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the genre's premiere review magazine for short SF & Fantasy since 1993

Aurealis #80, May 2015

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Aurealis #80, May 2015

 

"Loyalty" by Mitchell Edgeworth

"Outside World" by Steve Cameron

 

Reviewed by Stevie Barry

Mitchell Edgeworth's "Loyalty" is, as the title suggests, a tale about loyalty – in this case, conflicted loyalty. The protagonist, Sean, is one of the few survivors of a heist gone wrong, is given the opportunity to save his own skin by betraying (and killing) his cousin. Though Sean is a criminal, he is not yet a murderer, and must decide if he is willing to kill someone he loves just to save himself. The story is very well-written from a technical standpoint, but is not very memorable; variations of the plot have been done many times, and though Sean is a decently compelling narrator, it isn't enough to lift the story into real originality. The speculative nature is mostly limited to futuristic technology, with appropriate emphasis on security and law enforcement.

"Outside World," by Steve Cameron, is an allegory for people who are forcibly dispossessed in the real world. Veronica, the narrator, is the last of a small community which has been ordered to vacate to make room for a colony of stranded aliens. The aliens don't want to have to do this any more than she does, but her town sat on a mine that, while mostly stripped-out, still contains enough ore for the aliens to build what they need to repair their crippled ship. Refreshingly, they are not portrayed as evil: the one that we see, Aldreth, is just a person who wants to go home. As with "Loyalty,” it's a variation on a concept that has been done often already, but Veronica's grief is deeply convincing, her character complex despite the shortness of the story.