Frank's Best Friend

By Col Hellmuth

sfgenreI was visiting our new and recently acquainted neighbour, Ferdinand — who now lived across the street in the old red brick fascia house with the ficus tree towering over the front yard — when he told me something rather odd. It was a hot and humid afternoon. We were downing a couple of quiet beers in his backyard shed and tinkering with the brakes on his Series II Land Rover (the same age as him, give or take a few months I’d learnt, and his pride and joy) when he took me into his confidence and announced he’d built a time machine.

Or rather the Solihull factory employees of British Land Rover had started the job and he’d simply completed it forty-odd years later.

‘You mean a time capsule,’ I corrected, being fully able to appreciate the marvels of engineering incorporated into the design of the old classic, most of which are thankfully no longer replicated in modern vehicles. I watched as Ferdinand casually tossed a recently half-emptied bottle of DOT-4 hydraulic fluid from one hand to the other with his usual lack of foresight for potential disaster. The bottle came to rest in the palm of his left hand, miraculously with the lid still in place, allowing the powdery, mustard coloured paintwork on the fender he was leaning against to live another day. He paused a few seconds for dramatic effect.

‘Come for a drive and I’ll show you,’ he offered.

‘Not until those brakes are sorted thanks, Frank,’ I declined. I knew already that the functionality of the brake pedal fluctuated randomly, ranging from at best a vaguely useful tool for for arresting momentum through to its usual state of ornamental curiosity only.

Ferdinand wasn't a name that fell off the tongue easily, so I had taken to addressing my neighbour as Frank. Aside from his eccentricity, Frank seemed to be a fairly down to earth bloke and didn’t show any offence at the nickname. My visits to Frank's house had become semi-regular, as we had a mutual love of tinkering with old machinery in general, old Land Rovers in particular. A tentative friendship had evolved. Why my neighbour took such a shine to Land Rovers remained a mystery to me. I was still ignorant as to Frank's country of origin, though being named Ferdinand I'd have expected his choice of automotive obsession to be a little more exotic and less English in origin.

I took my leave and swaggered contentedly home across the road. I’d downed a couple more beers than I'd intended: Frank could have that effect on a person, his alternative views made for some odd but interesting conversation at times — when I could follow it. Walking down my driveway I could smell something roasting and remembered I was hungry. I fully expected to be chastised when I got home for spending so long across the road. My wife had taken a dislike to Frank, claiming he had a shifty look to him, but I suspected it was more likely because he always greeted her as Mrs Woof. It really irritated her. You're probably wondering why he called her Mrs Woof — I'll get to that later.

I cursed profusely and without a hint of eloquence as I tripped over one of our kid's skateboards — carelessly discarded in the middle of the unlit concrete driveway — and busted a toe. On the periphery of my pain-clouded consciousness I could just discern what I thought to be Frank’s raucous laugh behind me (or it may have just been the racket coming from the Land Rover's forty-year-old drive-train.) The volume gradually tapered off with distance, as the 'time machine' lumbered off down the road on yet another test drive — with all the grace and poise of a hairy goat.

***

I was back in the shed a couple of days later. We had given up on the brakes for now and were replacing tie rod ends and attempting to straighten a bent steering arm in order to try and make the 'Rover's handling a little less boat-like.

‘How's your toe?’ enquired Frank.

‘What?’ I was standing in front of the six-ton shop press, setting it up ready for the steering rod realignment. He glanced down at my rubber-thong-clad feet then looked up again with a barely suppressed smirk. I was used to this sort of thing. I pumped the lever of the hydraulic ram until it just contacted the bent rod.

‘Do you remember me telling you I’d invented a time machine last time you were here?’ he asked, stroking the stubble on his chin absently.

‘Yes, I don't have dementia yet, mate,’ I replied; sometimes Frank could be a condescending prick. He must have picked up on the annoyance in my voice, as an awkward silence followed.

‘Anybody can time travel,’ I ventured, to break the quietude, ‘as long as it’s into the future, one second at a time.’

Frank contemplated this as he tilted his glass of stout. ‘To go backwards, first you have to go forwards.’ He put his glass down and absently thumbed through the pages of an old ‘Land Rover Monthly' magazine open on the workbench in front of him. It was clearly well read as the oily fingerprints all over the tattered pages attested, ‘And as you pointed out everyone already does that.’

‘Does what, Frank?’ I was beginning to lose track of the conversation.

‘Travels into the future.’

