Digital Gods

By Pascal Inard

sfgenreLoki rolled the dice and moved his thimble token six places. "'Go to Jail' again? This game's rigged!"

Apollo laughed. "Maybe you should apologise to Fortuna. She's still mad at you for cheating when you played poker with her."

"How else can you win against her?"

Aphrodite picked the dice and threw them. "Whoo-hoo, double sixes!"

"Hey guys, have you seen Ra?" asked Inti.

Aphrodite turned around and replied "Hi Inti. No, I haven't."

Apollo and Loki shook their heads.

"I'm worried he's done something foolish. The last time I saw him, he said he was sick and tired of retirement, and he wanted to end it all."

"Aren't we all?" said Aphrodite. "None of us chose to be here, playing stupid games to pass time. If only mortals weren't so fickle, throwing us out like clothes that have gone out of fashion."

"Except for Hindus — their gods are still going strong. I don't know if Brahma and his offspring will ever join us here," said Apollo.

"I think I know where Ra is," said Loki in a low-key voice.

"How would you know?"

"I went to the world of mortals to have a peek — "

"You what?" said Aphrodite. "Wait until Father finds out, you're going to be in big trouble."

"Let him finish," said Inti. "What has that got to do with Ra?"

"He seemed really interested by what I told him. He even smiled, and he thanked me when he left."

"Tell us what you saw," said Inti. "We promise we won't tell Father, don't we?"

Aphrodite and Apollo nodded reluctantly.

"Nowadays, mortals spend all their time looking at screens. They've found these new gods you see, and that's how they worship them."

"What new gods?"

"They're digital gods, which means mortals can talk to them with their screens."

"Where did they come from?"

"It's a mystery, but there's a whole pantheon of them. Their king is called Google. When mortals pray to him, he tells them which deity can grant their wish. For example if they want knowledge, Google tells them Wikipedia has what they want. If they want to see what their friends are doing, Facebook tells them. To buy something, they have several gods with strange names like eBay and Amazon. I saw one called YouTube who gives them images of cats to make them laugh."

"What about music?" asked Apollo.

"I think it's Spotifax or something like that."

Aphrodite frowned. "Is there one for love too?"

"That I don't know. I didn't stay long enough to make a list of all the new gods."

"But what would Ra do in the world of mortals?" asked Apollo.

Loki shrugged. "I don't have a clue, but he looked like he had an idea."

"Let's go and find out before it's too late," said Inti.

"But I just built a hotel in Oxford Street!" said Apollo.

"I'll come with you," said Aphrodite. "I want to know who's replaced me!"

"I'm with you," said Loki.

***

As the three deities didn't find Ra in Egypt, they looked for another place where sun worshippers abounded. South America looked promising, so they went to Buenos Aires, bewildered by how much the world of mortals had changed since their last visit.

"I thought Ra would be attracted to this place because the mortals have put a picture of a sun on their flag, but it doesn't look like he's here. What do we do now?" asked Inti.

"Let's get one of these screens," said Loki, "and then we can ask Google where Ra is."

"This place with a picture of an apple has lots of them," said Aphrodite.

A man with a blue T-shirt welcomed the three deities as they walked in the shop. "Good afternoon, may I help you?"

"We'd like a screen."

"Ah yes, are you after an iPhone or an iPad?"

"This one looks nice," said Aphrodite, pointing to a phone.

"That's the iPhone 10. It's got some really cool new features. Would you like to see them?"

"Yes, please show us how to speak to Google."

"Ok, Google," He said to the phone before handing it to Loki.

Loki looked at the screen with the Google app.

"What do I do now?"

"Just tell Google what you want."

"Where is Ra?" said Loki to the phone. He frowned at the resulting screen and said, "I don't understand Google's answer."

"Let me have a look," said the salesman. "The first four results are for Rheumatoid Arthritis, but I guess that's not what you're after; you're too young for that."

He pointed to the fifth result and said, "Tap on this one, like this."

A page appeared with a picture of Ra and the hieroglyph representing his name at the top.

Click the Worship button for your place in the Land of Two Fields, without having your heart weighed by Maat. That's right, no matter what you've done, your place is guaranteed, no questions asked. All you need to do is click the Worship button. What are you waiting for?

"How do I speak to him?"

"Look, just below the Worship button, you can leave a comment."

"Ra, it's me, Loki. I'm here with Aphrodite and Inti. Where are you?" Loki typed with help from the salesman.

"In the Web," replied Ra, "where all the digital gods live."

"Come back, we miss you!"

"What for? I'm better here. I've got some worshippers now."

Loki saw a counter next to the Worship button. "Three thousand, two hundred and fifty seven. You're not going to get very far with that."

"A man called Chakravarthy sent me a message. He said he was going to do some Search Engine Optimisation, and he promised I'll have top ranking on Google."

"What do you think?" Loki asked the salesman.

"No offence to your friend, but I'd rather watch a cat video."

"Ra, it's no good. You'll never be able to compete with the digital gods. None of us will. You're on your own here, but if you come back we'll look after you. You know you can count on us."

No answer.

"Are you there Ra?"

"What's the point? I may as well end it all."

"No Ra, don't!"

