Serratoria

By Chris Gladstone

sfgenreMaybe I had expected clowns. The Circus Planet’s space elevator cargo hold looked just like all the other cargo holds I’d been to –– grim, sterile and vast –– except for the sign.

‘DANGER! DO NOT PROCEED BEYOND THIS LINE.’

The red skull and crossbones was a nice touch. Perhaps even obsessive work safety and health bureaucrats had a sense of humour. It was probably to prevent people from being run down by loading robots. I disregarded it. After all, I wasn’t some inexperienced greenhorn. I had ten years of doing this under my belt. Since mine was the only ship docked I figured it wasn’t a problem. In hindsight it was one of the worst decisions I ever made.

I tramped down the ramp to watch my new robot deposit its first load. Satisfied it was worth the credits I’d paid for it, I turned back towards my ship, The Endpoint. What the hell! From the shadows had come a brilliant flash of emerald green. A voice in my brain began screaming warnings. In my usual sensible fashion I ignored it and went to investigate. As I got closer, I suddenly couldn’t breathe. Time froze, as a green, crab-clawed woman materialised from behind a crate. Should have taken notice, Cal, my inner voice crowed. I stood, paralysed. In microseconds she’d woven her mind control web around me. As the strands tightened, her voice reverberated inside my head — drowning out my own.

‘I know your secret, my little pet, and now it’s mine.’

I sank into blackness.

Day 1

I opened my eyes. They were full of grit, and my vision was blurry. I blinked and blinked, as I wiped away tears with my sleeve until I could focus. I lay on my side in a grey, three walled cage. I shivered, chilled by the icy gale that came whistling through the bars from a barren, red plain. Distant mountains, silhouetted in an early dawn light, spiked into a hazy orange sky.

Well at least I was still alive but where the hell was I? My mind flashed back to the space elevator loading bay, and I remembered. Oh God Almighty! I was on Serratoria –– the Circus Planet. That green crabby thing had brought me down to the surface. Why? And why the hell hadn’t I taken notice of the warnings? Serves you right, Cal, my smug inner voice said.

I rolled, eased myself onto all fours and tried to stand. Pain shot through every muscle and nerve fibre. I gritted my teeth, gripped the bars and hauled myself upright. Gulping for air, I remembered that Serratoria’s atmosphere had a lower oxygen level compared to my home world. That would take some getting used to. No, no, wrong attitude, Cal, you won’t be here that long, I reassured myself.

I looked around; a fine layer of the planet’s red dust covered every visible surface. My hands grated on the bars like sandpaper, and my clothes rasped against my skin. Strange, the bars were becoming warm. They were probably some sort of alien synthetic. I yelled, as an electric shock rocketed through me. My knees buckled, and I slid to the floor struggling to suck in enough air. I coughed and coughed until I retched. My throat burned, and my mouth filled with the taste of iron. Blood, or dust, or both?

I heard a faint clanging snapping noise that I couldn’t identify. There were voices and animal calls coming from somewhere behind me. A musky, rank smell assaulted my nostrils, and the hay covering the floor reeked of mould. The cage measured around four metres high, three wide, and four long. The animal it held must’ve been huge. Let’s hope it wasn’t coming back anytime soon.

I became aware of Zareen’s thoughts pressing on my mind –– how did I know her name? My senses were drenched with the image of her two giant crab-like claws reaching towards me. I panicked.

She stepped in front of my cage and raked her claws across the bars. As her suffocating thoughts tightened around me, she smiled. She remained silent, but her voice resonated inside my head.

‘Awake my little pet? Good, let us begin.’

I curled myself into a ball and whimpered, ‘Leave me alone, just leave me alone.’

Day 52

‘Zareen has no vocal cords?’ I raised my eyebrows. I had wondered –– she never spoke.

‘No cords, can’t speak, must use mind,’ Grooth, my golden-furred friend growled.

We’d formed a close friendship over the weeks and I’d grown fond of the bioengineered part wolf, part sabre-toothed humanoid. He wasn’t all that bright, but something about him was endearing –– he reminded me of a giant wolfey-tigery soft toy. We were united against our common enemy, Zareen, the circus’s ring mistress.

