Cassini Falling

Cassini Falling 600

By Cat Sparks

sfgenreThe woman seated across the dining table insists she is not a tourist. She and Filippe are international travelers. They sip heinously overpriced sav blanc and peruse the photocopied list of day trips. She wrinkles her nose and declares the ice hotel and midnight choral performance in the old wooden church are likely ‘twee’.

She tells you all about the time in Svalbard where rifle-toting men stood guard on craggy points just in case of bear attack, and then about the local boys who hacked a path through Rwandan jungle to take a group of six to meet gorillas.

Such authentic experiences, darling. You sip twelve-dollar beer and nod politely.

The travelers tuck into venison. They are good with facts, like the name of the farm where they bought that brilliant riesling, or the time they tangoed on the Tallinn-Helsinki ferry. They chew through mouthfuls of Machu Picchu and Kokoda Trail, while you mention countries you have visited, cities you liked and didn’t like, places you are planning to travel next. You will be forgotten long before the ship hits Trondheim, your features being unremarkable, an important trait that landed you this job and all the jobs that came before it, leading to this voyage, place and time.

After lunch, you retire to the Vesteralstuen lounge, and its assortment of scattered, mismatched chairs. On the farthest wall, a blue impressionistic triptych depicts some long-forgotten colonial event: boats and houses, men in fancy hats. In front of it, a parquetry dance floor, too small to permit even a modest tango.

A bald man slouches, paperback in hand, oblivious to passing scenery and the midnight-hulled patrol boat bathed in gorgeous afternoon light, attended by a flock of hopeful seagulls.

Thus far, Vardo, Hammerfest and Oxfjord have passed without incident. You expect the same from Skervoy and Risoyhamn and consider selecting a book from the library cabinet. Not much to choose from: obligatory Cornwalls; Ken Follett’s Winter of the World. Bypassing a couple of unfathomable Japanese tracts, you settle on Lynda La Plante’s Cold Shoulder.

On each assignment, you pit yourself against the algorithm, trying to ID your target before the Lance kicks in. Your track record is roughly 60:40, running in your favour. The Lance exists to ensure you follow through.

When the seas get choppy, glass buoys nestled in the window space start rolling. Cerulean sky triggers a memory fragment, brief and unsatisfying. A seaside pier with striped umbrellas. Screaming gulls and you can’t remember where.

Childhood memories were forsaken when you had the Lance upgraded, a necessary condition of promotion. Small price to pay, you had thought back then. You have come to regret such rash decisions.

You while away an hour skimming pages, systematically ticking passengers off your list: the paunchy cluster of white-haired Germans; the girl twirling and untwirling a lock of nutmeg hair; the woman in a scarlet jumper and ridiculous high heels, knitting with three needles, wool trailing out of a plastic bag. Any of them could be Cassini, your shipboard target’s official designation.

Constant rattling and shuddering of the ship, rolling and sliding, dipping and plunging.

Announcements come in four languages, preceded by three chimes. Occasionally a fifth attempted, but Robin, the tour manager, does not have more than a smattering of Arabic. His Italian is also poor — at dinner, Phillipe’s wife shared rumours of how he lied about Italian on his application. Of course he lied… everybody always lies. On occasion, you have taken credit for results you didn’t action. On serious matters, you have fooled them only once.

Your gut floods with momentary panic at the sight of a small abandoned camera haphazardly positioned on a table. You may yourself be a target on the Vesteralen. One of these innocent-looking passengers might have you marked as a target of their own, an officially sanctioned response to Cairo, or, perhaps, a further consequence of Mumbai.

You relax a little as a fat old woman claims the camera and attempts to take a photo. Muttering to herself in German, something’s going haywire with the settings. She seems dissatisfied with the swiftly passing scenery. The light has changed and it’s no longer worth the effort.

A bug crawls up the porthole glass as the ship is moving past Gjerdoya. Red and white and yellow houses. Bright green grass surrounds each dwelling. Rows of strategic windbreak trees.

