The Interview

By Chris Gladstone

sfgenreI stepped into a room flooded with warm, soft light and the smell of something akin to but not quite, cinnamon.

He sat on the lounge waiting, looking relaxed with his long thin legs dangling over the edge and his skeletal three-fingered hands lying in his lap. His white, hairless skin glowed with a silky sheen. Highlighted by a tight black jumpsuit, it was way paler than I'd expected. A feline face, capped with rigid, oversized pointed ears, brought the Easter Bunny to mind. It made me want to laugh.

I sat opposite him. My hands shook as I put my recorder on the low table between us and pressed the button. "Good morning. My name is Clive."

Bright pink lemur eyes stared at me. His expression remained blank, but he gave me a slight nod.

"How would you like me to address you?" I asked.

He screwed up his eyes and tilted his head to one side. "Greetings Clive, but I am already dressed. Did I need to wear something special for the interview?"

I swallowed down the nervous laughter threatening to bubble up. "No, your clothes are fine. What would you like me to call you?"

His right hand flew up, and he slowly scratched behind his right ear with a single digit as an expression that looked like confusion flashed across his face.

"But I am here, you do not need to call me."

I sighed and tried again. "What is your name?"

"Do you not know I am called a Drosseria?" His ears rotated towards me.

"That is what your people are called. I would like to know what your name is."

"I have already told you we are Drosseria."

Oh God! Just how much English did this creature understand? I tried again. I pointed to myself. "I am Clive, and I am a human. You are a Drosseria and you are?" I pointed to him.

He raised his hand and pointed the largest of his skinny digits at himself. "I am not Clive, and I am not human." 

His expression remained neutral but his oversized ears flapped backwards and forwards.

Was he winding me up? Surely this little fellow's understanding wasn't that poor? I gave up on his name, and moved on.

"How long did it take you to get to earth?" I focused on his ears. They didn't move, but he tilted his head slightly.

"We do not measure time as you do, so anything I tell you will be meaningless."

He raised his hand and slowly and deliberately scratched behind his ear with the same digit he'd used before. What did that mean? I tried a new approach. "Compared to the length of your life, how much time did you spend travelling here?"

He tilted his head. "The answer is the same."

Patience evaporated into panic. As I looked at the next question sweat began to trickle down the back of my neck. "What was your journey to earth like?"

"I have no concept of journey. I was at home then I was here."

I felt my jaw drop. Was he talking about FTL or some sort of quantum teleportation? "You mean you travelled here instantaneously, or were you held in suspended animation or something similar?"

"What is this 'instantaneously' or 'suspend mation', can you explain these things, please?" Again the ears rotated.

I felt myself sinking in a quagmire of words. Surreptitiously wiping moist palms on my pants, I gathered my thoughts. 

"By instantaneously I mean you spent no time travelling from your planet to our planet. Sus-pen-ded an-im-ation is where your body functions are stopped or slowed down. It's like you are asleep or unconscious and you don't age. Are either of those what you are talking about when you say you have no memory of the journey?"

"No, I have already told you that our time is not the same as yours."

He flattened his ears back like an angry cat –– no spitting and hissing though. Was he angry? Was there a slight annoyance in his tone or was I simply projecting my own? Now I was getting paranoid. I looked down at my list. "What powers your spaceship?" 

"I do not know. I am not the one that knows such things. I am the flyer, how do you say?" His ears rotated forty-five degrees.

 "The pilot?" I ventured.

"Yes, that is it. I am the pilot."

There was the head tilt and just a hint of a smile at the corners of the little fellow's mouth.

It made sense. Most of us drive around in our cars without knowing the faintest thing about them other than we have to charge the battery and occasionally have a service to keep them running. 

I pressed doggedly on. "What do you think of earth?"

"I cannot say."

Oh God Almighty. This was not going well. "Why not, I mean, do you find it beautiful or ugly, different or similar to your planet?"

He tilted his head. "I have no opinion."

Was he kidding me? "You have no opinion?"

"No." He sat in silence and stared. His head remained tilted.

I lost it then just for a second. I felt lightheaded and hyperventilation loomed as a distinct possibility. 

 This interview could be the highlight of my career. I represented humanity on this momentous occasion, and I needed to behave in a dignified and tolerant manner. After all this was an alien, the first alien we had ever spoken to. I had to be patient, even if he did look like the Easter Bunny.

"Then what was the point in coming here?" I asked.

"To see." His ears wildly jiggled up and down.

