Where Everybody Knows Your Name

By Mark Webb

sfgenreThe bartender for the next shift was running late, and Bernard was finding it hard to keep charitable thoughts in his head. In a vain effort to bring his blood pressure down to medically acceptable levels, he tried to imagine a sympathetic excuse. Perhaps Louise had received an emergency call to immediately rush to the bedside of her dying grandmother, and the tsunami of grief that was overwhelming her had driven the very thought of attending her shift at The Rocket Fuel (or even of calling to tell Bernard that she was running late) completely out of her mind. What kind of arsehole would he have to be to begrudge Louise her last few moments with her beloved grandma?

Of course, this exercise in mindfulness was somewhat undercut by the fact that he knew for certain that Louise had been scamming her grandmother out of her welfare credits for as long as he had known her, and would sell her to Absidian rare-earth miners if she thought she could profit from the deal.

He tried to summon another, more plausible reason, but his imagination failed him. It was time to face the stress-inducing facts. Louise was late because Louise was, in defiance of her deity-given genitalia, an enormous dick.

At least the bar was quiet. The station hadn’t seen a huge amount of traffic since the troubles had started in the Jovian Empire. Trade was slow because surviving once you passed the border was a dicey proposition. Bernard didn’t mind. Things would settle down soon enough, and whether it was a new post-revolution interim government or a resurgent revolution-busting old government didn’t really matter. Either would need to trade, and the starships would once more fly. The Last Post was the closest refuelling station to the border and everyone knew that when laying over on The Last Post, the Rocket Fuel was the place to make sure your hard earned credits stretched the furthest.

Things would heat up soon. May as well enjoy the quiet while it lasted.

As if to mock this desire, faint sirens started up in the distance. The few bar residents, dedicated drinkers to a person, stirred slightly on their barstools, demonstrating the vague survival instinct that came automatically to anyone who lived with the reality of cold vacuum close by.

Bernard cleared his throat. ‘Some poor freighter captain’s having a worse day than even you sorry sods.’

The drunks settled. One even used their momentary alertness to order another drink. Someone else’s pain they could live with. It could be worse. It could be them. That particular strobing sound meant a ship was coming in hot, and if they couldn’t bring themselves under control the station’s shields would remain up.

Bernard shivered with a sliver of sympathetic fear. Best case, the ship glanced off the shields and angled out into deep space. A head on collision didn’t bear thinking about.

For the ship. A head on collision didn’t bear thinking about for the ship. The station would be just fine.

The sirens stopped as abruptly as they’d began. Bernard cocked his head. No explosion. Maybe they made it. Good for them.

Maybe he should do some cleaning up while he waited. The bar — an eclectic assortment of steel framed station furniture scavenged over the years strewn around its dusty corners — had seen better days. Deliberately dim lighting meant it was always nighttime here at the Fuel, except, of course, along the bar counter itself: a strip of light in an otherwise darkened world. If he was going to spend any time cleaning, he may as well focus on the only thing people really wanted to see when they came here. Made from real, honest-to-deity wood, the countertop was a rich, golden colour that provided an organic edge to what was one of the most inorganic spots in the universe.

Who would spend the money to bring that much wood into space? Deity knows where Su Lin had got it from, although it was fun to trade rumours with the regulars. Some said it was an old heirloom, inherited by Su Lin when the rest of her relatives died in a freak accident at a family reunion. Others said she won it in the highly illegal, but also highly lucrative, Androsian street races. Others said that is was booty left over from her pirating days, where she reportedly ripped it from the yacht of a trust fund brat with more money than sense (or ship-to-ship defences). Whatever its providence, it was magnificent, and its presence did more to keep the Fuel away from bankruptcy than any ten other people or things attached to the establishment.

A new whooping sound echoed through the station, this one denoting a medical emergency. The ship had landed, but whoever was on that ship hadn’t made it through unscathed. Space really did come up with some amazingly inventive ways of hurting the humble traveller.

Bernard shook his head sadly in honour of all the poor bastards that had succumbed to the allure of galaxy-exploring and paid the price. Thank deity that was all behind him. Being exiled from Jovian space was the best thing to ever happen to him. Join the Marines, they’d said. Travel the Empire they’d said. For the glory of Jovia they’d said. Protect the Emperor they’d said. A lot of short sharp stabs of fear enveloped in an oozing treacle of boredom, with the certainty of ending up like these new arrivals — if not very nearly dead, then very actually dead. Bernard spat at a stubborn beer stain on the bar and rubbed at it vigorously with his sleeve. No, bartending was the life for him.

