Aurealis #91, June 2016

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Aurealis #91, June 2016

Skin Deep” by Ika Koeck

Stern Daughters” by Imogen Cassidy

Reviewed by Christos Antonaros

This month’s issue comes with two interesting short stories, one that belongs to the historical fiction genre, and one to the science fiction genre.

In “Skin Deep” by Ika Koeck, Rod is killing a wolf pup for its fur to prove his bravery and hunting capability to his tribe. Killing a weak and young creature like this, though, is more an act of a coward than a brave hunter. Furthermore, the wolf fur he wears afterward appears to be haunted by the spirit of the wolf pup. By talking to each other and going through an adventure, Rod comes to discover his brave soul. This story reminds of many Scandinavian tribes and the pelts of animals the young men had to bring back as proof of their manhood, or Spartan society where the robust and brave were treated better than the weak. It also resembles the Native American tribes and their beliefs of animal spirits and their continuous protection of the natural balance. A decent story with a strong climax and a satisfying resolution.

The second story of this issue is “Stern Daughters” by Imogen Cassidy. Raanan is an android, or as she claims later in the story an enhanced human, who with her friend Moran are waking up from their cocoons after many years to protect their planet from possible intruders. They will have to follow a path through a hostile wilderness by riding huge birds to fight their way through it. This time will be different for Raanan though, for an unexpected development waits at the end of her quest. The action continues to build in a way that keeps the reader engaged with and following Raanan to the very end of her adventure. Through successful dialogue, character background, landscape description, and technology references, the author guides us into an imaginary world where protection means sacrificing some of those you were supposed to protect. Does that mean that you must sacrifice the only things left to love, however?

Christos Antonaros is a dark fiction author with a love for European mythology.