Gathering At The Bubble

By Robert W. Caldwell

sfgenre“It will hurt the Inuit economy.”

The mousy-haired girl had been lecturing us for at least ten minutes, half-empty wine glass sloshing its contents with each emphatic pronouncement of doom.

“And the growing ice cap will close off the Northwest Passage,” Claire continued.

I watched the sun set over the ocean. At least with the onset of darkness I wouldn’t be able to see the water three hundred feet below through the concave floor of the clear bubble.

Claire, the webmaster of the Advocate took a sip, “Ships will have to sail an extra two thousand miles.”

My fear of heights did not fit well with this month’s choice of a bar suspended over the ocean for the social. I usually liked these occasions; they got me away from the computer for a while.

“Here comes Sam and his new girlfriend,” said Ted, a videographer, pulling a greasy, overgrown lock behind his protuberant ear.

I observed the tall anchorman stagger from the tubular crossway followed by a gorgeous blonde animatron female.

“As if he couldn’t get any real girl he wanted,” muttered Claire to herself.

“Will they build over the ruins of New York or relocate the city?” interjected Ted with a lopsided smirk.

I moved my head over the table to decrease my vertigo by blocking the view below.

As Sam and his animatron companion neared our table, I could hear her singing, “Whoa whoa whoa make you happy.”

“But all we have to do is put more CO2 into the atmosphere!” said Claire, taking another sip.

Sam, avoiding looking down, walked to the table. “Hey guys! What’s going on?”

“Claire’s preaching about Global Cooling again,” I said.

“As if the weather’s never changed before,” said Ted, taking a sip.

“Hurricanes are fun!” The animatron looked at Ted with her glassy brown eyes. “Especially if you stock up on beer ahead of time. There are no bills because the mail doesn’t come. Everything is quiet. The power goes off. You get to put out candles. It was a bummer that we didn’t get any hurricanes last year.”

“Who is this?” I asked, taking a deep breath and raising my eyes toward the domed ceiling, hoping my food would stay down.

“You don’t know Trish Merrill?” replied Sam. “She was a popular singer of the Twenty-first Century. I think she’d drank a bit too much whiskey when she said that.”

“My musical taste tends to lean toward more recent singers,” I said, taking a sip of beer to settle my stomach.

“Should we all start doing outdoor barbeques?” asked Ted. Claire frowned at him.

“Do you want me to sing something for you?” asked the animatron.

“Yes, please do!” I said.

Claire glared at me.

“I was stuck inside my shell / Too shy to open up. / I was happy all alone. Monday morning in the rain / at the bus stop feeling drained / with a smile on his face / He gave me his umbrella. / and I don't know anything / what could be better than / a sweet lovin’ man.”

At the end of the song people sitting nearby — and the crowd that had gathered, — clapped. I clapped too, my hands hurting as I strived to make it loud. Ted clapped also. Claire frowned.

“Isn’t she cool?” said Sam. He took a seat.

“Yeah, if you like dead celebrities,” said Claire, putting down her glass so that the waitress could refill it.

Without looking up from the menu Sam ordered a beer.

“Now, what other major issue do you want to solve?” I asked Claire.

“I have a hard time thinking of myself as someone people pay money to see,” said the animatron standing by the table. “I feel more like an ordinary person who has her dark side.” She looked right at me.

Sam signaled the waiter to come over then ordered a hamburger, medium-rare.

Claire grimaced at him. “I can’t believe they still serve real animal meat. It’s disgusting.”

A red-headed girl entered, followed by an Elvis animatron.

The Trish Merrill animatron lit up and called out, “It’s the King!”

The Elvis animitron looked around until its glassy eyes alighted upon the Trish Merrill animitron and said, “Hey, baby. Are you lonely tonight?”

“I’m a real good woman that no man knows, will you sing a duet with me?” The Trish Merrill animitron hobbled toward the Elvis animitron and it shuffled toward her. Both units seemed to have difficulty navigating on a curved floor, until they met and both sang. “College professors say. Only silly people fall in love, but I can’t believe I’m falling in love with you.”

I could see the lights of ships passing beneath the restaurant. My acrophobia wasn’t much diminished by the darkness. I took another sip of beer and felt a little light-headed. I thought to myself. “At least they’re having fun.”

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About The Author

Robert Caldwell

robert caldwell 200Robert writes about himself:

You can also find this story in my collection The Other Side of Forever, on Amazon.

I grew up in Birmingham, Alabama. I have a cat that sometimes gets in the way of my typing. I am also a photographer. At 48 years of age I was diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome, a high functioning form of autism. Recently I have become a self advocate.

I graduated from Huntingdon College in 1981. I studied photography at night classes held at the University of Alabama in Birmingham. I got an MS degree in Journalism at Murray State University. Then I worked at newspapers and publications without much success before I went to Portfolio Center in Atlanta in 1994 to study Commercial Photography. After one year I left because I did not like the teachers or their teaching methods. Not having very much success finding commercial photography jobs I worked at several retail establishments in Atlanta until I decided to move back to Birmingham Alabama in 2002. I got a degree in Web Design in 2007 From Jefferson State Community College and once again couldn’t find work. I have found a new purpose in life since my diagnoses. I am a Governor appointee on the Alabama Interagency Autism Coordinating Council and the Regional Autism Network as well as volunteering for several activist organizations, all well being a caregiver for my Mother.

Growing up autistic I always had a different angle on things. That may be why my stories are so strange.

Previously in Antipodeon I’ve had "A day In Caaatahlona 1 City Beneath The Waves," AntipodeanSF February 2018

I’ve also had the epic poem “The Blossom War,” published in 18th Wall’s anthology, The Dragon Lord’s Library.

I had a short story “Silver Image,” published in the Daguerreian Annual 2015.


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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.

“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.


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

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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Coming In Issue 240

Hit Parade
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by Estelle Owen

Mars Hence
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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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AntiSF's Narration Team

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 <>

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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, 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 <>.

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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 <> or Twitter: <@LaurienotLori>

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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 <>

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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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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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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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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: <>


Upcoming Aussie Cons

Continuum XIV: Conjugation. Melbourne’s SF Convention. 8th – 11th June, 2018. More information: <>.

Conflux 14 - The Unconventional Hero — Vibe Hotel, 1 Rogan Street, Canberra Airport ACT 2609. 29/09/2018 - 01/10/2018. More Information: <https//>. 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: <>

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