Issue 304

By Bob Gielow


On behalf of our Board of Advisors, 1,000 plus team members, and the myriad beings we are serving every day, I welcome you as a new employee at NEXT LIFE.  Congratulations on being chosen for this important work from what I am sure was an incredibly competitive pool of candidates!  

Please allow me to apologise for misleading you regarding the name of our organisation and, to a lesser extent, the nature of the work to which you were applying.  As you will learn reviewing the accompanying Employee Manual, it has long been necessary for NEXT LIFE to present itself under the guise of different company names and to advertise for new employees using fictitious jobs, even though the desired skills and characteristics listed do accurately represent the work at hand.

Our work at NEXT LIFE is important.  Though I don’t want employees to get overly anxious or, alternately, full of themselves when thinking about their roles, I can tell you that the continuing existence of mammals on this planet relies on our efforts.  As you’ve learned, when an animal’s life ends, we are tasked with assigning the next living vehicle for their souls.  As magical or ridiculous as it might have seemed to you several days ago, NEXT LIFE determines in which animal each and every soul will continue their existence.

Although you will be cautioned about this many times, I want you to hear from me that there are severe penalties for informing other beings about the existence of NEXT LIFE.  We are capable of learning whenever you have revealed the truth about your employer.  This is true even if you speak with select animals.  At your request, I have a long list of former employees who ignored this warning in the past and are paying for their discretion(s) in perpetuity.  

To answer several questions that immediately come up for new employees: yes, we will eventually assign a new bodily home for your soul, we assigned your current body to you, and we have been doing this from the time when mammals first appeared on Earth.  In section one of the Employee Manual, you can read a brief history of NEXT LIFE.  Though we discourage employees from spending an inordinate amount of time on the task, you will be able to research the history of your past lives.  

I’d also like to answer a frequent question regarding the lucrative compensation package that has been offered to you.  In almost every case, the salary and benefits offered to NEXT LIFE employees is more than they have ever known.  Our ability to offer these compensation packages is supported by key governmental leaders in several dozen countries.  These Finance Ministers and Treasury Secretaries funnel currency into the coffers of NEXT LIFE-affiliated shell companies on the promise that they will have a choice in decisions regarding their next bodily host.  (No, I’m afraid that employees do not have this same freedom.)

Although you will hear more in section seven of the Employee Manual, I’d like to say a word about the “technology” being used by NEXT LIFE. As you will soon learn, NEXT LIFE employees are able to access location, health, and what we refer to in English as CTGP (Contributions Towards the Good of this Planet) information regarding every single soul on this planet. Our ability to access and disseminate this information is supported by technologies not yet available to other organisations or industries. While there is no doubt that NEXT LIFE’s IT Department is staffed by the world’s best and brightest, our data system — known as “Umskipti,” or “transition” in Icelandic — possesses information-gathering capabilities and a sentience that are beyond the current capacity of both existing and imagined near-future technologies. While some employees have credited an almighty god with our ability to “see” what we see, most simply accept that we cannot explain how we are able to do what we do. My advice to you is to not worry about how or why you can check in on the soul of a dying Wildebeest in east Africa, for example. Instead, simply marvel at it and play your role in assigning that being’s next life.  

Lastly, I’d like to confirm the end-of-contract terms for your employment.  As has likely been mentioned by your On-Boarding Coordinator, your tenure at NEXT LIFE will end when you reach 70 years of age.  On your 70th birthday, your employment will be terminated and you will be asked to sign an updated Non-Disclosure Agreement verifying your intention to keep secret what you have learned about NEXT LIFE.  Rest assured that at the end of your life, your soul will have been credited handsomely for all your efforts in support of our mission.  

Thank you so much for the role you will be playing at NEXT LIFE in service to Earth’s nearly 200 billion souls (and growing).  We hope you will enjoy your time with us!

Embla Guðdóttir

Reykjavik, Iceland

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About the Author

bob gielowA college administrator by day, Bob Gielow (he/him) spins tales in formats we all use when communicating with each other: text messages, emails, fictional Wikipedia posts, and diary entries all allow him to be clinical and thorough in describing his characters, their thinking and actions … without diminishing his ability to explore the resulting human emotions. 

Bob utilises these epistolary styles, and others, to tell tales that frequently explore the most common of human experiences, death.

Issue Contributors

The AntiSF Radio Show

antipod-show-50Our weekly podcast features the stories from recently published issues, often narrated by the authors themselves.

Listen to the latest episode now:

The AntipodeanSF Radio Show is also broadcast on community radio, 2NVR, 105.9FM every Sunday evening at 7:00pm.

You can find every broadcast episode online here: 

Meet the Narrators

  • Ed Errington

    ed erringtonEd lives with his wife plus a magical assortment of native animals in tropical North Queensland.

    His efforts at wallaby wrangling are without parallel — at least in this universe.

    He enjoys reading and writing science-fiction stories set within intriguing, yet plausible contexts, and invite readers’ “willing suspension of

  • Geraldine Borella

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

  • Marg Essex

    marg essex 200Margaret lives the good life on a small piece of rural New South Wales Australia, with an amazing man, a couple of pets, and several rambunctious wombats.

    She feels so lucky to be a part of the AntiSF team.


  • Sarah Jane Justice

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

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

  • Sarah Pratt

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

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

    Her work has appeared in Sponge Magazine and The Commuting

  • Alistair Lloyd

    alistair lloyd 200Alistair Lloyd is a Melbourne based writer and narrator who has been consuming good quality science fiction and fantasy most of his life.

    You may find him on Twitter as <@mr_al> and online at <...

  • Laurie Bell

    lauriebell 2 200

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

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

  • Mark English

    mark english 100Mark is an astrophysicist and space scientist who worked on the Cassini/Huygens mission to Saturn. Following this he worked in computer consultancy, engineering, and high energy research (with a stint at the JET Fusion Torus).

    All this science hasn't damped his love of fantasy and science fiction. It has, however, ruined his

  • Barry Yedvobnick

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

  • Emma Gill

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

  • Tim Borella

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

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

    Tim lives with his wife Georgie in beautiful Far

  • Michelle Walker

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

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


  • Juliette Cavendish

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