Now a security alarm joined the cacophony, and the patrons did begin to shift. The prospect of a collision with a ship was of little concern, but if station security was on the move, then most of the Fuel’s clientele migrated instinctively to safer ground. One or two slipped out the back entrance, leaving their beverages where they sat. Wasted alcohol. At space station prices, that was almost a crime in itself.

Bernard cleared his throat. ‘Take your time and finish your drinks, ladies and gentlemen. I think security have their hands full somewhere else.’

One of the crusted-on barflies, Old Supta, nodded sagely. If the Fuel gave out frequent drinker points, Supta would be an ultra-platinum member.

‘I’ll bet ya that ship was carrying plundered goods,’ he said. ‘Poor old Devy down at custom control may have to get off his backside and actually do some work. Not even he could ignore a crashed ship. Ha!’

That seemed to stem the tide. Supta looked at Bernard hopefully. Bernard sighed, and poured him a beer.

‘On the house,’ he said. ‘Just for making sure you sorry lot keep me company.’

Supta nodded back. ‘Fair pay for good work,’ he replied.

Bernard poured a couple of drinks over the next few minutes, the normal rate of pouring you’d expect for people drinking to forget on a limited budget. Things seemed to be settling down when Supta cocked his head — then stood up so quickly that his chair tipped. Without even an alcohol-infused witty remark, he made a beeline for the exit.

‘What?…’ said Bernard. Supta turned back just before the door.

‘Fight,’ he said. ‘Bad one.’

Bernard strained, madly trying to filter out the normal background sounds. There was something, something in the background. Wait, was that gunfire?

Bernard looked around and realised the bar was empty.

‘Well, shit.’

He turned to the nearest screen and typed in the lockdown code. As the doors closed and locked, he moved down to where the dubiously-legal, station-rated shotgun sat under the bar, then settled in to wait. It would pass; security situations were always over quickly.

Those noises were getting louder though.

The entry door shuddered, as if something had slammed against it with considerable force. Bernard brought up the camera feed from right outside the bar. A figure in a black, unadorned flight suit complete with helmet, was holding off half a dozen security guards. Personal shielding reflected phaser fire, high capacity shockgloves dealt out significant damage, and if Bernard wasn’t mistaken, that flight suit was absorbing blows like it was made from military grade high impact material. Whoever it was, money clearly wasn’t an object.

In a brief lull, the attacker turned to the bar door and attached a small device to the lock. Bernard looked down at a nearby screen to see that the lockdown was being overrun. It should be fine, Su Lin was a little paranoid and the bar security was the best a civilian could buy.

Oh crap. The door was about to open.

Bernard raised the shotgun just as the door slid open. The figure in black jumped through and pressed a few buttons on their sleeve. The door slid closed, and the lockdown recommenced.

‘Okay, friend,’ said Bernard, ‘why don’t you move on through. I suspect you can open the back door as quickly as you did the front. I’m no particular fan of the law, so I’ve got no issues with you using us as a getaway path. As long as you don’t mess up the bar, you’ll have no trouble with me.’

The intruder pressed another button, causing the flight helmet to retract back into the suit. Bernard placed the shotgun on the bar, and pinched the bridge of his nose.

‘What the fuck are you doing here?’

‘Bernard, you bastard. Didn’t I exile you?’ said recently ex-Emperor Josephine Alexis Garcia the First, clutching her side and slumping into a chair.

***

Twenty minutes and the application of two emergency-medic packs later, Bernard sat across from the Emperor, a bottle of scotch with two glasses separating them. Bernard tried to ignore the banging on the door from security. Apparently, Su Lin’s security was good enough to hold out station security but not someone with the resources of an empire behind her.

‘Technically, this isn’t Jovian space,’ opened Bernard. ‘I was exiled, and I remain in exile. Although I was kind of hoping that recent changes might mean an upcoming homecoming.’

‘You are living on a station that is one ion storm away from drifting back into the Empire. You’ve not exactly banished yourself to the end of the known universe.’

