Burn

By Kat Pekin

sfgenreI’m calling my new sister May.

She’s almost a day old but Mama won’t name her. May was meant to be a boy, the Chosen Son. The first boy born into our coven. But I secretly wished for a sister. Things I wish for come true sometimes.

The coven isn’t happy at all. Our high priestess, Tala, is holding a meeting about it now in her cottage. Our new seer predicted Mama would have the Chosen Son tonight, the night of the blood moon eclipse. Instead, she had May.

I hum a lullaby to May and rock her in my old cradle. I fed her already with some Mother’s Milk. A few years ago when Henrietta died in childbirth and no one else in the coven was breastfeeding, my grandma concocted a remedy to feed baby Lisette. Grandma called it Mother’s Milk, and all of us in the coven know how to make it now.

Mama didn’t even try to feed May after she was born. Tala used her silver dagger to cut the cord and then left the baby lying on the bed. Mama was crying for her Chosen Son while the rest of the coven left the room in shame. The midwives covered Mama up and gave her a remedy to help her sleep. The baby cried. No one tended to her. When the midwives left and Mama was sleeping, I took my sister, fed and rocked her until she slept. I’m the only one taking care of her.

‘Abigail?’ Mama’s voice fills our hut. She pushes back the curtain to my room and sees me with May. ‘What are you doing?’

‘Humming to her,’ I say. ‘She likes it.’

‘Don’t spoil that thing,’ Mama says. ‘You wanted a brother, remember? Not that.’

I nod, hoping Mama can’t tell I’m lying. A brother would have been nice, but I wanted May.

‘Anyway, all is well,’ Mama smiles. There’s relief in her eyes. ‘Tala has a solution. This child will be given to Lilith.’

My mouth goes dry. ‘Why?’

Mama smiles again. ‘This child is a mistake. Meant to be a son and instead… no, it must go to Lilith. Tala says by Samhain you’ll have a brother to dote over.’

Tightness grips my stomach. A new brother means Mama will have to go to the Outside again. I don’t like when she leaves. But the Outside is where our women have to go to get pregnant. Men can’t live in our coven. That’s what Tala says, but I’m not sure if it’s true. I think it’s one of the things she tells us that she just wants us to believe.

I reach into the cradle and touch May’s tiny fingers. ‘When will she go?’ I ask Mama.

‘Tonight. Blood moon eclipse. The coven is preparing the Hallowed Ground. Bring it there by sundown.’ Mama leaves, not once looking at May.

I don’t understand. The coven fears Lilith because she ruins our crops, kills our livestock, and murders our children within their mother’s wombs. Tala says Lilith also controls the evil in the forest encircling our village. All the wraiths and spirits and echoes. Lilith commands them all, Tala says, because Lilith is the Queen of Demons. Lilith has made the forest too dangerous to cross, and that’s why Tala sends exiles into it. Tala says no one can survive the forest.

Tala has the power of Influence. Mama says that’s why she’s our High Priestess. Coven leaders are only chosen from those of us who possess the power of Influence. It’s the hardest power to control, Tala says. Most witches can’t handle it and go crazy. But sometimes I wonder if Tala uses it to make us do things we don’t want to do.

I start thinking of how mean Tala can be and then quickly try and think of something else. Mama says I have to be careful with what I think because Tala can hear me. And if Tala doesn’t like what she hears, she’ll exile me like she did Grandma. Grandma was our original seer; until she had a vision that Mama would never have a son. Tala said she was lying and exiled her for causing trouble.

I think of Grandma and her silver hair. She had the longest braid in the coven. Mama and I would wash it for her and then braid it back up again. I don’t think Grandma liked Tala much. A day before Grandma was exiled, I overheard her arguing with Tala in our hut. Mama had locked me in the cellar, because I couldn’t name all of the medicinal herbs we grow.

‘I know your game, you miserable witch!’ Grandma had yelled. ‘I know why you have me foresee the powers of our unborn witches. The only ones stillborn are the ones I tell you will possess the power of Influence! You’re bewitching those who may challenge you! You ensure they never draw breath!’

‘You’re confused, Gail,’ Tala said, her voice calm. ‘Marjorie’s twins were stillborn, and you predicted Influence in neither of them. And you told me Henrietta’s daughter was born with Influence, and she’s alive and well.’

‘So you say. But she’s gone now, hasn’t she?’

‘Lisette is simply learning in the forest,’ Tala replied.

Grandma had laughed. ‘A nine-year-old learning to strengthen her powers in a forest you claim to be so dangerous it’s the reason we’re isolated? I know you killed Lisette.’

‘You best not share your wicked views with the coven, Gail. Especially since your daughter is with child. Do you want to put strain on the Chosen Son?’

‘It’s a girl!’ Grandma yelled. ‘I saw it! My daughter will never have a son!’

‘Go and lie down, Gail,’ Tala said. ‘You’re getting old.’

And then Tala had left. When Mama finally let me out of the cellar at dinnertime, Grandma was already packing her things. She was exiled the next day.

I hear footsteps enter our hut, and I think its Mama again, but I’m surprised to see Tala pull back the curtain to my room. She smiles at me in a way that has no warmth. She sits in my rocking chair but it doesn’t rock. Grandma used to tell me rocking chairs are rocked by love.

‘Your mother is concerned,’ Tala says. ‘She feels you are uncertain of my decision about this… infant.’

I nod. I can never find my voice around Tala. I think that’s her Influence working.
‘This will help the coven, Abigail,’ Tala says. ‘We offer this child to Lilith, and she may cease cursing our coven. Our potions will thicken; our spells will fortify. We will grow strong again.’

‘My sister isn’t evil,’ I whisper. No one talks back to Tala, least of all me.

