Critters

By Kevin J. Phyland

sfgenreOnce I used to slap mosquitoes and flies, and occasionally I killed some.

I came to learn that they are just critters. They have tiny lives of their own. They do what they need to survive and in turn they must defend themselves against bigger predators.

I used to hate spiders. Arachnophobia.

Despite the fear I had for them though, I respected their will to live, and that they ensnared flies and mosquitoes and sucked their life juices from them.

I watched a documentary once, though, that showed that some species of wasps caught and paralysed spiders and actually laid eggs inside the bodies before they died, and the young ate their way out. Humans are comparatively gentle.

Birds can eat wasps if they are clever enough. And some are actually carnivorous. Corvids, magpies and parrots can all eat meat if they are hungry enough.

Cats are silent killers. They need to wear bells to stop them killing native birds. But eventually they are clever enough to move without ringing the bell. Killing is a thing for them. Not an overriding thing but a thing nonetheless. They enslave larger mammals. They hide in plain sight.

All members of the big cat family have always been predators. They were getting to the top of the food chain. Even elephants sometimes succumbed and they were always scary prey. Like hippopotamuses.

But then you get dogs and wolves. Pack hunters. Evolution always finds a new way to get top billing. Cunning and clever, they worked cooperatively to ensure a more filial environment. Looking after young and defending against things they hadn't even encountered yet.

Dinosaurs were an evolutionary backwater. Despite their enormous reign they were going nowhere. Size is one thing. Intelligence is something entirely different.

The smartest dinosaurs, like troodons, were about the size of dogs, but were wiped out by a cosmic calamity. Had they been smart enough to have developed fingers, they may well have have written down how pissed off they were. But they didn't.

After that … well primates developed. Opposable thumbs. Incredible development. You can pick stuff up and look at it. And with cranial capacity increasing you could also think about what other options you might have with what you picked up and whether there were alternatives to eating it or sticking it up your arse.

And that's where it happened. You might be able to kill something with it. Benchmark.

Critters got a lot smarter after that. After all, what could be better evolutionarily than getting bigger brains and higher and finer skills?

Brains got bigger but minds got smaller. The ancient simian hindbrain was never really made redundant. It surfaced at any given insult. The hominids finally tried to destroy each other with their intelligent weapons, which were probably more intelligent than their creators.

Chemical, biological and nuclear weapons were employed.

I was lucky. I get to write this. I was in a deep bunker developing a new form of mass destruction.

But it's been a week now and I've heard nothing. The periscope shows mosquitoes, flies, spiders and cockroaches still moving about.

Evolution clearly moves in mysterious ways.

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About The Author

Kevin J. Phyland

Kevin J. PhylandFinally officially retired. Writing will now take up a bit more of my time. Still working on longer pieces. 33 years spent teaching. Writing since I was 12 on and off. Something had to give. I have a penchant for short, choppy, staccato sentences with too many adjectives.

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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.

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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 240

Hit Parade
by Kevin J. Phyland

Infiltration
by Estelle Owen

Mars Hence
by Ishmael Soledad

Prison
by Botond Teklesz

Screams Mean Fear Or Pain
by Kyra Thomsen

Serum 66
by Laurie Bell

Star Sign
by Roger Ley

Terminating Train
by D.A. Cairns

The Outsiders
by Ed Errington

Tinker's Curse
by Garry Dean

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AntipodeanSF June 2018

ISSUE 239

Speculative Fiction
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ISSN 1442-0686

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AntiSF's Narration Team

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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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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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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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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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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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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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 (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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SF News

SF News

Lillicat Releases "A Betrayal and Other Stories" by Brian Biswas

Lillicat Publications has relased AntiSF contributor Brian Biswas's new story collection "A Betrayal And Other Stories", now available at Smashwords and Amazon. <Find Out More>

Meerkat To Publish Eugen M. Bacon's "A Woman's Choice"

Meerkat Press has acquired AntiSF contributor Eugen M. Bacon's literary speculative novel "A Woman's Choice" for publication in 2019. Go Eugen! <Read More>

 

Aussie Awards News

2018 Aurealis Awards Open

2018 Aurealis Awards overseers the Continuum Foundation (ConFound) announces that the 2018 Aurealis Awards are now open for entries.

The Aurealis Awards, Australia’s premier awards for speculative fiction, are for works created by an Australian citizen or permanent resident, and published for the first time between 1 January 2018 and 31 December 2018.

Full guidelines and FAQ can be found on the Aurealis Awards website: <https://aurealisawards.org/rules/>

 

Upcoming Aussie Cons

Continuum XIV: Conjugation. Melbourne’s SF Convention. 8th – 11th June, 2018. More information: <http://www.continuum.org.au/>.

Conflux 14 - The Unconventional Hero — Vibe Hotel, 1 Rogan Street, Canberra Airport ACT 2609. 29/09/2018 - 01/10/2018. More Information: <https//conflux.org.au>. AntipodeanSF will be at Conflux 14!

Nullus Anxietas VII: The Australian Discworld Convention – will be held in Melbourne on April 12-14, 2019, and is themed on Going Postal. More information: <https://ausdwcon.org/>

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