‘Speak of the devil.’ Oh God Almighty, groaned my inner voice.

She appeared at the entrance to the main tent and beckoned with a claw.

‘Time for practice,’ I sighed.

Grooth growled sympathetically as I walked off.

Day 75

Hours after one of her sessions, Zareen’s telepathic conversations always repeated in an endless loop. They seemed seared into my brain; just like the one I was re-living now.

‘You have enough air, Cal, for five minutes; more if you stay calm.’ I remembered the sinister way she’d smiled, as she flicked her yellow fluorescent hair out of her eyes with the end of her claw.

‘What if something goes wrong?’ Something always does, I thought.

‘Nothing will go wrong, my little pet. I will make sure of that.’ She held my gaze with her violet eyes. Eyes that seemed able to see into my soul.

I shivered with the memory of her disturbing expression. My heart fluttered as I realised that this was the first time we’d done this routine in front of an audience. I didn’t trust Zareen to keep to her timing. She’d probably think it would add to the drama to leave the reveal until I was gasping for breath. All the rehearsals had been done without the box’s lid on, so air hadn’t been an issue. We’d only done the full routine once before because the lid’s release mechanism was so damn complicated to set up.

I took a deep breath, teleported on cue and re-materialised crouched inside the box. Zareen would be happy. At least this time she’d have no excuse to fry all my nerve endings. She regularly reduced me to a screaming heap if I upset her or when things didn’t quite go to her plan. She enjoyed hurting people. I hated her for it.

Concentrate, Cal, concentrate. I brought my awareness back to the box. The smell of sawdust became suffocating and I started to sweat.

To stop my rising panic, I began to picture some of the spectacular stars and galaxies I’d seen over the years while delivering cargo in my ship. I was a little too successful. My memories conjured up such a deep sadness filled with longing that I began to tear up. As I wiped away tears with my sleeve I realised that I would probably never see any of it ever again.

I checked my watch. Its luminous green light was comforting in the smothering darkness. Only two minutes had passed; I still had plenty of time, but not if I didn’t slow my breathing. I concentrated on the muffled sounds filtering through the box’s padded walls, and thought I could hear the drum-roll finale.

The release mechanism clicked. I thrusted my arms up above my head and launched myself upwards with my legs. The spotlight spilled over me, as all four sides of the box crashed outwards. I stood tall, shoved the lid up into the air and off to one side. It landed with a satisfying whump. I heard the crowd go wild. Cheers and clapping, relayed via an audio link from high above the planet, boomed from the banks of speakers surrounding the ring. Zareen beamed at me. She raised her claws, and whirled in triumph. Her cloak flared, showering the cameras with tinsel red and gold light.

I tried to copy her, but I tripped over one of the discarded sides of the box. Startled, I instantly teleported to stop myself from falling. Being a spur of the moment thing, I misjudged and re-materialised too close to Zareen. I got tangled in her shimmering metallic cloak and lost my balance when one of her claws whacked me across the shoulder. We crashed to the floor. Sawdust sprayed out towards the cameras lining the ring. Zareen’s telepathic scream of rage exploded inside my brain. Every nerve in my body lit with fire. When the pain stopped, I looked up. Zareen had recovered; she stood and bowed in the pretence that it had all just been part of the act. I passed out.

Day 160

‘It’s too dangerous, dust storms can come out of nowhere.’ I stood my ground. I had to be convincing and build her expectation.

‘You will fly me there!’ Zareen shrieked inside my brain. ‘Otherwise, I will force Grooth to chop your toes off, one at a time.’

God Almighty. That was something I hadn’t anticipated.

Grooth, chopping wood nearby, abruptly dropped his axe. He turned. A puzzled look flashed across his face. He snarled, shook his head violently from side to side and began to whine. He wrapped his long arms around himself and began to rocking backwards and forwards. When he fell to his knees and howled like a wolf, I snapped. I grabbed Zareen’s claw and shoved her backwards.

