Aurealis SF #130, May 2020

Aurealis #130, May 2020

“Last Light” by Anya Ow

“Bid Time Return” by Stephen Dedman

“Pineapples are Not the Only Bromeliad” by R B Kelly

Reviewed by Victoria Silverwolf

Three tales set in very different futures appear in the latest issue of this Australian publication.

Space opera and horror fiction come together in “Last Light” by Anya Ow. A team of human soldiers battles deadly creatures aboard an ancient alien starship in order to obtain a vital substance for their own vessels. The ship is an organic one, and has an unusual defense system. It takes genetic samples from invaders and creates weirdly mutated versions of them to attack the intruders.

Most of this story consists of violent battle scenes. The fact that the soldiers must destroy horribly distorted versions of themselves adds a touch of poignancy and imagination, but in essence this is a standard science fiction monster story.

“Bid Time Return” by Stephen Dedman takes place after an unspecified disaster led to a partial breakdown in society. The protagonist gets off a bus and enters a café in a strange town. The residents act as if time is going backwards, altering their technology and life style to match the year in which they pretend to live. The main character, thought of as an outsider and possibly a spy, has his money stolen and is thrown into jail. He proves to be something other than what he seems to be.

The premise is interesting, and depicted in a realistic manner. The revelation of the visitor’s identity is not quite so plausible.

The narrator of “Pineapples are Not the Only Bromeliad” by R B Kelly is a robot in the form of a woman. She is programmed to love the man she serves as companion and bedmate. She meets another of her kind, in the shape of a man. Despite the fact that he also loves the woman who owns him, they develop their own relationship.

This is a simple, gentle story, mostly a character study. The idea that machines who have no choice but to love their owners could also love each other is more romantic than credible.

Victoria Silverwolf likes pineapple.