Entry updated 18 February 2021. Tagged: Publication.
Australian SF Magazine of Semiprozine status based on its circulation (about 5,000) but of professional status based on payment rates. Published by Chimaera Publications, Melbourne, A5 format, side-stapled until issue #14 (December 1994), thereafter perfect bound. Founded and edited by Stephen Higgins and Dirk Strasser until issue #27/28 (October 2001), and then by Keith Stevenson to issue #33/35 (December 2004), Ben Payne and Robert Hoge, #36 (December 2005), Stuart Mayne (assisted by Stephen Higgins to #38/39, December 2007) to #44 (September 2010) and then, after a brief hiatus from October 2011 (#45) by a team of three editors – Dirk Strasser. Michael Pryor and Stephen Higgins – who rotated the role after editing two or three issues each. Aurealis was subsidized in a small way by Government grants from issue #12 (December 1993). Originally quarterly, from #1 (September 1990) to #10 (December 1992), it switched to twice yearly with #11 (June 1993) and has retained this schedule fairly consistently. Occasional lapses are followed by combined double issues, starting with #20/21 (June 1998) and on one occasion three issues were combined, #33/35 (December 2004), due to a bumper crop of material. As a consequence at present the individual issue numbering is six ahead of the total number of actual issues. The longest surviving sf magazine in Australia. It bore the subtitle "The Australian Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction" until issue #14 (December 1994), but thereafter dropped the word "magazine". This coincided with the switch to perfect binding so that it looked more like a book allowing better newsstand exposure. It finally reached full newsstand distribution across Australia in 1998 (issue #20/21) at the same time that it developed an online website. It switched to being a downloadable Online Magazine from October 2011 (issue #45) becoming monthly at the same time for ten months a year (missing December and January). Issues were originally undated other than by year but the online editions bear a monthly issue date.
Aurealis was established to fill a void in Australian publishing when there was a dearth of markets for short science fiction. There was a confidence evident both in the magazine's presentation and in the editorial voice, though it took several issues for the magazine to mature to a reliable level of quality. Even so its first issue featured Australia's dean of science fiction, George Turner, with both an interview and a story, "I Still Call Australia Home" (September 1990) which David Hartwell subsequently selected as a representative story in his retrospective The Science Fiction Century (anth 1997).
Aurealis has always been a market for primarily Australian, and to some extent New Zealand writers and artists, and one of its main objectives was to develop new talent. So whilst it has published material by more established writers such as Damien Broderick, Paul Collins, Stephen Dedman, Terry Dowling, Greg Egan, Leanne Frahm, Rosaleen Love and Sean McMullen it has also encouraged and developed many new writers, including Simon Brown, John Ezzy, Robert Hood, Geoffrey Maloney, Michael Pryor and Kaaron Warren. This enabled the editors to compile a double issue, #25/26 (December 2000), labelled "The Next Wave", highlighting the emerging Australian talent. Aurealis has also helped develop artistic talent. Its most famous artist is the Oscar-winning Shaun Tan who sold his first artwork to Aurealis and provided several covers for their early issues, starting with issue #2 (December 1990).
In addition to fiction the magazine has always provided a range of features, including reviews (the reviews editor is Bill Congreve), interviews (mostly by Van Ikin) and essays on Australian fiction and topics. The editors also established the Aurealis Awards in 1995, not confined to the magazine but supporting new Australian sf and fantasy. The first story from the magazine to win the award was a fantasy, "Whispers of the Mist Children" (June 1999 #23) by Trudi Canavan. Most of the more popular fiction in Aurealis has been fantasy and horror rather than sf. Ian Gunn's humorous "Schrödinger's Fridge" (June 1995 #15), which won a Ditmar Award for best short fiction, was a blend of all three genres.
The editors of Aurealis firmly believed that the regularity of their market, plus the friendly rivalry with Eidolon, which emerged at the same time, allowed the growth and cross-fertilization of antipodean sf, making the 1990s Australia's Golden Age of SF.
An anthology derived from the first four issues is Aurealis: The Collector's Edition (anth 1992) edited by Dirk Strasser and Stephen Higgins, and to celebrate the magazine's tenth anniversary the same editors released The Aurealis Mega Oz SF Anthology (anth 1999). [MA]
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