but tinged with green.

Tigers of Mars by Conor DiViesti involves a traumatized veteran of a future war undergoing an unconventional therapy while juggling guilt and altered relationships. It’s well-written and has thematic depth but, for some reason I can’t pinpoint, I didn’t engage with it. However, I still judge it worth a solid yellow highlight. Good, but not to my taste.

Score: Good 100%

So, overall, not a bad hit-rate.

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