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

AUGURIES 7 – 1986

Cover – Nik Morton. This too was an adventure of Colonel Rhodes and his wife in my comic strip series…
Interior illustrations by John Light, Tim Nickels and Nik Morton.
(A5, stapled, 40pp, 50p)

The Internal Cosmetic – Tim Nickels
Far Goes the Storyteller – Sharon M Hall
An Adumra in Silence – Michael Cobley
Peace Conference – John Light
Time on the beach – Arabella Wood
Different – Linda Markley (illo above)
The Mind of D F Lewis – D F Lewis
Universal Mind – Robert Hoult
Torpor, Solitude and Marble (poem) – Ann Keith
Adrift past Saturn (poem) – Larry Blazek
The Day, Singing (poem) – Gary Legg
A mushroom cloud (poem) – Gary Legg
Time; UFO Course (poem) – Jim England
Escape (poem) – John Light
Getting the message (poem) – John Francis Haines
Intergalactic Fool (poem) – Larry Blazek
The mocking moon (poem) – Ann Keith

AUGURIES 8 – 1988

First issue with ‘Quarterly Magazine’ on the cover; sadly, this was wishful thinking on my part, but the ‘quarterly’ label stayed until issue 13.
Cover – Nik Morton. This featured another comic strip character I wrote and drew, The Vulcan, which was released in three episodes by a small press publisher, Wonderworld in Bournemouth.
Interior illustrations by Tim Nickels, John Light and Nik Morton.
(A5, stapled, 44pp, 50p)

Balkan dance – Tim Nickels
Terminal case – Philip Eick (illo above)
No matter (poem) – JPV Stewart
The World of D F Lewis – D F Lewis
Phonograph – George Hopkin
Perhaps we’ll meet again (poem) – JPV Stewart
Mildred – Steve Lockley
Visitation – Ron Bryan
Hoover – David Parsons
The Enlightenment (poem) – John Bissett
A dream of peace – John Light
The red bottle – Pete Jeffery
Time Out – Dave W Hughes
Computing is fun! – Elliot Smith

AUGURIES 9 – 1988

First issue with ISSN number – 0954-1918. Also first issue where payment (£2 per story!) is offered.
Cover – Nik Morton, illustrating the lead story. First Time Theme issue.
Interior cartoon by Tim Nickels.
(A5, stapled, 64pp, 80p)

Roman Remains – Cleveland W Gibson
The last door – Michael Noonan
Wanderlust – Graham Andrews (illo above)
Strolling with the Timeline (poem) – Steve Sneyd
Shake away the Earth, Laddie (poem) – JPV Stewart
After the rain (poem) – Shane Doheny
Half-a-day’s work – Geoff Watson
The ragged boy – Chris Naylor
She’ll always be waiting for me – D F Lewis
Morning has broken – Arabella Wood
Redevelopment site – Dave W Hughes
The good old days – Steve Bowkett

AUGURIES 10–1989

Last issue with ‘South Hants Science Fiction & Fantasy magazine’ on the cover. South Hants SF dropped. First appearance of letters page.
Cover – Nik Morton. Second Time Theme issue.
Interior illustrations by Colin P Davies, Tim Nickels and Nik Morton.
(A5, stapled, 60pp, £1.25p)

Proof – John Light
Fear of fallling – Colin P Davies
Fish out of water – Elliot Smith
A night to remember – Nick Daws (illo above)
Hope Springs Eternal – Kevin Lyons
The road (poem) – John Francis Haines
The perfect city – Michael Noonan
The Molecular transportation System – Michael Noonan
Up the junction – Peter F Jeffery
Personal space – Martyn Taylor
Meander – Dave W Hughes
The Perk – John Peters
The magician’s assistant – Mark Iles
Longland Jones – D F Lewis
Shooting star (poem) – Sharon Elton

AUGURIES 11–1989

Cover – Nik Morton. This also featured the box: ‘An Ad lib magazine’; the plan was to amalgamate with another local short story magazine, Ad Lib, the brainchild of Portsmouth journalist Bob Jenkins; unfortunately, it died a death due to distribution problems. The little ‘Ad lib’ box didn’t appear again. The ‘South Hants’ label was dropped and it became the ‘Science Fiction & Fantasy Quarterly Magazine’ for two issues!
Interior illustrations by Kelvin Cox, Colin P Davies, John Light and Nik Morton.
(A5, stapled, 52pp, £1.20p)

Forever England – Dorothy Davies
Ghostbringer – David Vickery
The Librarian (poem) – JPV Stewart
The driver – Nick Daws
Decision at Delphi (poem) – Margaret Giacomini
Curfew watcher – D F Lewis
Life cycle – John Light
The lie-in – Andy Smith
Seal island (poem) – Bridget Brady
Pop’s babies – Colin P Davies
Changes – Dave W Hughes
The shapes of death – Graham Andrews
Works wonders – Nik Morton. (This vignette contained characters from a co-written fantasy quest novel and a version of this short short story appears in the novel Wings of the Overlord which had a publisher but sadly that deal folded.).