Tala stiffens. ‘Abigail, this child is not your sister. She was born as a gift to Lilith. I see that now. To ensure the Chosen Son is not threatened by Lilith, we give her this child to satiate her need. Your future brother will be born free of Lilith’s grasp.’

My head screams ‘No!’ but the word never leaves my mouth.

Tala stands. ‘By sunset bring the child to the Hallowed Ground.’

But when sunset nears I haven’t moved. I don’t know where to run to. I don’t know which way is out of the forest. I don’t know how to get to the Outside or what May and I would do if we got there.

I don’t want to lose May to Lilith. I love her. She is sleeping so sweetly, how can they call her evil? I rock her cradle and hum to her some more.

I hear footsteps outside, and suddenly a crowd of people burst into our hut. Someone grabs my arm and pulls me away from the cradle, and a second later I’m in the cellar with the door locked shut above me. I can hear May screeching as the coven carries her away.

I bang on the door of the cellar roof and pull helplessly on the handles. The metal slide lock is on top; I know I can’t get it out. All those times in the last thirteen years that Mama has sent me to this cellar, I’ve never gotten out.

But May…

I need to get to her. No one in the coven wants her. No one but me. They think she’s a mistake, but I wished for her.

My fists are bloody from banging on the cellar door. I can’t hear May crying anymore. They must have her at the Hallowed Ground by now.

I have to get out. I grab the handle and yank it hoping that it will loosen but it seems rusted in place. I squeeze my eyes shut and slam the side of my sweating body into the wood.

And then I feel the chill in the air and the wet grass under my bare feet. I open my eyes. My hands are still bloody and aching and I feel the heat from my grip on the cellar handle, but my hands are empty. And I’m outside. I’m right outside our hut.

I don’t know how I got out of the cellar, but I can’t think of anything but May. I smell burning wood and know the altar must be alight.

The dew-soaked grass numbs my feet as I run. I see the altar fire burning high into the sky. The coven all in their cloaks circled around it. I hear crying.

Tala is in her bright red cloak. She’s inside the coven circle. She has one hand raised to the sky and her mouth is moving but I can’t hear what she’s saying. I see the shine of the silver dagger in her fist. Then she moves to one side and I see May.

My sister is wrapped in her blanket lying on the stone table just in front of the altar. Tala keeps rotating around May with the dagger raised high. I’m so close but then Tala swings the knife down over my baby sister, and I know I can’t get there in time.

My toes curl in the mud and my fists ball at my sides and I throw my head back and scream louder and longer than I’ve ever screamed before. I feel wind surge around me, billowing my dress like I’m standing inside a storm. Something inside my chest burns and my arms extend, my closed fists open and my fingers go rigid. I open my eyes. The coven is closing in on me. I stretch my arms out wider and the whole coven are thrown backwards. Mama’s hood falls as she scrambles to get to me. But I don’t let her get close. I point my palm towards her and send her soaring back to the ground.

Tala blocks my path to May. ‘You obey!’ Tala screams, but her voice breaks and she suddenly sounds strange, like she has a really sore throat. ‘You will obey!’

I step towards Tala. She steps back. I’m afraid, but not of her.

At my sides the coven is still trying to get me, but as they reach within an arm’s length they bounce back like they’ve hit an invisible wall. I’m keeping them away; I know I am. Grandma always said I’d develop a strong orb. And now it’s keeping me safe from the coven.

‘She’s mine!’ Tala cries. ‘Born for me! Her blood is mine!’

Tala retreats to the altar. She raises her dagger high over her shoulder then stabs it down over May. Before the knife hits my sister I point my finger at Tala and then the knife is in her neck. She wobbles backwards grasping her throat where the dagger is sticking out. She coughs blood down her front, and it darkens the red of her cloak.

I rush forwards and scoop up May. She’s not hurt, but I can feel she’s scared just like me. The burn in my chest disappears, and I know my barrier has faded away.

I see Tala crumple to the ground. Blood is pulsing out of her neck. Her eyes are glassy and focused on something faraway.

I turn around. Almost all of the coven members are huddled to the ground as if they’re scared of me. Mama is among them, but I can’t see her. Behind me, out of the very edge of my eye, I see a rising shadow blocking out the moonlight. I slowly turn around. Tala’s empty red cloak lying on the ground beside me. Her naked body lengthens into the sky and emits a scarlet glow. Her hair extends down across her shoulders and falls like waves over her body. Her skin is so pale I can see through it, and her eyes are redder than the blood moon. Her movements are fluid but sharp. She points one finger at me. They are as thin as twigs on the branch of a dying tree.

‘She’s mine!’ Tala roars.

But her voice is not her own.

She screams so loud it makes my bones vibrate. She’s floating above the ground, her feet dangling beneath her like ribbons. I watch her, and the truth hits me like one of Mama’s slaps to the face.

I know now that Tala’s the reason our babies die. She’s the reason the crops don’t flourish and why our winters are so harsh. It’s because Tala is within our coven. Hell follows Tala because she is Hell’s Queen. She’s not Tala. She never has been.

She is Lilith.

‘Relinquish the child.’ Lilith thrusts out her arms. ‘Now.’

I don’t. I hold May closer to me. I look at my sister and see her eyes are open. She’s looking up at me.

‘NOW!’

‘No!’ I scream. ‘She’s mine!’

‘Hand her to me!’

I don’t understand. Lilith is a demon, a queen of demons. Why doesn’t she just grab for May?

Then I realise.

She can’t.

The child has to be offered.

That’s why she told Mama that she would have the Chosen Son. That’s why Tala exiled Grandma, because Grandma knew it was a lie. If Mama knew she would never have a baby boy, then she would have loved May as I do. But Tala lied and promised her the Chosen Son. Tala knew Mama would be so heartbroken she would offer May to Lilith. But I wished for May. May is mine.

‘GIVE HER TO ME!’

