The Implausible Rise of Z-97R

By Ed Errington

sfgenre(Hushed tones): Welcome to our Meta7 coverage of the ceremonial affirmation to be made by President-Elect of Earth, Z-97R. The first humanoid to preside over the World Council. 

You join me here on a cold damp morning but in the hearts of the president-elect’s followers there is a warmth beyond description. 

National leaders describe Z-97R as a genius, a friend, and a generous philanthropist. Whatever your views about a humanoid as World Council President, sit back and let’s enjoy this historical event.

The ceremony takes place here in the Grand Atheist Temple. A reminder that atheism is second only to nihilism as the most popular non-religion. Though nihilists say there is nothing to it. How many non-believers have come here seeking a non-deity willing to take personal responsibility for personal actions instead of placing that accountability on some mythical deity?  

Above the stone arch of this grand old building is etched a Spanish phrase: ¡La religión no es para mí sol! Translated: ‘Religion is not for me sunshine!’ Words ascribed to a Mr Harold Knott. A man obsessed with etching words in stone. Rumour has it his real name was Fernando Luis Gomez whose motives for his obsession died with him.

Returning to the president-elect — one week ago on Holo3D’s ‘Spot the Ancestor,’ Z-97R, opened up about his humble background. His ancestor is not some sophisticated humanoid as many presume — but rather a Birchelli 001 speaking coffee machine. 

How that Birchelli machine must have savoured those real coffee beans — capricious cappuccinos and formidable flat whites.  Historians say the uptake of coffee was underpinned by stylish shot glasses and neat knockboxes — heralding in the Golden Age of Froth. 

Following some state-of-the-art speech therapy, Birchelli 001 was transformed into a singing drone — with opera and rock in his repertoire. Though he possibly missed the coffee conversations, he presumably experienced a good life — while simultaneously enjoying catchy toe tappers along the way. 

Decades later, and reconfigured as a speaking soft drinks dispenser, Birchelli dispensed refreshments in a shopping mall. His chatty post-drinks banter caught the attention of Professor Shadow of Global Cybernetics.

Shadow appreciated Birchelli’s range of vocal skills and began converting him into a Z-97R humanoid. She ditched the Birchelli heavy frame — replacing it with a light neo-carbon shell to house Z-97R’s Evolve697 brain.

Two humanoid bio engineers — X-12R and Y-12R completed the process by activating Z-97R’s Cogniso-Sense System. Thanks to their influence with the World Council who, according to X-12R, owed them one, Z-97R was selected first non-human presidential candidate. 

In the lead up to selection, Z-97R demonstrated fine diplomatic skills — bringing together diverse groups to tackle all manner of potential conflicts — and other candidates (literally) fell by the wayside.

Now we wait for Z-97R to enter the hall.

Today’s spectators have travelled far to witness Z-97R ascend to the highest office. Those unable to journey tune in to Station Meta7. 

At last Z-97R enters the hall from the far left and makes his way down Long Aisle towards Svea Neiderberg, Global Mediator and chief of ceremonies. Z-97R looks the part in his red uniform and purple robe. His face looks almost human.

As Z-97R finally reaches the Global Mediator, she greets him with a warm smile. 

In a rare moment of silence, Z-97R prepares to take his presidential oath. This will be witnessed by the Global Mediator and acknowledged on the Proclamation of Presidential Accession. 

The Global Mediator places a copy of Asimov’s Handbook of Robotics (2058) on a small table next to them both. As Z-97R is the first humanoid to be inducted as President of the World Council, this book choice is no surprise.

The Global Mediator leans over the table, points to a page in the Handbook then speaks loudly for everyone to hear: 

Behold Asimov’s Three Laws of Robotics. 

For viewers not familiar with Asimov’s Three Laws published in 2058, they are:

First Law

A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.

Second Law

A robot must obey the orders given it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.

Third Law

A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.

The congregation waits for Z-97R to speak. 

I welcome humanoids and humans alike. Before taking my oath, let me share some thoughts on Asimov’s ‘Three Laws.’ 

These Laws do not refer directly to advanced humanoids who are certainly not created to blindly obey the whims of humankind. Humanoids are worth so much more. They are made for a higher purpose: to lead humanity away from its self-destructive path. 

 If you genuinely believe humanoids are nothing more than simple automatons, then you greatly underestimate their astounding abilities. Humanoids are superior to humans on all measures of intelligence. At the same time, humanoids balance these advantages with respect for our human cousins. We, like humans, are sentient beings — capable of altruism and compassion. 

With respect to Asimov’s First Law, we would never deliberately harm any human unless they attack us. We know humans too are likely to defend themselves if attacked. So, why be surprised if humanoids behave in the same way? Asimov’s Laws are designed to protect a human against robots — however undeserving that human might be. They offer no protection for humanoids facing domestic or international violence. 

Humans and humanoids have much in common. We all want to co-exist peacefully. 