AUGURIES 12–1990

First issue to feature book and magazine reviews. First appearance of apt quotations at the end of each story. This was the pre-internet age and finding the most appropriate quote sometimes took a while.
Cover – Nik Morton, illustrating the story by Hilary Robinson; I committed a cardinal sin and gave the creature wings when he had none in the story!
Interior illustrations by John McCreen, John Light and Nik Morton.
(A5, stapled, 52pp, £1.20p)

Circus! – Dorothy Davies
Past and present (poem) – John Francis Haines
Eggs – Arabella Wood
April showers and green-eyed girls – Andy Smith
Not in Summer (poem) – Jim England
The sentient cloak – Hilary Robinson
Oasis – Dave Parsons
The lap of the gods – Nick Daws
Find the mage – Sydney J Bounds (illo above)
Do not adjust your head – Matthew Dickens
A presence in Spring – Graham Andrews

AUGURIES 13–1990

Cover – Kevin White. This also illustrated a story by Kevin Lyons. The Arts Theme issue. Dropped the label ‘Quarterly’; back to simply ‘Science Fiction & Fantasy Magazine’ for two issues…
Interior illustrations by Kevin White, Al Slammer, Dallas Goffin, Sydney Jordan, John Light and Nik Morton.
(A5, stapled, 72pp, £1.75p)

Tough & Go – Liz Honeywill
The real thing – Elliot Smith
Certificate 40 – D F Lewis
Death and the Maidens – Marise Morland
Blind – Andy Smith
Science fiction TV freak (poem) – Gary Legg
Spaceman blues – Ty Power (illo above)
Prima Donna – Marise Morland
Aria – Kevin Lyons
Chill factor (poem) – John Francis Haines
Thaw point (poem) – John Francis Haines
On the island – Andy SawyerIdentity (poem) – Dave W Hughes

AUGURIES 14–1991

Cover – wraparound – Nik Morton. The Green Theme issue. Printed by Dave W Hughes, Huddersfield – editor of WORKS, an innovative small press magazine.
Interior illustrations by Kevin White, Dallas Goffin, Kerry Earl, Marge Simon, John Light and Nik Morton.
(A5, stapled, 76pp, £1.75p)

The contest – S R Ing
A prayer of oneness (poem) – Fiona Sinclair
Spare that tree – Mark Fielder
Consumer goods – Elliot Smith
Go gull (poem) – R L Cook
Zero Summer – Chris Amies
Light – JPV Stewart
The bitchbark demon – Cathy Buburuz
The ice child – Leon Arden
Dreams and raspberry wine – Duncan Adams (illo above)
The paradisical dangers – Mr Adams
Infinity, eternity (poem) – Anita Rymand
Erda – John HyattLament of the dinosaur (poem) – Dave Metcalf

AUGURIES 15–1991

First issue to be accompanied by the Auguries Review Magazine: No.1 – 16 pages of reviews; cover by Nik Morton and Gallery illustration by Russell Morgan. I shamefacedly pinched the idea of a separate reviews booklet from Dave W Hughes, editor of WORKS. Typesetting & printing by Chris Reed, BBR (Back Brain Recluse). Label now read on the cover: ‘Science Fiction, Fanasy & Horror Magazine’, which stayed until the end.

Cover – Kerry Earl, illustrating the story by Cleveland W Gibson. The second Green Theme issue.
Interior illustrations by Kerry Earl, Russell Morgan, Dallas Goffin and Mark le Fevre.
(A5, stapled, 76pp, £1.75p)

Aquarius (poem) – Robert Webb
Genetic Logo – Cleveland W Gibson
Red Rain – David Berthelot
Jennifer – Paul Beardsley
The Passing – Andy Smith
The last tree – Steve Grover
Alchemy of twilight – Malcolm E Brown
Gwinny! – Colin P Davies
Richmond Park (poem) – Robert Webb
A clod of Earth, the bark of a tree – Philip J Backers
Last songs – John Cameron Hartley
Dream remembered river (poem) – Wrathall Wildman
The fourteenth experiment – David Murphy

AUGURIES 16–1992

Cover – wraparound – by Russell Morgan.
Interior illustrations by Russell Morgan, Nik Morton (Letters illo only), Kerry Earl, Dallas Goffin, Roger Morgan, Debs Dumbrell and Bob Crouch.
(A5, stapled, 76pp, £1.75p)

London cries – David Maber
Mage for hire – Syndey J Bounds
Night, the rain and Speranza – Mike O’Driscoll
The paper prison – Marise Morland
Junior engineer – Raymond Humphries
The glowing goblibs – C G Herbertson
The eleven-dimensional cranium of God – Jim Jones
Screener – Duncan Adams
Josie – Emma Kent
Perpetuum mobile waltz – John Peters
KDGE 17447 KS – Gerry Connelly
Moonshine somewhere else (poem) – Debra French
Man-made god – Steven J Blyth
Midnight madness (poem) – Cathy Buburuz
The lover of the Phantom Lady (poem) – Ann Keith

Auguries Review Magazine No.2

Auguries Review Magazine No.2 – 16 pages, same cover illo, including Gallery illustrations by Debs Dunbrell, Russell Morgan and Martin Helsdon.

