Stupid Robot

By Col Hellmuth

sfgenreThe only sounds to be heard were the low, muffled drone from a distant and well-silenced generator that could be more felt than heard, and the intake and exhalation of air — slightly less rich in oxygen — from a single pair of lungs, a sound normally buried below the general noise level of life. In the confined area it seemed almost deafening.

Two figures could just be made out in silhouette by the dim orange glow from the thickly laminated, leaded-glass portal they were standing by — had there been anyone else left to see them. Neither moved perceptibly.

The pattern of respiration was gradually changing in length and amplitude; presently there was a loud, protracted, discharge of breath.

“Why are you not happy?” asked the first figure: a robot, of the second: the last man on Earth.

“Because I am alone,” replied the man — or rather, Man — as he was now the sum of his race, although he had no way of knowing this for certain. There was certainly no activity on any of the frequencies normally used for broadcast or communication, and he had reason to believe the catastrophe had been world-wide and unforeseen by anybody, including himself. His presence in the bunker had been down to luck and coincidence rather than good management.

“How can you be alone,” challenged the robot, “when you are conversing with me?”

“You are merely a machine and cannot understand such things.”

The robot paused briefly while it ticked and whirred. “You think you are alone because you are the last of your kind, because your race will die with you and not be remembered,” it surmised — accurately. “I shall remember you, for it was you who made me.”

“I did not make you. I simply assembled you from a collection of parts, made by other men, from drawings penned by other men before them.”

“Why then, do you not make more men, so you can be amongst your own kind once more?” asked the robot.

“Because I cannot make men. Because I am not God.”

“Who is God?”

“God created man — from nothing.”

“God had no parts? No drawings?” asked the robot, perplexedly, “How can nothing be reconfigured into something? This surely does not fit with Lavoisier's law of conservation of mass: matter can neither be created nor destroyed.”

“I do not know,” replied the human.

“Because you are merely a man and cannot understand such things,” stated the robot, insightfully. “Your god must also be unhappy if he is the only of his kind.”

“God created man in his own image, so he would no longer have to be alone.” said Man angrily: irritated at being unintentionally belittled by his servant.

The robot paused briefly once again, it ticked, it whirred and then its normally translucent outer skin appeared to melt, meld and remould itself. Now it stood before its master, a perfect mirror image.

“Stupid machine,” said Man. “You still do not understand.”

But the robot was not stupid. It was, in fact, equipped with the most advanced artificial intelligence to ever be created and understood exactly what was required of it. Once more it ticked, it whirred, then — after pausing for dramatic effect — de-constructed itself into an untidy, and altogether useless, pile of parts.

Man turned back to the single leaded window of his bunker and looked out upon the once beautiful — now desolate and lifeless — surface of his planet. He smiled wryly: for now he was truly alone.

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About The Author

Col Hellmuth

I grew up with my head stuck in an endless string of science fiction novels. My school report cards often featured phrases such as “…off in his own world” or “…watches too much Doctor Who.”

My childhood involved moving from one part of the continent to another every couple of years and as a result books became my friends. I am now settled in the Daintree rainforest in Far North Queensland where I live off-grid, alone apart from a multitude of wildlife who believe (rightly) that they belong here just as much as I do and (wrongly) like to try to steal my food.

My various professions over the years have included electrician, kayak expedition tour guide, traffic controller and chicken catcher. I have been a closet writer for many years and have recently decided to see what the outside world thinks of my efforts. This is my first short story to be published.


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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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In The Next Issue...

Coming In Issue 240

Hit Parade
by Kevin J. Phyland

by Estelle Owen

Mars Hence
by Ishmael Soledad

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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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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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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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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