Coming of Night

By Sarah Jane Justice

sfgenreWhen we realised that we couldn’t stop people from dying, we focused on how we could remember them.

For some time, countless lives were dedicated to the idea of prolonging the fading existence of humanity. The brightest minds huddled together in laboratories, giving up their own years for the possibility of handing them over to others. With failed result after failed result, the pounding beat of inevitability grew stronger until we could no longer pretend that we didn’t hear it. Whether or not we could bring ourselves to accept it, our ending was marching towards us.

There would always be those who wouldn’t admit defeat. As long as their eyes remained facing forward in their heads, they would use them to search tirelessly for any approach that might not have already been considered. Those with enough stubborn determination scraped the bottom of the ideas barrel until their nails started scratching through to the floor. For them, stopping was tantamount to giving up. Giving up was not an option.

As it became clear that we couldn’t stop the end from coming, our scientists began to switch their focus. The time had come to turn away from research that kept grappling for the impossible. Their efforts were better spent finding ways to improve our world while we could still maintain the ability to live in it. 

Our years had stopped reaching the number that had once been promised to us. In the face of inevitability, we accepted them as long enough. We had been presented with a shorter hourglass with which to measure our time, and it gave us the incentive to never let a grain of sand be wasted. The pressure of the ultimate deadline led many to flourish as they made haste to leave their mark on whatever world might remain in their absence. The closing bars of humanity created a golden age of beauty, of light, and of innovation in artworks we never thought we’d see.

When each of those creators reached their ultimate ends, their deaths left a deeper impact than ever before. Not just for the loss of what they might have continued to bring to our world, but for the symbolism that each individual ending represented. Each diminishing light existed as a microcosm of the bigger one to come, the one that would see us all closing our eyes and accepting the harsh nature of inevitability.

With every passing life that had brought joy to all the others, it became clearer that existence was something to be celebrated. We mourned every ending that fell in our laps, and in our mourning, we discovered beauty in the fluid motion of life and death. We felt overcome by the need to reach as high as we could in signifying what these people had achieved. We realised how beautiful a concept life had turned out to be, and embraced the knowledge that nothing is ever as beautiful as when it starts to fade away.

Sunsets became a spiritual experience, shared amongst everyone who observed them. Like the lights of the day, we were diminishing, but we could be beautiful in our end. The scientists who had given up attempts to prolong our existence poured their energy into weather patterns. They picked apart the forces behind shapes in the clouds, and analysed every pigment of the colours that crossed the horizon. Time was given up to the pursuit of harnessing natural beauty in ways never previously imagined. Machines, structures and chemical reactions were created, observed, honed and utilised. We would remember the closure of every brilliant mind that left us. We would paint the memory of their ideas in the colours of the sky itself.

The designs started small, but we watched with open eyes. A twisted cloud was bent into the shape of a character, representative of an author whose life we were celebrating that night. A sunset swept across a colour palette that mimicked the style of an artist whose work had now come to an end. Cloud patterns were stretched and developed until our jaws dropped in awe of decorations that crossed the full length of stratosphere visible to our naked eyes.

We had seen rainbows, but we had never seen the sky itself painted as one. We saw it turned into a full awning of coloured layers, stretching across every inch of the canvas above us. We saw clouds that could be bent and crafted, shaped into words and pictures that left an image burned in the dimming memories of all who witnessed it.

Every artist, every academic, every innovator and inventor had their own unique design. As one by one, the great minds of our species marched into the uncharted void that would soon greet us all, their memories were etched in the streaking colours of clouds, and the backdrop that pinned them in place. Every evening became a silent memorial to those gone, and all those who were due to follow. 

There was nothing that could have saved us. The inevitable was coming far too quickly, far too soon. In the acceptance of that knowledge, we reached an unanticipated spirituality in the appreciation of existence. We sat together in quiet admiration of heavenly colours that we had created ourselves. There was no way of knowing what would greet us when we passed through to the other side of our own memorialised patterns, but we found a peace in not striving to find out. The finality of what we would never learn allowed us to be content with what we had already discovered.

Our silent evening ritual left us with the ever-present reminder that our own night was soon to come. In the dazzling array of lights we had placed in the sky, we came to accept our fate in peace. We could never exist forever, but we could leave knowing that we had created something truly beautiful.

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About the Author

Sarah Jane Justice

Sarah Jane Justice 200Sarah Jane Justice is an Adelaide-based fiction writer, poet, musician and spoken word artist.