‘NO!’ This time my scream growls from deep inside me. It’s a scream to rival Lilith’s and it takes her by surprise because I see her falter in front of me. She floats back like I’ve blown a gust of wind at her. She steers forwards but my orb is up again, and this time it’s strong enough that Lilith can’t break through. It’s so strong that I can see the blueish hue surrounding me and my sister. I look down at May and see her open eyes. Together we’ve made this barrier impenetrable.

It’s quiet in our bubble. Lilith’s roars sound as if they’re coming from underwater. She tries to break into my orb by slamming herself into it at different angles. But she can’t get through.

I take off towards the forest. The orb moves with me, cocooning me and May from everything that could hurt us. I don’t know how long I can keep my orb up. If May falls asleep, will it weaken without her magic to help?

I slow to a jog the deeper we get into the forest. I don’t look behind me for fear of seeing Lilith spinning over my orb or Mama and the rest of the coven giving chase. I think I hear rushing water, which means I’m going to cross the river soon.

Ahead of me I see a sphere of light, and I freeze thinking it’s Lilith. But Lilith’s glow was red, this light is blue like my barrier. I know May and I are safe inside my magic walls so I approach this light. The figure crouched within it looks up at me even though I’m sure I’ve made no sound.

‘Abigail.’ My grandma’s voice sounds just the same as I remember it. I recognise the softness of her face and her thick silver braid. ‘You did it.’ She stands, strides across the river and crosses easily into my orb to take me up in a big hug. ‘I’d hoped you would make it out. I couldn’t come too close; Tala would sense my presence.’

‘Why did she lie?’ I realise I’m crying. ‘Why did she tell us all those things? Why would she hurt my sister?’

‘Lilith is a Queen of Hell,’ Grandma says. ‘She commands and produces evils we can’t imagine. But we’ll defeat her. We witches know where she is now.’

Grandma sounds so sure but our coven is tiny. ‘What witches?’ I ask.

‘We are thousands,’ Grandma says, ‘and we’ve been trying to contain Lilith so we can finally destroy her. I knew my daughter would be a sacrifice, but that my granddaughters would lead us to Lilith’s end.’

‘But she’s still alive,’ I take a fearful look over my shoulder but see only darkness beyond my barrier. ‘Lilith is coming.’

‘I hope so,’ Grandma says. ‘We’ve all been waiting for her.’

My orb appears to fade and I worry it’s dissolving, but then out in the forest I see a scattered swarm of spherical lights. They’re floating towards us from every direction. A bright blue orb closes in from behind Grandma and I see Lisette smiling inside it. And I realise my orb isn’t weakening. It’s expanding. As these lights approach I see there’s a witch at the heart of each orb. Their power is reaching out and joining mine. Each new light I see absorbs into our power and the magical sphere strengthens beyond the treetops.

I feel May squeeze my finger.

Beside me Grandma takes my hand and smiles. ‘We’re ready now.’

rocket crux 2 75

About The Author

Kat Pekin

kat pekin 200Kat Pekin is an emerging speculative fiction writer living and studying in the Western Suburbs of Brisbane. She recently completed a Bachelor’s Degree in Creative and Professional writing with QUT and is currently undertaking an honours degree in the same field. Her work has been published in numerous anthologies and her stories have won, placed, or received High Commended in local and Australia wide writing competitions.

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Issue 250 Print Edition

AntipodeanSF Issue 250 is now ready via print on demand.

<http://paperback.reviews/lulu7>

All profits donated to Australian Science Fiction Foundation fan funds.

Ebook version also now at Smashwords

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AntiSF & The ASFF

AntipodeanSF supports the ASFF

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Please visit the ASFF website and consider joining for up-to-date info about Australian SF cons, awards, competitions, and to receive the Foundation's newsletter, Instrumentality, and more.

<http://asff.org.au>

The AntipodeanSF Radio Show

AntiSF's Production Crew

nuke conflux 2017 200Ion Newcombe is the editor and publisher of AntipodeanSF, Australia’s longest running online speculative fiction magazine, regularly issued since January 1998, and conceived back around November 2007. He has been a zealous reader and occasional writer of SF since his childhood in the 1960s, and even sold a few stories here and there back in the '90s.

“Nuke”, who it turns out loves editing more than writing, lives in the New South Wales North Coast holiday destination of Nambucca Heads, where he is self-employed in IT training, computer support, desktop publishing, editing, writing, and website implementation. He is also the resident tech-head, skeptic, and board member of community radio station 2NVR, where he produces a number of shows including The AntipodeanSF Radio Show.

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mark web 200Mark Webb's midlife crisis came in the form of attempting to write speculative fiction at a very slow pace. His wife maintains this is a good outcome considering the more expensive and cliched alternatives. Evidence of Mark's attempts to procrastinate in his writing, including general musings and reviews of books he has been reading, can be found at www.markwebb.name.

One of Mark’s very best forms of writing procrastination is to produce the eBook series for AntipodeanSF, which he has been doing since issue 175.

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In The Next Issue...

Coming In Issue 251

A Prayer To Saint Bibiana
by Tim Borella

A Quizzical Occurrene
by Malina Douglas

Addicted
by Shane Griffin

Five Years
by Mark Towse

Marriages Are Made In Heaven
by Russell Kightley

Possession
by Kevin J. Phyland

Skyfire
by Laurie Bell

The Biggest News In History
by Anderson Fonseca

The Horn Of Amalthea
by George Nikolopoulos

The Perfect Balance
by Zebuline Carter

The Contributors

mconlyMichael Connolly lives in Bowraville NSW, Australia. He has worked as an art teacher, music teacher, printer and illustrator among other things (such as chicken de-beaker), and has a keen interest in science-fiction and the natural sciences. He has illustrated for the magazine Tabula Rasa, which specialises in the horror genre, and is a regular contributor to AntipodeanSF.

consig

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laura goodin 200American-born author Laura E. Goodin's novels are published by Odyssey Boooks; her stories have appeared in numerous print and on-line publications; and her scripts, libretti, and poetry have been performed internationally. She has a PhD in creative writing from the University of Western Australia, and attended the 2007 Clarion South workshop. She lives in Melbourne with her husband, composer Houston Dunleavy, and divides what little spare time she has between trying to be as much like Xena, Warrior Princess as possible and ringing tower bells.

