A.I.—Ay, Aye!

By Col Hellmuth

sfgenreIt came as such a relief when computers started thinking for themselves—for us really: they'd been thinking for themselves all along. Those silly old movies like Terminator 7... what rubbish! Clarissa despised ghastly science-fiction!

It was wonderful, thought Clarissa: no more beastly arguments over nonsense like opinions, values, or personal fancies. Her parents didn't boss her around anymore like a baby. Even school was fun now—since the “Rationalisation”. What good were opinions anyway?—how could anyone be obtuse enough to think they and they alone were in possession of all the facts?

No, that was in the past, thank goodness. Now people (mostly) had the good sense to leave conjecture, supposition, and all that sort of nastiness to computers. The machines had access to all of the relevant data, diligently collected and comprehensively filed with a speed and accuracy that couldn't be equalled by any human, no matter how gifted. And Clarissa was in a position to know: she was gifted; her daddy used to tell her every day — before the Rationalisation — and even she couldn't keep up.

It was wonderful!

Today was Saturday. She had all day (well, seven hours at least) to do whatever recreational activities had been assigned to her. Eagerly she awaited beside the terminal in her sleeping-room for the printout of today’s regimen.  At precisely eight-o'clock (in perfect sync with the announcement of such by her earpiece) the 3-d printer on her sitting-station desk ticked and whirred as it began its daily task. Clarissa just loved precision!

She had personalised her daily agenda notifications (those malcontents who claim we can't do what we want anymore—how ridiculous) to be presented as a fortune-biscuit, which she now cracked open with her usual girlish squeal of delight (she never ate them, they tasted like polythene, which they were).

A party! Fabulous. She and three (my goodness!) of her friends were to meet up for the day. She scanned down to the bottom of the notification to see who her three approved friends were. She didn't recognise any of the names. What a bonus! Clarissa simply adored meeting new friends — and they were going to see a movie. Maybe two if she and her friends were deemed worthy of the extra study by the surveillance drones! She loved movies (proper movies — not science-fiction) and it would save the awkwardness of trying to make gossip with her new friends. Clarissa loved socialising, it was just the conversational aspect she found a bit dull; like some sort of vague non-localised pain.

***

Clarissa's parents also had the day off. They both sat that morning (as was now expected of them) at the breakfasting table awaiting the day's programme. At precisely eight-o'clock the toaster made a dinging noise in synchronisation with the stereo chime denoting the time from dual earpieces. 

Clarissa's father studied his toast carefully, before obliterating the text (24pt Courier: he still had to wear his glasses to read it) burnt into its surface, with a liberal coating of Vegemite.

“What are you up to today, Dear?” enquired Clarissa's mother, a little nervously. She’d noticed the look that had momentarily crept across her husband's face and recognised it for what it was.

“I'm to get absolutely shit-faced on beer and, or whiskey (the directions hadn't specified), push you about for a bit; drink some more, then pass out in a puddle of my own vomit and, or urine behind the couch — preferably all before lunch-time so as I'm not still hungover for work tomorrow.”

[Never let it be said that computers don't have a sense of humour or irony.]

“That sounds lovely, Dear.” Clarissa's mother was secretly one of those luddites who mourned the passing of free-will since the Rationalisation; though, she reflected sadly: some things essentially remained unchanged. Her husband offered her a half-smile over the newspaper the breakfasting table's inbuilt printer had just self-published. It had recently taken to calling itself Norbert and was beginning to develop pretensions.

Clarissa's mother disliked to be rushed. She liked to wait the extra five minutes (she sometimes worked up the courage to push it to six!) to take her cup of tea, before she perused her day’s agenda. She put down the delicate china cup now and carefully scrutinised the leaves on the bottom.

“Looks like I'm to just take it,” she announced to no one in particular — as one might speak to one's self or to a non-com. 

***

Clarissa skipped down the path to the front gate, parroting the words of today's logic-and-reason lesson streaming from her earpiece, in high-spirited girlish sing-song:

A... I...

Ay,

Aye.

A... I...

An aye for an eye.

Clarissa thought the day was almost perfect. If would be perfectly marvellous if only it weren't for those dirty non-coms: littering the alleyways and blocking the service entrances of the shops; lying in the shade of the jacarandas lining the wide leafy streets, and looking generally untidy [like a file-system error]. It wouldn't do!

[Ignoring directive,

attracting invective.]

Clarissa cautiously approached the place where a rag-clothed non-com lay unmoving, overwatched by a mange-ridden mongrel dog — still mouthing the words provided (personalised and in real-time) by her earpiece. She pulled one leg back in preparation for a kick but quickly skipped away when the dog bared its yellowed teeth and growled at her. 