I waited patiently to see if he had a legitimate point to follow this statement of the bleeding obvious. While I waited, I thought distractedly about the coming weekend; I thought about what I was going to have for breakfast the following morning; I wondered if there was any bacon left in the fridge to go with my fried eggs and instant coffee.

‘But there’s no need to restrict yourself to one-second steps,’ he finally continued. I nodded. It was one of those times when you nod but you're mentally shaking your head. I tried to remember how long ago the wife or I had last bought milk.

‘Look around you,’ Frank demanded, ‘everything is cyclic.’

‘Why does everything have to be cyclic?’ I challenged, as I had yet to hear a convincing argument to support anything he'd said about the subject. I knew as soon as I opened my mouth I would probably regret the question. I'd taken the bait. I clamped my jaw shut — too late: the hook was set, gaff readied.

‘It has to be by nature,’ Frank lectured.

Time passed by in silence for some while (or allegedly cycled.) Frank had made himself comfortable on a swivelling mechanic’s stool, its height-adjustable central leg branched out into four at the base, each with its own caster wheel. All four wheels were now moving in an almost indiscernible figure of eight motion over the polished concrete floor as Frank absent-mindedly swivelled the seat slowly from side to side, putting an argument together in his head.

‘Think of the hydraulic fluid being pumped through a brake system,’ Frank said, paused, and continued with, ‘No.’ Obviously, he’d come up with a better analogy: ‘Think of your blood circulating endlessly throughout every last blood vessel in your body, to every organ and every extremity. Pumped by the heart. When it stops cycling?’ Another dramatic pause, ‘Death.’

‘Well that's not really all that cyclic is it? Once you're dead that's it. Game over,’ I said a little sarcastically and with a hint of smugness.

‘No, you couldn't be more wrong, Woof,’ Ferdinand stated, matter-of-factly.

I took a long swig from my Headmaster glass — pilfered from the local pub — and pretended to study the thread chart taped to the wall in front of me, feigning an interest in the thread pitch of obscure BSF and BSA fixings used on 'Rovers of decades past.

Frank had also given me, Charlie Barker, a nickname. ‘Woof’. Clever eh?

‘Death is just a phase. A point on a circle, something that can be described neither as beginning nor end but merely a continuation. Without death there can be no life, just as without life there can be no death. Anything that goes on indefinitely or repetitively must be part of a cycle, it has to return over and again to its beginnings and effectively loop back on itself in order to exist,’ Frank was on a roll. ‘Death is a good example. The body is returned to the food chain, regardless of whether it's consumed by bacteria, fauna, or becomes carbon based fertiliser and ultimately consumed by flora. And so life begins again, albeit in a different form. Multiple forms actually. Numerous multiple forms.’

‘So where does time figure in all this?’ I asked, not being able to make the connection between the food-chain and time-travel.

‘Time is what gives order. It is the glue that stitches everything together. Life, death and everything that happens in between.’

This friendly banter carried on for some time as we worked. I supplied many more witty retorts to pepper the conversation, but was still none the wiser at the end of it.

‘Speaking of time,’ I announced, looking downward and pretending I was reading the face of a really small imaginary watch on the first digit of my left foot — I squinted in order to see it better. ‘If I don’t get home for tea, I’ll be in the shit with the missus again.’

The steering arm was as straight as we were ever going to get it and the Land Rover had been re-assembled. That is, if you had the imagination to call its current and seemingly perpetual state of incompleteness 'assembled.' Once again I declined the offer of a drive.

‘You shouldn't be driving it now, you've had a skin-full,’ I advised, but Frank was not to be deterred.

‘ — hello — wife and kids for me,’ he shouted, competing with the noise of the cranking engine. I shook my head as he backed out of the driveway and wondered if maybe I'd misheard him. He knows damn well the wife and I can’t have children and the tension it’s caused between us. I found myself gazing at my toes again and was suddenly overcome by a sensation I can’t properly describe, kind of like reverse déjà vu. It passed just as suddenly; through to whatever place it is that forgotten feelings go to either die or fester.

***

A couple of weeks had passed since last I'd been in Frank's garage. Life had been far too busy. Not busy in a good way: busy in a chaotic and stressful way. I was in need of a few beers and a distraction from the tension at home. At the first opportunity I set off across the road with a six-pack in hand. I found Frank sprawled on his garage floor, underneath the Land Rover.

‘How’s it coming along?’ I asked of his project in greeting. A muffled thump, followed by a highly audible and equally offensive curse, erupted from beneath the car in the vicinity of the front diff-centre. After extricating himself from under the vehicle — a process involving much grunting and snorting — he stood up. Did I mention Frank is just shy of six foot six? He had a gash on the left side of his brow, just under the hairline, which was bleeding; his knuckles also showed traces of blood, although dried. The look in his eyes made me uneasy.