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lee battersby 200Lee Battersby is the author of 2 novels for adults and one for children.

He lives in country Western Australia and can't get out.

He occasionally turns up at: <leebattersby.com>.

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simon brown 200Simon Brown has been writing for nearly fifty years. His novels and short stories have been published in Australia, the US, Russia, Japan, Poland and the UK.

He currently lives in Johannesburg, South Africa, but his true home is on the south coast of New South Wales, where he will return one day and never move again.

His website, Strange Borders, can be found at <https://simonbrown.co/>.

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andy mcgee bioAs a sixties’ hippy and more recently an exploration geophysicist, I have travelled the globe for work and pleasure.

My many weird, funny, poignant, educational experiences have led me to writing various short stories and three novels to date. Spreading the word of basic science and energy issues is my current aim, all done with a sense of fun and overall optimism.

I have a view that we should try to unite on solutions rather than forever bickering over options. Basic science is often neglected as battle lines are drawn up. You can check out my blog ‘Science Kept Simple’ at <mcgee.id.au>.

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jason nahrung 200Jason Nahrung is a Ballarat-based journalist, editor and writer.

He is the author of four novels and more than 20 short stories, all within the speculative fiction field.

In 2019 he completed a PhD in creative writing from The University of Queensland in the field of climate fiction. <www.jasonnahrung.com>.

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Trent Jamieson is the Brisbane based author of the Death Works series, the Nightbound Land Duology, and the multi-award winning novel Day Boy.

He is currently finishing a host of new projects, and starting on the greatest adventure of all: fatherhood.

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cat sparks 200Cat Sparks is a multi-award-winning Australian author, editor and artist.

Fiction editor of Cosmos Magazine from 2010-2016, she’s also been a media monitor, political and archaeological photographer, graphic designer and manager of Agog! Press, which produced ten anthologies of new speculative fiction from 2002-2008.

Cat directed two speculative fiction festivals for Writing NSW and is a regular panellist and speaker at speculative fiction literary events.

Her collection, The Bride Price was published in 2013 and her debut novel, Lotus Blue was published in 2017.

She has published 70 short stories and multiple articles since 2000 and her 22 awards include the Peter McNamara Conveners Award for services to Australia’s speculative fiction industry. She recently completed a PhD in creative writing through Curtin University.

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kris ashton 200Kris Ashton is an Australian author, travel writer and motoring journalist. He has published three novels and nearly forty short stories, mostly speculative fiction. He lives in the wilds of south-western Sydney with his wife, two children, and a slightly mad boxer dog.

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louise zedda sampson 200 2Louise Zedda-Sampson is a freelance writer and editor from Melbourne, Australia. She copywrites and writes short stories, flash fiction and non-fiction articles. Her fiction has appeared in anthologies and student publications and her non-fiction in journals and magazines.

Louise has a Diploma of Professional Writing and Editing and updates her skills regularly through industry courses and seminars. She edits a broad range of fiction and non-fiction and specialises in structural editing for both novice and experienced authors.

Louise also runs writers’ retreats in the tranquil settings of the Dandenong Ranges.

Visit Louise at <www.novelsolutions.com.au>.aus25grn

col hellmuthCol Hellmuth lives off grid in the Daintree rainforest.

His day jobs over the years have included electrician, kayak expedition tour guide, service station attendant, traffic controller and chicken catcher.

When he is not enslaved at work he is usually found bumming around his local beach dodging crocs in his kayak or jamming on the blues harp with his fellow band mates, the Cow Bay "Excruders."

He has previously had his stories published in issues 239 and 245 of AntipodeanSF.

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I've read and watched sci-fi all my life I think it's time to give back instead of just taking. My stories have appeared in Aphelion, AntipodeanSF, Far Cry Magazine, Planet Web Zine, Schlock! Webzine, Short-story.me and Unrealpoloitik!. I have one short story collection - Hawking Radiation - published and am currently working on my first novel, due for release in 2020. You can connect with me on Twitter (@Ishmael_Soledad) or my blog at: <https://ishmael-a-soledad.com/>

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Tony Steven Williams was born in Penzance, Cornwall, UK (that’s right, the one with the pirates!). He eventually saw the light and became an antipodean, emigrating to Adelaide in the last millennium. Tony and his artist wife now live in Canberra. He is a short-fiction writer, poet and occasional songwriter/performer with work published in anthologies, newspapers, print and online magazines, and broadcast on the radio. He writes across the genres but has not yet settled down to any particular species; however, SF is a very frequent visitor. His poetry book Sun and Moon, Light and Dark was recently published by Ginninderra Press (2018). Tony is immensely proud to be represented in AntipodeanSF’s 250th issue, a truly remarkable achievement by Ion and all the contributors over 21 years.

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kim rose 200 2Kim Rose is a professional writer of romance and erotic fiction.

Long time lover of fantasy and sci fi.

Keen spokesperson for sex positive culture and breaking social stigmas.

For more information please check out these pages

<https://www.deviantart.com/kalikapsychosis>.

<https://www.instagram.com/kimrg6_6_6/>.

<https://www.facebook.com/Kimrg2/>.

<https://www.patreon.com/kimrg666>.

