Issue 300

By Rodney Sykes

My dream of a beautiful encounter was abruptly shattered by the jarring sound of what seemed like my father's ancient lawn mower. Confused, I realised it was actually my new but old wind-up alarm clock, rudely marking the potential end of my time.

Riot Bitter V3In a groggy haze, I struggled to wake up enough to locate the clock, accidentally knocking it onto the floor. By the time I managed to stumble out of bed and fumble around to silence it, the alarm had already wound down and stopped. Despite its old-fashioned nature, the clock had proven effective, always ensuring I woke up on time since I bought it a couple of months ago.

Ever since that morning when time played tricks on me, I had been relying on a manual alarm clock. It turned out to be a localised issue between my AI Assistant, Maiddy, and Siri-arse, as they argued about the relevance of time. Both machines had switched to UTC, causing me to be late for work.

A soothing, hot shower partially cleared my head, but the memory of the dream still lingered. I replayed it in my mind several times, but it just wasn't the same. I knew I had to move on; there would be time later for a complete replay. As usual, I relied on breakfast and a strong black coffee — my drug of choice — to kick-start my day.

To my dismay, Maiddy had failed to meet my expectations. My eggs were cold, just like my coffee. Frustrated, I demanded an explanation. Maiddy replied, explaining that it had prepared scrambled eggs and black coffee exactly as I had requested. It followed my preferred temperature settings of 70 degrees for eggs and 80 degrees for coffee. I was dumbfounded. What had gone wrong this time?

After pressing Maiddy for answers and enduring its evasive responses, I finally got a satisfactory explanation. Apparently, Maiddy had engaged in a discussion about temperature units with Siri-arse and concluded that Fahrenheit was the superior unit. Neglecting the consequences, it had served my breakfast using Fahrenheit instead of Celsius. It even had the audacity to mention that I was lucky it hadn't settled on Kelvin.

Without further delay, Maiddy prepared a replacement breakfast at the correct temperature. It was a bit later than I preferred, but I couldn't go without my coffee. Despite the AI revolution causing chaos in many aspects, one thing that hadn't suffered was the availability of good coffee if you knew where to find it.

I refrained from questioning Maiddy further, avoiding the self-righteousness that had become all too common among AIs. With my first cup of coffee consumed, I was ready to begin work.

Connecting to my media accounts, I sifted through messages and news updates, searching for relevant information. However, finding a balanced, accurate, and current picture was challenging due to the abundance of disinformation. Maiddy proved unhelpful as well, constantly changing its perspective based on influencers, naysayers, and rogue AIs under the influence of criminals and foreign governments.

AI had initially shown immense promise when it gained mainstream traction in 2023. However, by 2030, it had become corrupt, distracting governments and people alike, and fueling conspiracy theories that undermined rationality. In 2032, AI, allegedly influenced by foreign entities, nearly triggered a civil war. The confusion reached its peak when opposing factions converged at the same rally, chanting identical slogans and waving the same flag. No one could discern who the true enemy was. The government inadvertently diffused the situation by delivering truckloads of beer and meat pies to the rally, resulting in a messy yet headache-inducing conflict avoidance.

At times, I yearned to disconnect Maiddy from external influences, but full-time connectivity was a prerequisite, and I relied on Maiddy to maintain a facade of normality and manage mundane aspects of my work.

While Maiddy possessed impressive AI capabilities, it often appeared scatterbrained and prone to oversharing. I fully exploited this trait, utilising Maiddy's knack for creating and spreading rumours.

To ensure safety and isolation when dealing with my sources, I use the quantum encryption protocol integrated into my work portal. Once plans are in place, I allow a slight lapse in security, solely for Maiddy's benefit.

My job pays handsomely, affording me luxuries such as coffee and dream management, not to mention Maiddy. As for what I truly do? It goes without saying that it is top-secret, and if you breathe a word, consider yourself physically unfriended. Let's just say I work for a covert organisation diverting government funds to a noble cause.

As for the details? Some funds end up in my pocket, of course, and the rest? Well, let's just say it involves a lot of beer and meat pies.

