Banjo Music

By Steven Fritz

sfgenreSpeeding along a road winding through the Ozark mountains, swerving now right, now left, I clung to the steering wheel of my antique Corvette in grim desperation. The sun, setting beyond the dust clouds over Kansas, gave the Missouri woods a surreal orange glow. Behind me, creeping relentlessly closer, the alien hovercraft followed my every turn. I was lucky it couldn’t track me from above the treetops but even my Corvette’s decidedly modern V8 engine couldn’t outrun it forever. My arms ached, my head pounded, my vision narrowed to a tunnel. I wasn’t sure how much longer I could keep running.

I had picked up the red 1962 Corvette from the detailers the day before. It was the culmination of two years of patient restoration, hunting for parts that hadn’t been made for decades, careful matching of paint, repeated attempts to repair damage to the fibreglass body and a complete engine rebuild. There wasn’t another one like it on the planet. I headed south from Kansas City to visit my cousin in Arkansas, planning a detour through the Mark Twain National Forest to put my newly restored ride through its paces. Truth to tell, the Corvette wasn’t much for handling curves, but for raw power it was unmatched. 

While passing through a stretch of farmland, just before entering the woods, I noticed the hovercraft heading to intercept me. It was shaped like a classic flying saucer, but the dust it kicked up showed that it was probably using a forced air plenum for suspension. I slowed down to see it better and it pulled up alongside. That’s when I noticed that the driver was clinging to its controls with four purple tentacles. It had a single giant eye that kept diverting its gaze from the road to see the ‘Vette.

Then the passenger started waving all four tentacles as it trying to flag me down. I had no idea what to do. The passenger lifted up a tube and pointed it at the road just ahead of my car. That didn’t look good and I got a little nervous. When a beam of light lanced out from the tube and blew a cloud of dirt and gravel into the air beside the road, I hit the gas. The eight barrels of the dual Carter AFB carburetors opened up with a deep-throated moan. I was plastered back in my seat and the hovercraft fell back.

Within minutes I was in the Ozark forest, driving hell bent for leather along a two-lane blacktop road overshadowed by a canopy of trees. The canopy in full leaf of summer meant the hovercraft had to follow the road to keep me in sight. As it tried to match my track around curves in the road, it wallowed like a drunken walrus. I saw branches fly off trees along the side of the road as the alien craft mushed through the sharper twists and turns. Even though it gained on me in the straight segments, I managed to stay ahead. I had no idea what I was going to do next, but I was headed further from civilisation by the minute.

Needless to say, I didn’t get away. The alien had a partner in another craft that also looked suspiciously saucer-like. It had raced ahead over the canopy and found a clearing where it settled down onto the asphalt and blocked the road completely. I hit the brakes and hoped for the best, wishing I had opted for the ’63 ‘Vette with its four-wheel disk brakes. I slithered to a stop just short of the grounded saucer while its companion caught up from behind. 

I sat stunned, waiting for something to happen. I contemplated jumping out of the car and running into the forest. One of the aliens got out of the saucer, walking clumsily on four tentacles while holding four in the air, in what I hoped was a nonthreatening way. The way it moved boosted my confidence. As I hopped from the car, one of the aliens from the following hovercraft had come up behind me. I glanced at the deep woods along the road, thinking my chances would be at their best when the alien was just arriving. I poised myself to run just as it got within reach.

“Dang, son,” the alien said, “that is one sweet ride. Buford had one helluva time keeping up with you in them trees.” If they had learned English from television broadcasts, it was clear the only station they could get was KDFW in Dallas/Fort Worth.

I was paralysed with cognitive dissonance. “Buford?” was all I managed to squeak out.

The driver of the blocking saucer himself slithered up to me from behind. “Ya sure gave Buford and Billy a run for their money,” it said. Buford waved a tentacle from what was apparently the driver’s seat. 

“Alls we wanted was to get a good look at your ‘Vette,” Billy added. “Ain’t that right, Cletis? Ya wouldn’t be interested in sellin’ it, now wouldya, son?” 