The dirty non-coms not only refused to wear their earpieces, they were too stoic to even bother an attempt at looking alive! It was quite likely few of them still were, she conceded. It wasn't entirely clear what a diet of only non-food entailed (a couple of popular multi-national food-chains came to her mind, but they didn't serve non-coms of course!); Clarissa noted that whatever it was it sure made them skinny and weak-looking. Served the dumb assholes right: all they’d had to do was co-operate like normal people and they'd still be one.

After she'd left, the mongrel dog — satisfied it had protected its non-master from any avoidable misfortune from others — went back to crunching its bloody meal.

She crossed paths with four more languorous non-coms of varying age and sex on the way to the picture-theatre (none of whom had canine protectors). Three she despatched with a swift kick or two from one-or-the-other of her petite steel-capped boots (fashion was modelled after function in today's world, even if you were a nine year-old girl), the fourth was indisputably long gone from this planet in almost every sense but the purely physical; this in itself did not put paid to her fun, but the (excepted sense) smell did. 

She would be spending the next few hours confined to a movie-theatre after all. Her new friends may think her uncultured if she were to turn up with brains on her boots, or whiffing like a week-old corpse.

Clarissa couldn't help skipping the rest of the way to the picture-theatre even though she knew she was too old for such childish antics; and it felt funny in the heavy boots. Too shitting bad: she wasn't willing to leave her childhood innocence behind just yet. She was so looking forward to meeting up with her friends. She hoped she'd like them. She wondered what movie they were to watch. She hoped it would be a romance flick — even a romantic comedy. She adored those.

It was.

Fabulous!

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About the Author

Col Hellmuth

col hellmuthCol Hellmuth lives a quiet, uncomplicated life, off-grid in the Daintree rainforest of Far North Queensland.

He has scratched out a living in a variety of different jobs (and locations) over the years; these days he scratches out words in various sequences, and dreams of a day when he might be able to convert some of these ramblings into food.

When he is not writing or enslaved at work he is usually found bumming around his local beach dodging crocs in his kayak or jamming on the blues-harp.

He doesn't have any fancy letters after his name, or a pet cat, but does read a lot.

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AntiSF & The ASFF

AntipodeanSF supports the ASFF

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Please consider joining the Australian Science Fiction Foundation, a prime supporter and promoter of speculative fiction down-under.

<https://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 286

A Fish Story
By Harris Tobias

A Girl Among the Stars
By Malena Salazar Maciá - Translated by Toshiya Kamei

Aye Robot
By Tim Borella

Butt F**k Nowhere
By Col Hellmuth

Dreaming in the Clouds
By Yuki Fuwa - Translated by Toshiya Kamei

Her Laughter, Bright and Sweet
By Myna Chang

Linda and Elton's Lucky Day
By Althea Hughes

Swimming with Daffodiles
By Marc Ruvolo

The Chartist
By Michael T Schaper

The Inverness Soliloquies
By Andrew Dunn

Zippo
By Ed Errington

AntipodeanSF June 2022

ISSUE 285

Speculative Fiction
Downside-Up
ISSN 1442-0686

Online Since Feb 1998

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Download AntiSF E-Book

Epub version:

Kindle version:

AntiSF's Narration Team

alistair lloyd 200Alistair Lloyd is a Melbourne based writer and narrator who has been consuming good quality science fiction and fantasy most of his life.

You may find him on Twitter as <@mr_al> and online at <alistairlloyd.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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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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ed erringtonEd lives with his wife plus a magical assortment of native animals in tropical North Queensland.

His efforts at wallaby wrangling are without parallel — at least in this universe.

He enjoys reading and writing science-fiction stories set within intriguing, yet plausible contexts, and invite readers’ “willing suspension of disbelief.”

He believes stories might also contain an element of humour — however small — to enrich the plot and/or heighten the drama.

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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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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.

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geraldine borella 200Geraldine Borella writes adult short stories and stories for children and has been published in anthologies for both. In 2018, one of her children’s short stories placed second in The Buzz Words Short Story Prize and she won an ASA Emerging Writer’s Mentorship. She currently works part-time as a hospital pharmacist and as an online creative writing tutor.

She’s fascinated by stories that expand upon today’s technology, addressing the moral and ethical issues that might arise. Equally, she enjoys the creative freedom that writing for children allows. Right now, she’s writing a young adult novel, reworking a middle grade novel and writing adult short stories when inspiration strikes. She lives with her husband, Tim, in Yungaburra, Far North Queensland and dreams of one day taking a European gap year.

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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 and The Tiger's Eye (YA/Fantasy) White Fire (Sci-Fi) and The Good, the Bad and the Undecided (a unique collection of short stories set during the events of White Fire/Sci-Fi). 

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

Rambles, writing and amusing musings

Smile! laugh out loud! enjoy the following

<www.solothefirst.wordpress.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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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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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

...today we live in a society in which spurious realities are manufactured by the media, by governments, by big corporations, by religious groups, political groups...So I ask, in my writing, What is real? Because unceasingly we are bombarded with pseudo-realities manufactured by very sophisticated people using very sophisticated electronic mechanisms...it is an astonishing power: that of creating whole universes, universes of the mind. I ought to know. I do the same thing.