"To see what?"

"The earth and the human beings."

"Why? I mean there must be some reason why you would travel all this way? I gave my sweaty hands another wipe on my pants. 

He tilted his head. "Because it is here. I came to look."

"Yes but why?"

"Do you not travel to look?"

I think I was getting the hang of the ears thing. They rotated forty-five degrees every time he asked a question. "Do you mean you are a tourist just out on a jaunt to see the sights?"

"What is a 'tourist' and what is a 'joint'?" His ears rotated towards me.

 "A tourist is someone who travels to visit somewhere new, different, or novel. He may want an adventure or he may seek to experience different cultures or lifestyles. A jaunt is a trip."

The alien's ears jiggled up and down. "Yes, yes." 

I got the rotation thing but what was the jiggling, could it be excitement? "What things did you like the most?" I asked.

He tilted his head. "What things? What are these things that I most like?"

"You must have seen many different things on your tour of the planet: mountains, rivers, oceans, animals at the zoo, museums and art galleries, and cities. What impressed you most?"

"Now I understand. I like everything equally. I have no preferences."

This was so frustrating. The whole world was waiting to find out what this little alien thought of us and our planet. Like a cardboard cut-out he appeared unable or unwilling to express any opinion on anything.

Gripped by desperation I blurted, "Do you like me? Why the hell did I ask him that? I was really getting into uncharted territory now.

 He scratched behind one ear before saying, "I do not understand like." 

"Would your friends be happy to meet me?"

"What is a friend?" His ears rotated towards me.

"A friend is someone you enjoy being with, someone you can trust, have a decent conversation with, and someone who will help you when you're in trouble." 

"I see. I would not know. How can I know such a thing? I know nothing about you, so I cannot say if my friends would be happy to meet you or not."

I hardly knew anything about him either apart from the ears thing. At least I'd worked that out. I had a funny thought; perhaps I'd been interviewing his ears. Perhaps my headline could be 'Alien's Ears Speak Volumes' or 'The Ears Have It'. After all, interviewing him had yielded zilch. How could I tell everyone that this bizarre creature, who had arrived in his incredible spaceship from some other part of the universe, was just a tourist? My guest would remain a mystery. He wouldn't provide any answers for the problems facing the human race or the planet. If I took this back to my editor, I would be crucified. I would be the man who failed to get all the answers –– the man who failed the earth.

After a long pause I said, "You're a tourist, is that it?"

"Yes, yes. You finally see the truth of it. I am pleased our interview has gone well." His ears began to jiggle. 

Was that expression on his face a smile? It widened and as his ears jiggled wildly I started to laugh. I couldn't stop. It bordered on hysteria and I almost fell out of the chair.

I only stopped after I'd laughed myself into exhaustion. I sat and wiped tears from my face then looked up. The little alien looked pleased. As he started to chuckle, his ears waggled backwards and forwards. I stared in disbelief, but his light, musical laughter became contagious. For several minutes we sat and laughed and laughed. Eventually we contained ourselves, breaths were caught and faces were mopped.

"You have passed my test, Clive. I needed to find out if you had a sense of humour. We value this highly. I also needed to establish that you were patient and genuine. Now we can begin the interview, and I will answer all your questions. My name is Sellius. I hope we can be friends."

I could see the headline now –– 'Humour Defines Our New Friend.'

rocket crux 2 75

About the Author

Chris Gladstone

I began writing in 2011 after discovering accurate speech recognition software and my first story 'What If" was published in AntipodeanSF in Jan 2012.

I enjoy the creativity of writing and my stories reflect my passions, namely science, nature, and all things sci-fi.I am a senior citizen, and live in sunny Western Australia with my husband.

Sadly the 'Queen of Cats' – Tilda, is no more, but we now have Tigress, who well and truly lives up to her name.

My Science Fiction novel, 'Upload' is available from Amazon, Smashwords and Lulu. Check out my website where you can find a complete list of my stories at <http://christaleyes.com>.

Living in a Covid19 world has felt like living in the middle of a science-fiction novel where I have had no control over the plot. Hopefully a vaccine will eventuate soon. In the meantime remember kindness and consideration and help others whenever you can.

aus25grn

AntiSF & The ASFF

AntipodeanSF supports the ASFF

ASFF logo 200

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.

<https://asff.org.au>

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.

aus25grn

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.

aus25grn

In The Next Issue...