‘Stop it, you sadistic bitch!’ My skin instantly burned with the heat of a thousand lasers. I collapsed, screaming. I had thought if she focused on me she might let up on Grooth. She didn’t. My pain stopped. Grooth continued to howl.

‘Alright, dammit! I’ll fly you. Just stop hurting him.’

Grooth’s howling continued.

‘Please stop, just stop,’ I whispered.

The howling ceased. Grooth stood up and shook himself. He picked up his axe and loped towards me. With his muzzle contorted in fury, and his golden fur standing on end, he loomed in front of me and raised the blade.

‘Grooth,’ I yelled, as I scrambled to my feet, ‘what the hell are you doing?’

To my relief, after shaking his head from side to side, he lowered the axe.

‘Not think right….sorry, Cal….sorry.’ He dropped the axe, turned, and padded off towards the main tent.

Zareen smirked, and waved an iridescent claw. ‘We’ll fly to the cave, tomorrow.’

She’d known when she grabbed me that I was an experienced pilot. We often flew to the space elevator to collect supplies. I had planned to escape by stealing the flyer but hadn’t had the chance. In spite of the danger, the expedition tomorrow provided the perfect opportunity. My plan revolved around my discovery that Zareen’s mind control dropped away when she became worried.

I’d waited a long time for this. Two nights ago, she’d won a strange box at gambling. Inside had been a single gold coin and a local map showing a cave marked with an X. Luckily, performance pressures had prevented us from flying out earlier which gave me the time I needed to get organised.

Day 161

The craft bucked and the cabin smelt of sweat and fear. Grooth’s face had turned yellow and Zareen’s a darker shade of green. I looked at the fuel gauge indicating empty, still in denial, as the mountains loomed. Our only hope was catching a thermal. The engine coughed, spluttered, and died. We dropped in a deep air pocket then levelled out.

‘Garzine! Garzine!’ Grooth snarled, bearing two long yellow fangs. His fur was standing on end.

‘I can’t land, you sabre-toothed misfit. Nass gazine!’ I shouted. I felt bad shouting at the poor devil but needed to concentrate.

I wrestled to keep the craft level. Our current course would slam us into the rock-face ahead. Please let it be quick, I prayed. The flyer jolted, bolts and panels shook, then we soared upwards. I cheered, Grooth growled approvingly and Zareen clacked her claws together. Our relief was brief. We still had to fly over the highest peak. I closed my eyes and braced for the crash. The craft rocked and vibrated. I opened one eye in time to see the craggy peak slide underneath us, less than half a metre away.

We dropped towards the plain like a wounded bird. In the distance, I could see the giant yellow triangular flag atop our circus’s main tent, flapping in the breeze.

Grooth whined with fear.

‘Quiet! Damn it!’ We plummeted, surrounded only by the sound of the wind.

My mind went blank. I rummaged in my left pocket, found my remaining boost capsule, popped it in my mouth and bit down hard. A surge of adrenaline hit my brain, and the fog lifted. I began wrestling with the controls to keep the flyer on a glide path and prevent it from diving. No wonder I’d felt exhausted, I’d been up most of the night scrambling to get my escape plan together.

It played out too damn close to what I’d predicted. We had been caught in a dust storm, and had used too much fuel travelling to the cave. It was empty of course. I’d teleported there the night before, bribing my jailer to leave my cell unlocked (Zareen couldn’t control me while she slept, but I couldn’t teleport through metal). I’d had to part with all but one of my remaining boost capsules, and promise to share everything I found.

It had taken hours to get to the cave, because I could only teleport small distances at a time. My eidetic memory removed the need for the map. I’d found enough money to get me off the Circus Planet –– I had another name for it.

My muscles tensed, as the craft rocketed towards the surface. The landing would be rough. I hoped like hell I could pull it off. If I failed, I would never get another chance. The flyer slammed down, bounced, then crashed with a bone jarring thud. We spun around with a deafening, screeching roar. One wing slammed into the ground and sheared off, and we came to rest in a cloud of red. My passengers leapt out of their seats, wrenched the door open, and ran.