‘Jo.. Can I call you Jo? Actually, I don’t care. Jo, am I in Jovian space?’

Jo waggled her hand in the air. ‘No.’ Bernard could see that she hadn’t lost her ability to infuse even a single word with a profound sense of boredom.

‘And what were the terms of my exile?’

‘I don’t know, I’m a big picture punisher. I left those details to the magistrates.’

‘Well, I paid attention. ‘The accused will remove themselves from the planets, stations and all territories of the Empire, not to return on pain of death’. I’m not likely to forget it. Trust me, I’ve complied. Your secret police are famously efficient, and I have no desire to test the limits of that efficiency.’

‘I guess, technically…’

Bernard cut in. ‘But then, I think you knew that. You showing up here is not a coincidence. Why don’t we cut all the ‘meeting by chance’ bullshit and get down to it. What. Do. You. Want?’

Emperor Jo shifted slightly in her seat, having the grace to look ever so slightly embarrassed. ‘You’ve heard about my recent… troubles?’

‘You mean your complete rejection by the entire populous of your Empire? The uprising of the military, the judiciary and the general citizenry, all with the express purpose of ending your decadent reign? An overthrow complete with the tearing down of statues, the burning of your official-but-widely-considered-somewhat-biased history books, the gaoling of all your toadies and the seizing of all your assets?’

Emperor Jo smiled slightly. ‘Yes, yes. I see you’re familiar with my predicament. An ungrateful population, filled with small minded people with small minded concerns. But still my people, deserving of my protection.’

‘I’m pretty sure that the whole point of a revolution is that they have decided that they don’t ‘deserve’ your protection any more.’

‘They don’t know what they want. They need me to tell them.’

‘Perhaps they got sick of the double standards.’

‘What do you mean, double standards? I apply all my rules with scrupulous fairness and equality.’

‘I’m not sure everyone sees it that way.’

‘Give me a single example of where I’ve been inconsistent.’

‘You required everyone who wanted to get married to apply for a license, and you determined who was worthy and pure of spirit enough to actually get married.’

‘Yes?’

‘Yet you yourself had 15 husbands and 12 wives.’

‘I am the Emperor. I’m self-evidently worthy, and my spirit is, by divine right, pure.’

Bernard took a breath. This clearly wasn’t an argument he was going to win.

‘Okay, you want to take back your Empire. Is my imaginary role in this epic comeback going to sail into view any time soon? There must be a role; you’d have killed me by now if there wasn’t.’

‘I don’t think you’re going to want to help me.’

‘I don’t know why you’d think that. I was the head of your personal bodyguard, after all. Why wouldn’t I be a loyal servant? What could have possibly happened that would change my outlook on life so profoundly?’

‘Oh, can’t we skip all the tedious outrage? Yes, okay. I did exile you after you technically saved my life. But no one had ever come that close to assassinating me — breached our countermeasures so thoroughly. I had to make an example of someone to discourage future attempts, to show they only almost succeeded due to human error. Your error.’

‘And Chancellor Yamamoto, who almost certainly arranged the whole thing. He wouldn’t have been a suitably high profile sacrifice?’

‘The loss of the Chancellor would have caused untold chaos. I needed time to take care of him more subtly. Anyway, I don’t know why you’re complaining. I only exiled you. I could have had you killed. It was practically a pardon.’

‘Oh well, when you put it like that, I clearly owe you. What can I do for you, my Emperor?’

Emperor Jo paused for a moment.

‘I know you’re being sarcastic, but you do owe me. And fortunately for you, I’ve got the perfect way you can repay me. The Empire is, currently, lost. For all that they need me, the rebels have convinced the people to side with them; my military has betrayed me. But you know me, I always have a backup plan. On the dark side of an obscure moon circling Jovia-9, there is a secret military base filled with fully automated starships, atmo-fighters, drones and ground vehicles. All keyed to obey me. With them I could take back the whole empire.’

‘Well what are you doing here? Sounds like you should be at Jovia-9, not an obscure space station at the far end of your empire.’

‘Unfortunately, my access chips have all been wiped, my loyal lieutenants all killed.’

‘Still not seeing my contribution.’

