Out With The Old, In With The New

By Alexander Nachaj

sfgenreGeorgetown, November 6th. John 47 sat hunched over the paint-covered canvas. His hand worked vigorously, dabbing thick blotches of orange, yellow and grey into the unfinished fire. Leaves separated from sky, sunset from horizon. In an hour, it would be complete, but an hour was more than he had.

The switchboard above the incubator glowed green and John 47 knew the year had come to an end.


***

The naked man stepped from the sliding doors and out onto the cool granite floor. Embryonic mists danced around his legs like steam from a sauna. His forehead and brow were as plain as his hairless chest. But in the eyes and the curve of the jaw, John 47 could see his mirror image.

“It's cold,” were the newcomer’s first, obstinate words. He brushed away goose bumps on his forearms. “Why isn't the heating on?”

“We keep it down during the autumn,” replied John 47, frowning as he wiped his hands on a rag.

The newcomer grunted. His eyes coasted to a pile of clothing. He rummaged out a pair of joggers. “Which number am I?”

“48.”

“Ah.” He dressed.

John 47 eyed him. “One year already...” He fumbled for words, wondering if there was even a point. “You’re probably eager to take over.”

When he was dressed, John 48 appraised his predecessor’s outfit.

“That's a nice cardigan. Are you wearing it to Rest and Recycling?”

John 47 shrugged. “It’s chilly outside.”

“Fine.” John 48 glanced around the spacious luxury loft he would soon be calling home. Dirty dishes, unwashed laundry, and incomplete easels lent the room an air of claustrophobia. “The place is a mess. What were you doing all this time?”

John 47 stepped aside, revealing the landscape he had been working on.

John 48 approached the iridescent easel. “So, we're an artist now? Whatever happened to the upward momentum at the agency?”

“We made the change... some time back. I believe it was John 32. It was necessary. Marketing lost its hold on us.”

John 48 pondered the unexpected career change. He wasn’t pleased. “So you’re saying even if I return to the old job, I’ll have to start from the bottom again? I can’t believe the past fifteen iterations were okay with this.”

“There have been a few... dissenters, but in the end it was the artist who prevailed,” said John 47.

John 48 sighed. “I guess it will make sense in time.”

“Unfortunately, there’s never enough time.”

“What are you talking about? We have all the time in eternity.”

John 47 took a deep breath. “We say that, and then the year runs out.”

“I don’t need a year. And I’m giving up this art nonsense.” His hand brushed the edge of the canvas. “The memory sync will fill me in with the rest once you decommission.”

“Unless,” began John 47, “I spend a day or two bringing you up to speed? There’s plenty we could accomplish together. Perhaps you’ll see why we’ve continued down this path.”

John 48 shook his head. “The contract is explicit. One unit per year, and one year per unit. I doubt things have changed.”

“They haven't.” A pause. “How about you complete the piece with me?”

“Don't be like that,” John 48 said. “A random inspector could stop by, and where would that leave us?”

“You could hide.”

“Where? I can't go back into the incubation unit.” The doors had closed. The light was red and the countdown beside it had already begun. “You need to go so I can get on with our life.” He crossed his arms.

John 47 frowned, frustrated to be at such predictable loggerheads with his successor. He wanted to reason with him, to get John 48 to see the light, but he knew it was no use. He had been just as stubborn the first moment he stepped out of the incubator all those years ago. John 48 was hardly exceptional in that regard.

“Very well,” John 47 conceded, “but there’s something important you should know.” He turned his back and placed his hands atop the little wooden work stool. He took a deep breath.

John 48 rolled his eyes. “What now?”

A slight pause. “I’m not John 47. And I’m not going back to marketing.”

John 48 could only reply with a puzzled expression. There wasn’t enough time for anything else. The stool was off the floor and in mid-swing. It cracked him across the temple, knocking him to the ground. He never felt the sour rag as it pressed against his mouth.

***

The inspector arrived the following evening. After John invited him into the living room, the uniformed man wasted no time getting down to business. He pulled a tablet from his pocket and read the report.

“We pulled him from the Canal last night. He must have…” A slight pause, “fallen on the way to Rest & Recycling. We were too late to salvage him.”

“I see.”

“Fortunately, your insurance covers damaged and lost iterations.” He pulled up the insurance files and placed the tablet on the table between them. “You'll be reimbursed in full, but the premiums will rise by this amount.” He pointed to a number at the bottom of the page.

“I can afford it.”

The inspector cleared his throat. “According to our records, your iterations have a higher than average rate of attrition. This could suggest a fundamental degeneration in your emotional banks. If it pleases you, the company could restore your files to a previous, more stable build. For a minor fee, of course.”

John signed the documents and handed the tablet back to the inspector.

“Maybe next year.”

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About The Author

Alexander Nachaj

alex nachaj 200Alexander is a Canadian author, university lecturer and researcher. He enjoys taking long drives out into the wilderness (of which there is no shortage in Canada) and hopes to one day own a small house by a big lake. Recently, his work has appeared in Mad Scientist Journal, Right Hand Pointing and Shotgun Honey.

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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

Speculative Fiction
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ISSN 1442-0686

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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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AntiSF Radio Show

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

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Politicians should read science fiction, not westerns and detective stories.

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