Saturday, February 7, 2009


AUGURIES was a science fiction and fantasy small press magazine I edited and published from 1983 to 1994, producing eighteen issues. The early issues were done in collaboration with the South Hants SF Group, who contributed work and, I think, modest finance towards the cost of the first two issues. As I recall, many No.1s were stored in their basement and ruined by water-leakage. The cover label was ‘South Hants SF Magazine’ until issue 7 when it became ‘South Hants Science Fiction & Fantasy Magazine’ and thereafter other variants occurred (see posts below).

When I started the project there were no home computers with wordprocessing and no publishing packages. I’d had some modest successes with commercial magazines so wanted to encourage new writers. The first issue’s editorial on the back page was na├»ve, but well intentioned: ‘Within the SF world, the general consensus seems to be that if amateur (that is, fan) writing is worth reading then it will sell to professional markets, thus leaving the stories in fanzines de facto not worth reading. Auguries has been launched to disprove that statement, by printing stories written by fans, stories which are worth reading and which do deserve publication, an outlet denied them for purely commercial reasons… inside… messages – auguries, if you like – yet none belabour the point: they are stories first, harbingers second.’

Payment for contributions was not made until announced in issue 9 and even then it was small; a token. I was pleased to receive and feature two stories by the late Sydney J Bounds – tales about a Mage private eye: he had written several in this series and I had hoped to put them together in a collection but time and funds didn’t allow.

Finding a printer was the biggest problem in those days. Stalwarts of the BSFA, John and Eve Harvey ran the BSFA Printing Service and for reasonable rates did Auguries proud. I sent fliers out in the BSFA mailing, asking for stories. Then I had to select what I liked. Editing is subjective, after all. I still remember the sheer joy when reading a piece that transported me to another world or created characters who moved me. Then the hard slog began: I had to retype every story, then cut and paste them to fit the planned pages, allowing for illustrations which in the early days I did myself. Finally, it went off to the printer.

The magazine title was taken from William Blake’s Auguries of Innocence:
‘To see a World in a Grain of Sand
And a Heaven in a Wild Flower
Hold Infinity in the Palm of your Hand
And Eternity in an Hour.’

The Contents were in fact labelled The Doors of Perception – from Blake’s ‘If the doors of perception were cleansed, everything would appear to man as it is, infinite.’

Where space allowed, I tried to have each story (or poem) accompanied by an illustration. As can be seen, over time a number of gifted artists provided work; it’s doubtless invidious, by naming one artist, but I was very pleased to feature the artwork of the legendary Sydney Jordan on two occasions. Day of Truth (above) is my illo from issue No.1.

To be fair to the artists (since the copyright only pertained to the print version of Auguries), I have not featured their interior artwork here online but only some of my own work that accompanied stories. If any artist is happy for me to feature samples from their contributions to Auguries, please get in touch.

Back issues
You can order certain back issues from BBR at

- Nik Morton

AUGURIES 1 – 1983

Cover by Nik Morton, based on Blake’s frontispiece to Milton’s EUROPE.
(A5, stapled, 32pp, 75p)

‘In the beginning…’ – Dorothy Davies
An Inner Heat – Chris Naylor
A Rainbow-coloured Floppy Thing – Matt Sillars
To See A World – John Bark (illo shown)
Talent Quest – Nik Morton
Close Encounter with a Flasher – Matt Sillars
The Conservationists – David Malpass
Elegy (verse) – Nik Morton
Day of Truth – John Platts

AUGURIES 2 – 1983

Cover by Ros Calverley
Interior illustrations by Davy Francis, Ros Calverley and Nik Morton
(A5, stapled, 24pp, 50p)

The Sound – Chris Naylor
Losing – Sue Thomason
Tor – Hilary Robinson
For Amusement Only – Nick Daws
A Little Piece of Home – Dorothy Davies
Gifts from a Dead Race – Nik Morton

AUGURIES 3 – 1985

Cover – first wraparound cover: by Nik Morton
(A5, stapled, 56pp, 50p)

Getting into the computer age now! Hereafter, not produced for or with the SHSF Group. I typed the stories up on the ship’s primitive wordprocessor and I must admit that the finished pages were not very attractive. And probably for costing reasons I moved printer to a printer in Nottingham (I lived in Fareham, Hants at the time).

The Hungry Traveller – John Peters
The Eternal Assassin – Andrew Darlington
Need for Improvement (poem) – Steve Sneyd
Gripmaster’s Planet (poem) – Steve Sneyd
Coda in Extremis – Martyn Taylor
Pop Goes the Weasel – Dorothy Davies
Murcheson’s Star – Chris Naylor

AUGURIES 4 – 1986

Cover – Nik Morton
Interior illustrations by Davy Francis, Dr John Light and Nik Morton
(A5, stapled, 36pp, 50p)

Zygot Medivac – Hilary Robinson
Taking back the Empties (poem) – John Francis Haines
Last Death of the Iron Brain – Charles Stross (illo above)
Pulse – Steve Lockley
Alternative Suggestion – Adrian Taylor
Whispers in Stone (poem) – t Winter-Damon
Excerpt from: The Festival on Lyris V – Nick Daws
Robins – Mark Iles

AUGURIES 5 – 1986

Cover – Nik Morton
(A5, stapled, 40pp, 50p)

This was a departure, featuring a novella-length story, by Nik Morton. This grew into a time travel dystopian novel, Time With a Gift of Tears.

Their Lives Touched – Nik Morton
Living Space – John Light
Arrival (poem) – John Francis Haines
Against Heliocentricity (poem) – Andrew Darlington
The Hermes Trismegistus Codex (poem) – Andrew Darlington

AUGURIES 6 – 1987

Cover – Nik Morton. This caused some strong responses from the feminists of the time. It featured characters from a comic strip I started, Space Fleet, featuring Colonel Rhodes and his wife, Amber.
Interior illustrations by John Light, Michael Cobley and Nik Morton.
(A5, stapled, 40pp, 50p)

We are all Talid – Hilary Robinson (illo above)
The flower in the Sky – John Light
Falling down the Outside, Tearing up the Inside – Michael Cobley
The Globe – Jim England
Alf (poem) – Edmund Harwood
A bittersweet assembly (poem) – Steve Sneyd
Refuse Disposal (poem) – John Francis Haines
We the lightnesses (poem) – Christine Michael
The green-eyed Goddess (poem) – Christine Michael
The value of X (poem) – Steve Sneyd
Martin (poem) – Christine Michael
In Asuka River – Steve Bowkett
Post Cards – Wayne Rile Williams