Silver Lining

By Rex Caleval

sfgenre“All right, let’s get started. I’m Dr. Robert Hirsch. For those of you just being brought in on this, here are the basics,” said the man at the head of the conference table. “Some time ago, astronomers observed what appeared to be a large extrasolar asteroid approaching our system. When we calculated its trajectory, we found that it would pass quite close to some of the new moons of Saturn discovered by the Cassini project years ago. Doctor Susan Lassiter, here,” he continued, gesturing to a woman sitting to his left, “came up with a plan to divert another mission we’d been about to launch. We could get data on several objects in the asteroid belt on the outward leg, then try to land a probe on this object, like the Huygens lander in the Cassini mission did on Titan. The landing would be difficult, but if we could pull it off we’d get valuable information on the extrasolar object, and our probe could hitch a ride on it and provide data on these new moons as it went past. We decided to try it.”

“That mission launch was briefly in the news several years ago, and it’s all we’ve released so far. We’re here to discuss what we haven’t told anyone yet.” Hirsch turned on the screen at the front of the room. “We’ve received photos taken by the Lassiter probe as it approached the asteroid during its landing attempt.” He slowly clicked through several images, each getting progressively more detailed as they got closer to the asteroid. Everyone sat forward, watching intently. Then there were several startled gasps.

“Are those what they look like?” asked one man. “Those can’t be natural, can they?”

“Exactly. What we have here appears to be the first definitive proof of extraterrestrial intelligence. Those look like crates of some kind, clearly not of the same material as the asteroid, and seemingly placed there by someone. We’ve been able to confirm this. Our probe made it down and kept sending data, although it had a rough landing. Here are the images from the surface.” Hirsch clicked through several more pictures of what looked remarkably like shipping containers, albeit very sturdy ones. “We haven’t found anything else, just a great number of these crates, if that is in fact what they are.”

“Have we been able to find out where this object came from?” asked a woman at the end of the table. “Where is this other intelligence? Do we know?”

“We think Alpha Centauri, but we can’t be sure. If we move back to the third and fourth pictures,” Hirsch said, “at the far left appears to be a set of tubes of some kind. We see another set on the right in pictures seven and eight. Doctor Lassiter thought that they might be a propulsion system of some kind, and we’ve just gotten data that appears to confirm that. The object has changed course, just a small amount, but definitely an artificially induced change of direction. Because it can do this, we can’t know for certain where it originated, but Alpha Centauri remains most likely.”

There were more startled exclamations. “It turned? It must be under control of some kind,” said a man in a military uniform. “Is it coming here? Is that what this is about?”

“No, Colonel MacNamara, it’s not coming here, although it will pass closer now than it was going to initially. It appears to be manoeuvering to ensure that it goes directly into the Sun.”

“What? Why would it do that? Could it be some kind of attack?” the Colonel replied. “Why weren’t we informed about this earlier?”

“We discovered the change in trajectory less than a day ago. It’s taken that long to get this meeting together,” answered Hirsch. “Dr. Lassiter has a theory which we believe best fits the facts. She’ll take over now.”

The woman on his left rose. “Thanks, Dr. Hirsch. The instrument packages on the probe were able to detect many things about those crates. Some of the contents we don’t recognise, but there are many we do know. A lot of radioactive waste, like we get from our own nuclear reactors. Chemical and biological agents. Heavy metal sludges like we see in industrial waste. Without knowing more about whoever sent it, we can’t be sure what it would all be to them, but to us, it’s almost entirely made up of the most toxic and hazardous waste byproducts we know.”

“What will happen when that hits the Sun?” asked the Colonel. “Will it be dangerous?”

“It shouldn’t be. In fact, the Sun would be an ideal disposal system. It seems that someone is using our star as their garbage incinerator.”

Everyone was stunned for a moment. “Why not just use their own star?” someone asked.

“Nobody wants a dump near them on Earth. Maybe they’re the same. A little distance, just in case. They probably don’t know anyone is here. After all, we didn’t know that they were there.”

“Well, that’s deflating,” said MacNamara. “Our first contact is as a garbage dump.”

“That depends on how we choose to look at it,” replied Lassiter. “It seems likely that there will be more asteroids. We use a dump site more than once. They probably do too. We could at least add our own hazardous wastes to theirs for disposal. All we’d have to do is hit an asteroid with a launch as it went by, when one is close enough. But I think a better opportunity is in those crate contents we don’t recognise. Who knows what new elements, materials or isotopes we could find? Let’s go get them!”

MacNamara looked thoughtful. “I wouldn’t mind a look at that propulsion system, either. And it must have some kind of sensor and control system, to know when to turn.”

“Exactly, Colonel. There’s a bright side here.” Lassiter smiled. “It’s time to expand the old saying. One species’ trash…”

rocket crux 2 75

About The Author

Rex Caleval

rex calavel 200Rex Caleval lives in Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada, where he spent twenty years as an air-traffic controller.

Always an avid reader with story ideas popping into his head, he decided to try writing a few.

He's been pleased to find that people seem to like them. His stories have appeared in Every Day Fiction and Antipodean SF.

aus25grn

Download AntiSF E-Book

Epub version: 

Kindle version: 

AntiSF & The ASFF

AntipodeanSF supports the ASFF

ASFF logo 200

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>

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.

aus25grn

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.

aus25grn

The AntipodeanSF Radio Show

In The Next Issue...

Coming In Issue 245

Coffee With God
by Col Hellmuth

Crossing Mercury
by Kevin J. Phyland

Hugh's Friend
by Mark Towse

Jackie
by Natalie JE Potts

Much Needed Boost
by David Scholes

Painting The Future
by Robin Hillard

The Final Squeeze
by Zena Shapter

The Fire
by Chris Gladstone

The Prince Scamp — His Wrath
by Wes Parish

Trajectory
by Roger Ley

Get Dimension 6

D6sidebar

Get Dimension 6 Speculative Fiction

From Coeur De Lion Publishing

Here at AntiSF
Download D6 Now!

"Trust me, you want this free speculative fiction e-zine."
(Rob Hood)

AntipodeanSF November 2018

ISSUE 244

Speculative Fiction
Downside-Up
ISSN 1442-0686

Online Since Feb 1998

rocket crux 2 75

AntiSF's Narration Team

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>

old style mic flat 25

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>.

old style mic flat 25

 

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.

old style mic flat 25

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.

old style mic flat 25

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.

old style mic flat 25

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>

old style mic flat 25

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) 

old style mic flat 25

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>

 old style mic flat 25

SF News

Upcoming Cons

Supanova Adelaide 02/11/2018 till 04/11/2018, Adelaide Showground, John Barrowman & a calvacade of others. <https://www.supanova.com.au/>

Supanova Brisbane 09/11/2018 till 04/11/2018, John Barrowman & a calvacade of others. <https://www.supanova.com.au/>.

Monsterfest Horror Movie Festival 22-25 November, Cinema Nova Melbourne <https://www.monsterfest.com.au/>.

INDIE COMIC CON 2018 8 Dec Northcote Town Hall, Melbourne Free event. <http://www.indiecomiccon.com.au/>.

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/>.

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!

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