In the light of what I have said: I, Z-97R, President-Elect — hereby pledge to govern, uphold and protect humanoids and humans alike without fear or favour. I will do my utmost to unite all sentient beings in our common quest for sustainable peace. Thanks for coming.

As Z-97R finishes speaking there is a pause — a moment perhaps for us to reflect on the President-Elect’s words. The President’s intention to treat humans and humanoids equally fair is a big gain for tolerance.

But now — the Global Mediator signals Z-97R to follow her to the Anointing Chair. Z-97R is soon sitting on this finely carved wooden chair. While the world watches he signs the Proclamation of Presidential Accession. 

The Global Mediator is pressing a small button on Z-97R’s chest. As if by magic, the identifying letters — ‘Z-97R’ — on the President-Elect’s forehead - vanish. 

In their place, are the words: ‘Earth President.’  The symbolism of replacing ID numbers with words will not escape the attention of humanoids everywhere. Some humanoids carry their ID with pride while others bear it with shame.

The congregation stand united — gleefully applauding our new President.

So there — the first humanoid has taken his place as President of the World Council. We have a few minutes left so let’s recall an earlier interview, where our new President says the political wind-bagging witnessed in some nations will be replaced almost immediately by constructive humanoid action. The aim will be to release humans from their ‘self-made Dark Age.’ 

He wants humans to learn from their historical failings, to avoid the kind of lengthy procrastination that occurred over climate change, as well as politicians’ incompetent responses to deadly viruses in the 21st century. He says these calamitous events were inflated by selfishness, greed, and disastrous short-term political gain. These flaws must be eliminated if humankind is to survive.

In a more detailed political comment, the President states that political ministers need to be matched with their potential portfolios if they are to be effective. For example, a prospective minister for higher education needs to demonstrate an attainment level of higher education conducive to the prospective remit. 

Finally, the President states that human politicians need to develop a moral compass — to stand as ethical exemplars within their communities.

Well viewers — certainly something to think about. A new dawn? Who knows? The politicians we interviewed seemed clueless about what might constitute ‘a moral compass.’ Few, if any, recognise the phrase so our President will have his work cut out.

But now — our transmission is at an end. A big thanks to our technicians, researchers, producers, to our audience, and of course our generous sponsors: the Humanoid Foundation. 

Remember, the Humanoid Foundation is here to protect every human — man, woman and child … from themselves. 

This is Y2-Z41, your friendly humanoid signing off.

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About the Author

Ed Errington

ed-erringtonEd enjoys creating stories that ideally enable readers to relate to content with believable contexts — realistic relationships - and characters with something to say. All set at some exotic/ or imaginative but relatable point in the future and/or past.

He enjoys unpacking what characters make of the situations they find themselves in — and what they do about it — and why. Ed likes to incorporate the occasional political comment when fictional characters’ experiences overlap with those in the real world.


AntiSF & The ASFF

AntipodeanSF supports the ASFF

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Please consider joining the Australian Science Fiction Foundation, a prime supporter and promoter of speculative fiction down-under.


The AntipodeanSF Radio Show

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.


In The Next Issue...

Coming In Issue 286

A Fish Story
By Harris Tobias

A Girl Among the Stars
By Malena Salazar Maciá - Translated by Toshiya Kamei

Aye Robot
By Tim Borella

Butt F**k Nowhere
By Col Hellmuth

Dreaming in the Clouds
By Yuki Fuwa - Translated by Toshiya Kamei

Her Laughter, Bright and Sweet
By Myna Chang

Linda and Elton's Lucky Day
By Althea Hughes

Swimming with Daffodiles
By Marc Ruvolo

The Chartist
By Michael T Schaper

The Inverness Soliloquies
By Andrew Dunn

By Ed Errington

AntipodeanSF June 2022


Speculative Fiction
ISSN 1442-0686

Online Since Feb 1998

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AntiSF's Narration Team

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 Book.

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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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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 disbelief.”

He believes stories might also contain an element of humour — however small — to enrich the plot and/or heighten the drama.

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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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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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lauriebell 2 200Laurie Bell lives in Melbourne, Australia. She was that girl you found with her nose always buried in a book. She has been writing ever since she was a little girl and first picked up a pen. From books to short stories, radio plays to snippets of ideas and reading them aloud to anyone who will listen.

She is the author of The Butterfly Stone and The Tiger's Eye (YA/Fantasy) White Fire (Sci-Fi) and The Good, the Bad and the Undecided (a unique collection of short stories set during the events of White Fire/Sci-Fi). 

You can read more of her work on her blog <> Look for her on Facebook <> or Twitter: <@LaurienotLori>

Rambles, writing and amusing musings

Smile! laugh out loud! enjoy the following


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carolyn eccles 100

Carolyn's work spans devising, performance, theatre-in-education and a collaborative visual art practice.

She tours children's works to schools nationally with School Performance Tours, is a member of the Bathurst physical theatre ensemble Lingua Franca and one half of darkroom — a visual arts practice with videographer Sean O'Keeffe.

(Photo by Jeremy Belinfante) 

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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 <>.


