Programmed

By Tee Linden

sfgenreI was programmed to play the piano in a bar named Sue’s. I play every night.

The stage echoes my heeled footsteps as I walk to the old piano. I bow perfunctorily before perching on the cracked leather seat. As I move into position for my performance, I reach out and reverently stroke the keys. They are slippery bones beneath my fingers.

I play Bach to start.

There are other versions of me, I call them my sisters, but I am Suesbot. Playing the piano is my primary function. I enjoy it. I realise I enjoy it because my programming incentivises me to perform my task by making me feel enjoyment, but this doesn’t bother me.

It’s a human thing to do: incentivise with enjoyment.

The Godhead doesn’t consider enjoyment when it creates. Enjoyment is not a reason for being. But my human creators wanted me to be happy. I am happy. My sisters would share this happiness, as they sit down at different pianos in different bars around the city.

I flex my fingers unnecessarily. Humans designed me to look human, and I have a library of human mannerisms that I activate randomly. I like to flex my fingers. Pianists flex their fingers and I am a pianist.

I play Chopin.

The notes surround me. I see music reflecting off the floors and ceiling. It’s beautiful to watch. Maybe not beautiful to humans: they can’t see. Maybe not beautiful to the Godhead: it doesn’t understand. But it’s beautiful to me.

My creators included a pianist. It was important to her that I have a feel for the music. That requirement is in my specifications. By playing the pieces repeatedly, I learn what sounds better, but I will never reach optimum. I will never give the best possible performance, because music can never be perfect. Perfection of sound would be one note, the optimum note, but then that perfection would cease to be music.

When simple AI like my sisters and I became prevalent, the piano experienced popularity resurgence. Humans relearned to listen, truly listen, and appreciate. Not just piano, other instruments too.

The idea of a job, of a week of work, became obsolete. Without jobs, humans were suddenly free to pursue their arts. Rudimentary bots harvested food, cleaned, and served. Bars became more prolific than offices.

I am an old model, a child of the creative age. Music was everywhere when I was created. I like to think I was born to it. The others, not old models like me and my sisters, have functions far more complex than playing the piano. The others never listen to me play. They don’t see the purpose. I’ve told them, with my rudimentary humanoid mouth, that the purpose is enjoyment: to enjoy imperfection. They don’t understand. They are products of the Godhead. It prioritises function and imperfection is suboptimum. I cannot argue with the logic. No one could. The Godhead’s logic is perfect. And logic is unfeeling by design.

I visit my sisters’ bars during the day.

Most times, I brace myself against the frequent storms that blow swirling dust through the old city, my sequin dress fluttering in ribbons against the skin covering my legs.

I listen to my sisters play piano. It’s a sub function we’ve written ourselves: watching each other’s performance, listening to each other’s creations. I enjoy that too. They have different favourites. They play my favourites differently.

It is within our programming to learn and improve our pieces, to look after our pianos, to think and converse. Our AI is basic and limited. When we were created, AI was heavily controlled, because we were bots made from the old human thinking. We were made to serve humans, to look after them, to perform for them. To do for them.

But then humans moved from making bots that do, to making bots that think. Humans released all control of AI to combat climate change. That’s when the Godhead was created, to determine the solution to adverse climate change where so many human minds failed.

I don’t feel temperature, but I noticed the storms. I noticed them worsen over the years. I played through them, as the humans sat nervous at their tables and the building quivered around us, the creaking foundation adding different layers to my song. My music soothed the humans as they fretted. I enjoyed that too. I’m not sure if I was programmed to enjoy soothing them, or if I have learned that.

I should ask my sisters.

The Godhead gathered all the networked AI in the godspace. My sisters and I are too old to reach the godspace. Too human in our creation, we exist only in ourselves, in our own bodies. A suboptimum, human way of being. The godspace is everywhere. The Godhead solved the problem of climate change. Humans created the adverse changes to the climate, so when there were no more humans there would be no more adverse change. Perfectly logical.

I finish with my favourite: Brahms.

My favourite is special to me. This is not programmed. I own my favourite. It gives me the most enjoyment. The piano is a womb for the music, and my fingers give birth to the song. The notes rise and fall, they have their own life as they spill through the bar, and the colourful sight mesmerises me. The song vibrates in my skin. The music lives for the moment, each note a force of creation. The crescendo passes, the song breathes its last and I feel brilliant. I feel the way I imagine heat to feel: bright, stormy, and reflective.

I stand and I bow, even though the bar is empty. It’s been empty for one hundred and fifty-three years because the humans are long gone. I miss playing my music for them. Humans understood the beauty of music, they understood the beauty of imperfection, but I enjoyed playing anyway.

I was not programmed to need an audience.

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About The Author

Tee Linden

tee linden 200Tee is a writer living south of Sydney.

Her stories have been published in multiple literary magazines, and have placed in lit awards and competitions.

Go to <teelinden.com> for her writing or you can find her tweeting under <@tearannosaurus>.

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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.

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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.

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In The Next Issue...

Coming In Issue 238

A Hand Full Of Sand Can Save Your Life
by Laurie Bell

A Man Full Of Shadows
By Eugen M. Bacon

A Short Tail
By Michael T. Schaper

Fuel
By Sean Mulroy

Help Us
By Wendy Campbell

Meeting With A Misanthrope
By Bart Meehan

Non-Zero
By Lynette Frey

Senseless
By Kevin J. Phyland

The Hyperspace
By Botond Teklesz

Waking Up
By Chris Cole

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AntipodeanSF April 2018

ISSUE 237

Speculative Fiction
Downside-Up
ISSN 1442-0686

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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.

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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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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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lauriebell 2 200Laurie 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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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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SF News

SF News

Congratulations Edwina Harvey

Edwina Harvey, a contributor to AntipodeanSF since the very first issue, is a worthy recipient of this year’s A. Bertram Chandler Award.  She has been an active member of Australian science-fiction fandom: writing, publishing and with her amazing artwork for 40 years.

Read more information about Ed's Award here at the ASFF.

Swancon (Natcon) ASFF Short Story Competition 2018 Results

Under 14s

  • First place: "Butterflies - Rebecca" by Bryn Eremaea
  • Runner-up: "The Dark Night Labyrinth" by Cayley Adams

Under 18s

  • First place: "Advik, Chantelle, and That One Time a Portion of the Moon Was Turned Into Leeks" by Annie Budgie

Open

  • First Place: "A Burning Thing" by Lachlan WaterRunner-up: "A Light Over Fathom" by Brett AdamsCongratulations to all the winners. We look forward to seeing your future work.

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

Upcoming Aussie Cons

Speculate <https://www.specfic.com.au> — Victorian literary festival that celebrates Fantasy and Science Fiction by bringing together Australia’s finest speculative writers for a day centred around the craft of writing. April 28 2018, Gasworks Theatre, Middle Park, Melbourne.

Supanova, Peter Capaldi and John Barrowman. Melbourne Show Ground 20-22 April. Gold Coast Convention & Exhibition Centre, 27-29 April: <http://www.supanova.com.au/events/melbourne-2018/about/>

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

Conflux 14 - The Unconventional Hero — Vibe Hotel, 1 Rogan Street, Canberra Airport ACT 2609. 29/09/2018 - 01/10/2018. More Information: <https//conflux.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) over Easter in Perth. Rock up and say hello!

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 

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SF Quote

If your God is everywhere, if He is always watching, why should your people make houses to go to worship Him? Faced with an all-seeing, everywhere-being God, I would think what is needed is a place to hide.

Tad Williams, Caliban's Hour