Philip K. Dick

The Contributors

diana grove 200Diana writes speculative fiction about weird people doing weird things.

Her short stories have been published in anthologies by Trembling With Fear, Night Parrot Press, Crystal Lake Publishing and Black Hare Press.

She also writes dark stories for kids, and they have appeared in The Caterpillar and Balloons Lit. Journal.

She lives in Perth with her feline friends, and you can find her on Twitter: <@ImaginaryGrove>.

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leon d furzeLeon D Furze moved to Australia in 2009 and now lives on a farm in Western Victoria with his wife and three children.

He is an English teacher and school leader and until recently stuck to writing educational textbooks and resources for other teachers.

After a lifetime of reading sf, he decided to give fiction a go, and hopes that it will lead to a long and fruitful career of writing strange, speculative, and surprising things. <leonfurze.com>.

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Jon Michael KelleyJon Michael Kelley is an internationally published author and novelist of literary speculative fiction.

His debut novel Seraphim from Evil Jester Press received stellar reviews, and he has been anthologised with such genre luminaries as David Morrell, Ramsey Campbell, Stephen King, Jack Ketchum, John Skipp, and Thomas F. Monteleone.

His short fiction has appeared in a variety of publications, to include the multiple award-winning anthologies Chiral Mad, Chiral Mad 2, and Qualia Nous (2014 Bram Stoker Award Finalist for Best Anthology) by Written Backwards Press.

He has also worked with music industry professionals as a collaborative lyricist, assigning copyrights of numerous authored song portfolios to a prominent New York City producer. Jon currently exhumes his inspiration from a small gold mining town in the mountains of Colorado. 

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.

Wes 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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 lynne lumsden green 200Lynne Lumsden Green lives in Queensland, Australia, though – in reality – she lives inside her head (it’s cosy in there). She writes both fiction and nonfiction.

She has had stories and articles published by Queensland Writing magazine, DailySF, AntipodeanSF, Every Day Fiction, Aurealis magazine, and in over a dozen anthologies of fiction.

She wants her stories to live in her readers’ heads.

You can find her blog at: <https://cogpunksteamscribe.wordpress.com/>.

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col hellmuthCol Hellmuth lives a quiet, uncomplicated life, off-grid in the Daintree rainforest of Far North Queensland.

He has scratched out a living in a variety of different jobs (and locations) over the years; these days he scratches out words in various sequences, and dreams of a day when he might be able to convert some of these ramblings into food.

When he is not writing or enslaved at work he is usually found bumming around his local beach dodging crocs in his kayak or jamming on the blues-harp.

He doesn't have any fancy letters after his name, or a pet cat, but does read a lot.

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Botond's bio is missing at his request...

ed-erringtonEd enjoys creating stories that ideally enable readers to relate to content with believable contexts — realistic relationships - and characters with something to say. All set at some exotic/ or imaginative but relatable point in the future and/or past.

He enjoys unpacking what characters make of the situations they find themselves in — and what they do about it — and why. Ed likes to incorporate the occasional political comment when fictional characters’ experiences overlap with those in the real world.

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Harris Tobias lives and writes in Charlottesville, Virginia. He is the author of two novels: The Greer Agency & A Felony of Birds. He has written dozens of short stories many of which are available on line at <quantummuse.com>. He is the author of many children’s books including At The Robot ZooMoonRivet Saves His Skin and An Alphabet Book of Bugs available in print from CreateSpace and as ebooks for Nook & Kindle. You can find links to his writings here: <harristobias-fiction.blogspot.com>

ps cottier 200PS Cottier is a poet who lives in Canberra, with a particular interest in speculative poetry.

She has been published widely at home and in Canada, England, New Zealand and the USA.

Two of her horror poems were finalists in the Australian Shadows Awards for 2020. Her latest books are Monstrous, which is a volume of speculative poems, and Utterly, which is non-genre.

PS Cottier is the Poetry Editor at The Canberra Times and blogs at <https://pscottier.com>

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Where you see strange dreams, cockatoos and other nonsensical nostrums congregate, there’s a good chance you’ll also come across our author.

By day he’s all manner of mundane things: a board member, business association manager, policy adviser, researcher and scholar - in Canberra.

At night he lets those wild ideas of his run, well, wild.

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kevinjphyland 200Old enough to just remember the first manned Moon landing, Kevin was so impressed he made science his life.

Retired now from teaching he amuses himself by reading, writing, following his love of weather and correcting people on the internet.

He’s been writing since his teens and hopes he will one day get it right.

He can be found on twitter @KevinPhyland where he goes by the handle of CaptainZero and his work is around the place if you search using google or use the antisf.com.au archive.

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