The Only Cool Equation

By Hassac Naminov —Translated by Toshiya Kamei

sfgenreIn response to rescue signals from the planet Philippa, the Space Patrol dispatched an emergency shuttle as required by Article sixty-nine of the Space Emergency Law. About fifteen hours have passed since then. While I was taking a nap on a bed that doubles as an emergency shuttle, it was launched with me in it. Now I’m cramped in this small cockpit. How am I doing? What am I doing? I’m just thinking.

The cockpit also serves as a bed, so it’s not so small for a single person. It’s not supposed to be so cramped. Even I should fit it easily. But now it feels cramped here because I’ve got unexpected company — who the heck is she?

On Philippa, an infection caused by Aiya, a space creature that parasitises the brain, has put a pioneer family of five in critical condition. If a host doesn’t take a fever-producing vaccine within twenty-four hours, he will die. Aiya is vulnerable to heat.

It usually takes about twenty hours from my space patrol station Alpha One to get to Philippa. Of course, for interstellar travel, we also use super drive navigation in order to leap through subspace. And right now I’m in the middle of that super drive, traveling through subspace.

Incidentally, the super drive can’t perform a warp out unless the spaceship’s mass is equal to the set value at the moment of warping out. It’s necessary to reconcile the numbers one way or the other, which is a sacred procedure performed under the captain’s absolute authority. If a warp out isn’t performed correctly, the spacecraft may either crush into a star or get sucked into a black hole. So dangerous out there.

The screen on the wall shows that the current mass is in excess, and that it’s only about five minutes (about 680 words) away from the warp out. Is this enough to set up the story? Do you get the picture, you readers?

In short, I now have to kick this strange girl (no matter how pretty she is) out of the spaceship.

“Hey you.”

“Hmmm? I’m still sleepy.”

“Wake up.”

“Oh, c’mon. Just let me sleep a little longer.”

“No. We’ve got no time.”

The girl raises her upper body while mumbling. She opens her eyes and looks around.

“Hey, where am I? What are you doing here?”

“Oh, forget it. We haven’t got much time, so let’s cut to the chase. This is a spacecraft. It’s been dispatched as a countermeasure against Aiya, and it’ll be warped out in five minutes. The thing is, there’s too much mass on board, so you need to get out.  The airlock is behind you. So go ahead.”

I point to the door behind her. If you press the red button, the inner door opens, and the airlock is ahead. The other side of the outer door is subspace. Humans can’t survive there. You’ll be flattened instantly by the molecular flow.

“Terrible.”

“No, it’s not. If you don’t get out, I won’t be able to get to Philippa, and five people in need of help will die. Your sacrifice will save their lives. Hurry up. We haven’t got much time left.”

“Did you say it was Aiya?”

“Yup. Aiya has been reported on Philippa. I have to try to see if the vaccine works, but if I don’t do anything, the five people will surely die.”

“If you don’t administer the vaccine correctly, it’ll only be effective sixty percent of the time.”

“Yeah, I’ve heard that. Even so, three of them will be saved. Your sacrifice won’t be in vain.”

“Do you know it works 100% if you administer it correctly?”

“Oh really?”

“That’s right.”

“How do you know?”

“Because I’m a doctor.”

“Excuse me?”

I take a close look at her face. I didn’t notice it before because I don’t have my glasses on, but she’s Dr. Judy Trolley from the medical office.

“Judy...”

“Hi, Jarvis.”

Oh, darn it. Last night, with a little help from alcohol, I finally mustered enough courage to invite her to bed and fulfilled my long-standing desire. But it’s all a blur now. How is it possible that I have no recollection of such an important detail? I blew it big time! It’s better to die now. Darn it.

“Well, Captain, what’s it gonna be?”

“Oh, well. We’re running out of time.”

“That’s right. You’ve only got about 250 words to wrap up this story.”

“Judy.”

“What’s the matter, Jarvis?”

“I’m terrible at math. I’m not really good at equations and all that.”

“How did you get into the Space Patrol?’’

“I’m a space law specialist. I joined for that capacity.”

“Oh, I see.”

“I’m not good at math, but I can do arithmetic.”

Oh yeah, it’s just that simple. If I throw her out into space, I can save three lives at the expense of one. But if she goes to Philippa, five people will be saved. Five minus three equals two.

“But as far as space law is concerned, this can’t be done without the captain’s authority. Oh, I can’t do it. I know how, but I’d hate it. How horrible! But only I can do it.’’

