By Ishmael Soledad

sfgenreIt was a typical departure lounge, exceedingly cold, bare, entirely antiseptic. Two chairs, two doors, two beings. An appropriate point to leave one life for another. He looked up.

“Even so we must go through the formalities. You are aware of the choice?”

“Yes. Pain, misunderstanding, isolation and struggle for the chance of genius, creativity, shortened life one on hand.

Stability, peace, community and plenty for the certainty of pleasure, love, longevity on the other. I have considered and chosen.”

“It is one time only, one life without repentance. A choice once made cannot be undone. Remember it is a place made for pleasure.”

“As I understand it to be.” He extended a clay tablet to the other. “My choice, my decision.”

Taking the tablet he read it carefully, twice. “It is a long time since any candidate allowed time, placement and criteria at the director’s discretion.”

“Greater rewards from greater risks.”

“Indeed.” They stood together, bowed formally. “I will be here to greet you on your return,” he said, smiling, turning to the door on the left.

“Whenever that may be.”

* * *

Irish linen and silk. Cool, smooth, enfolding, familiar comfort not too close, all they should be in a dying man’s bed. For the second time he noticed the small chips in the ceiling, the abandoned spider web in the corner. The mundane now beautiful, soon to be denied.

Oberon shifted his gaze through the open door to his wife, her back to him as she comforted his guests. All my life as performance art, a stage from birth to death and all in between, outward costumes and masks, true self only known to two. Has it been worth it? A life of days torn, challenged and shifting, rest elusive.

The tiniest laugh escaped him. Four days in bed. God it’s the most time I’ve ever spent staying still and they all know it’s useless. As least it’s finished, the twenty-fifth, the twenty-eighth, what number I don’t know, but it’s the coda, the last stroke on the canvas. It is what it is, doubtless they’ll judge and criticise and dump on it until I’m dust and then cash in.

Oberon closed his eyes, drained, Titania’s lips now soft on his forehead, her small hand gripping his tight as if her life force could jump the eternal barrier of flesh. This she, I could have had, all this always, but I was never, driven, unending. What choice did I have? Does it matter, did it ever matter?

* * *

Picking the bones of dead planets was to some maudlin. To Nerthus: beauty and intrigue. This world yielded enigmas as had others, a small cache of dull silver discs in rotting fibrous sleeves. She archived this last one, the best preserved, noting its monochrome finish and faintly discernible five-pointed design before it too turned to dust. She held the disc above her and watched the red sun’s cascading prisms of light.

“And what is it that these are?” her companion came into her mind.

“Artefacts, but as to purpose I am not sure. These dark and light patches, data or perhaps mystic symbolism. Observe.” Nerthus took her companion across to their instruments. “A waveform, similar but not identical, some parts repeated, others unitary. A gap, then more, perhaps a data block boundary.”

“It looks vaguely familiar,” said her companion as it detached half its consciousness to confer with the central database, “it bears the characteristics of an audible data stream.”

“Audible? I’d never considered. These were supposedly advanced beings.”

“True, but we have also discovered what appear to be written data caches. Perhaps it is the case.”

“Perhaps indeed.” For the entirety of their civilisations’ histories the only noise produced by living beings were grunts, squawks and growls of lower animals. Every sentient species was telepathic.

Nertha thought the changes to the instrument, converting the waveforms to their telepathic equivalents. They both jumped at the skritching-scratching in their heads.

“No, perhaps that is not correct, it is not linear output.”

“Yes, so maybe this.” Nertha changed the sequence to spiral inward. The skritch-scratch stopped, replaced by a jagged rise and fall. “And the dead planet communicates.”

Her companion moved off, curiosity sated. Dead communication from a dead planet could not pay its way in a living universe.

About to shut it down, she wondered if, being wrong once, she could be wrong twice. She changed the sequence to spiral outward.

“Oh my!” Now it was transformed, the undulating tones linking to a rising and falling chant, mesmeric tonal variations. The closest she recalled was the thought fabric of the Ghertnyst mystics but this, this reduced them to irrelevance. Within the undulations images formed, glimpses of a lost world borne in rhythmic waves, tone and inflection as the dead planet’s long extinct species told of love, revenge, redemption, death, bright burning the images into her mind.

Her companion drew close, captured. “What is this thing?”

“I do not know,” Nertha murmured, shaken by the tide of emotion “but what beings were they?”

rocket crux 2 75

About The Author

Ishmael A Soledad

Ishmael A Soledad has read and watched science fiction since before he went to school and thought it was time to give back instead of just taking. In between writing, working and reading he likes to daydream he's a rock star and annoy the neighbours with his guitar collection. He lives in Brisbane, Australia ('cause that's where the money and packed sandwiches ran out) with his long-suffering wife and psychotic cat.


Download AntiSF E-Book

Epub version: 

Kindle version: 

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.


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 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.


The AntipodeanSF Radio Show

In The Next Issue...

Coming In Issue 245

Coffee With God
by Col Hellmuth

Crossing Mercury
by Kevin J. Phyland

Hugh's Friend
by Mark Towse

by Natalie JE Potts

Much Needed Boost
by David Scholes

Painting The Future
by Robin Hillard

The Final Squeeze
by Zena Shapter

The Fire
by Chris Gladstone

The Prince Scamp — His Wrath
by Wes Parish

by Roger Ley

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)

AntipodeanSF November 2018


Speculative Fiction
ISSN 1442-0686

Online Since Feb 1998

rocket crux 2 75

AntiSF's Narration Team


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

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

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>.

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 <wordsbydavid.com>

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 <https://garrydean.wordpress.com>

 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

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

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 (available now).

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

old style mic flat 25

SF News

Upcoming Cons

Supanova Adelaide 02/11/2018 till 04/11/2018, Adelaide Showground, John Barrowman & a calvacade of others. <https://www.supanova.com.au/>

Supanova Brisbane 09/11/2018 till 04/11/2018, John Barrowman & a calvacade of others. <https://www.supanova.com.au/>.

Monsterfest Horror Movie Festival 22-25 November, Cinema Nova Melbourne <https://www.monsterfest.com.au/>.

INDIE COMIC CON 2018 8 Dec Northcote Town Hall, Melbourne Free event. <http://www.indiecomiccon.com.au/>.

Nullus Anxietas VII: The Australian Discworld Convention — will be held in Melbourne on April 12-14, 2019, and is themed on Going Postal. More information: <https://ausdwcon.org/>.

Continuum 15 Other Worlds (Natcon 58): Continuum 15 is the Australian National SF Convention, to be held in Melbourne on June 7–10. More information and memberships <https://continuum.org.au>. AntipodeanSF will be at Continuum 15 and celebrating Issue 250 of AntiSF!

Worldcon Dublin 2019 — An Irish Worldcon 15/08/2019 till 19/08/2019, The Convention Centre Dublin (CCD). <More info here>

For more up-to-date Aussie SF info join the ASFF: <asff.org.au>.

The AntipodeanSF Radio Show

AntiSF Radio Show

antipod-show-50The AntipodeanSF Radio Show delivers audio from the pages of this magazine.

The weekly program features the stories from recently published issues, usually narrated by the authors themselves.

Listen to the latest episode now:

The AntipodeanSF Radio Show is also broadcast on community radio, 2NVR, 105.9FM every Saturday evening at 8:30pm.

You can find every broadcast episode online here: http://antisf.libsyn.com 

SF Quote

I have been a sore-headed occupant of a file drawer labelled ''Science Fiction'' and I would like out, particularly since so many serious critics regularly mistake the drawer for a urinal.

Kurt Vonnegut Jr.