You’ve said it many times before, that this assignment is to be your last, that you are getting too long in the tooth, that you deserve a different kind of life. You stare at the claret-coloured armchairs, then across to large windows rimmed with rivets, burnt orange curtains threaded through with diagonal curves of red. Such hues reminding you of burning buildings. Other decades, other lives and places.


The scruffy, bearded man at breakfast appears to be praying before his bowl of oatmeal. Turns out he is staring at the phone down on his lap, concentration eventually broken by a squirming child in a Star Wars T-shirt.

There is a killer on this ship, most likely decommissioned. You will be cleaning someone else’s mess. You have done this gig too many times.

Your list is based on days of observation. Imaginary bets against the algorithm: the silver haired man, dark glasses, business shirt, binoculars he never seems to use. Or camo pants and camo cap, with lurid lime-green trainers. The way he paces in between the islands and does not check his phone often like others. Or perhaps the taut and wiry man who vaguely resembles Putin? That, at least, would give someone a laugh.

For certain, it's neither of the couple who are always kissing. Nor the windblown twenty-something flirting on the deck above the prow. Nor that one, heavily pregnant in a bright pink lacy top, tatty bra strap falling off her shoulder, children's faces tattooed on each bicep.

You dismiss the pink-haired girl in the all-black denim. Jeans ripped neatly at the knees, impractical with all these icy winds. Only the old and serious rug up on deck.

The young ignite such jealousy, with their freedom and comfortable good looks. Things were different back in your day — and with that thought, you are suddenly transported. Designation: Anaconda, the Egyptian coup barely five weeks past, embedded amongst ten thousand supporters of deposed Morsi, impersonating an American journalist amongst the wound-tight, jittering young Muslim Brotherhood. In Raaba, at the peak of summer, drafting their wills and bidding their families farewell. Those Egyptian boys knew they would die, even though the killing of 800 at Midan Rabaa al-Adawiyya was still a week away and you still believed in the potentiality and space for alternative outcomes, so many ancient hatreds amidst the loudest calls for bread and freedom.

Another memory. Designation: Baskerville, and you are driving through a filthy, trash-strewn maze of narrow streets. ‘El Sijn’— ‘the prison’ — a baby-shit brown cement compound. Clandestine locations around Cairo, changing your residence every other week, forever waiting for calls from unknown numbers. You cannot shake the violent memories, one hundred lingering Algerian ghosts. You have forgotten when your faith in the illusory notions of neutrality, western democratising pressures and the line between inaction and complicity died. The raging dissonance between ideology and practice has left you weary of so-called ‘stability paradigms’ and externally driven shifts in the cost of suppression.

Three chimes swiftly followed by Robin’s tour manager prattle bring you back on deck, into the moment. ‘We see the Globus! The Polar Circle is not far away.’

Everybody cheers and an old man in knee-length shorts and sailboat-patterned shirt hobbles across the deck with his sturdy cane. Stops to converse with a smoking woman wearing a ridiculous floppy hat. Wind snatches at their conversation. ‘No gubbins,’ she seems to be saying, going into some detail, explaining gubbins as things you do not want on your plate, yet you have to have them in America. Whatever’s listed on the menu, that is what you get, she says, smoke from her cigarette wafting in your direction.

Robin and his microphone intrude. ‘You might feel some vibrations so hold on to something… Maybe a glass of champagne, that will make you steady. A very nice lady called Ingrid, she is selling champagne here. Very nice.’

A blast of ship’s horn raises whoops and cheers as the Vesteralen crosses over.

‘Can you feel the vibrations? What an amazing experience for us all!’

Robin’s vibrations linger longer than they should and you know that the process has begun. The Lance in activation mode, insisting on redundant calibration and diagnostics. The Lance will be fully operational an hour or two past sunset. You need to stay on your guard until that point. You are, in fact, guarding the Lance. You are not required for measurement, evaluation or deduction. You are a bullet, a rough shove over the side later at night in ferocious, obfuscating winds. You are the anvil, not the hammer. An instrument, a weapon wielded. You play this game on every mission, trying to guess your target’s form. There is no need. The Lance is implanted for this purpose.