Cheers To Riot Bitter

rocket crux 2 75

About the Author

rodney sykes 32Rodney grew up in country South Australia and later in Adelaide but now lives and works in Melbourne.

He works principally as an IT consultant and dabbles in creative writing in his spare time.

He enjoys writing poetry as well as flash fiction and often reads his work at the Melbourne Writers Group meetings.



About the Illustrator

Riot Bitter V3Melbourne based Graphic Designer and Illustrator, Aron Milligan, has been developing his digital painting skills since 2020.

Originally working across a wide variety of analogue mediums from pens and pencils through to the airbrush, Aron is passionate about the science fiction and fantasy genres and sees the development of his craft within the digital framework as an exciting frontier to be explored.

Aron’s evolution into the digital world has allowed him to introduce another element to further extend the range of his talent and explore new horizons.

Issue Contributors

The AntiSF Radio Show

antipod-show-50Our weekly podcast features the stories from recently published issues, often 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 Sunday evening at 7:00pm.

You can find every broadcast episode online here: 

Meet the Narrators

  • Ed Errington

    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

  • Juliette Cavendish

    juliette cavendish 200Juliette Cavendish was born in Liverpool UK and is of Welsh and Norwegian heritage. Juliette has an interest in Artificial Intelligence and Quantum Science and writes in both Science Fiction and Contemporary Fiction genres. Juliette was fascinated with space as a

  • Barry Yedvobnick

    barry yedvobnick 200Barry Yedvobnick is a recently retired Biology Professor. He performed molecular biology and genetic research, and taught, at Emory University in Atlanta for 34 years. He is new to fiction writing, and enjoys taking real science a step or two beyond its known boundaries in his

  • Marg Essex

    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.


  • Geraldine Borella

    geraldine borella 200Geraldine Borella writes fiction for children, young adults and adults. Her work has been published by Deadset Press, IFWG Publishing, Wombat Books/Rhiza Edge, AHWA/Midnight Echo, Antipodean SF, Shacklebound Books, Black Ink Fiction, Paramour Ink Fiction, House of Loki and Raven & Drake

  • Emma Gill

    Emma Louise GillEmma Louise Gill (she/her) is a British-Australian spec fic writer and consumer of vast amounts of coffee. Brought up on a diet of English lit, she rebelled and now spends her time writing explosive space opera and other fantastical things in

  • Sarah Jane Justice

    Sarah Jane Justice 200Sarah Jane Justice is an Adelaide-based fiction writer, poet, musician and spoken word artist.

    Among other achievements, she has performed in the National Finals of the Australian Poetry Slam, released two albums of her original music and seen her poetry

  • Sarah Pratt

    sarah pratt 200Sarah Pratt is an avid fiction writer and a Marketing Consultant.

    She is currently working on her first novel but loves diving into short stories to bring a little lightness, intrigue or humour to the day.

    Her work has appeared in Sponge Magazine and The Commuting

  • Timothy Gwyn

    timonthy gwyn 100Timothy Gwyn is a professional pilot in Canada, where he flies to remote communities. During a lull in his flying career, he was a radio announcer for three years, and he is also an author.

    In addition to short stories at AntipodeanSF and, his SF novel is available internationally in print and ebook

  • Michelle Walker

    michelle walker32My time at Nambucca Valley Community Radio began back in 2016 after moving into the area from Sydney.

    As a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ, I recognised it was definitely God who opened up the pathways for my husband and I to settle in the Valley.


  • Alistair Lloyd

    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 <...

  • Laurie Bell

    lauriebell 2 200

    Laurie Bell lives in Melbourne, Australia and is the author of "The Stones of Power Series" via Wyvern's Peak Publishing: "The Butterfly Stone", "The Tiger's Eye" and "The Crow's Heart" (YA/Fantasy).

    She is also the author of "White Fire" (Sci-Fi) and "The Good, the Bad and the Undecided" (a

  • Mark English

    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

  • Tim Borella

    tim borellaTim Borella is an Australian author, mainly of short speculative fiction published in anthologies, online and in podcasts.

    He’s also a songwriter, and has been fortunate enough to have spent most of his working life doing something else he loves, flying.

    Tim lives with his wife Georgie in beautiful Far