‘Sorry,’ I offered, but got no response. The silence drifted on long enough to become uncomfortable — for me anyway.

‘Been wallowing into the past lately?’ I asked: my attempt at humour. Frank just looked at me and still wouldn't answer. I had, once, on a previous occasion put forward my own hypothesis: that his theories on time-travel were pure and simple bullshit, which of course went down like a lead Zeppelin and probably had largely accounted for the blessed absence of the subject from conversation since. I changed tactics and passed him one of my beers. He twisted off the top using the inside of his elbow, then took a swig.

‘Been giving her a grease and oil change,’ he replied.

***

Over the road the Land Rover came and went with surprising regularity. It was rarely gone for more than a few minutes at a time, so presumably it was only being test-driven. Probably Frank was still trying to get the brakes to function reliably. Or trying to divine the intermittent fault that had been haunting the fuel system lately, resulting in a loss of power and therefore forward motion — usually at the most inconvenient of times. The old girl only had two major problems: stopping and going.

I hadn't been over to catch up with Frank for a while, I had too many domestic issues going on in my life and too many problems on my mind to be bothered tinkering with cars or socialising. For some time now I had suspected my wife was not the loyal, committed partner I thought I'd married all those years before. Something wasn't right: she didn't seem to be the same person I remembered, although I couldn't explain what was specifically different about her, or her attitude toward me, other than an increasing sense of distance. She had the far away look in her eyes of someone missing something, or someone, from their life. Even more worryingly it wasn't just her either: I was often inexplicably struck by a sense of surprise at my surroundings, which passed too quickly for me to even fathom what had caused it. I thought maybe it was all in my mind, that perhaps I was going crazy. I thought back to one of the daft conversations I'd had with Frank. I had asked him if he believed (hypothetically, of course) that travelling to and interacting with the past would cause the present to be altered:

‘I'm sure you've heard the old science fiction cliche. The one about causing the death of someone from your ancestral lineage — cancelling out your own existence and causing a paradox. That kind of thing,’ was how I’d put it to him.

‘It's complicated,’ was all he had said.

I heard my wife's car pull up in the driveway, followed by the ratcheting sound of the handbrake being applied and the creak, creak, click of the car door opening and closing. I needed to fix that: put some oil on it or something. Or so she kept nagging me.

‘Hi Frank,’ I heard her call out and a muffled conversation ensued outside. The front door opened and she whirled into the house amid a flurry of rustling shopping bags and jangling keys, which were unceremoniously dumped on the floor and the kitchen bench respectively.

‘I’m just going for a quick lap around the block with Frank. Back in a sec.’ The front door clicked shut behind her. More muffled voices. The Land Rover spluttered into life and roared off like some prehistoric monster.

Something wasn’t right. My betrothed didn’t like Land Rovers, or so she had told me on numerous occasions, and she resented the time I spent over the road with our neighbour, because...

A quick lap around the block with Frank.

The realisation hit me then: Frank was the other man. I would confront them both, together, when they got back.

***

I hear the Land Rover return. Eager, I run out to the driveway to greet it. Frank climbs out first and gives me a pat on the head. I wag my tail at this attention. Frank is my best friend. The human bitch in the passenger seat struggles to open the door, so my master goes around and pulls it open for her. She jumps down and barks something angry and unintelligible at him, before hurrying over to the house across the street. Minutes later, I can still hear her calling out inside. I can’t understand what she’s saying of course, but I can hear the distress in her bark. I lift my snout out of my master’s lap and look up at his face; he strokes my fur absently while we sit in the front yard under the shade of the big tree. The corners of his snout are slightly upturned in that odd way humans use to show their contentment, lacking a tail to display their emotions.

I have two masters now: the bitch from across the street has moved in with Frank and me. It seems her best friend deserted her. It must be terrible to be abandoned like that. The Land Rover now sits under the big tree in the front yard, so that her car can get in and out of the driveway more easily. The big noisy machine never moves now. When the figs are in season parrots perch up in the tree above, gorging themselves and shitting all over it. I have to constantly piss on its tyres to keep the other neighbourhood dogs away.

I must admit I do sometimes get a little jealous of Frank’s new female companion: after all, he is my best friend.

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About The Author

Col Hellmuth

col hellmuthCol Hellmuth lives off grid in the Daintree rainforest.

His day jobs over the years have included electrician, kayak expedition tour guide, service station attendant, traffic controller and chicken catcher.