Among other achievements, she has performed in the National Finals of the Australian Poetry Slam, released two albums of her original music and seen her poetry and prose published in Australia and internationally.

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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.

<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 264

Anna's Mother
by Vicky Chapman

Antitheosis
By Marcus Rockstrom

Human Cruelty
By Steve Bellavia

Jesus the Man
By Eugene Samolin

Morpheus Rising
By Kevin J. Phyland

Myopia
By Malena Salazar Maciá - Translated by Toshiya Kamei

Nothing Unusual Happened on the Way to the Office
Colin L. Howe

Rubicon
By N.M. Cunningham

Shedding
By Deborah Sheldon

Single Journey - Multiple Travellers
By Ed Errington

The Circle of Gods
By Botond Teklesz

The Last Message
By Zac Gilfridus

The Contributors

daniel veron 200Daniel Verón started writing at the age of ten, and an early story of his was selected for a UNESCO anthology, but he also spent a lot of time researching "space issues" as he was growing up.

He subsequently formed the Enigma Group of Investigation of UFOs and other Mysteries, which for many years produced radio programs on different topics and today owns collection of sci fi sagas, fantasy and terror stories plus essays on scientific topics and the world of the future.

Daniel also gives talks on the sci fi genre and exhibits books at various book fairs. He was recently credited as the creator of "cosmological sci fi" based on discoveries in the field of quantum physics coupled with philosophical speculations to give an explanation of the origin and end of the universe.

matthew legge 200I am a fan of horror movies, architecture, poetry and art. My hobbies include collage, drawing and sometimes building miniature model houses.

I enjoy writing short stories in my spare time with ‘Planet MXCIV’ being my first of this genre.

It has been a fun process writing in this style and I look forward to seeing what I can create in the future.

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Sarah Jane Justice 200Sarah Jane Justice is an Adelaide-based fiction writer, poet, musician and spoken word artist.

Among other achievements, she has performed in the National Finals of the Australian Poetry Slam, released two albums of her original music and seen her poetry and prose published in Australia and internationally.

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Nick Lee's favourite authors include Frank Herbert and Roald Dahl. He enjoys reading many genres. He tends to write short sentences. He is a fan of Oxford commas and single spaces after periods. He always, however, defers to editors' preferences. Those preferences are likely on display in this brief biography. Nick's creative writing style is influenced, for better or worse, by his experiences writing opinion pieces, business briefs, and academese.

 

Ben F. Blitzer penned his latest story, “Otherworldly Matters,” shortly after dreaming it in its entirety.

His most recent contributions for AntipodeanSF were “Dear Friends” and “The Darkland Crier.” He lives in Western Australia.

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roger ley2 200Roger Ley enjoys writing in a variety of speculative genres.

This story is from his anthology, 'Dead People on Facebook'. His other books include, ‘Chronoscape,’ a science fiction novel about time and alternate realities, ‘The Muslim Prince: What if Diana hadn’t died?’ an alternative reality, techno thriller and ‘The Steampunk Adventures of Harry Lampeter.’ Harry is an irreverent James Bond type of character, an iconoclast and anarchic urban adventurer. Basically, he’s a lot of fun.

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>.

ishmael soledad 200I've read and watched sci-fi all my life and I thought it was time to give back instead of just taking.

My stories have appeared in Aphelion, Antipodean SF, Far Cry Magazine, Planet Web Zine, Schlock! Webzine, Short-story.me and Unrealpoloitik!

I have published two short story collections — Hawking Radiation, and Sex and The Single Cosmonaut — and I am currently working on my first novel due for release later this year.

You can connect with me on Twitter <@Ishmael_Soledad> or my blog at <https://ishmael-a-soledad.com/>

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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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botond t 200Sometimes I can see what others don't.

Sometimes I listen to the silence and Iknow there is way too much of it down here in the countryside.

All the trees grass wooden gates and sleepwalkers are letting me down.

Very rarely I go out to thefront yard in the night and look at the stars. And I can feel in my guts it is allgoing to sink down the drain.

I look at the photo of my nephew whom I have not seen for 5 years.

I look into the mirror and see my white hair at 45.

Then I stare at the cross on the wall and I want to puke.

Somebody has already decided for me in a nice kind of way.

Too many pieces of the puzzle missing.

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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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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.

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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.

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AntipodeanSF August 2020

ISSUE 263

Speculative Fiction
Downside-Up
ISSN 1442-0686

Online Since Feb 1998

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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.

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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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

Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.

Arthur C. Clarke

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