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eugenbaconEugen Bacon has sold many stories and articles, together with anthologies. Her stories have won, been shortlisted and commended in international awards, including the Bridport Prize, L. Ron Hubbard Writers of the Future Contest and Copyright Agency Prize. Literary speculative novel — Meerkat Press (2019). Creative nonfiction book — Macmillan (2019)

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kat pekin 200Kat Pekin is an emerging speculative fiction writer living and studying in the Western Suburbs of Brisbane. She recently completed a Bachelor’s Degree in Creative and Professional writing with QUT and is currently undertaking an honours degree in the same field. Her work has been published in numerous anthologies and her stories have won, placed, or received High Commended in local and Australia wide writing competitions.

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andrea teare 200Andrea Teare is an emerging writer from Sydney Australia. She writes Sci-Fi, Horror and Fantasy and has a number of short stories available in anthologies from Horrified Press and The Unfading Daydream.

She is currently working on her first novel.

More about Andrea can be found at her website, <www.andreateare.com.au>.

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Phill Berrie has had a lifelong love affair with science, speculative fiction and role playing. It was his love of role playing that led him to start writing in the spec-fic genre and his attention to detail (read OCD) that helped him fall into editing.

A life member of the ACT Writers Centre, he is the author of two published speculative fiction novels: The Changeling Detective, an urban fantasy, detective noire story set in and around Canberra, Australia; and Transgressions, a high fantasy tale about life changes, sex changes and petty gods. It is his sincere hope that he can get back to writing both these series as soon as his current magnum opus, an episodic, electronic choose-your-own-adventure story called Choices: And Their Heroes Were Lost (produced by Tin Man Games in Melbourne), is finally completed.

Phill now lives in semi-retirement in Yass, New South Wales. As well as his writing and editing, he commutes to Canberra three days a week to help science teachers teach science in his roles as the digital projects officer and pro tem publications manager for the Australian Science Teachers Association. Despite all his attempts to do otherwise, he has never worked harder in his life and dreams of retiring almost as much as he dreams of the fantastical worlds of his imagination.

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lauriebell 2 200Laurie Bell lives in Melbourne, Australia. She was that girl you found with her nose always buried in a book. She has been writing ever since she was a little girl and first picked up a pen. From books to short stories, radio plays to snippets of ideas and reading them aloud to anyone who will listen.

She is the author of The Butterfly Stone (YA/ Fantasy — available now) and White Fire (Sci Fi — available now)

You can read more of her work on her blog Look for her on Facebook <www.facebook.com/WriterLaurieBell/> or Twitter: <@LaurienotLori>

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zena shapter 200Zena Shapter writes from a castle in a flying city hidden by a thundercloud. Author of 'Towards White' (IFWG 2017) and co-author of 'Into Tordon' (MidnightSun 2016), she’s won over a dozen national writing competitions — including the Australasian Horror Writers’ Association Prize, a Ditmar Award, and the Glen Miles Short Story Prize. Her short stories have appeared in 'Midnight Echo', Hugo-nominated 'Sci Phi 
Journal', ‘Antipodean SF’ and Award-Winning Australian Writing (twice). She’s a movie buff, traveller, diversity enthusiast, and story nerd. Find her online at <zenashapter.com>.

towards white zena shapter

Zeb writes:

Last week, on a whim I submitted some of my own musings to ‘Nuke’, and when I checked back today — my time in my ‘verse, which is plus six years comparative to you — I saw that he had published some of them! I wasn’t even sure the contrived email and attachment would get through, let alone end up published on your internet of things. (BTW — We have nothing quite like your ‘net, but we’ve gone far further into the solar system than you have. Figure that!) Now that I know a connection is possible, I thought I’d tell you a little more about myself and where I’m from. So, from the beginning…

Hi. My name is Zebuline Carter — that’s Zeb for my friends or Zeb-you-leen if you want to get formal — and I’m a forty-two year old former astronaut now working as an administrator at Farside, on Luna. Farside is a research base, where innerscopes are just starting to peel back layers of our sheath of the local multiverse. Because our work is so sensitive to em influences, Farside is situated within a one hundred klom diameter exclusion zone.

In my late teens I earned a double major in aerospace and business but passed over grad school for civilian astronaut training. As a kid I collected coupons from cereal boxes until I had enough for my first telescope, and built scale models of all the commercial shuttles and orbiters. Growing up, I’d always felt slightly out of place, like I was meant to to be somewhere else and part of me already was — until, that is, I had my first trip into low orbit aboard a high-riding intercont-cruiser, or ICC. That was a high-school graduation present from my Uncle Jim, and during the fifteen minutes of freefall I found that other part of myself, grabbed it tight, and never let go since.

Did I also mention I’m 180 cents tall with bobbed chestnut hair? Or that because of heart damage from a bad landing, I’m also marooned in low gravity? But heh, there are now six bases around Luna, supporting a permanent population of around twelve thousand Lunans, and a transient population of several thousand tourists and stopovers returning form the outer system, so it never gets boring and I don’t get lonely. And living in low G means I won’t age or sag as fast, either.

Until next time —

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ed-erringtonFollowing two decades of working in the area of scenario-based learning (particularly speculative scenarios) within the university sector, Ed maintains an interest in Futurology. That is, evidence-based suppositions and theories about potential trajectories of humanity, science, technology and civilisation into potential futures. 

‘Download 505’ was inspired by a range of BBC articles on the advent of weaponised clones in military arsenals and their potential impact on humankind.

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Shane is an ageing scientist, cricket fanatic and long term indie writer. He lives in Australia at the foot of the Blue Mountains with one phone obsessed teenager. He has completed many short works, several novella's and one novel. Shane also now publishes via his own independent publishing label —Poupichou Press via Smashwords.

His other works can be found here;

<https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/drgriffo13>

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ed-harveyPretty much a life-long fan of speculative fiction, Edwina Harvey is a writer, editor, silk painter and ceramic artist.

Her short stories and articles have appeared in a variety of publications including Aurealis, Antipodean SF, Grass Roots, Harbinger, Magpies, Strange Pleasures #3 and Worlds Next Door.