“It’s all up to you, Jarvis. I’m ready.”

“Yes, let’s make a decision. We don’t have time.”

“Yeah. Jarvis, listen, about last night,” she begins. “You may be worried about getting me knocked up, so let me put your mind entirely at rest. Because you had an orgasm before you were able to penetrate into me, there’s a zero chance of that happening.”

“Wow, ah, ah, ah, ah, ah, ah, ah!”

I can’t stand to be on this spaceship for another second. I transfer the captain’s authority to her right there and then. The airlock lever feels much lighter than I imagined.

“Goodbye, Jarvis.” The door shuts behind me.

Goodbye, my Judy.

The chilly-looking external hatch opens coolly.

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About the Author

Hassac Naminov

hassac naminov 200Hassac Naminov is a freelance writer and editor.

He was born in Tokyo and grew up in Shinshu.

Later, he moved back to Tokyo to pursue his literary career.

In 2016, he founded the Sci-Fi magazine Alternia.

A regular contributor to the literary journal Hametuha, he is the author of the science fiction comedy Organization series (2015-2016).

About the Translator

Toshiya Kamei

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

His translations have appeared in venues such as Abyss & Apex, Cosmic Roots & Eldritch Shores, The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, Samovar, and Star*Line.

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.

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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 261

A Tale of Tyl Feánn: In which a High King is laid to rest
by steve duffy

Imagining Dragons
By Bart Meehan

In the Beginning
By Emma Riley

Speck
By Simon B. Pointer

The Night D Came to Life
By Zebuline Carter

Dear Friends
By Ben F. Blitzer

Relief Efforts
By Dmitri Christopher

The Third Law of HAVOC
By David Kernot

The Wood for the Trees
By Ishmael A Soledad

Conversation in a Utopian Future
By Denice Penrose

The Ghostship
By Maree Collie

The Door Into Last Night
By Hassac Naminov - Translated by Toshiya Kamei

The Contributors

hassac naminov 200Hassac Naminov is a freelance writer and editor.

He was born in Tokyo and grew up in Shinshu.

Later, he moved back to Tokyo to pursue his literary career.

In 2016, he founded the Sci-Fi magazine Alternia.

A regular contributor to the literary journal Hametuha, he is the author of the science fiction comedy Organization series (2015-2016).

Katlina Sommerberg is from San Francisco.

As a security engineer, she hacks software and machines, but finds this technical knowledge terrible for enjoying science fiction; she can't decide whether she likes science or fiction more.

Contact Katlina via Twitter <@houndom16>

william kerr 200William Kerr is a self-professed science fiction enthusiast. He was born and raised in Tasmania but now calls Canberra home.

His personal preference is hard science fiction and dystopian-style stories which definitely influenced his first published piece ‘The Burning’.

He is looking forward to publishing more flash fiction and is hoping to become a regular contributor.

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

His translations have appeared in venues such as Abyss & Apex, Cosmic Roots & Eldritch Shores, The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, Samovar, and Star*Line.

geraldine borella 200Geraldine Borella writes adult short stories and stories for children and has been published in anthologies for both. In 2018, one of her children’s short stories placed second in The Buzz Words Short Story Prize and she won an ASA Emerging Writer’s Mentorship. She currently works part-time as a hospital pharmacist and as an online creative writing tutor.

She’s fascinated by stories that expand upon today’s technology, addressing the moral and ethical issues that might arise. Equally, she enjoys the creative freedom that writing for children allows. Right now, she’s writing a young adult novel, reworking a middle grade novel and writing adult short stories when inspiration strikes. She lives with her husband, Tim, in Yungaburra, Far North Queensland and dreams of one day taking a European gap year.

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steven fritz 200Steven Fritz graduated from the University of Maryland, became a Naval Aviator and flew helicopters and maritime patrol aircraft in the US Navy.

After leaving active duty, he earned a Ph.D. in Radiation Biophysics at the University of Kansas and spent several years as a medical school faculty member and senior administrator.

After university he managed a seed stage venture fund and did a stint as an avionics entrepreneur. He’s been infatuated with science fiction since his youth and has been writing SF full time for three years. You can follow Steven on his website at <InigoPress.com> or on Twitter at @StevenLFritz1.

 lynne lumsden green 200Lynne Lumsden Green is enjoying the aging process, contrary to all expectations. She completed a Bachelor’s Degree in Science, and after her midlife crisis went back and completed a B.A. in Creative Writing. She writes both fiction and nonfiction, and owns more books than bookshelves.

