Welcome back to all our fans and friends.
I have to admit, this latest collection has overwhelmed me this month. There’s so much in here! Edition 19 has a bit of everything for everyone, from steampunk to science fiction, parents to teenagers. We’ve got Story Quest finalists, a returning author, an invited author and other great pieces we know you’re going to enjoy. Tais Teng is back as our graphic artist and the creator of this incredible cover; you might recognise his style from the beautiful piece on the cover of Edition 9, whose whimsical form is one of my favourites.
For the first time in quite a while, we’ve also got quite a spread of representation. Antipodean authors on either side of the Tasman, a representative of Europe and some also from the Americas. It’s so great to have interest from far-flung corners of the globe.
A teenager in love with the darker side of life has disappeared. Detective Shane Hall, struggling with her personal demon, follows the trail to parts of Brisbane’s seedier side, The Valley. She must keep control to find the missing young woman, and for her own self-preservation. SY
Deborah Brown—Jazmine Nocturna to her friends—had it bad for the unliving. Shane stood in the teenager’s bedroom, taking in the nu-vamp celeb posters, the black lace, the incense.
The girl’s mother stood at the bedroom door. Ms Brown wore a pencil skirt and heels, a crisp white blouse, but stray hairs were pulling free from her tight bun, and the shadows under her eyes showed through her makeup. Early to mid-forties. Gym toned, suntanned, a gold cross above her modest cleavage. No wedding ring, but a pale line where one had been. She radiated anxiety.
Join the club, sister.
Tommi’s fresh out of prison, looking for a clean break. But his brother Kevin sucks him back into that world, the only place an ex-con can catch a break. Tommi’s got some decisions to make, and his little girl is waiting for him to get it right. SY
Tommi rode the airboat from the prison gates right to Del’s house. He had sixteen dollars in his pocket, his old notebook and a freshly laundered collared shirt. It felt like it belonged on some guy who worked fifty stories up, pushing figures from one bank account to another. The screws had burned his old clothes.
Sixteen dollars wasn’t going to buy him much. Prices had changed in four years.
And he didn’t want to have to lift anything. He needed a day or two to gather his thoughts.
He wished that he could have at least stopped to get Del some flowers.
Isolis might only be a small part in the plan of Star Revolution, but when the Core Alliance unexpectedly rolls into town with their weapons of war, it becomes more than an abstract concept for the locals. All Trebnor and his unit have to do is hold off the Alliance until their own weapon is ready. If they survive that long… SY
Isolis was a smallish planet—quiet, unassuming, of no particular strategic importance—so it was quite a surprise when the Dark Star Revolution showed up and started recruiting. Trebnor wasn’t particularly interested in their rebellion—no one on Isolis was—but the pay was good, and the uniforms snazzy, so he lined up with the others and signed on the dotted line.
That was two years ago, and it was only now, as he peered through his binoculars at the hulking, diesel-spewing monstrosity just appearing on the horizon that Trebnor realized what he’d gotten himself into.
“What is it, Treb?” Jenkins asked at his elbow.
Jenkins was nineteen and a hot-head—a young wolf among the middle-aged, down-on-their luck troop of shabby soldiers Trebnor had assembled. Most days he was all mouth off, macho posturing, but right now he just looked worried. They all did.
“Not sure,” Trebnor replied, fiddling with the binocular’s not-quite-autofocus.
The circus is back in town and a father searches for his missing daughter in a world that doesn’t quite make sense. A wandering clown is the herald of an unwelcome admission. SY
The clown disappeared around the corner of Lady Sapphire’s tent, and I followed. He should not have been there. This was a carnival, not a circus.
But maybe he knew where my daughter was.
The abandoned, ash-dusted carnival grounds reminded me of January, after a weeklong thaw had melted the dirty snow of December and the ground had hardened up again, with a fresh skim of snow covering the asphalt and dead grass. My boots cut blurry prints in the parched lawn with each step.
The halo of smoke surrounding the fairgrounds was thick like a wedge of ice fog. Creaks and groans drifted from the empty stations and booths, boards covering their rainbow faces until their owner’s return. The wind wailed through the spokes and benches of the Ferris wheel and caressed the nose of the zebra on the merry-go-round, his black-and-white striped muzzle wearing a toothy grin.
Reviewed by Damien Smith
I got wind of this novel via the magnificent communication channel that is social media. It’s always nice to have a novel suggested, and then totally by coincidence see it get a mention by a bunch of more familiar sources. It helps turn that “What have I got myself in for?” feeling into smug validation that I, as a reviewer, have made a wise choice promoting this to the top of the To Read pile.
In this case, I was hearing a lot of good press about a great “interactive novel”. I had no idea what an interactive novel was, and there’s always a delicate balance between finding out a bit more and stumbling across spoilers, so I took the plunge and gave it a spin. From what I had read (along the lines of “What would YOU do if the apocalypse came? Lock yourself in a bunker or take a chance outside?”), I was expecting some sort of choose-your-own-adventure novel.
When a god shows up at your door, you can’t exactly turn him away. Phokus is recruited by none other than the big guy himself, and sent on a merry little chase. All in the name of a little warmth. SY
A knock at the door roused me from frigid dreams. This being Athens, it was likely a thief ready to slit my throat, so I was disinclined to answer. On the other hand, it could be a disguised god who’d reward my inhospitality by turning me into a chew bone for Cerberus. So, I roused myself out of bed and threw on a lion skin over the leopard and bear skins I already wore. I looked like a walking food chain, but cold beats style in my home.
I opened the door, and a blast of wind cold-cocked me. When my vision cleared, I saw a slouching, bearded old man. The rags he wore were so tattered I wouldn’t have used them to wipe my chariot, if I had a chariot.
“Can you spare some food for a stranger?” he asked, his voice a mix of sand and icicles. If this guy wasn’t Zeus, I was the Cock, the Dog, and the Fox.
A last trip, the last time as nGeneer, the last of a bond with the metal behemoth. When one is relegated, removed from a position of usefulness, how do they survive? A finalist in the 2014 Story Quest competition. SY
I am a part of this train, and the train is a part of me: I am nGeneer. This steel behemoth is not just connected to me; it is part of my DNA.
My forefathers were engineers and ran the trains, but then scientists decoded the human genome and built the technology to create unfathomable cross bred machinery. At an early age, I showed the same aptitude as my father and grandfather, and my body became this joined beast of metal and skin, an nClass 21 diesel locomotive transporter unit.
It nourishes me and I guide it, and together we travel across the Australian landscape, supplying fuels and foodstuffs to the major cities. Merged, we separate only out of courtesy for the workers who have not grown accustomed to this interbreeding.
My smooth metallic panelling warms in the early morning sun, as the passengers board and shuffle for seats. Energy builds as my diesel engine heats, until I have the strength of a dozen machines. The hills will challenge my wheels and my axle yet again, but this will be the last time.
My final journey will begin in a matter of mere minutes.
When her dreams of perfect scores and entry to college are ripped into teeny tiny shreds, Cassandra is not prepared to lie down and take it. She’s taking others down with her, she’s not going quietly… SY
When Cassandra opened her locker that morning, she saw her whole future disintegrating over the dim rectangular screen of a reader, and even a cursory look told her it was dead, gone, kaput. Her perfect GPA, her three, going on four, consecutive State-level victories with Debate Club, her four and a half minute mile, her summer internship as a lab assistant with Alden Alternative Technologies—she beat out a slew of college students for that one, or at least that’s what they told her—all of that was blown away in a second. All because of two words blinking at the top of the screen: