Anna's Mother

By Vicky Chapman

sfgenreBeing a WW2 orphan, Anna’s mother barely remembered her own heritage, and therefore had no conscious awareness that she and her newly born daughter were the heirs to a rich and deep spiritual tradition. Unlike her matriarchal ancestors, Anna’s mother could not name that which linked herself and her daughter to the health and prosperity of her nation, but something instinctively made sure she fed her daughter every two hours rather than the strict four-hourly regime the midwives strongly recommended.

And thus, as Humankind landed on the moon, Anna knew that the Aeroplane was Coming Into Land.

Anna’s first conscious memory was of her mother begging and imploring her to finish her bowl of baked beans.

“Eat!” Anna’s mother cried.

Anna was not hungry. Anna was never hungry.

“Eat, my child!” Anna’s mother repeated, and with that intent, if not spoken in this new language, Anna’s mother once again invoked the spirit of her own mother, and her mother before and her mother before that into the distant recesses of time to the All Mother, Everywhere. 

And thus, being the obedient girl that she was, Anna ate.

Throughout her school years, Anna’s mother made her all too aware of the Starving Children in Africa. 

Unlike the schoolyard bullies that teased her for being fat, Anna knew that her hard-working father was slaving away at the factory so that she could have food on her table.

Anna had never been forced to sit there until she was hungry enough to eat it, and she had never had her unfinished dinner presented to her for breakfast. She knew better. Anna made sure to eat all that she was given, and her mother made sure she was always truly grateful.

Anna struggled to find a dress to fit her large frame for her final highschool dance. To comfort her distressed daughter, her mother suggested eating peanut butter straight from the jar.

Later that day, as the final dance was announced for that evening, Anna found herself in the school toilet expelling quantities of peanut butter. She immediately felt much better, at least in a physical sense.

Returning home from College on spring break, Anna’s mother thought she’d lost weight.

“My darling! What are they feeding you there at college? Eat, my child, eat!”

For once, Anna smiled, knowing she could simply vomit up all the food she was forced to eat. Her mother would never know.

In October of 1987, Anna was rushed to hospital with a perforated stomach. She had lost 23 percent of her body weight virtually overnight. Eventually, she recovered enough to be discharged. 

Two years later, despite struggling to fit into the biggest graduation gown the hire company had, she received a university medal in economics just like her mother had. At the ceremony, the ancient Dean quipped, “It was if this family was born into economics.” Anna’s mother couldn’t have been prouder.

Anna met Dorothy in 1998, who assured her that she was in love with *all* of her. Anna was delighted when Dot proposed. Of course, her mother insisted on catering the whole thing. Anna knew that none of the guests could possibly go home hungry, but still, she wanted to look her best for her wedding day. Anna went on an extreme detox diet and exercised obsessively. She’d slimmed down by over a third when she said her vows in April 2000.

Alarmed at Anna’s shrinkage, Anna’s mother moved in to ‘help’, and when Dot and Anna had decided to have a child, Anna’s mother insisted on feeding the happy family.

“You look hungry, Anna. Please. You are now eating for two. Eat, eat!” Anna’s mother beseeched, as Anna’s already generous belly grew ever larger.

Baby Marcus was born a healthy, roly-poly baby, doted on by both of his parents and spoiled rotten by his grandmother. Anna was devastated when he died suddenly and unexpectedly in October of 2007. The postmortem suggested that while the cause of death was congenital, his bonny rolls of baby fat had contributed to his death.

Anna refused all offers of comfort food from both her mother and her wife. She knew she was already grossly obese. Whatever had killed Marcus could just as well kill her. 

By New Year’s Day, 2009, Anna was half the weight she was the day Marcus died, and she was virtually bedridden. Desperate for her daughter, Anna’s mother slipped appetite stimulants into her one vegetable smoothie of the day until she picked up again — but her recovery was slow and sluggish, and some of the damage to her body after that episode was irreparable.

Sometime last year, Anna’s mother sensed once again that Anna was not doing well. Anna and Dot fought a lot. Their relationship was not what it once was.

“My dear, you need to eat,” Anna’s mother pleaded, “You have to eat.”

“Mum, I’m not hungry. I don’t want to eat any more.”

Anna’s mother tried the Aeroplane, and the Starving Children in Africa, and the Poor Father, and her other tricks to ensure that Anna kept eating, but to no avail.

Anna’s mother became desperate. “You must. You must eat. Please, for all of us, eat.”

Anna’s mother was extremely concerned. She was the first in her line to not know the exact how or why, but Anna’s mother knew to the bottom of her aging bones that Anna had to increase her consumption by three and a half percent per annum or another economic disaster would besiege her adopted country.

For the first time ever, Anna’s mother considered force-feeding her daughter.

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About the Author

Victoria Chapman

victoriachapman 200Victoria has worked in the metal manufacturing industry as an industrial chemist since leaving school but views those past 33 or so years as merely a stop gap until she figures out what she really wants to do when she grows up. She discovered the joy of words after encountering “Ode to Autumn” by Keats in 1985, and has been jotting down anecdotes, short stories and essays to amuse herself ever since.

A self-identified ‘nerd’ with an insatiable curiosity towards whatever attracts her attention, she also enjoys drawing, yarn crafts and learning new things. Victoria lives in Melbourne with her husband, son and too many cats.

This is her first formally published work.

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.

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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 265

Change Day
By Maree Collie

Corona Virus
By Daniel Mackisack

Crazy for Crab
By Kyosuke Higuchi - Translated by Toshiya Kamei

Fate of the Nameless Child
By Alistair Lloyd

Livingstone
By Rudy Diaz

Lone Orbit
By Roger Ley

Same Journey Road
By Ben F. Blitzer

Sew It Is Said
By Michael T Schaper

The Big Able
By Shaun A. Saunders

The Origins of Magic: The Thief Who Slept, Died and was Dreamt
By Benny Thang

The Thief
By Kevin J. Phyland

The Touch of Her Hand
By D. Milne

To Our New Home in the Stars
By George Nikolopoulos

White Peach Village
By Umiyuri Katsuyama - Translated by Toshiya Kamei

The Contributors

marcus rockstrom 200Marcus Rockstrom (often known as Mac) is a writer and editor who has spent the last ten or so years bouncing between jobs for either profession as opportunity and circumstances have dictated.

For several years he was a content producer and editor of the online Games Magazine at The Australia Times, and has also done work in book editing, copywriting, transcription, articles and endless amounts of proofreading.

While professional work is rewarding, his true passion is found in the fiction of fantasy, sci-fi and other grand tales. As a lifelong nerd, it has ever been his desire to create the sort of stories that have enthralled him all through life.

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Zac Galfridus is a public servant who is lucky enough to be married with two daughters, been to Burning Man, seen himself on Rage, knows a few people who are currently working hard to save our civilisation.

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nancy cunningham 200Nancy M Cunningham is an aspiring writer who lives in Adelaide, South Australia with her family and several spiny leaf stick insects.

Nancy currently works as an agricultural research scientist and takes inspiration from science and nature to write across genres including crime and science fiction, historical, romance as well as short literary fiction.

She has been published in Tulpa magazine and in an anthology of short historical fiction ‘Easter Promises’.

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malena 200Malena Salazar Maciá was born in Havana, Cuba, where she still lives today.

A winner of multiple literary awards, she has authored several books, including Nade (2016), Las peregrinaciones de los dioses (2018), and Aliento de Dragón (2020).

Translated by Toshiya Kamei, Malena’s short stories have appeared in Clarkesworld, The Future Fire, Mithila Review, and elsewhere.

Steve Bellavia was born and raised in Adelaide, but these days he can be seen trudging around Melbourne.

He has two kids, one wife, and zero pets.

Another one of his stories can be found at: <https://365tomorrows.com/2019/09/29/deicide/>

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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 Clarkesworld, The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, and World Literature Today.

Colin has branched from non fiction to fiction.

If you liked this, check out his short story collections now on sale on Amazon Kindle: 100 Breaths (10 stories that occur in 5 minutes, the time it takes to breathe; you guessed it; 100 Breaths) and I M A G I N E (6 longer short stories about people getting what they want... or are they?)

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victoriachapman 200Victoria has worked in the metal manufacturing industry as an industrial chemist since leaving school but views those past 33 or so years as merely a stop gap until she figures out what she really wants to do when she grows up. She discovered the joy of words after encountering “Ode to Autumn” by Keats in 1985, and has been jotting down anecdotes, short stories and essays to amuse herself ever since.

A self-identified ‘nerd’ with an insatiable curiosity towards whatever attracts her attention, she also enjoys drawing, yarn crafts and learning new things. Victoria lives in Melbourne with her husband, son and too many cats.

This is her first formally published work.

deb sheldon 200Deborah Sheldon is an award-winning author from Melbourne, Australia. She writes short stories, novellas and novels across the darker spectrum. Some of her titles include the horror novels Body Farm Z, Contrition, and Devil Dragon; the horror novella Thylacines; the romance-suspense novella The Long Shot; and the collections Figments and Fragments: Dark Stories, and the award-winning Perfect Little Stitches and Other Stories (Australian Shadows “Best Collected Work 2017”). Her short fiction has appeared in Quadrant, Island, Aurealis, Midnight Echo, Breach, AntipodeanSF and many other well-respected magazines. Her fiction has been shortlisted for numerous Australian Shadows Awards and Aurealis Awards, long-listed for a Bram Stoker Award, and included in various “best of” anthologies. Other credits include TV scripts, feature articles, non-fiction books, stage plays, and award-winning medical writing. Visit her at <deborahsheldon.wordpress.com>

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eugene samolin 200After a decade playing music as a bass guitarist, Eugene Samolin turned his attention to writing in 2015. Shortly thereafter, a mystical revelation infused him with an abundance of creative juices. He’s been writing esoteric tales of fantasy and science-fiction since then.

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ed-erringtonFollowing two decades of working in the area of scenario-based learning (particularly speculative scenarios) within the university sector, Ed maintains an interest in Futurology. That is, evidence-based suppositions and theories about potential trajectories of humanity, science, technology and civilisation into potential futures. 

‘Download 505’ was inspired by a range of BBC articles on the advent of weaponised clones in military arsenals and their potential impact on humankind.

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ProfilePic 2Natalie has tried everything from Air Traffic Control to Zoology, but writing has been the one constant across all the years.

She had her first publication in Antipodean SF and can still remember the heady excitement of that first acceptance.

She is eternally grateful for that first flush of encouragement, and is proud to be one of the regular contributors.

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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.

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AntipodeanSF September 2020

ISSUE 264

Speculative Fiction
Downside-Up
ISSN 1442-0686

Online Since Feb 1998

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Download AntiSF E-Book

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AntiSF's Narration Team

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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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.

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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 <alistairlloyd.com>.

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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 (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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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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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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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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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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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: http://antisf.libsyn.com 

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