She has had three books, The Whale’s Tale, The Back of the Back of Beyond, and An Eclectic Collection of Stuff and Things and a novelette, Never Forget, published through Peggy Bright Books. <www.peggybrightbooks.com>.

 Edwina received her editing qualifications in 2012 and now works as a freelance editor, specialising in speculative fiction.

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Chris writes:

With the advent of accurate speech recognition software I began writing in late 2011. Incensed by a particular episode of "Doctor Who", I wrote my own. I enjoyed the creativity so much that I have continued on. Writing, while challenging, gives me a sense of empowerment and joy, and has been added to my list of passions.

My other passions are science, nature, animals and all things sci-fi, and my stories reflect these interests. My very first published story was "What If" in AntipodeanSF in Jan 2012. Since then I have written 13 stories for the magazine.

I enjoy Asimov, Clark, and many other classic writers as well as Terry Pratchett. My favourite author is still Alastair Reynolds.

In a fit of insanity I decided to write a novel. Six years in the making my Science Fiction novel, "Upload" is now available from Lulu (print edition), Smashwords and Amazon (e-book editions). Check out my website at <www.Christaleyes.com> for more information. 

I am a senior citizen, and live in sunny WA with my husband and our cat Tilda.

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mark webb 2019 200Mark Webb's midlife crisis came in the form of attempting to write speculative fiction at a very slow pace.

His wife maintains this is a good outcome considering the more expensive and cliched alternatives.

Evidence of Mark's attempts to procrastinate in his writing can be found at <www.markwebb.name>, including details of his stories in AntipodeanSF, Dimension6 and other reputable publications.

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Tony Owens is an ESL teacher living in Brisbane with his wife and son.  His short fiction has appeared in the anthologies In Fabula-Divino, Zombies Ain’t Funny, and 18. He also does a flash fiction series chronicling the adventures of the long-suffering Klinko, the King of Klowns, which appears semi-regularly on the AntipodeanSF website.  His ultimate ambition is to find the literary sweet-spot between H.P. Lovecraft and P.G. Wodehouse.

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jason-butterfieldJ. M. M. Butterfield is an aspiring writer of speculative fiction living on the North West Coast of Tasmania. He has just completed his first novel, "Bastion: Holy City", part of a series titled "Chronicles of a Star-Born King". He is now set upon finding a path to publication whilst he begins his second novel, "Bastion: Fallen City". You can find out more about his upcoming works at www.facebook.com/JMMButterfield.

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antoinette rydyr 200Antoinette Rydyr is an artist and writer working in the genres of science-fiction, fantasy and horror usually bent into a surrealist and satirical angle. She works with fellow creator, Steve Carter and together have produced graphic novels, award-winning screenplays and esoteric electronic music.

In 2018 their collaborative steampunk western novel, “Weird Wild West” parts one and two were published by Bizarro Pulp Press, USA, and part three will be published in 2019.

They have also published graphic novels including, “Savage Bitch”, “Weird Worlds”, “Bestiary of Monstruum”, “Weird Sex Fantasy”, and the celebratory resurrection of the infamous “Phantastique”, ingloriously presented in full bloody colour!

More grotesque delights can be viewed on their website: <https://www.weirdwildart.com/> and their Amazon Author Page:

<https://www.amazon.com/Carter-Rydyr/e/B07DBYBBZT/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_1>.

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Bart Meehan is a Canberra writer who has published a number of short stories in publications such as Hello Horror, Aurealis and AntiSF. He has also had a number of radio plays produced for national community radio — now available as podcasts at <https://podcast11793.podomatic.com/> as well as stage plays performed in Canberra and Sydney Short and Sweet Festivals.

Bart recently published a novella called The Parting Glass, about the experiences of 5 men and women during World War 1.

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ca clarkCA Clark is a writer of short fiction with aspirations to complete that great space saga gathering e-dust in a file lost somewhere on the portable hard drive.

Apart from being too busy to write as often as any writer should, C A Clark squeezes out the odd flash fiction; there are eight flash fictions with AntipodeanSF and half a century of pieces in varying length in anthologies so far.

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LyndaRYoungHeadshot200Lynda R Young is a writer, editor, game developer, 3D artist, graphic designer, photographer, gamer and so much more. She has a Christian daily devotional book out called Cling to God. She is currently working on a Young Adult Fantasy Adventure series of novels set on the High Seas. She lives in Brisbane with her sweetheart of a husband. Find her at <http://lyndaryoung.blogspot.com.au/>.

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garry dean 200Garry lives on the Mid North Coast of New South Wales Australia, and has been a fan of SF, ever since his older brother took him to see 2001 a Space Odyssey for his eighth birthday. He has a soft spot for classic science fiction, along the lines of Isaac Asimov and Arthur C Clarke.

Although he was painting, and writing about other worlds in his teens, it wasn’t until his 40s, that Garry had a serious go at writing. When the onset of a genetic eye disorder made things difficult, he turned to adaptive technologies, including voice recognition and text to speech.

Garry’s work has appeared in AntipodeanSF, as well as Quantum Muse and Daily Science Fiction. He is currently working on a collection of short stories, due out in mid 2019. Website: www.garrydean.wordpress.com/

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ProfilePic 2Natalie has tried everything from Air Traffic Control to Zoology, but writing has been the one constant across all the years.

She had her first publication in Antipodean SF and can still remember the heady excitement of that first acceptance.

She is eternally grateful for that first flush of encouragement, and is proud to be one of the regular contributors.

Congratulations to Ion and the team for reaching 250 issues of such a fantastic ‘zine, and thank you for your ongoing championing of the speculative fiction voices of the antipodes!

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martin livings 100Perth-based writer Martin Livings has had over eighty short stories in a variety of magazines and anthologies. His first novel, Carnies, was published by Hachette Livre in 2006, and was nominated for both the Aurealis and Ditmar awards, and has since been republished by Cohesion Press. <http://www.martinlivings.com>.

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In addition to short stories Sue Clennell has had poetry published in various anthologies including 'Best Australian Poems' and 'Australian Love Poems.' She has also had four short plays performed in Campbelltown, Sydney and Canberra.

Sue was a book reviewer in E-scapes, a regular column for AntipodeanSF, for three years and is grateful to AntipodeanSF for providing a market for the weird and wonderful. Visit Sue's Youtube site: <bit.ly/1wdTfcM>.

 

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Michael Schaper lives in Canberra with his partner Nadine, a standup paddleboard, two goldfish, some visiting sulphur-crested cockatoos and the ghosts of many half-written stories.

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jackie hosking 200Jackie Hosking is an Australian born in Nigeria to Cornish parents. Being short, she writes short. Flash fiction, poetry and picture books. If she were braver she’d be a stand-up comedian. But she isn’t. Jackie has published many poems for children. And her dream of publishing a rhyming picture book arrived in 2014. Thanks to Edward Lear and Walker Books Australia, she mutated ‘The Owl and the Pussy Cat’ into its Aussie cousin, ‘The Croc and the Platypus’.

Her next dream is to publish another one. A Jackie of all trades, she writes, edits and publishes an ezine for anyone interested in the children’s book industry. She has two blogs that she’d love for you to visit <www.jackiehoskingblog.wordpress.com> and <www.jackiehoskingpio.wordpress.com>.

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Kevin J. PhylandRetired after 33 years of teaching, Kevin now indulges his passions full-time: weather, reading and writing. His fiction usually embraces darker themes or the new weird, but lately he has gone back to more traditional old school SFF. He has set himself the task of reading every Stephen King novel, in order, and all of the recommended SF reading lists of Locus magazine for the last 35 years <http://www.sfadb.com/Locus_Awards_1983>. His eyes hurt.

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rebecca-fraserRebecca Fraser is an Australian author with a solid career of writing with influence across a variety of mediums.

Her short stories, poems, and flash fiction have appeared in numerous Australian and international anthologies, magazines, and journals since 2007.

Her first novel "Curtis Creed and the Lore of the Ocean" was released by IFWG Publishing Australia in 2018.

Rebecca actively engages in various writing communities and holds a Master of Arts in Creative Writing, and a Certificate of Publishing (Copy Editing & Proofreading).

For more information about Rebecca, you can visit her website <www.writingandmoonlighting.com>, or follow her on Twitter and Instagram <@becksmuse>.

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Wesley Parish is an SF fan from early childhood. Born in PNG, he enjoys reading about humans in strange cultures and circumstances; his favourite SF authors include Ursula Le Guin, Fritz Lieber, Phillip K. Dick, J.G. Ballard and Frank Herbert. He lives in Christchurch, NZ, is an unemployed Java and C programmer, and has recently decided to become a mad ukuleleist, flautist and trombonist, and would love to revert to being the mad fiddler and pedal steel guitarist..  "Where oh where has my little pedal steel got to ... ?"

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David Kernot is an Australian author living in the Mid North of South Australia. He writes contemporary fantasy, science fiction, and horror, and his short stories can be found in a variety of anthologies, magazines, and eZines across Australia, the US, and Canada. More information can be found at <http://www.davidkernot.com>.

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Ray O'Brien's last contribution to AntiSF was in March 2014. In the meantime he has continued to experience the joy and despair of living "amongst women", sustain a career in keeping old computer applications alive, and play drums in a dad rock band. One day he will be free to unleash the many stories that have swirled around his head for years. Ray lives at the top end of Sydney, near the Hawkesbury River.

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david-scholesDavid has written over 200 speculative fiction short stories. Some of these are included in his eight collections of short stories (all on Amazon).

He has also published two science fiction novellas and been published on a range of speculative fiction sites. Including: Antipodean SF, Beam Me Up Pod Cast, Farther Stars Than These, 365 Tomorrows, Bewildering Stories, the WiFiles and the former Golden Visions magazine.

He will soon publish a new collection of science fiction short stories “Contingency Nine and Other Science Fiction Stories”.

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Jan Napier was inhouse reviewer for Antipodean SF from 2009 to 2012.

Jan is a rabid Terry Pratchett fan, and plans to live on the disc world, preferably in one of Ankh Morpork’s more salubrious suburbs, as soon as her small, gas powered time machine has its obconic modulator adjusted. The gods of the multiverse have determined that she write poetry till then.

Sometimes her poems are labelled speculative fiction.

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rick kennett 200I'm a life-long resident of Melbourne, Australia, where I work in the transport industry. I like to explore graveyards, an odd hobby I call necrotourism, although I believe the correct word is taphophile.

I've been writing since 1979 and have had SF and ghost stories in many magazines, anthologies and podcasts. In 2008 my story "The Dark and What It Said" won a Ditmar, and in 2013 my podcast stories "Now Cydonia" and "The Road to Utopia Plain" won two Parsec Awards. I'm presently the podcast reporter for the M.R. James journal Ghosts & Scholars. I have two novels, a novella and two collections at Amazon. One of these collections, Thirty Minutes for New Hell, a series of connected short stories, is the original publication of "In a Phobos Garden."

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Shaun Saunders lives at the beachside suburb of Merewether, in Newcastle, NSW. He particularly enjoys Asimov's Foundation universe, and stories from the 'golden age' of SF. He is a regular contributor to AntipodeanSF, and winner of 2003 & 2004 AntiSF awards, and the inaugural 2005 SFSSC. His novel Mallcity 14 has been favourably compared with both 1984 and Brave New World.