In an hour we had reached terms. The aliens had apparently stocked up on way more Earth money than they needed, and it wasn’t going to be much use to them where they were headed next. They wanted all the spare parts in my garage, but they offered me enough money to buy myself an island. Say Australia. Buford and Jimmy got busy tucking my one of a kind ‘Vette into their mothership, which had to happen after dark, of course. I wondered where they’d get gasoline for it but that wasn’t my problem.

Billy let me drive the hovercraft back to Kansas City to collect the parts. To compare its handling to a drunken walrus was to insult the walrus. I kissed the ground when I got out, sure I never wanted to drive a dirt-loving pig like that again. I was thinking Ferrari as I waved goodbye and Buford and Jimmy sped off in the direction of Aldebaran.

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About the Author

Steven Fritz

steven fritz 200Steven Fritz graduated from the University of Maryland, became a Naval Aviator and flew helicopters and maritime patrol aircraft in the US Navy.

After leaving active duty, he earned a Ph.D. in Radiation Biophysics at the University of Kansas and spent several years as a medical school faculty member and senior administrator.

After university he managed a seed stage venture fund and did a stint as an avionics entrepreneur. He’s been infatuated with science fiction since his youth and has been writing SF full time for three years. You can follow Steven on his website at <InigoPress.com> or on Twitter at @StevenLFritz1.

AntiSF & The ASFF

AntipodeanSF supports the ASFF

ASFF logo 200

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.

<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 261

A Tale of Tyl Feánn: In which a High King is laid to rest
by steve duffy

Imagining Dragons
By Bart Meehan

In the Beginning
By Emma Riley

Speck
By Simon B. Pointer

The Night D Came to Life
By Zebuline Carter

Dear Friends
By Ben F. Blitzer

Relief Efforts
By Dmitri Christopher

The Third Law of HAVOC
By David Kernot

The Wood for the Trees
By Ishmael A Soledad

Conversation in a Utopian Future
By Denice Penrose

The Ghostship
By Maree Collie

The Door Into Last Night
By Hassac Naminov - Translated by Toshiya Kamei

The Contributors

hassac naminov 200Hassac Naminov is a freelance writer and editor.

He was born in Tokyo and grew up in Shinshu.

Later, he moved back to Tokyo to pursue his literary career.

In 2016, he founded the Sci-Fi magazine Alternia.

A regular contributor to the literary journal Hametuha, he is the author of the science fiction comedy Organization series (2015-2016).

Katlina Sommerberg is from San Francisco.

As a security engineer, she hacks software and machines, but finds this technical knowledge terrible for enjoying science fiction; she can't decide whether she likes science or fiction more.

Contact Katlina via Twitter <@houndom16>

william kerr 200William Kerr is a self-professed science fiction enthusiast. He was born and raised in Tasmania but now calls Canberra home.

His personal preference is hard science fiction and dystopian-style stories which definitely influenced his first published piece ‘The Burning’.

He is looking forward to publishing more flash fiction and is hoping to become a regular contributor.

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Toshiya Kamei holds an MFA in Literary Translation from the University of Arkansas.

His translations have appeared in venues such as Abyss & Apex, Cosmic Roots & Eldritch Shores, The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, Samovar, and Star*Line.

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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steven fritz 200Steven Fritz graduated from the University of Maryland, became a Naval Aviator and flew helicopters and maritime patrol aircraft in the US Navy.

After leaving active duty, he earned a Ph.D. in Radiation Biophysics at the University of Kansas and spent several years as a medical school faculty member and senior administrator.

After university he managed a seed stage venture fund and did a stint as an avionics entrepreneur. He’s been infatuated with science fiction since his youth and has been writing SF full time for three years. You can follow Steven on his website at <InigoPress.com> or on Twitter at @StevenLFritz1.

 lynne lumsden green 200Lynne Lumsden Green is enjoying the aging process, contrary to all expectations. She completed a Bachelor’s Degree in Science, and after her midlife crisis went back and completed a B.A. in Creative Writing. She writes both fiction and nonfiction, and owns more books than bookshelves.