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 band mates, the Cow Bay "Excruders."

He has previously had his stories published in issues 239 and 245 of AntipodeanSF.

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Issue 250 Print Edition

AntipodeanSF Issue 250 is now ready via print on demand.

<http://paperback.reviews/lulu7>

All profits donated to Australian Science Fiction Foundation fan funds.

Ebook version also now at Smashwords

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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.

<http://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 251

A Prayer To Saint Bibiana
by Tim Borella

A Quizzical Occurrene
by Malina Douglas

Addicted
by Shane Griffin

Five Years
by Mark Towse

Marriages Are Made In Heaven
by Russell Kightley

Possession
by Kevin J. Phyland

Skyfire
by Laurie Bell

The Biggest News In History
by Anderson Fonseca

The Horn Of Amalthea
by George Nikolopoulos

The Perfect Balance
by Zebuline Carter

The Contributors

mconlyMichael Connolly lives in Bowraville NSW, Australia. He has worked as an art teacher, music teacher, printer and illustrator among other things (such as chicken de-beaker), and has a keen interest in science-fiction and the natural sciences. He has illustrated for the magazine Tabula Rasa, which specialises in the horror genre, and is a regular contributor to AntipodeanSF.

consig

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laura goodin 200American-born author Laura E. Goodin's novels are published by Odyssey Boooks; her stories have appeared in numerous print and on-line publications; and her scripts, libretti, and poetry have been performed internationally. She has a PhD in creative writing from the University of Western Australia, and attended the 2007 Clarion South workshop. She lives in Melbourne with her husband, composer Houston Dunleavy, and divides what little spare time she has between trying to be as much like Xena, Warrior Princess as possible and ringing tower bells.

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lee battersby 200Lee Battersby is the author of 2 novels for adults and one for children.

He lives in country Western Australia and can't get out.

He occasionally turns up at: <leebattersby.com>.

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simon brown 200Simon Brown has been writing for nearly fifty years. His novels and short stories have been published in Australia, the US, Russia, Japan, Poland and the UK.

He currently lives in Johannesburg, South Africa, but his true home is on the south coast of New South Wales, where he will return one day and never move again.

His website, Strange Borders, can be found at <https://simonbrown.co/>.

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andy mcgee bioAs a sixties’ hippy and more recently an exploration geophysicist, I have travelled the globe for work and pleasure.

My many weird, funny, poignant, educational experiences have led me to writing various short stories and three novels to date. Spreading the word of basic science and energy issues is my current aim, all done with a sense of fun and overall optimism.

I have a view that we should try to unite on solutions rather than forever bickering over options. Basic science is often neglected as battle lines are drawn up. You can check out my blog ‘Science Kept Simple’ at <mcgee.id.au>.

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jason nahrung 200Jason Nahrung is a Ballarat-based journalist, editor and writer.

He is the author of four novels and more than 20 short stories, all within the speculative fiction field.

In 2019 he completed a PhD in creative writing from The University of Queensland in the field of climate fiction. <www.jasonnahrung.com>.

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Trent Jamieson is the Brisbane based author of the Death Works series, the Nightbound Land Duology, and the multi-award winning novel Day Boy.

He is currently finishing a host of new projects, and starting on the greatest adventure of all: fatherhood.

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cat sparks 200Cat Sparks is a multi-award-winning Australian author, editor and artist.

Fiction editor of Cosmos Magazine from 2010-2016, she’s also been a media monitor, political and archaeological photographer, graphic designer and manager of Agog! Press, which produced ten anthologies of new speculative fiction from 2002-2008.

Cat directed two speculative fiction festivals for Writing NSW and is a regular panellist and speaker at speculative fiction literary events.

Her collection, The Bride Price was published in 2013 and her debut novel, Lotus Blue was published in 2017.

She has published 70 short stories and multiple articles since 2000 and her 22 awards include the Peter McNamara Conveners Award for services to Australia’s speculative fiction industry. She recently completed a PhD in creative writing through Curtin University.

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kris ashton 200Kris Ashton is an Australian author, travel writer and motoring journalist. He has published three novels and nearly forty short stories, mostly speculative fiction. He lives in the wilds of south-western Sydney with his wife, two children, and a slightly mad boxer dog.

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louise zedda sampson 200 2Louise Zedda-Sampson is a freelance writer and editor from Melbourne, Australia. She copywrites and writes short stories, flash fiction and non-fiction articles. Her fiction has appeared in anthologies and student publications and her non-fiction in journals and magazines.