Coming In Issue 267

An Average Ordinary Life
By Kevin J. Phyland

Bottoms Up
By Harris Tobias

Covid Anzac
By Chris Gladstone

Empty Sky
By Bart Meehan

Never Bathe In Irish Stew
By Wes Parish

Point of View
By Myna Chang

Satire is Hate Speech
By Zebuline Carter

The Commute
By M J Wilkins

The Headphones of Damocles
By Leo X. Robertson

The Last Raisin
By Sarah Pratt

The Perfect Child
By Girish Kamplimath

The Stone and the Stick
By Vicky Chapman

The Thing Itself
By Aden Curran

Tilly Patchcoat
By Brad Gordon

Who Am I
By Daniel Gao

The Contributors

bethany tatman 200Bethany Tatman is an aspiring writer who currently resides in one of the more hipster suburbs of Melbourne, Australia.

She has previously been published in Lot’s Wife.

In her spare time, she enjoys reading a variety of genres of books — but fantasy will always be her favourite.

She can be found at <@bethany_writes> on Twitter.

aus25grn

kyosuke higuchi 200Kyosuke Higuchi writes science fiction, speculative fiction, and literary essays. His debut novel, Kōzōsōshi [Structure Elements], won the fifth Hayakawa SF Contest in 2017. 

His short fiction has appeared in Syosetsu Subaru, S-F Magazine, and Bungei, among others. 

His latest book is a collection of essays entitled Subete namonaki mirai (2020). 

Kyosuke lives with his wife and young daughter in Nagoya, Japan. Find him on Twitter at <https://twitter.com/rrr_kgknk>.

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 stories, with sometimes terrifying outcomes.

His stories have appeared at Tales to Terrify, Brilliant Flash Fiction, Flash Fiction Magazine, Kzine and Night to Dawn Magazine.

He also has extensive nonfiction science writing experience, including 35 scientific research publications and reviews. He currently writes a Trends in Health column for his local newspaper, The Dahlonega Nugget. In addition to writing, he enjoys photo-microscopy and sci fi, thriller and horror movies.

He lives with his wife in the North Georgia mountains.

thomas tilton 200A lifelong science fiction fan, Thomas Tilton attributes this condition to his father, who introduced him to 1950s creature features at a young age.

Born and raised in southeast Texas, he now lives in Michigan with his wife, son, and two dogs.

daniel purcellDaniel Purcell lives with his girlfriend in Scotland.

He studied English at the University of Liverpool — where he was born —and has travelled extensively around the world, living in America for six months along the way.

He mainly enjoys writing and reading speculative fiction.

He has upcoming short-fiction being or already published with Farther Stars Than These, two Black Hare Press anthologies (Dark Drabbles - ‘Oceans’ and ‘Ancients’), 101 Words, a Rogue Planet Press anthology (‘Unexpected Turbulence,’ in the Halloween 2020 edition), Eerie River Publishing (‘The Beast in the Black Isle’ in It Calls From The Forest Volume 2) and Iron Faerie Publishing (FAERIE Anthology).

anya ow 200Born in Singapore, Anya is a graphic designer, illustrator, cat minder, and ex-lawyer living in Melbourne.

Her work has appeared in venues such as Strange Horizons, Uncanny, and Aurealis, and her first novella, "Cradle and Grave", was published this year.

She can be found on twitter: @anyasy or at <www.anyasy.com>.

aus25grn

Toshiya Kamei holds an MFA in Literary Translation from the University of Arkansas.

His translations have appeared in venues such as Clarkesworld, The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, and World Literature Today.

tim borellaTim Borella has never lost his childhood passion for SF and writing in general and has been lucky enough to have worked most of his life as a pilot — in other words, he’s never properly grown up.

He lives in country Far North Queensland, has won awards for songwriting, and has had various other writing achievements, the most recent being an honourable mention in the 2018 international Literary Taxidermy Short Story Competition.

He also has bachelor degrees in science and teaching, and has completed a couple of as-yet unpublished SF novels. He’d dearly love to spend more time writing, but will have to continue juggling for another couple of years until the kids have fully left the nest.

aus25grn

roger ley2 200Roger Ley is a retired lecturer in Computer Aided Engineering. He writes speculative fiction because it stops him drinking hard liquor and chasing fast women.

‘Lone Orbit’ is one of the stories in his speculative fiction collection, 'Dead People on Facebook' which will cost you half a cup of coffee.

His three other speculative fiction books are similarly available on Amazon AU or visit his website.