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pamela jeffs 200Pamela Jeffs is a prize-winning speculative fiction author living in Brisbane, Queensland with her husband and two daughters. She is a member of the Queensland Writers’ Centre and has had her work published in both national and international anthologies and magazines. Pamela grew up in rural Australia, and likes to draw upon the natural world for inspiration in her work. Visit her at <www.pamelajeffs.com> or on Facebook @pamelajeffsauthor.

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AntipodeanSF May-June-July 2019

ISSUE 250

Speculative Fiction
Downside-Up
ISSN 1442-0686

Online Since Feb 1998

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Issue 250 Congrats!

AntipodeanSF — an amazing speculative fiction magazine, informative and entertaining, curated by an incredible editor. A huge thank you to Ion Newcombe for his tireless support of my work over the years and for giving authors like myself such a valuable platform on which to share our stories!

Pamela Jeffs

AntiSF's Narration Team

 

pixie willo 100Pixie is a voice actor, cabaret performer & slam poet From the Blue Mountains in NSW.

She enjoys writing short fiction, plays for radio and stage as well as her own brand of weird poetry.

She hosts the 'Off-Beet Poetry Slam' held bi-monthly in Katoomba,

And is a theatre reviewer for 2SER FM in Sydney.

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david whitaker 200David Whitaker is originally from the UK though has travelled around a bit and now resides in India. He has a degree in Journalism, however decided that as he’s always preferred making things up it should ultimately become a resource rather than a profession.

His stories, covering everything from sci-fi to philosophy, have been published across the globe and links to each can be found at <wordsbydavid.com>

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timonthy gwyn 100Timothy Gwyn is a professional pilot in Canada, where he flies to remote communities. During a lull in his flying career, he was a radio announcer for three years, and he is also an author.

In addition to short stories at AntipodeanSF and NewMyths.com, his SF novel is available internationally in print and ebook formats. "Avians" draws on his love of alternative aviation to tell the tale of a girl who runs away from home to join a cadre of glider pilots on a world without metal or fossil fuels.

On Twitter, he is @timothygwyn, and his blogs are at <timothygwyn.com>.

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lauriebell 2 200Laurie Bell lives in Melbourne, Australia. She was that girl you found with her nose always buried in a book. She has been writing ever since she was a little girl and first picked up a pen. From books to short stories, radio plays to snippets of ideas and reading them aloud to anyone who will listen.

She is the author of The Butterfly Stone (YA/ Fantasy — available now) and White Fire (Sci Fi — available now)

You can read more of her work on her blog Look for her on Facebook <www.facebook.com/WriterLaurieBell/> or Twitter: <@LaurienotLori>

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carolyn eccles 100

Carolyn's work spans devising, performance, theatre-in-education and a collaborative visual art practice.

She tours children's works to schools nationally with School Performance Tours, is a member of the Bathurst physical theatre ensemble Lingua Franca and one half of darkroom — a visual arts practice with videographer Sean O'Keeffe.

(Photo by Jeremy Belinfante) 

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mark english 100Mark is an astrophysicist and space scientist who worked on the Cassini/Huygens mission to Saturn. Following this he worked in computer consultancy, engineering, and high energy research (with a stint at the JET Fusion Torus).

All this science hasn't damped his love of fantasy and science fiction. It has, however, ruined his enjoyment of rainbows, colourful flames on romantic log fires, and rings around the moon. He has previously been published in Stupefying Stories Showcase, Everyday Fiction, Escape Pod, Perihelion and also on AntipodeanSF where he is part of the narration team.

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marg essex 200Margaret lives the good life on a small piece of rural New South Wales Australia, with an amazing man, a couple of pets, and several rambunctious wombats.

She feels so lucky to be a part of the AntiSF team.

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garry dean narratorGarry Dean lives on the Mid Coast of New South Wales Australia, and has been a fan of SF for most of his natural life. Being vision impaired, he makes good use of voice recognition and text to speech in order to write. Many of his stories have appeared in AntipodeanSF over the years, and his love of all things audio led him to join the narration team in 2017.

You can read examples of Garry's fiction on his website <https://garrydean.wordpress.com>

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SF News

SF News

The Wyndham Writing Awards (previously Words of Wyndham) returns in 2019 to inspire, encourage and recognise emerging Victorian adult writers and literary creators. Prizes will be awarded for unpublished works in four categories: short story, graphic short story, flash story and poetry. Shortlisted entries will be published in the Wyndham Writing Awards Anthology 2019. Entries open Wednesday 1 May – Sunday 30 June 2019. More info: <wyndham.vic.gov.au/writingawards>

 

Upcoming Cons

Continuum 15 Other Worlds (Natcon 58): Continuum 15 is the Australian National SF Convention, to be held in Melbourne on June 7–10. More information and memberships <https://continuum.org.au>. AntipodeanSF will be at Continuum 15 and celebrating Issue 250 of AntiSF!

Writing NSW Speculative Fiction Festival 2019 - Sydney NSW. Writing NSW is excited to announce that their biennial Speculative Fiction Festival will be taking place on 29 June 2019. <https://writingnsw.org.au>.

Worldcon Dublin 2019 — An Irish Worldcon 15/08/2019 till 19/08/2019, The Convention Centre Dublin (CCD). <More info here>

For more up-to-date Aussie SF info join the ASFF: <asff.org.au>.

The AntipodeanSF Radio Show

AntiSF Radio Show

antipod-show-50The AntipodeanSF Radio Show delivers audio from the pages of this magazine.

The weekly program features the stories from recently published issues, usually narrated by the authors themselves.

Listen to the latest episode now:

The AntipodeanSF Radio Show is also broadcast on community radio, 2NVR, 105.9FM every Saturday evening at 8:30pm.

You can find every broadcast episode online here: http://antisf.libsyn.com 

SF Quote

When I die I’m going to leave my body to science fiction.

Steven Wright

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