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

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col hellmuth

This story is a linking piece to two stories previously published in Antipodean SF, Coffee With God (Issue 245) and Frank's Best Friend (Issue 250) both first drafted whilst living in Western Australia, where I spent the best part of two decades. This piece (ironically written whilst sitting on the bank of Emmagen creek in FNQ) is an attempt, not just to further develop some recycled characters beyond the limitations of the short short story format, but also to give these stories a sense of place, a nod to the multitude of unique landscapes (and people) to be found in WA. The huge distances and wide open spaces between locations are also riddled with untold stories, so many that I find myself still writing them years after moving back to North Queensland.

Col Hellmuth lives a quiet (excepting weekly jam nights,) uncomplicated life, off-grid in the Daintree rainforest of Far North Queensland.

His day jobs over the years have found him contracted to do various work around the country in such exotic locations as mine-sites, SAS barracks, a Collins-class submarine, prisons, operating-theatres, swanky restaurants and wineries, chicken sheds, the Great Barrier Reef and the open road. He does not have any fancy letters after his name, or a pet cat, but does read a lot. 

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 bandmates, the Excruders.

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George Nikolopoulos is a speculative fiction writer from Athens, Greece, and a member of Codex Writers' Group. His short stories have been published in Galaxy's Edge, Daily Science Fiction, Factor Four, Grievous Angel, Helios Quarterly Magazine, Unsung Stories, Best Vegan SFF, The Year's Best Military & Adventure SF, Bards & Sages Quarterly, Havok, SF Comet, Mad Scientist Journal, Truancy, Digital Fiction QuickFic, The Centropic Oracle, StarShipSofa, 600 Second Saga, Antipodean SF, Manawaker Studio's FFP, Fifty Flashes, 9Tales from Elsewhere, Event Horizon 2017, and many other magazines and anthologies.

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andisha 200Andisha Sabri Carey is an Australian writer and poet who has lived in the Czech Republic, the United Kingdom, and most recently, Israel.

Her work has appeared in Gingerbread House Literary Magazine, Potluck Magazine and Cordite Poetry Review.

"Last Resort" was originally inspired by a running joke with her husband about the Havens in "Pandemic Legacy: Season 2".

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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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steveduffyhusband, father, brother, son
poet, writer, artist, friend (et al.)
the list of pigeon holes
into which I fit, is endless

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AntipodeanSF May 2020

ISSUE 260

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

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.

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alistair lloyd 200Alistair Lloyd is a Melbourne based writer who was raised on a steady diet of Douglas Adams, Iain M. Banks, David Brin, Neal Stephenson and Richard Feynman.

He feeds a healthy and somewhat nerdy interest in space travel, theoretical physics, design and organisational psychology.

Alistair once won a competition for his pitch to “Sell ice to the Eskimos”, holds a Master of Business Administration and has a seemingly inexhaustible knack of describing things through analogies.

You may find him on Twitter as <@mr_al> and online at <alistairlloyd.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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tim borellaTim Borella has never lost his childhood passion for SF and writing in general and has been lucky enough to have worked most of his life as a pilot — in other words, he’s never properly grown up.

He lives in country Far North Queensland, has won awards for songwriting, and has had various other writing achievements, the most recent being an honourable mention in the 2018 international Literary Taxidermy Short Story Competition.

He also has bachelor degrees in science and teaching, and has completed a couple of as-yet unpublished SF novels. He’d dearly love to spend more time writing, but will have to continue juggling for another couple of years until the kids have fully left the nest.

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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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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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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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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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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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SF News

Upcoming Cons

Most up-coming cons have been postponed until next year because of the current COVID-19 situation, but please visit the ASFF for up-to-date information.

CoNZealand the 78th Worldcon from July 29 till August 2 is to be a "Virtual Worldcon", held online. More information at <https://conzealand.nz/>

 <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

Science fiction writers, I am sorry to say, really do not know anything. We can't talk about science, because our knowledge of it is limited and unofficial, and usually our fiction is dreadful.

Philip K. Dick

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