Louise has a Diploma of Professional Writing and Editing and updates her skills regularly through industry courses and seminars. She edits a broad range of fiction and non-fiction and specialises in structural editing for both novice and experienced authors.

Louise also runs writers’ retreats in the tranquil settings of the Dandenong Ranges.

Visit Louise at <www.novelsolutions.com.au>.aus25grn

col hellmuthCol Hellmuth lives off grid in the Daintree rainforest.

His day jobs over the years have included electrician, kayak expedition tour guide, service station attendant, traffic controller and chicken catcher.

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 band mates, the Cow Bay "Excruders."

He has previously had his stories published in issues 239 and 245 of AntipodeanSF.

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I've read and watched sci-fi all my life I think it's time to give back instead of just taking. My stories have appeared in Aphelion, AntipodeanSF, Far Cry Magazine, Planet Web Zine, Schlock! Webzine, Short-story.me and Unrealpoloitik!. I have one short story collection - Hawking Radiation - published and am currently working on my first novel, due for release in 2020. You can connect with me on Twitter (@Ishmael_Soledad) or my blog at: <https://ishmael-a-soledad.com/>

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Tony Steven Williams was born in Penzance, Cornwall, UK (that’s right, the one with the pirates!). He eventually saw the light and became an antipodean, emigrating to Adelaide in the last millennium. Tony and his artist wife now live in Canberra. He is a short-fiction writer, poet and occasional songwriter/performer with work published in anthologies, newspapers, print and online magazines, and broadcast on the radio. He writes across the genres but has not yet settled down to any particular species; however, SF is a very frequent visitor. His poetry book Sun and Moon, Light and Dark was recently published by Ginninderra Press (2018). Tony is immensely proud to be represented in AntipodeanSF’s 250th issue, a truly remarkable achievement by Ion and all the contributors over 21 years.

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kim rose 200 2Kim Rose is a professional writer of romance and erotic fiction.

Long time lover of fantasy and sci fi.

Keen spokesperson for sex positive culture and breaking social stigmas.

For more information please check out these pages

<https://www.deviantart.com/kalikapsychosis>.

<https://www.instagram.com/kimrg6_6_6/>.

<https://www.facebook.com/Kimrg2/>.

<https://www.patreon.com/kimrg666>.

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eugenbaconEugen Bacon has sold many stories and articles, together with anthologies. Her stories have won, been shortlisted and commended in international awards, including the Bridport Prize, L. Ron Hubbard Writers of the Future Contest and Copyright Agency Prize. Literary speculative novel — Meerkat Press (2019). Creative nonfiction book — Macmillan (2019)

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kat pekin 200Kat Pekin is an emerging speculative fiction writer living and studying in the Western Suburbs of Brisbane. She recently completed a Bachelor’s Degree in Creative and Professional writing with QUT and is currently undertaking an honours degree in the same field. Her work has been published in numerous anthologies and her stories have won, placed, or received High Commended in local and Australia wide writing competitions.

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andrea teare 200Andrea Teare is an emerging writer from Sydney Australia. She writes Sci-Fi, Horror and Fantasy and has a number of short stories available in anthologies from Horrified Press and The Unfading Daydream.

She is currently working on her first novel.

More about Andrea can be found at her website, <www.andreateare.com.au>.

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Phill Berrie has had a lifelong love affair with science, speculative fiction and role playing. It was his love of role playing that led him to start writing in the spec-fic genre and his attention to detail (read OCD) that helped him fall into editing.

A life member of the ACT Writers Centre, he is the author of two published speculative fiction novels: The Changeling Detective, an urban fantasy, detective noire story set in and around Canberra, Australia; and Transgressions, a high fantasy tale about life changes, sex changes and petty gods. It is his sincere hope that he can get back to writing both these series as soon as his current magnum opus, an episodic, electronic choose-your-own-adventure story called Choices: And Their Heroes Were Lost (produced by Tin Man Games in Melbourne), is finally completed.

Phill now lives in semi-retirement in Yass, New South Wales. As well as his writing and editing, he commutes to Canberra three days a week to help science teachers teach science in his roles as the digital projects officer and pro tem publications manager for the Australian Science Teachers Association. Despite all his attempts to do otherwise, he has never worked harder in his life and dreams of retiring almost as much as he dreams of the fantastical worlds of his imagination.