This job is almost certainly a payback — Cassini, some retired operative twenty years out from the game. Embedded comfortably in an ordinary life.

Your ears prick up at the couple behind you speaking in secret code. You don’t look, and you hold your paper steady.

‘A gala? Birthday party you mean?’

‘Was there a railroad?’

The ocean sparkles when the sun comes out and you comprehend they are doing crossword puzzles.

‘What you got?’

‘Forty-two down… Mystery times.’

‘This was W Somerset Maugham.’

‘Now this… World War II’

‘He got killed just off the highland during the invasion…’

You smile and put the paper down to watch a trawler scudding by bleak rocks, and then, on deck, a man carrying tea in waxy cardboard cups, tea bag tags flapping wild, like little kites. A young girl, her hair in neat French braids, skips up and down the stairs clutching an ipad.

‘Let's just keep moving along…’

‘But this is how you spell it!’

‘It is not! It’s got a T. Like trident!’

‘Mickey somebody…’

‘I’ll go across.’

‘Is that the home? Or is that's the away team?’

You have been away too long. In the distance, snow iced, craggy peaks run through with mossy veins, soaring gulls, foam licked rocks. The sea enraged, desperate for purchase. The passengers begin to stagger like drunks across the deck. You remain in the top deck Plexiglas enclosure, seated near the crossword stalwarts, wrapped up tight against the weather, staring at the choppy, foamy grey. Catching glimpses of misty, descriptionless rock islands, like the backs of deeply sleeping beasts.

‘… So the muse would be who…’

‘I dunno… it says name…’

‘No, we got 222 and 223…’

‘That's gotta be Joe Lewis – he’s a fighter.’

You’re a fighter too. Unexpected flashbacks to Black Friday, March 12, ’93. Designation: Candyfloss. Bombay bloodied, charred and chastened by its first taste of international urban terrorism. RDX strapped onto scooters, left in suitcases, crammed deep into cars. Explosions tearing south to north, the death toll high, with countless literally vaporised. The double decker bus reduced to the size of a mangled Maruti, the suburbs filled with shattered window panes.

The woman you pulled from the burning building…her name…what was her name? The AI kicking in and over, separating you from memories you would have liked to keep. So precious, such small acts of rebellion.

No matter. You have done your bit for international diplomacy. The hour is long, and you have had enough.

Cassini is certain to be one of the smokers, up on deck at random hours. Nobody ever pays them any mind. You retire to Trollfjorden Salong, the up-front lounge with sea green leather armchairs. Royal blue curtains, brass fittings, blue and gold carpet.

A broad oil painting, Der Gamletid, 1949, depicting many kinds of ocean vessels. A selection of wall mounted crests: ‘Komune’, ‘Bronoy’, ‘Batsfjord’, ‘Nesna’, ‘Bodo’, ‘Vagan’, ‘Hadsel’.

The Vesteralen passes an indistinct land mass. ‘Horse Mountain, because it looks like a horse,’ says Robin helpfully through the intercom. You see nothing even vaguely horse like. Pattern recognition fading is another sign, that you will soon be shuffled down, along and sideways into some tedious office. You will miss the broad Atlantic Ocean and your desk will glimpse a patch of sky. Blue sky, blue water, blue reflections in bulletproof glass. For you, water has always symbolised freedom.

You are contemplating bourbon when an elderly man with bright green zippers surprises you by climbing out of his scooter. The machine had appeared to be a medical device. Back in the day, you did not make such mistakes and you have definitively sailed through better days.

You are fifty-five years old and Cassini is your swan song. You are pleased to have arrived at this decision. The AI does not know of it, or else it would have kept you in home waters.


Smoking woman selects a deck chair nestled between trios of white life raft capsules. Breaks against the bitter wind, rugged up bright in jellybean yellow. Passing long, low stretches of green land bejeweled sparsely with coloured dwellings, occasional churches and a slim lighthouse.

Placid gulls bob on the water. Two chunky, fortysomething men in T-shirts, blue jeans, plus binoculars, pore over maps and landmarks with extreme, almost childlike enthusiasm.