You can find her blog at: <https://cogpunksteamscribe.wordpress.com/>.

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col hellmuth

This story is a linking piece to two stories previously published in Antipodean SF, Coffee With God (Issue 245) and Frank's Best Friend (Issue 250) both first drafted whilst living in Western Australia, where I spent the best part of two decades. This piece (ironically written whilst sitting on the bank of Emmagen creek in FNQ) is an attempt, not just to further develop some recycled characters beyond the limitations of the short short story format, but also to give these stories a sense of place, a nod to the multitude of unique landscapes (and people) to be found in WA. The huge distances and wide open spaces between locations are also riddled with untold stories, so many that I find myself still writing them years after moving back to North Queensland.

Col Hellmuth lives a quiet (excepting weekly jam nights,) uncomplicated life, off-grid in the Daintree rainforest of Far North Queensland.

His day jobs over the years have found him contracted to do various work around the country in such exotic locations as mine-sites, SAS barracks, a Collins-class submarine, prisons, operating-theatres, swanky restaurants and wineries, chicken sheds, the Great Barrier Reef and the open road. He does not have any fancy letters after his name, or a pet cat, but does read a lot. 

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

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George Nikolopoulos is a speculative fiction writer from Athens, Greece, and a member of Codex Writers' Group. His short stories have been published in Galaxy's Edge, Daily Science Fiction, Factor Four, Grievous Angel, Helios Quarterly Magazine, Unsung Stories, Best Vegan SFF, The Year's Best Military & Adventure SF, Bards & Sages Quarterly, Havok, SF Comet, Mad Scientist Journal, Truancy, Digital Fiction QuickFic, The Centropic Oracle, StarShipSofa, 600 Second Saga, Antipodean SF, Manawaker Studio's FFP, Fifty Flashes, 9Tales from Elsewhere, Event Horizon 2017, and many other magazines and anthologies.

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andisha 200Andisha Sabri Carey is an Australian writer and poet who has lived in the Czech Republic, the United Kingdom, and most recently, Israel.

Her work has appeared in Gingerbread House Literary Magazine, Potluck Magazine and Cordite Poetry Review.

"Last Resort" was originally inspired by a running joke with her husband about the Havens in "Pandemic Legacy: Season 2".

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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 ... ?"

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steveduffyhusband, father, brother, son
poet, writer, artist, friend (et al.)
the list of pigeon holes
into which I fit, is endless

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AntipodeanSF May 2020

ISSUE 260

Speculative Fiction
Downside-Up
ISSN 1442-0686

Online Since Feb 1998

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Download AntiSF E-Book

Epub version:

Kindle version:

AntiSF's Narration Team

alistair lloyd 200Alistair Lloyd is a Melbourne based writer who was raised on a steady diet of Douglas Adams, Iain M. Banks, David Brin, Neal Stephenson and Richard Feynman.

He feeds a healthy and somewhat nerdy interest in space travel, theoretical physics, design and organisational psychology.

Alistair once won a competition for his pitch to “Sell ice to the Eskimos”, holds a Master of Business Administration and has a seemingly inexhaustible knack of describing things through analogies.

You may find him on Twitter as <@mr_al> and online at <alistairlloyd.com>.

aus25grn

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>

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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 <https://garrydean.wordpress.com>

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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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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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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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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.

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geraldine borella 200Geraldine Borella writes adult short stories and stories for children and has been published in anthologies for both. In 2018, one of her children’s short stories placed second in The Buzz Words Short Story Prize and she won an ASA Emerging Writer’s Mentorship. She currently works part-time as a hospital pharmacist and as an online creative writing tutor.

She’s fascinated by stories that expand upon today’s technology, addressing the moral and ethical issues that might arise. Equally, she enjoys the creative freedom that writing for children allows. Right now, she’s writing a young adult novel, reworking a middle grade novel and writing adult short stories when inspiration strikes. She lives with her husband, Tim, in Yungaburra, Far North Queensland and dreams of one day taking a European gap year.

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.

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SF News

Upcoming Cons

Most up-coming cons have been postponed until next year because of the current COVID-19 situation, but please visit the ASFF for up-to-date information.

CoNZealand the 78th Worldcon from July 29 till August 2 is to be a "Virtual Worldcon", held online. More information at <https://conzealand.nz/>

 <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

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

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