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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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zena shapter 200Zena Shapter writes from a castle in a flying city hidden by a thundercloud. Author of 'Towards White' (IFWG 2017) and co-author of 'Into Tordon' (MidnightSun 2016), she’s won over a dozen national writing competitions — including the Australasian Horror Writers’ Association Prize, a Ditmar Award, and the Glen Miles Short Story Prize. Her short stories have appeared in 'Midnight Echo', Hugo-nominated 'Sci Phi 
Journal', ‘Antipodean SF’ and Award-Winning Australian Writing (twice). She’s a movie buff, traveller, diversity enthusiast, and story nerd. Find her online at <zenashapter.com>.

towards white zena shapter

Zeb writes:

Last week, on a whim I submitted some of my own musings to ‘Nuke’, and when I checked back today — my time in my ‘verse, which is plus six years comparative to you — I saw that he had published some of them! I wasn’t even sure the contrived email and attachment would get through, let alone end up published on your internet of things. (BTW — We have nothing quite like your ‘net, but we’ve gone far further into the solar system than you have. Figure that!) Now that I know a connection is possible, I thought I’d tell you a little more about myself and where I’m from. So, from the beginning…

Hi. My name is Zebuline Carter — that’s Zeb for my friends or Zeb-you-leen if you want to get formal — and I’m a forty-two year old former astronaut now working as an administrator at Farside, on Luna. Farside is a research base, where innerscopes are just starting to peel back layers of our sheath of the local multiverse. Because our work is so sensitive to em influences, Farside is situated within a one hundred klom diameter exclusion zone.

In my late teens I earned a double major in aerospace and business but passed over grad school for civilian astronaut training. As a kid I collected coupons from cereal boxes until I had enough for my first telescope, and built scale models of all the commercial shuttles and orbiters. Growing up, I’d always felt slightly out of place, like I was meant to to be somewhere else and part of me already was — until, that is, I had my first trip into low orbit aboard a high-riding intercont-cruiser, or ICC. That was a high-school graduation present from my Uncle Jim, and during the fifteen minutes of freefall I found that other part of myself, grabbed it tight, and never let go since.

Did I also mention I’m 180 cents tall with bobbed chestnut hair? Or that because of heart damage from a bad landing, I’m also marooned in low gravity? But heh, there are now six bases around Luna, supporting a permanent population of around twelve thousand Lunans, and a transient population of several thousand tourists and stopovers returning form the outer system, so it never gets boring and I don’t get lonely. And living in low G means I won’t age or sag as fast, either.

Until next time —

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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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Shane is an ageing scientist, cricket fanatic and long term indie writer. He lives in Australia at the foot of the Blue Mountains with one phone obsessed teenager. He has completed many short works, several novella's and one novel. Shane also now publishes via his own independent publishing label —Poupichou Press via Smashwords.

His other works can be found here;

<https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/drgriffo13>

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ed-harveyPretty much a life-long fan of speculative fiction, Edwina Harvey is a writer, editor, silk painter and ceramic artist.

Her short stories and articles have appeared in a variety of publications including Aurealis, Antipodean SF, Grass Roots, Harbinger, Magpies, Strange Pleasures #3 and Worlds Next Door.

She has had three books, The Whale’s Tale, The Back of the Back of Beyond, and An Eclectic Collection of Stuff and Things and a novelette, Never Forget, published through Peggy Bright Books. <www.peggybrightbooks.com>.

 Edwina received her editing qualifications in 2012 and now works as a freelance editor, specialising in speculative fiction.

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Chris writes:

With the advent of accurate speech recognition software I began writing in late 2011. Incensed by a particular episode of "Doctor Who", I wrote my own. I enjoyed the creativity so much that I have continued on. Writing, while challenging, gives me a sense of empowerment and joy, and has been added to my list of passions.

My other passions are science, nature, animals and all things sci-fi, and my stories reflect these interests. My very first published story was "What If" in AntipodeanSF in Jan 2012. Since then I have written 13 stories for the magazine.

I enjoy Asimov, Clark, and many other classic writers as well as Terry Pratchett. My favourite author is still Alastair Reynolds.

In a fit of insanity I decided to write a novel. Six years in the making my Science Fiction novel, "Upload" is now available from Lulu (print edition), Smashwords and Amazon (e-book editions). Check out my website at <www.Christaleyes.com> for more information. 

I am a senior citizen, and live in sunny WA with my husband and our cat Tilda.

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mark webb 2019 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 can be found at <www.markwebb.name>, including details of his stories in AntipodeanSF, Dimension6 and other reputable publications.