The tubercular purr of the ship’s engines provides a comfortable baseline, as do occasional sailing or fishing vessels and windborne snatches of conversation in multiple European tongues.

The smoker carries two cups: one for tea and one to hold her ash. Behind her, neon mauve fluorescents wall-mounted like sleepy shuttered eyes.

Your bets continue — Cassini cannot be a member of the crew, the ones who scatter safety equipment across the middle deck, nor the tattooed girls who clean the cabins, then later change into more elegant attire to wait on tables in the dining room.

In a wash of sentiment, you hope Cassini is anyone but the cheerful English woman with her incessant smoking and her faded floppy hat. Her voice rising in pitch and tone, banging on about the obesity of Americans. The time she watched one in a food court ‘work through’ an entire litre of frozen yoghurt. You suspect there has been someone like her within your distant past. You can’t remember. Why can’t you remember?

Blowing smoke as she criticises, oblivious to all irony. Too obvious. Too easy to be Cassini. If anything, she will be a plant, with her row of crooked teeth, placed on board to ensure you do your job. Trying a bit too hard to catch you out, the data from the Lance too inconclusive.

An old man oofing along on his three-wheeled walker, crash lands into a vacant deck chair. ‘A pretty bit of countryside we seem to be going through,’ he says as he flips through a book with yellowed pages.

Robin interjects via the crackly intercom. ‘Ladies and gentlemen, on the left you can see some very nice sailing boats and you can see as many as you would like.’

There are times when Robin’s English doesn’t seem much better than his Italian.

‘Little boats all racing about, eighty to a fleet… Flying their spinnakers… Very nice.’

This ship is old, its passengers for the most part sober. Not like on the big American liners, with their 24-hour casinos and shopping malls.

You can’t help wishing the bearded, oofing Brit a comfortable dotage. You no longer wish to be a weapon. Yet more evidence of your own deterioration.


Not many lights pepper this rugged stretch of coastline. Damp squalls have driven passengers upstairs to the Panorama Lounge where they can drink, protected from the rough Norwegian weather.

Stage Two Lance activation kicks in with nausea, then a sharp pain running down your spine. A polypeptide flush slams you awake, heart sinking when you see the smoking woman in her stupid hat and puffy jacket. Pacing — too disappointing and too easy in the way this awful work should never be.

Smoking woman has not seen you. She stares out into the aching night, legs braced firm against the rocking.

You step, then pause. Something about this set up isn’t right. The repetitious engine grumbling, the taint of smoke, the deep blue of the night, damp spray and the ever-pulsing deck.

You should run a diagnostic. You should do a dozen other things, but instead you step under the stairs and wait. At least, that’s what you try to do, but your body stiffens in rebellion. Spine tingling, you can’t stop your legs march briskly to an empty stretch of rail, not visible from the Panorama Lounge.

The truth slams home as you grip the side, your bowels turning to water. You are Designation: Cassini, now unstoppably compelled to throw yourself over, into the shadowed, freezing water, where you will not survive twenty minutes. The ship will never find you in the dark even if somebody noticed when you jumped.

You fight the Lance for control of your arms and legs — of course you do — but the AI has the upper hand. As you hoist your body up and over, grunting and grappling for purchase, smoking woman is shouting at you — ahoy there — what do you think you’re doing? — then screaming for help in her irritating high-pitched voice once she finally comprehends.

But she’s wrong. It isn’t suicide. It’s murder. The Lance, cleaning up after itself. No corner office, no window with a blue-sky view. Designation: Cassini. Permanent retirement.

You wonder if you might have had a mother or grandmother or perhaps a maiden aunt like smoking woman, with lank, thinning hair and a row of crooked teeth as the cold slams home and the waves take over and your mind is wiped by a white and blinding light.

rocket crux 2 75

About The Author

Cat Sparks

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.


Issue 250 Print Edition

AntipodeanSF Issue 250 is now ready via print on demand.


All profits donated to Australian Science Fiction Foundation fan funds.

Ebook version also now at Smashwords


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.


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.


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

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.


