The Last Word

By Roger Ley

sfgenreWe were all staring up at the sky, waiting for the Dawn Treader to light up her Hawking drives and start the journey to Alpha Centauri. There were hundreds of us, all members of the design and construction team, with our partners and children. We were partying at our complex, near the foot of the Kisumu Space Elevator. A fair proportion of the world would be watching, either on-screen or live if they were lucky enough to be in the right hemisphere and time zone.

I pulled the letter out of my back pocket. Estella had given it to me after the pre-launch ceremony two days ago, just before she and the rest of the Dawn Treader’s crew entered the space elevator and began the first leg of their journey to the stars. She hadn’t spoken, just handed me the letter and walked away.

We’d both worked on the project for eleven years and had been ‘together’ for six of them, the first six. We’d married, had two kids, I thought we’d been reasonably happy, but then came the horrible business of finding out about her affairs. Everybody seemed to know about them except me; nobody tells you.

It wasn’t an amicable divorce, she never forgave me for getting custody of Hank and Cliff. What was I supposed to do? She would be leaving when the ship was finished, a few years hence, it made sense that I have them and give them a stable home. She was absent half the time anyway, either training or supervising, up at the Synchronous Space Station where the ship was being assembled.

The time we wasted with solicitors, judges, social workers. The anger I felt at her behaviour, which she seemed to see as just good healthy exercise. She was gone now, not dead, but unreachable. It wouldn’t be possible to communicate through the blizzard of elementary particles leaving the rear of the ship. They’d be accelerating for eighteen months subjective time, but forty-seven years would pass, back here on Earth. By the time they shut the drives down and turned the ship around to start decelerating, I’d be ancient or dead. Past caring either way. The boys would be older than their mother. I wonder what she’d say to them, given the two-year time delay on her transmissions. The boys would have sent their messages two years before so that they arrived after the drives shut down. I expect they’d send pictures of themselves, their wives and children, Estella’s grandchildren. The next time they’d be able to talk would be when Dawn Treader arrived at its destination. The boys would both be about a hundred years old, but Estella would still be in her late thirties. When she finally returned to Earth there wouldn’t be a single person left alive who she knew, and the planet would be in God knows what state. A big sacrifice to make for the sake of being the first woman to leave the Solar System.

The brazier of glowing charcoal crackled and sparked, a sudden roar from the partygoers. There, exactly on time, the Hawking drives lit up and blossomed like a three petaled flower, as big and bright as the Moon. We’d be able to see it for the next year or so.

I looked at the letter. Would Estella want to put things right between us, or did she want to have the last poisonous words? Make accusations I had no opportunity to refute, say things that would leave me bruised and angry for months or years? I paused for a moment, then threw the envelope, unopened, onto the brazier and watched it crisp and burn as her words turned to smoke and ashes. Hank and Cliff were both staring up at the beautiful multicoloured bloom of energy fields. They were both crying. I knelt down, laid my arms across their shoulders and pulled them into a family hug.

‘We have to remember the good times, boys, that’s what we have to do.’

It was, after all, my choice in the end.

rocket crux 2 75

About The Author

Roger Ley

roger ley2 200Roger Ley was born and educated in London and spent some of his formative years in Saudi Arabia. He worked as an engineer in the oilfields of North Africa and the North Sea, before pursuing a career in higher education. His stories have appeared in about twenty ezines this year and some have been podcast and broadcast.

He has published three books:

'Dead People on Facebook' is a recently released collection of flash fiction stories in various speculative genres including Horror, Sci Fi, Time travel, a little magic and one Romance.

‘Chronoscape’ is a science fiction novel about time and alternate realities. It has been well received and was included by author Jessica Lucci on her Summer reading list 2018 .

‘A Horse in the Morning’ is a collection of mainly comic autobiographical stories.

Find him at <rogerley.co.uk>.

Download AntiSF E-Book

Epub version: 

Kindle version: 

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.

<http://asff.org.au>

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

The AntipodeanSF Radio Show

In The Next Issue...

Coming In Issue 249

A King May Look At A Cat
by Lynne Lumsden Green

Applicants Must Be Able To Cackle
by Nikky Lee

Crash Dummy
by Roger Ley

Invisible Giants And Little Types
by AE Reiff

Infinite Monkeys
by Aiki Flinthart

Kitting Up
by David Scholes

She's Dead
by Mark Towse

Surfing On Neptune
by Eugen M. Bacon

The Forgetful Visitor
by Barry Germansky

The Sin Of Envy
by George Nikolopoulos

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)

AntipodeanSF March 2019

ISSUE 248

Speculative Fiction
Downside-Up
ISSN 1442-0686

Online Since Feb 1998

rocket crux 2 75

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.

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

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

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>.

old style mic flat 25

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>

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

SF News

Upcoming Cons

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/>.

Swancon 2019 — 18/04/2019 - 22/04/2019,  Esplanade Hotel Fremantle by Rydges 46-54 Marine Terrace, Fremantle WA 6160. Swancon is Australia's longest-running science-fiction, fantasy, and speculative fiction convention, and is the premiere event in Perth for fans of all forms of speculative media. More information: <https://swancon.com.au>.

Continuum 15 Other Worlds (Natcon 58): Continuum 15 is the Australian National SF Convention, to be held in Melbourne on June 7–10. More information and memberships <https://continuum.org.au>. AntipodeanSF will be at Continuum 15 and celebrating Issue 250 of AntiSF!

Worldcon Dublin 2019 — An Irish Worldcon 15/08/2019 till 19/08/2019, The Convention Centre Dublin (CCD). <More info here>

For more up-to-date Aussie SF info join the ASFF: <asff.org.au>.

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

May the Force be with you!

George Lucas, Star Wars