‘I may have embedded copies of my access codes in a chip in the implants of several of my most trusted bodyguards. Yours was left in you, undetectable, in case of a rainy day. And, my friend, today it is pouring.’

Bernard lived on a space-station, so the rain metaphor was a little wasted but he understood the general point.

‘And why aren’t I dead with my arm cut open and you half way back to your ship with the codes already?’

‘The removal process is… delicate. If you die, the chip destroys itself to prevent it falling into the wrong hands. I need your cooperation.’

Bernard didn’t have to mull his options for long.

‘I’m going to say no. I’m pretty sure the empire would be much better off without you. And I will certainly feel a lot better if you didn’t have access to a cache of weapons with such a high destructive capacity.’

Emperor Jo looked sad, and then resigned. Not surprised at all, but still.

‘I thought you might say something along those lines. And that is why I set my ship to overload its engines if I don’t get back soon. I’m nothing without my Empire. If you won’t help me take it back, then I’m going to blow this crappy station into billions of tiny pieces.’

Bernard felt a chill that had nothing to do with environmental control. He’d seen that set to her eyes before, hundreds of times, as she ordered heinous act after heinous act. Hell, he’d helped in his fair share of those acts. If it was just him, he probably deserved death. But he had no doubt she’d be willing to kill every last man, woman and child on the station. And the abstract threat to millions of theoretical people across the empire was hard to keep in mind when the immediate threat to the people he knew and cared for here loomed large.

And he knew she knew it.

‘Why don’t you just give up?’ he tried. ‘You must have access to billions of credits. You could leave, never look back. Live out your life in luxury somewhere in the galaxy where no one cares about your past as long as you have enough money to soothe their consciences. The people of the empire are brave to have stood up to you. They don’t need you. Why not let them live their lives without you?’

It wasn’t going to work. She needed to be Emperor. Craved it. But he had to try.

Emperor Jo held up her arm so he could see the display built into her suit. A countdown ticked along, implacably slicing the time to oblivion for his station.

‘Fuck you,’ said Bernard.

Emperor Jo just tapped the display pointedly.

‘Fine, fine. Just stop the damn countdown.’

Emperor Jo smiled, and entered in a code. The countdown froze.

‘Consider it paused as a sign of good faith,’ she said. ‘Of course there is a dead man’s switch built in, but you probably already guessed that.’

Yes, he had. But there was no point responding. He just held out his own arm.

‘They will always hate you.’

Emperor Jo shrugged. ‘As long as they obey me, I can live with that.’

She reached into a pocket and withdrew an extraction device. As she leaned down she paused, and looked him straight in the eyes.

‘I’m going to crush my enemies,’ she said.

Bernard suppressed a sigh. ‘I know.’

‘But maybe I’ll build some kind of monument in their honour afterwards.’

And with that she went to work. Bernard let the sigh out. He must have got to her. That was more than she’d ever offered before.

***

Bernard sipped a glass of the best scotch in the house, favouring his dominant arm as the medi-gel went to work on the hole the Emperor had left. The sound of her fighting her way back to her ship had long since faded, and Bernard was expecting station security to arrive any moment with quite a few questions. He took another gulp, then brought up the communications system and placed the call.

The connection was audio only, which suited Bernard fine. He could keep drinking.

‘Well?’ said his contact.

‘You were right, she does have a fallback option. The chip was a set of access codes. You should be able to follow the tracking signal right to the weapons depot.’

‘Excellent. You’ve done Jovia a great service.’

Sure he had. Because the leaders of a rebellion against an oppressive overlord always turned out to be so benevolent. Bernard terminated the call without responding.

rocket crux 2 75

About The Author

Mark Webb

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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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>.

SIG AUG 17

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!

I discovered AntiSF quite by chance in 2008, after a long night writing a short tale about online chatrooms. I submitted it and it was accepted.

Over the years AntiSF has published a lot of my short work in a wide variety of themes and I've been proud to be a contributor.

It's the only place I'm aware of in Australia that caters to the flash fiction market and it attracts some well-known names.

 use it to check out the competition. :)

Happy 250th AntiSF!"

Kevin J. Phyland

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>

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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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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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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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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) 

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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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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

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

We should grant power over affairs only to those who are reluctant to hold it and then only under conditions that increase the reluctance.

Frank Herbert, Chapterhouse: Dune

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