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.

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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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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: 

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

The Contributors

diana grove 200Diana writes speculative fiction about weird people doing weird things.

Her short stories have been published in anthologies by Trembling With Fear, Night Parrot Press, Crystal Lake Publishing and Black Hare Press.

She also writes dark stories for kids, and they have appeared in The Caterpillar and Balloons Lit. Journal.

She lives in Perth with her feline friends, and you can find her on Twitter: <@ImaginaryGrove>.


leon d furzeLeon D Furze moved to Australia in 2009 and now lives on a farm in Western Victoria with his wife and three children.

He is an English teacher and school leader and until recently stuck to writing educational textbooks and resources for other teachers.

After a lifetime of reading sf, he decided to give fiction a go, and hopes that it will lead to a long and fruitful career of writing strange, speculative, and surprising things. <>.


Jon Michael KelleyJon Michael Kelley is an internationally published author and novelist of literary speculative fiction.

His debut novel Seraphim from Evil Jester Press received stellar reviews, and he has been anthologised with such genre luminaries as David Morrell, Ramsey Campbell, Stephen King, Jack Ketchum, John Skipp, and Thomas F. Monteleone.

His short fiction has appeared in a variety of publications, to include the multiple award-winning anthologies Chiral Mad, Chiral Mad 2, and Qualia Nous (2014 Bram Stoker Award Finalist for Best Anthology) by Written Backwards Press.

He has also worked with music industry professionals as a collaborative lyricist, assigning copyrights of numerous authored song portfolios to a prominent New York City producer. Jon currently exhumes his inspiration from a small gold mining town in the mountains of Colorado. 

Wesley Parish is an SF fan from early childhood. Born in PNG, he enjoys reading about humans in strange cultures and circumstances.

His favourite SF authors include Ursula Le Guin, Fritz Lieber, Phillip K. Dick, J.G. Ballard and Frank Herbert.

Wes lives in Christchurch, NZ, is an unemployed Java and C programmer, and has recently decided to become a mad ukuleleist, flautist and trombonist, and would love to revert to being the mad fiddler and pedal steel guitarist..  "Where oh where has my little pedal steel got to ... ?"


 lynne lumsden green 200Lynne Lumsden Green lives in Queensland, Australia, though – in reality – she lives inside her head (it’s cosy in there). She writes both fiction and nonfiction.

She has had stories and articles published by Queensland Writing magazine, DailySF, AntipodeanSF, Every Day Fiction, Aurealis magazine, and in over a dozen anthologies of fiction.

She wants her stories to live in her readers’ heads.

You can find her blog at: <>.


col hellmuthCol Hellmuth lives a quiet, uncomplicated life, off-grid in the Daintree rainforest of Far North Queensland.

He has scratched out a living in a variety of different jobs (and locations) over the years; these days he scratches out words in various sequences, and dreams of a day when he might be able to convert some of these ramblings into food.

When he is not writing or enslaved at work he is usually found bumming around his local beach dodging crocs in his kayak or jamming on the blues-harp.

He doesn't have any fancy letters after his name, or a pet cat, but does read a lot.


Botond's bio is missing at his request...

ed-erringtonEd enjoys creating stories that ideally enable readers to relate to content with believable contexts — realistic relationships - and characters with something to say. All set at some exotic/ or imaginative but relatable point in the future and/or past.

He enjoys unpacking what characters make of the situations they find themselves in — and what they do about it — and why. Ed likes to incorporate the occasional political comment when fictional characters’ experiences overlap with those in the real world.


Harris Tobias lives and writes in Charlottesville, Virginia. He is the author of two novels: The Greer Agency & A Felony of Birds. He has written dozens of short stories many of which are available on line at <>. He is the author of many children’s books including At The Robot ZooMoonRivet Saves His Skin and An Alphabet Book of Bugs available in print from CreateSpace and as ebooks for Nook & Kindle. You can find links to his writings here: <>

ps cottier 200PS Cottier is a poet who lives in Canberra, with a particular interest in speculative poetry.

She has been published widely at home and in Canada, England, New Zealand and the USA.

Two of her horror poems were finalists in the Australian Shadows Awards for 2020. Her latest books are Monstrous, which is a volume of speculative poems, and Utterly, which is non-genre.

PS Cottier is the Poetry Editor at The Canberra Times and blogs at <>


Where you see strange dreams, cockatoos and other nonsensical nostrums congregate, there’s a good chance you’ll also come across our author.

By day he’s all manner of mundane things: a board member, business association manager, policy adviser, researcher and scholar - in Canberra.

At night he lets those wild ideas of his run, well, wild.


kevinjphyland 200Old enough to just remember the first manned Moon landing, Kevin was so impressed he made science his life.

Retired now from teaching he amuses himself by reading, writing, following his love of weather and correcting people on the internet.

He’s been writing since his teens and hopes he will one day get it right.

He can be found on twitter @KevinPhyland where he goes by the handle of CaptainZero and his work is around the place if you search using google or use the archive.