Aurealis #105, October 2017
“Upgrades” by Emma Lomman
Reviewed by Victoria Silverwolf
Australia’s long-running magazine of fantasy and science fiction offers three visions of a dangerous future in the latest issue.
Written as a dark comedy, “Upgrades” by Emma Lomman begins with a test pilot entering a newly designed spaceship. Immediately things start to go wrong, and the pilot finds himself on a one-way journey towards the sun. Despite some questionable science, such as sound in a vacuum, and the fact that the protagonist remains a passive observer of events, this story is likely to win a knowing nod from anyone who has dealt with the perversity of new technology.
The narrator of “Winder’s Cleaning Services” by C. H. Pearce is a rat. It lives with a man who had much of his body replaced by cybernetic components after nearly losing his life. He stalks a woman on behalf of the company which repaired him. She is targeted by them because she opposes such technology. This is a cyberpunk story which reveals only small hints about the world in which it takes place. The choice of narrator is unique, but not relevant to the plot.
Mars is the setting for “Flesh Crash” by Barry Charman. A gruesome double murder takes place on a levitating train. The police officer aboard struggles to solve the crime before the vehicle reaches its destination. Written in the form of a classic detective story, this story is likely to appeal more to fans of murder mysteries than readers of science fiction.
Victoria Silverwolf didn’t figure out whodunit.