The screen flashed, and Ra's page was replaced by a "Host Not Found" message.

Loki turned to the salesman. "Your screen doesn't work anymore."

The salesman tapped on his iPad and got the same result.

"Must a problem with the Wi-Fi. I'll find someone to fix it."

"Is Wi-Fi another one of their digital deities?" asked Aphrodite.

After a short time, the salesman came back with a grim face. "Head Office called all around the world, and it's the same story everywhere. No one knows what's happened, but it looks like the whole Web just died. There isn't a single site that responds. My god, what are we going to do?"

Loki turned to Aphrodite. "Well, those digital gods aren't all what they're cracked up to be. Let's stick around, I have a feeling we didn't come here for nothing."

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About The Author

Pascal Inard

pascal inardPascal Inard writes novels, short stories and non-fiction books, mostly in English, but sometimes in French. He lives a creative life in Cheltenham, a suburb of Melbourne in Australia with his illustrator and crafter wife Isabella and their three children. When he's not writing or photographing, he manages IT projects for an Australian bank.

Pascal Inard is the author of "The Memory Snatcher", a science-fiction mystery about a police inspector and a quantum physicist who join forces to stop a memory thief from paralysing the world, and "Web of Destinies", a time travel mystery about a doctor who inherits a mysterious typewriter that can change the past, and is confronted with a secret agent who wants to use it to change history and a monk who wants to stop him. "Pushing up the digits", his collection of short stories on the digital afterlife is now available free in all major ebook retailers (except amazon where it sells for 99 cents).

His writing has been published in a number of anthologies and magazines. View his bibliography at <http://pascalinard.blogspot.com.au/p/blog-page.html>

You can connect with Pascal Inard on facebook <http://www.facebook.com/Pascal.Inard.Writer>

 

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In The Next Issue...

Coming In Issue 236

Australia, A Story
by Ovidiu Bufnila

Castle Bridegroom Bear
by Michael Richards

Decrypted Message Thread
by Theodore Irvin Silar

Non-Event Horizon
by Kevin J. Phyland

Satisfaction
by Nicholas Sheppard

The Traveller
by Robert David

The Twelve Moments
by Eugen Samolin

Upstairs
by David Scholes

You Can Always Change The Past
by George Nikolopoulos

You Can't Always Get What You Want
by Wes Parish

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AntipodeanSF February 2018

ISSUE 235

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AntiSF 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.

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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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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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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>

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laurie bell 150Laurie Bell lives in Melbourne, Australia. She spent years writing and making audio plays with her sister using an old tape player. Life is a performance! She is a singer and has performed on stage once for her local theatre company. Now she helps out as a volunteer. She loves to read her stories out loud to anyone who will listen. She has recorded several audio readings of her own short stories here at Antipodean SF and is now a member of the audio team.

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

Laurie's debut book The Butterfly Stone will be published in Autumn (Aus) 2018 and another titled Blood Fever will be published in Winter (Aus) 2018.

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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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SF News

SF News

AntiSF Author Eugen M. Bacon Publishes Two New Anthologies

Antipodean SF author Eugen Bacon has published two new speculative fiction anthologies:

Dying & Other Stories, <http://www.fiction4all.com/books/b13195-dying-and-other-stories.htm>. Literary speculative fiction that offers up death. Dirges that cross genre.

Thirteen Wicked Tales, <http://www.fiction4all.com/books/b13148-thirteen-wicked-tales.htm>. A collection of literary speculative fiction by Fiction4All

Congrats AntiSF Author Laurie Bell...

Laurie Bell is set to have two new novels published in 2018. One is an adult sci-fi noir thriller novel "Blood Fever" through Incendia Books, and the other is a young adult urban fantasy "The Butterfly Stone" from Wyvern's Peak Publishing.

ASFF Supports The Swancon Short Story Competition 2018 - Entries Now Open

Swancon 2018, the 57th Australian National Science Fiction Convention, is running a short story competition with the support of the Australian Science Fiction Foundation. More information at the Swancon website. Theme: Transformation

For more SF news why not join the ASFF and get the ASFF newsletter “The Instrumentality” delivered straight to your inbox!

Upcoming Aussie Cons

Walker Stalker Convention: Walking Dead convention The Dome at Sydney Showgrounds. 3-4 February 2018 and 10-11 February 2018 Melbourne Showgrounds. <http://walkerstalkercon.com/sydney/>.

Confurgence 2018: Furry convention 23-25 February 2018. Amora Hotel Riverwalk, Melbourne. <http://ausfancons.com/confurgence/>

Swancon 2018 (Natcon): Pan Pacific Hotel, Perth. This is the 2018 Australian National Convention: “Transmogrification”, (Easter) 29  March to 02 April 2018 . Guests: Kameron Hurley, Ryan Griffen, Barb de la Hunty.  More information: <http://swancon.com.au/>

Continuum XIV: Conjugation. Melbourne’s SF Convention. 8th – 11th June, 2018. More information: <http://www.continuum.org.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/>

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

AntiSF will be at the National Convention, Swancon (2018).

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

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The Three Laws Of Robotics

  • A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
  • A robot must obey orders given to it by human beings, except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
  • A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.
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