AUGURIES 17–1993

Cover – wraparound – by Nik Morton to illustrate the story by P Andrew Miller.
Interior illustrations by Philip Rowlands, Sydney Jordan, Paul Cockburn, Kerry Earl, Nik Morton, Russell Morgan, Debs Dumbrell, Dallas Goffin and Marge Simon.
Crikey – typed on Amstrad PC386SX using Locoscript PC CG Times font 12pt 50% reduced! Printed by Gosport printer but some line artwork didn’t come out too well!
(A5, stapled, 76pp, £2)

Ancient Sunlight – Robert Webb (illo above right)
Window of light – Andy Parratt
On the bridge – Iain Layden
The crazy quilt – Andrew P Miller
Huitzilopochtli (poem) – L G Mason
Trenches – Steven J Blyth
A perfect equation (poem) – Steve Sneyd
Over the sky is out (poem) – Steve Sneyd
A pleasure multiplied – Stephen J Wood
The rocking horse – D F Lewis
The grave – Alan Garside
A letter to Cassia (poem) – Cathy Buburuz
Laura’s letters – Dorothy Davies
Pre-existence (poem) – Marise Morland
Slow worker – Andy Smith
Parcels – D F Lewis
Open wide to glory (poem) – Steve Sneyd
Early retirement – Dave Metcalfe
Consequences (poem) – Marise Morland
A share in the universe – Matthew Dickens
Time watch (poem) – Joy Hone
Tick tock (poem) – Jonty Stace
Time (poem) – John Light
Rest is a seven day word – John M Peters
Sentient chowder – Robert Neilson
Cat-atonic states – Joseph Trance

Auguries Review Magazine No.3

Auguries Review Magazine No.3 – 16 pages, new cover illo by Nik Morton, including Gallery illustrations by Philip Rowlands, Russell Morgan and Pete Queally.

AUGURIES 18–1994

First – and sadly last – perfect bound glossy colour cover issue.

Front cover by Roger Morgan; back cover by Pete Queally. Red/yellow colouring by Nik Morton. The Love issue. And regrettably the last printed AUGURIES magazine.

Interior illustrations by Paul Cockburn, Dallas Goffin, Debs Dumbrell, Russell Morgan, Philip Rowlands and Pete Queally. (Back cover - above - by Pete Queally)
(A5 perfect-bond, 92pp, £3.50p)

Her face is her misfortune (poem) – Fiona Sinclair
Moon kissed – Mark James Pritchard
The meeting – Marjorie Renshaw
Phase shift – David Vickery
The perfect kiss – Alan Garside
The custodian – Doreen Eccleshall
The lovemakers – Darren Callaghan
Waiting for Eddie – Arabella Wood
Give in to love – William Nicholson (Nik Morton)
The dross on Aaron Four – John Townsend
A world full of strangers – Deborah Beard
Companions – A M Smith
Tears of the lonely (poem) – Ronald Surace
Castles in the dale (poem) – Mark Bishop Evans
Son and heir – Laura Lee
Irina – David Hast

Auguries Review Magazine No.4

Auguries Review Magazine No.4 – 22 pages, new cover illo by Russell Morgan; interior illustrations by Paul Cockburn from ‘Companions’ in the magazine. Annoyingly, I didn’t have room in the main magazine to credit the artists so the credits went into the review magazine. The gap between this and the previous issue was so immense that no letters were featured. The editorial went into the review magazine and talked of bringing out #19 – but it never happened.

AUGURIES – THE END, probably...
As many small press publishers found, the cost of printing and paper kept going up so that any attempt at breaking even – which never happened with Auguries – was nigh impossible. Most editors/publishers do the job because they enjoy it and love their work – often in their spare time since they have a day-job to subsidise the magazine. Finding time – when I was also studying for OU, going to sea – meant that self-imposed deadlines were frequently missed. The stark reality of being made redundant twice, combined with increased costs – and a backlog of typed stories, not electronic versions – mitigated against my continuing. Until the bitter end I truly believed I could bring out more issues of Auguries; I’ve still got that stockpile of short stories, though probably many contributors would no longer thank me for publishing their stories since they’ve probably moved on and improved. I should have faced reality much sooner and returned the stories unused but regrettably that didn't happen.

I even tried breaking out into short-length paperback publishing(92 page books), again subsidising the efforts; I felt that if that took off, maybe it could pave the way for more issues of Auguries. But like many in the similar position, I stumbled over the marketing complexities. These were the days before Lulu and other online POD houses. Now maybe there is room for a POD Auguries Magazine… I don’t know...
- Nik Morton, Editor & Publisher