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Tony Owens is an ESL teacher living in Brisbane with his wife and son.  His short fiction has appeared in the anthologies In Fabula-Divino, Zombies Ain’t Funny, and 18. He also does a flash fiction series chronicling the adventures of the long-suffering Klinko, the King of Klowns, which appears semi-regularly on the AntipodeanSF website.  His ultimate ambition is to find the literary sweet-spot between H.P. Lovecraft and P.G. Wodehouse.

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jason-butterfieldJ. M. M. Butterfield is an aspiring writer of speculative fiction living on the North West Coast of Tasmania. He has just completed his first novel, "Bastion: Holy City", part of a series titled "Chronicles of a Star-Born King". He is now set upon finding a path to publication whilst he begins his second novel, "Bastion: Fallen City". You can find out more about his upcoming works at www.facebook.com/JMMButterfield.

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antoinette rydyr 200Antoinette Rydyr is an artist and writer working in the genres of science-fiction, fantasy and horror usually bent into a surrealist and satirical angle. She works with fellow creator, Steve Carter and together have produced graphic novels, award-winning screenplays and esoteric electronic music.

In 2018 their collaborative steampunk western novel, “Weird Wild West” parts one and two were published by Bizarro Pulp Press, USA, and part three will be published in 2019.

They have also published graphic novels including, “Savage Bitch”, “Weird Worlds”, “Bestiary of Monstruum”, “Weird Sex Fantasy”, and the celebratory resurrection of the infamous “Phantastique”, ingloriously presented in full bloody colour!

More grotesque delights can be viewed on their website: <https://www.weirdwildart.com/> and their Amazon Author Page:

<https://www.amazon.com/Carter-Rydyr/e/B07DBYBBZT/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_1>.

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Bart Meehan is a Canberra writer who has published a number of short stories in publications such as Hello Horror, Aurealis and AntiSF. He has also had a number of radio plays produced for national community radio — now available as podcasts at <https://podcast11793.podomatic.com/> as well as stage plays performed in Canberra and Sydney Short and Sweet Festivals.

Bart recently published a novella called The Parting Glass, about the experiences of 5 men and women during World War 1.

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ca clarkCA Clark is a writer of short fiction with aspirations to complete that great space saga gathering e-dust in a file lost somewhere on the portable hard drive.

Apart from being too busy to write as often as any writer should, C A Clark squeezes out the odd flash fiction; there are eight flash fictions with AntipodeanSF and half a century of pieces in varying length in anthologies so far.

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LyndaRYoungHeadshot200Lynda R Young is a writer, editor, game developer, 3D artist, graphic designer, photographer, gamer and so much more. She has a Christian daily devotional book out called Cling to God. She is currently working on a Young Adult Fantasy Adventure series of novels set on the High Seas. She lives in Brisbane with her sweetheart of a husband. Find her at <http://lyndaryoung.blogspot.com.au/>.

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garry dean 200Garry lives on the Mid North Coast of New South Wales Australia, and has been a fan of SF, ever since his older brother took him to see 2001 a Space Odyssey for his eighth birthday. He has a soft spot for classic science fiction, along the lines of Isaac Asimov and Arthur C Clarke.

Although he was painting, and writing about other worlds in his teens, it wasn’t until his 40s, that Garry had a serious go at writing. When the onset of a genetic eye disorder made things difficult, he turned to adaptive technologies, including voice recognition and text to speech.

Garry’s work has appeared in AntipodeanSF, as well as Quantum Muse and Daily Science Fiction. He is currently working on a collection of short stories, due out in mid 2019. Website: www.garrydean.wordpress.com/

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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.

Congratulations to Ion and the team for reaching 250 issues of such a fantastic ‘zine, and thank you for your ongoing championing of the speculative fiction voices of the antipodes!

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martin livings 100Perth-based writer Martin Livings has had over eighty short stories in a variety of magazines and anthologies. His first novel, Carnies, was published by Hachette Livre in 2006, and was nominated for both the Aurealis and Ditmar awards, and has since been republished by Cohesion Press. <http://www.martinlivings.com>.

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In addition to short stories Sue Clennell has had poetry published in various anthologies including 'Best Australian Poems' and 'Australian Love Poems.' She has also had four short plays performed in Campbelltown, Sydney and Canberra.

Sue was a book reviewer in E-scapes, a regular column for AntipodeanSF, for three years and is grateful to AntipodeanSF for providing a market for the weird and wonderful. Visit Sue's Youtube site: <bit.ly/1wdTfcM>.

 

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Michael Schaper lives in Canberra with his partner Nadine, a standup paddleboard, two goldfish, some visiting sulphur-crested cockatoos and the ghosts of many half-written stories.

