Waking Up

By Chris Cole

sfgenreMalcolm struggled to open his eyes. An insurmountable tide of exhaustion battled his desire to be awake. He blinked hard, shaking his head to clear the cobwebs. He felt alert but mildly disorientated. It was a familiar feeling, the twilight zone between your last dream and the perils of the oncoming morning, typically punctuated by the fading echoes of the alarm clock — unsure of which day it was, or even where he might be. A melange of sensations and memories, inconsistent, and no way to tell which was real, which was now, which was merely remembered.

"Hello there," a familiar voice. Happy. There was a smile hiding in that voice, but tinged with...something else. Close by. Warm fingers closed around his.

With a final effort, he forced his eyes open, and struggled to focus on the face at his bedside. Katie, his eldest daughter. He smiled. She was beautiful, especially when she smiled. Always had been. He remembered her cranky expression as the midwife handed her to him. The mixture of excitement and fear on her first day of school. Riding her first bike, and, shortly afterward, her first trip to hospital for a broken bone. The time she'd stood there, tears of indignant teenage fury rolling down her cheeks as she screamed "I hate you!" and, not long afterward, the gentle sobs of love and apology against his shoulder as they clung to each other. Her brilliance at school and, later, university, becoming a teacher herself. Her passion for it, for life as a whole. His own tears of both joy and sadness the day he walked her down the aisle.

Something must have happened. They were in a hospital room. Had he had a heart attack? A stroke? Some sort of accident? Clearing his throat to ask, he stopped. A man had entered the room, smiling pleasantly, tucking a notepad back into a pocket of his white coat. Higgins. Dr Higgins. The name leapt to the front of Malcolm's mind like a slap across the face, and a torrent of realisation flooded in behind it.

His attention suddenly crystallised, he looked down at Katie's hand in his. Turned his hand over, and back. He looked up at his daughter, fear and inquiry burning in his eyes. She suppressed a giggle, or a sob, nodding quickly. "Yes," she said. "It's done. It's you. Do you remember?"

Yes. He remembered. "I need a mirror".

Higgins moved forward, talking hurriedly about the importance of taking things slowly at first, but Malcolm brushed his protests aside as he sat up, swinging his legs over the edge of the bed.

"I'm okay. Please..."

He stood, moving on unsteady feet to the sink, and for the longest moment, just stared. He blinked, touching his face.

"My god. It worked."

"Of course," Higgins was beaming. "We'll take you through some specific testing in a little while, but it's usually obvious right away to the client that things have gone as planned." He paused. "It's always a little...disorientating, but do you feel... yourself?"

Malcolm turned to face him, a cautious smile forming as he nodded, and then froze as he glanced into the corridor behind the doctor, standing framed by the doorway. Higgins' smile faltered, briefly perplexed by Malcolm's change in expression, before turning to follow his gaze, eyes widening in alarm.

"Oh... Oh! I see. Damn. No. Wait... please!" Higgins raised a hand plaintively. Malcolm was already sweeping past him, into the corridor. He had caught only a fleeting glimpse of the man being led past by a nurse, but it was enough. The pair had just disappeared into a room two doors down across the corridor as Malcolm emerged from his room. Higgins rested a hand lightly on his shoulder, was starting to say something, but he shrugged it off and turned to face the shorter man.

"No. I understand your concerns... and I don't care. Please don't bother trying to stop me."

The doctor's shoulders fell with a sigh, his eyes downcast as he nodded almost imperceptibly. Katie was on her feet, looking worried, about to speak. Malcolm stopped her with a gesture and smiled.

"It's all right, honey. I know what I'm doing. It's okay. Really."

Voices drifted from the room, most of them resolving to familiar faces in his mind's eye as he walked slowly to the door. A nurse appeared from within, stopped, gaping at him. He saw her gaze shift slightly, and Higgins' voice over his shoulder, waving her away.

Malcolm stepped into the doorway.

Everything stopped.

His brother, his younger daughter and her husband, a cousin, were all there. He didn't care. The man laying in the bed looked up at him, and their eyes locked. He could see the man's mind racing furiously behind those eyes. Those exquisitely familiar eyes. And then the moment of comprehension. A heartbeat, maybe two, and the man found his voice.

"Could everybody please pop out for a minute?"

Voices of protest erupted. Malcolm raised his own voice, kind but firm, his eyes never leaving the older man's.

"Please. Don't argue. Just do it. We need a few minutes."

Silence. Malcolm struggled to keep his breathing even, the other man staring back at him as his family quietly filed out of the room.

"We need to talk." The man in the bed nodded.

"Yes... We do." Malcolm closed the door gently behind him.

He remembered quite clearly now. And if he remembered, he knew the man laying in the bed remembered also. Malcolm knew this with certainty, because until quite recently they'd lived the exact same lives, or rather, life.

The online brochure had made it all sound so simple, an elegant solution to a problem that as yet, could not be effectively prevented. Cloning had been perfected, from a technical point of view, decades ago. The ethical wrangling had taken years longer. Tightly regulated, horrendously expensive, it was an answer to many of the medical dilemmas gene therapy and artificial tissue technology were yet to overcome. The imprinting or transference of neural network structure, that is learned experience, memories, personality, was an unexpected but rapidly explored and exploited incidental effect. The applications were protean.

Malcolm had been a well-heeled academic, with strong links to important players in private industry, when he was diagnosed with a form of early onset dementia. He was fifty years old. He was terrified. The decision was an easy one. The process was explained, consent undertaken while he was still sufficiently in command of his faculties to make such decisions. Which is how Malcolm knew the man in the bed knew what was happening; he was the one who had signed the papers authorising it. That was five years ago.