‘Bye big fella,’ I whispered, already feeling pangs of guilt.

I shook my head and re-focussed. Well at least I hadn’t needed to fake the crash. I fished under the dashboard and flicked a switch. Smoke began pouring out. I had thirty seconds before the craft ignited; a little something I’d organised in the early hours of the morning. I leapt out and tore away from the smoking wreck before teleporting towards the rocky outcrop where I’d had my escape craft stashed after buying it and its owner’s silence. Two teleports later, I reached the craft. I jumped on, and went streaking towards the space elevator. I could see it on the horizon, snaking up into the orange sky.

My thoughts raced. I had endured six months of torment, being forced to teleport as part of Zareen’s circus acts –– six months of being her slave. Ironic though. Everything had gone wrong, but it had still worked out for me in the end. Zareen had panicked when we crashed, and her mind control had evaporated. My only regret was that I couldn’t take Grooth with me.

I finally reached the space station. Placed in a geosynchronous orbit, it was one of five housing tourist accommodation and viewing amphitheatres for the circus shows streamed live from Serratoria’s surface.

After explaining my situation to the various authorities, I’d been forced to submit to a full medical examination.

‘Well, you’ve either a very lucky young man, or I’m missing something.’ The doctor peered over the top of his glasses at me.

‘Lucky, in what sense?’ My scalp prickled.

‘Lucky in that you haven’t had any bioengineering work inflicted on you.’ He paused, and pushed his glasses further up his nose. ‘It’s strange. You have no implants or grafts of any kind.’ He looked up, and eyed me suspiciously. ‘You don’t have any hidden mutations that I should know about do you?’

‘No, no mutations,’ I lied.

‘Your blood tests results aren’t back yet, but I’m satisfied with my examination, so you can go.’

I got to the door.

‘Cal.’

There was something in his voice. My mouth went dry as I turned.

‘I wouldn’t linger. Good luck.’ He winked and tapped his index finger on his nose.

***

The authorities still insisted on me paying the fine and storage costs for my ship. They did however, waive the fine for my illegal presence on the planet. After all, no one in their right mind would choose to go there.

rocket crux 2 75

About The Author

Chris Gladstone

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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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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Ishmael A Soledad has read and watched science fiction since before he went to school and thought it was time to give back instead of just taking. In between writing, working and reading he likes to daydream he's a rock star and annoy the neighbours with his guitar collection. He lives in Brisbane, Australia ('cause that's where the money and packed sandwiches ran out) with his long-suffering wife and psychotic cat.

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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 lives in Canberra with his extended family and is in the second half of his first century. He is the author of the Canberra-based urban fantasy story The Changeling Detective from US small press Hotspur Publishing and the high-fantasy tale Transgressions (available now as an ebook and hopefully coming soon in print form from Satalyte Publishing). He is a member the ACT Writers Centre and the Canberra Speculative Fiction Guild, where he was one of the editors for their most recent anthology, The Never Never Land. He is also a specialist editor of speculative fiction and works part-time at the Australian Science Teachers Association as their Digital Projects Officer.

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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 was the first place I published a story, way back in 2012. Writers out there will know what that feels like, the first time someone believes in your work and likes it enough that they are willing to put their name to it as editor, and send it out into the world. AntipodeanSF will always have a special place in my heart as a result. But over the years, what has really struck me is how many authors I admire and respect have a similar story to tell about AntipodeanSF. So many excellent people producing work to this day in part because Ion “Nuke” Newcombe believed in them, and gave them an early credit. You only have to look down the table of contents of this excellent anthology to see what I mean.

Congratulations Nuke on 21 excellent years, with hopefully at least another 21 in front of you.

Mark Webb

AntiSF's Narration Team

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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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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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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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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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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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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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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

Any dogma, primarily based on faith and emotionalism, is a dangerous weapon to use on others, since it is almost impossible to guarantee that the weapon will never be turned on the user.

Isaac Asimov, Foundation

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