In The Next Issue...

Coming In Issue 251

A Prayer To Saint Bibiana
by Tim Borella

A Quizzical Occurrene
by Malina Douglas

by Shane Griffin

Five Years
by Mark Towse

Marriages Are Made In Heaven
by Russell Kightley

by Kevin J. Phyland

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.



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.


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: <>.


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 <>.


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 <>.


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. <>.


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.



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.


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.


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 <>.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.


I've read and watched sci-fi all my life I think it's time to give back instead of just taking. My stories have appeared in Aphelion, AntipodeanSF, Far Cry Magazine, Planet Web Zine, Schlock! Webzine, and Unrealpoloitik!. I have one short story collection - Hawking Radiation - published and am currently working on my first novel, due for release in 2020. You can connect with me on Twitter (@Ishmael_Soledad) or my blog at: <>


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.


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






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)



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.


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, <>.


Phill Berrie has had a lifelong love affair with science, speculative fiction and role playing. It was his love of role playing that led him to start writing in the spec-fic genre and his attention to detail (read OCD) that helped him fall into editing.

A life member of the ACT Writers Centre, he is the author of two published speculative fiction novels: The Changeling Detective, an urban fantasy, detective noire story set in and around Canberra, Australia; and Transgressions, a high fantasy tale about life changes, sex changes and petty gods. It is his sincere hope that he can get back to writing both these series as soon as his current magnum opus, an episodic, electronic choose-your-own-adventure story called Choices: And Their Heroes Were Lost (produced by Tin Man Games in Melbourne), is finally completed.

Phill now lives in semi-retirement in Yass, New South Wales. As well as his writing and editing, he commutes to Canberra three days a week to help science teachers teach science in his roles as the digital projects officer and pro tem publications manager for the Australian Science Teachers Association. Despite all his attempts to do otherwise, he has never worked harder in his life and dreams of retiring almost as much as he dreams of the fantastical worlds of his imagination.


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 <> or Twitter: <@LaurienotLori>


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 <>.

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 —


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.


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;



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. <>.

 Edwina received her editing qualifications in 2012 and now works as a freelance editor, specialising in speculative fiction.


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 <> for more information. 

I am a senior citizen, and live in sunny WA with my husband and our cat Tilda.


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 <>, including details of his stories in AntipodeanSF, Dimension6 and other reputable publications.


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.


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


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: <> and their Amazon Author Page:



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 <> 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.


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.


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 <>.


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:


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!


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. <>.


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: <>.



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.


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 <> and <>.


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 <>. His eyes hurt.


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 <>, or follow her on Twitter and Instagram <@becksmuse>.


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 ... ?"


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 <>.


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.


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”.


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.


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."



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.


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 <> or on Facebook @pamelajeffsauthor.



AntipodeanSF May-June-July 2019


Speculative Fiction
ISSN 1442-0686

Online Since Feb 1998

rocket crux 2 75

Issue 250 Congrats!

Congratulations Ian! Wow, twenty one years online. You have become an Australian icon in the Speculative Fiction community. So many authors have benefited from your generous advice and help. For many like myself, you have been a beacon of light in an industry filled with rejections, allowing many of us to be published for the first time. Thank so much for your mentorship and guidance over the years. My novel "Upload" would not have been published without you. May AntipodeanSF "Live long and prosper" for many years to come.

Chris Gladstone

AntiSF's Narration Team

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.

old style mic flat 25

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 <>

old style mic flat 25

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.

old style mic flat 25

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 <>

 old style mic flat 25


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.

old style mic flat 25

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 <> or Twitter: <@LaurienotLori>

old style mic flat 25

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 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 <>.

old style mic flat 25

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) 

old style mic flat 25

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: <>


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 <>. 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. <>.

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: <>.

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: 

SF Quote

When I die I’m going to leave my body to science fiction.

Steven Wright

Get Dimension 6


Get Dimension 6 Speculative Fiction

From Coeur De Lion Publishing

Here at AntiSF
Download D6 Now!

"Trust me, you want this free speculative fiction e-zine."
(Rob Hood)