Except things hadn't quite gone to plan. These two men, these two versions of himself, were never meant to meet. The protocol was strict because the laws were even stricter. It was completely unacceptable to have more than one "copy" of a human being wandering the world simultaneously. Once the clone was fully functional, and information transfer successful, the original subject took a simple pill, and closed their eyes on this world for the last time. That was the agreement, the price of immortality. Accepted knowingly, willingly.

Malcolm sat down next to the bed.

"I suppose jokes about finally finding myself are a little lame at this point, eh?" the older man quipped. "This is all a bit...disconcerting."

Malcolm nodded. "I'm feeling a bit beside myself..."

A moment passed, and both men cracked identical grins, chuckling at themselves, each other. They spoke awhile. Discussions of philosophy, the ethics and morals of their predicament were too confusing for the older man. So they spoke with passion about their great loves, regrets, adventures, family. Things that mattered, that drew gales of laughter, as well as tears.

After several minutes, or an hour, or an eternity...who knew...both men were again quiet, and their gaze shifted from each other to the pill container sitting unobtrusively on the bedside trolley.

"Ah yes. I guess I must have forgotten to take my pills. I think that happens quite a lot these days." The old man smiled apologetically.

Malcolm looked deep into those oh so familiar eyes for one long, last time. "Here, let me sort them out for you."

Some time later, the door cracked open, and his family slipped cautiously back into the room. Malcolm looked up at them. He felt alert, but mildly disorientated. It was a familiar feeling, the twilight zone between your last dream, and the perils of the oncoming morning. Unsure of which day it was, or even where he might be. A melange of sensations and memories, and no way to tell which was real, which was now, which was merely remembered. He wasn't sure why he seemed to be in hospital, but his family had come to visit. The old man shifted in his bed and smiled up at them.

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About The Author

Chris Cole

chris cole 200Chris is an enthusiastic devourer, and occasional hopeful creator, of compelling science fiction. An antipodean devotee of Douglas Adams, Terry Pratchett, Orson Scott Card, and crepes that have been cooked just right, he dodges marsupials en-route to work, and spends vast periods of time staring at the sky. In his spare time, he struggles to improve his disc golf handicap, and occasionally lends a hand in sorting out the sick and injured hairless apes of the world. He may or may not be far too familiar with 8-bit computer games from the 1980's.


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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 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 239

Alea Iacta Est
by Chris Cole

by Kevin J. Phyland

Gathering At The Bubble
by Robert W. Caldwell

History Comes Alive
by Ken Schweda

Leading The Swan
by Hari Navarro

Stupid Robot
by Col Hellmuth

The Centaur
by Salvatore Difalco

The Circus Act
by Ferne Merrylees

by Robert David

War On Terror Just Blows Me Away
by Wes Parish

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AntipodeanSF May 2018


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ISSN 1442-0686

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AntiSF's Narration Team


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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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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lauriebell 2 200Laurie Bell lives in Melbourne, Australia. She was that girl you found with her nose always buried in a book. She has been writing ever since she was a little girl and first picked up a pen. From books to short stories, radio plays to snippets of ideas and reading them aloud to anyone who will listen.

She is the author of The Butterfly Stone (available now).

You can read more of her work on her blog Look for her on Facebook <www.facebook.com/WriterLaurieBell/> or Twitter: <@LaurienotLori>

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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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SF News

SF News

Vale Tony Plank

AntiSF contributor Tony Plank was a computer programmer, web designer, SF writer, active member of the Australian SF community and an all-round good guy.

He passed away peacefully on 21 March, 2018. A kind, fun-loving man, he contributed a lot to the Aus SF scene and will be sadly missed.

(Edwina Harvey).

<Read More>

Congratulations Edwina Harvey

Edwina Harvey, a contributor to AntipodeanSF since the very first issue, is a worthy recipient of this year’s A. Bertram Chandler Award.  She has been an active member of Australian science-fiction fandom: writing, publishing and with her amazing artwork for 40 years.

Read more information about Ed's Award here at the ASFF.

Ishmael A Soledad Publishes "Hawking Radiation"

Ishmael A Soledad, a recent AntiSF contributor (and more to come in our future pages) has recently published a collection of his SF short stories. Love, telepathy, suicidal androids, purple dragons, and machine-gun-toting rabbits. More information here.

Dimension6 Issue 13 - Mark Webb

AntipodeanSF is an affiliate site for Dimension6 from Coeur De Lion Publishing, the best in Australian Speculative Fiction, free every April, July, and October. In the latest edition (#13), long term AntiSF contributor Mark Webb has a novella length story, “The Reclaimers”, about Ulanda, who travels the edge of civilisation, cleansing border towns of a deadly residue that lingers from the magical weapons of mass destruction that ended the war. It’s the only job still allowed for the paranormally-inclined and life is adequate, until an old girlfriend appears with a questing opportunity that Ulanda knows she absolutely should refuse… Dimension6 can be found free on the AntiSF website here in both mobi and epub formats.

For more SF news why not join the ASFF and get the ASFF newsletter “The Instrumentality” delivered straight to your inbox!


Aussie Awards News

2018 Norma K Hemming Finalists Announcement
The Australian Science Fiction Foundation (ASFF) is delighted to announce the 2018 shortlists for the Norma K Hemming Award, which covers works published in 2016-2017. Finalist list is here.

The winners of the 2018 Norma K Hemming Award will be announced at a ceremony taking place on the evening of Friday 8 June, 2018, at Continuum in Melbourne, with citations and a monetary prize being presented.

 For more up-to-date Aussie SF info join the ASFF: <asff.org.au>


Upcoming Aussie Cons

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

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

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/>

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 

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