Excerpt for Aurealis #117 by , available in its entirety at Smashwords


Edited by Michael Pryor

Published by Chimaera Publications at Smashwords

Copyright of this compilation Chimaera Publications 2019

Copyright on each story remains with the contributor

EPUB version ISBN 978-1-922031-74-7 

ISSN 2200-307X (electronic)


Smashwords Edition License Notes

This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then please return to and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of the authors, editors and artists.

Hard copy back issues of Aurealis can be obtained from the Aurealis website:


From the Cloud—Michael Pryor

The Moonstone in the Dust—Carolyn Hine

The Moth Tapes—J Ashley Smith

She Sells Sea-Hells by the C Door—Eric Del Carlo

Worldbuilding: How Climate Zone Determines Culture—Amy Laurens

Comedic Science Fiction: More Than Just a Laugh—Lachlan Walter


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From the Cloud

Michael Pryor

Writing Diseases

It’s poorly appreciated, but writing is an occupation which has hazards. Most writers, at one time or another, will suffer from at least one of the following diseases, conditions or injuries. Most are treatable and, with appropriate therapy, writers can look forward to living relatively full and normal lives.

Adjectivitis: condition especially pronounced at first draft, where adjectives spawn, multiply and run rampant through one’s writing.

Criticosis: a type of writing paralysis caused by overly active and insistent self-criticism.

Swelled Head Syndrome: condition that comes from reading too many glowing reviews. Rare.

Commadosis: A proliferation of commas so virile that they infect and convert all other punctuation.

Over Capitalisation: particularly common in Fantasy writing, where everything is made strangely Portentous by Splashing Capital Letters around Willy-Nilly.

Adverbia: the helpless need to add adverbs to every verb, relentlessly, inexorably, unstoppably.

The Grumps: envy stemming from the success of other writers. Common.

My Own Myopia: a form of selective blindness where a writer cannot see his or her own poor writing.

Forehead Haematoma: bruising to the brow, resulting from banging one’s head on the desk because of recalcitrant scenes, characters, plot developments etc.

Weighty Word Syndrome: a condition where every single word seems to weigh hundreds of kilos and requires commensurate effort to put in place. See ‘Immense Sentence Disorder’.

Hyperplotting: a deep-seated compulsion to construct narratives that rely on the regular use of the word ‘suddenly’.

Complications Complex: a form of writer delusion where ‘Complicatedness’ is mistaken for ‘Complexity’.

Naturally, this list is not exhaustive. Writers are more than capable of inventing new conditions at the drop of a hat. It is only through regular donations to writing-related medical research that we can hope to ameliorate the effects of Writing Diseases.

All the best from the cloud.

Michael Pryor

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The Moonstone in the Dust

Carolyn Hine

Having an imaginary friend was almost mandatory amongst the younger urchins running about the streets of Madina Harir. Thrown into a hard life scrounging for every scrap of food and staying out of the way of the authorities, every child needed a kind figure to listen to their troubles as they drifted off to sleep in whatever hidden nook was available. Imaginary friends were not as capricious as the other urchins, who sometimes ostracised their peers for being odd-looking, or too good at begging, or too likely to attract the attention of the authorities. Imaginary friends didn’t care about any of that.

Hers was different though. While some children said their imaginary friend talked to them, Elidda knew it was make-believe. Not hers, though. Hers really spoke to her, most often in those moments before she fell asleep. And not just idle chatter. Her imaginary friend taught her things.

‘Do you want to learn something, Elidda?’

‘What sort of thing?’

Lessons were a vague memory from happier times, when she had a mother and a father and a house. She had learned how to read, how to write a little, and she had kept up her skills by reading whatever scraps of books came her way. The time the bookseller’s shop had gone up in flames had been a gift for Elidda—so many books thrown away, only missing bits and pieces. Sometimes you could piece the whole story together out of the multiple copies, all singed in different spots, and sometimes you just had to fill in the blanks with your own imagination.

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