Find Roger at: <https://rogerley.co.uk>.

Roger’s Amazon author page: <https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B01KOVZFHM>.

His YouTube playlist: <https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLHDmc8dxD57cPaMnsYfuJhQIirRohnaWY>.

robert caldwell 200Robert, a frequent contributor, grew up in Birmingham, Alabama.

He has three cats, carnivorous plants, and a lot of oak tree seedlings from acorns he gathered from trees that grew at the house where he used to live and grew up. He also has a vegetable garden.

As well as having a green thumb, he is a handyman, caregiver for his mother, a chef, a science fiction writer, a photographer, a researcher, a self-advocate, a journalist, a web designer, an artist, and a streaker, long story; an all-around Renaissance man.

You can find his books on Amazon.

aus25grn

I began writing in 2011 after discovering accurate speech recognition software and my first story 'What If" was published in AntipodeanSF in Jan 2012.

I enjoy the creativity of writing and my stories reflect my passions, namely science, nature, and all things sci-fi.I am a senior citizen, and live in sunny Western Australia with my husband.

Sadly the 'Queen of Cats' – Tilda, is no more, but we now have Tigress, who well and truly lives up to her name.

My Science Fiction novel, 'Upload' is available from Amazon, Smashwords and Lulu. Check out my website where you can find a complete list of my stories at <http://christaleyes.com>.

Living in a Covid19 world has felt like living in the middle of a science-fiction novel where I have had no control over the plot. Hopefully a vaccine will eventuate soon. In the meantime remember kindness and consideration and help others whenever you can.

aus25grn

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 antisf.com.au archive.

aus25grn

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. He 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 ... ?"

aus25grn

david-scholesDave has written over 250 speculative fiction short stories. Some of these are included in his nine collections of short stories (all on Amazon). He has also published two science fiction novellas and been published on a range of speculative fiction sites. Including: Antipodean SF, Beam Me Up Pod Cast, Farther Stars Than These, 365 Tomorrows, Bewildering Stories, the WiFiles and the former Golden Visions magazine. His latest work “Contingency Nine and Other Science Fiction Stories” was published in October 2019 and he is currently working on another collection of science fiction short stories as yet unnamed.

aus25grn

Shaun Saunders lives at the beachside suburb of Merewether, in Newcastle, NSW. He particularly enjoys Asimov's Foundation universe, and stories from the 'golden age' of SF. He is a regular contributor to AntipodeanSF, and winner of 2003 & 2004 AntiSF awards, and the inaugural 2005 SFSSC. His novel Mallcity 14 has been favourably compared with both 1984 and Brave New World.

aus25grn

AntipodeanSF November 2020

ISSUE 266

Speculative Fiction
Downside-Up
ISSN 1442-0686

Online Since Feb 1998

rocket crux 2 75

Download AntiSF E-Book

Epub version:

Kindle version:

AntiSF's Narration Team

ed erringtonAlthough a writer of the baby boom persuasion, Ed has not boomed for quite a while.

He lives with his wife plus a menagerie of non-domesticated — native Australian animals intropical North Queensland.

His writing within the ‘real’ science fiction context of COVID-19 is intermingled by long night sky vigils — searching for pesky aliens intent on maintaining their social distance to the nth degree.

angle mic

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.

old style mic flat 25

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.

old style mic flat 25

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.

old style mic flat 25

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) 

old style mic flat 25

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 (YA/ Fantasy — available now) and White Fire (Sci Fi — available now)

You can read more of her work on her blog Look for her on Facebook <www.facebook.com/WriterLaurieBell/> or Twitter: <@LaurienotLori>

old style mic flat 25

tim borellaTim Borella has never lost his childhood passion for SF and writing in general and has been lucky enough to have worked most of his life as a pilot — in other words, he’s never properly grown up.

He lives in country Far North Queensland, has won awards for songwriting, and has had various other writing achievements, the most recent being an honourable mention in the 2018 international Literary Taxidermy Short Story Competition.

He also has bachelor degrees in science and teaching, and has completed a couple of as-yet unpublished SF novels. He’d dearly love to spend more time writing, but will have to continue juggling for another couple of years until the kids have fully left the nest.

angle mic

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.

old style mic flat 25

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>

 old style mic flat 25

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 <alistairlloyd.com>.

aus25grn

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 

SF Quote

Nothing is always absolutely so

Theodore Sturgeon, The Claustrophile

Get Dimension 6

D6sidebar

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)