By Nicholas Sheppard

sfgenreSusan arrived home to find David unwrapping a large-ish box in the living room. “What’s that?” she asked.

“It’s a utility robot,” said David.

“What does it do?”

“It feels.”

The thing emerging from the packaging did not seem to have any hands, or tentacles, or other appendages with which it might feel in the sense that Susan had initially supposed. She stood still, peering a little harder at the robot in the hope that she would find some explanation. Then, it occurred to her: “As in, experiences emotion?”

“Yes. It has the best feeling in the world. It’s completely satisfied with life.”

“What’s its life?” The thing emerging from the packaging did not seem very lively, either.

“Its life is to feel satisfied.” David indicated some writing on the now-discarded box, which Susan supposed to explain this philosophy. By now, she could see that the machine took the form a vertical silver-grey cylinder, surmounted by a white dome. The dome rose to about the height of David’s shoulders as he sat beside it, and the whole contraption resembled nothing so much as a rubbish bin.

“And this benefits us how?” said Susan.

“With this, our household will contain at least 50% more satisfaction than before!”

“Are you suggesting that you’re unsatisfied?”

“Oh no, not on the whole. Of course it’d be nice not to have to mow the lawn, or chase customers at work, that sort of thing. But this baby is perfectly satisfied with its life, perfectly happy with every aspect of its life.” David patted the machine’s dome with apparent affection. The machine, which was not turned on, did not react. “How can more satisfaction be bad?”


When the machine was turned on, a few red and green LEDs glowed at the top of the cylinder, just below the dome. They did not blink. The machine was in just this state when Susan found David kneeling before it the following evening.

“How do you know it’s satisfied?” she asked.

“They’ve done tests. It’s passed the Turing Test, it satisfies Integrated Information Theory, and it aced the Life Satisfaction Survey.”

“I see,” she said, without conviction. “Does watching it make it more satisfied?”

“It doesn’t need me,” David said. “But I think I can learn from it.”

“Does it teach?” Susan did not perceive the machine to be doing very much teaching.

“Only by example.”

Susan stared a little longer. “You’ve got the LEDs all wrong.”


David was before the machine again the following evening, this time sitting cross-legged with his head bowed, resting his chin on his hands. Susan said nothing. On the third night he was trying the lotus position, but on the fourth night he was back to kneeling. The machine had not changed.

“What are you learning?” asked Susan when David rose — a little unsteadily — from his latest sojourn before the machine.

“It’s hard work.”

“The kneeling, or the learning?”

“What I need to do.”

“What do you need to do?”

“I need to understand the way the machine feels, and take that feeling for myself.”

“Is it feeling if you can make yourself do it?”

“Why shouldn’t it be?”

“I just thought that that was the definition of feeling — something that arises within you without conscious explanation. Otherwise it’d be a thought. And, anyway, why should you be able to feel what the machine feels? You’re not the machine.”

“I can do it,” he insisted, and went to shower.


David did not go to work the following week, preferring to spend more time with the machine. He had brought it into the living room, where he could watch it while seated on the comfortable armchair normally used for watching the extra-large television in the room. The television was off, but the machine was on.

Susan frowned at the arrangement whenever she passed by the living room, but it was not until the third day that she decided to challenge her husband. “You’ll have to go back to work one day,” she warned him.

“Do I? The machine can be satisfied without going to work.”

“You aren’t the machine.”


But David continued into the fourth and then fifth day of leave. On the fifth day, he did not eat, leaving Susan to glower at him, sigh, and put the meal into the freezer in case he wanted it another time. But he did not touch it the next day (which was a Saturday, on which he did not have to work), nor on Sunday. The last thing Susan heard him say was “I’m nearly there!”

Susan found David lying on the armchair on Monday morning, his head flopped back on the head-rest for want of any effort to hold it up, and his skin dry and pale. He was not breathing. Susan dragged him onto the floor, kicking the still-glowing machine aside, and began resuscitation. But she quickly perceived that it was hopeless. She sat back, with her hands on her hips and her legs folded underneath her body. From this position she stared at what was left of her husband, and then at the machine that had brought him to this state. She couldn’t blame it, she supposed, and her husband did have such a wonderful smile on his face.

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About The Author

Nicholas Sheppard

nicholas sheppard 150x150Nicholas Sheppard is an Australian software engineer and academic, currently teaching in Singapore. He has published numerous scientific articles in venues with very serious names, several non-fiction pieces for a less serious mediaeval re-creation group, and occasional pieces of fiction in AntipodeanSF.


AntiSF & The ASFF

AntipodeanSF supports the ASFF

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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

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.


Download AntiSF E-Book

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In The Next Issue...

Coming In Issue 237

Belted About
by Kevin J. Phyland

Death Is No Obstacle
by Wesley Parish

Evening Star
by Paul Alex Gray

Heisenberg's Witness
by Nemo

Hell Is A Witch
by Pamela Jeffs

by Tee Linden

Roof o Green
by Ishmael Soledad

The Chocolate Bar
by Matthew Harrison

The Gamer
by Cam Kirk

The Mintfresh Disaster
by Kim Rose

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 March 2018


Speculative Fiction
ISSN 1442-0686

Online Since Feb 1998

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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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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 <> 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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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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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 <>

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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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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 <>

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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, 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 <>.

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SF News

SF News

Hugo Awards Nominations for the 2018 Hugo Awards and 1943 Retrospective Hugo Awards are open. The Hugos will be presented at Worldcon 76, 16-20 August 2018 San Jose USA <http:/>

Fan Funds Open for 2018

Both GUFF and DUFF have opened their races for 2018. Fan funds are a long tradition in SF fandom and a wonderful opportunity to connect with fans on the other side of the planet. DUFF:<> & GUFF: <>. More information and news at the <Australian Science Fiction Foundation>.

AntiSF Author Eugen M. Bacon Publishes Two New Anthologies

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

Dying & Other Stories, <>. Literary speculative fiction that offers up death. Dirges that cross genre.

Thirteen Wicked Tales, <>. 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.

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

Upcoming Aussie Cons

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: <>

Conclave 3 — The The 39th New Zealand National Science Fiction and Fantasy Convention. Easter Weekend, March to 2 April 2018, at the Surrey Hotel, Auckland. More information at <>

Speculate <> — 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: <>

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

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: <>

For more up-to-date Aussie SF info join the ASFF: <>

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: 

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SF Quote

There’s no real objection to escapism, in the right places… We all want to escape occasionally. But science fiction is often very far from escapism, in fact you might say that science fiction is escape into reality… It’s a fiction which does concern itself with real issues: the origin of man; our future. In fact I can’t think of any form of literature which is more concerned with real issues, reality.

Arthur C. Clarke