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jackie hosking 200Jackie Hosking is an Australian born in Nigeria to Cornish parents. Being short, she writes short. Flash fiction, poetry and picture books. If she were braver she’d be a stand-up comedian. But she isn’t. Jackie has published many poems for children. And her dream of publishing a rhyming picture book arrived in 2014. Thanks to Edward Lear and Walker Books Australia, she mutated ‘The Owl and the Pussy Cat’ into its Aussie cousin, ‘The Croc and the Platypus’.

Her next dream is to publish another one. A Jackie of all trades, she writes, edits and publishes an ezine for anyone interested in the children’s book industry. She has two blogs that she’d love for you to visit <www.jackiehoskingblog.wordpress.com> and <www.jackiehoskingpio.wordpress.com>.

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Kevin J. PhylandRetired after 33 years of teaching, Kevin now indulges his passions full-time: weather, reading and writing. His fiction usually embraces darker themes or the new weird, but lately he has gone back to more traditional old school SFF. He has set himself the task of reading every Stephen King novel, in order, and all of the recommended SF reading lists of Locus magazine for the last 35 years <http://www.sfadb.com/Locus_Awards_1983>. His eyes hurt.

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rebecca-fraserRebecca Fraser is an Australian author with a solid career of writing with influence across a variety of mediums.

Her short stories, poems, and flash fiction have appeared in numerous Australian and international anthologies, magazines, and journals since 2007.

Her first novel "Curtis Creed and the Lore of the Ocean" was released by IFWG Publishing Australia in 2018.

Rebecca actively engages in various writing communities and holds a Master of Arts in Creative Writing, and a Certificate of Publishing (Copy Editing & Proofreading).

For more information about Rebecca, you can visit her website <www.writingandmoonlighting.com>, or follow her on Twitter and Instagram <@becksmuse>.

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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 Kernot is an Australian author living in the Mid North of South Australia. He writes contemporary fantasy, science fiction, and horror, and his short stories can be found in a variety of anthologies, magazines, and eZines across Australia, the US, and Canada. More information can be found at <http://www.davidkernot.com>.

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Ray O'Brien's last contribution to AntiSF was in March 2014. In the meantime he has continued to experience the joy and despair of living "amongst women", sustain a career in keeping old computer applications alive, and play drums in a dad rock band. One day he will be free to unleash the many stories that have swirled around his head for years. Ray lives at the top end of Sydney, near the Hawkesbury River.

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david-scholesDavid has written over 200 speculative fiction short stories. Some of these are included in his eight 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.

He will soon publish a new collection of science fiction short stories “Contingency Nine and Other Science Fiction Stories”.

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Jan Napier was inhouse reviewer for Antipodean SF from 2009 to 2012.

Jan is a rabid Terry Pratchett fan, and plans to live on the disc world, preferably in one of Ankh Morpork’s more salubrious suburbs, as soon as her small, gas powered time machine has its obconic modulator adjusted. The gods of the multiverse have determined that she write poetry till then.

Sometimes her poems are labelled speculative fiction.

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rick kennett 200I'm a life-long resident of Melbourne, Australia, where I work in the transport industry. I like to explore graveyards, an odd hobby I call necrotourism, although I believe the correct word is taphophile.

I've been writing since 1979 and have had SF and ghost stories in many magazines, anthologies and podcasts. In 2008 my story "The Dark and What It Said" won a Ditmar, and in 2013 my podcast stories "Now Cydonia" and "The Road to Utopia Plain" won two Parsec Awards. I'm presently the podcast reporter for the M.R. James journal Ghosts & Scholars. I have two novels, a novella and two collections at Amazon. One of these collections, Thirty Minutes for New Hell, a series of connected short stories, is the original publication of "In a Phobos Garden."

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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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pamela jeffs 200Pamela Jeffs is a prize-winning speculative fiction author living in Brisbane, Queensland with her husband and two daughters. She is a member of the Queensland Writers’ Centre and has had her work published in both national and international anthologies and magazines. Pamela grew up in rural Australia, and likes to draw upon the natural world for inspiration in her work. Visit her at <www.pamelajeffs.com> or on Facebook @pamelajeffsauthor.

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AntipodeanSF May-June-July 2019

ISSUE 250

Speculative Fiction
Downside-Up
ISSN 1442-0686

Online Since Feb 1998

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Issue 250 Congrats!

Congratulations Ion and Antipodean on 250 issues of wonderful speculative fiction from the south side of the globe. An amazing achievement, and looking forward to many more to come.

Andrea Teare

AntiSF's Narration Team

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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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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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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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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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>

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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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SF News

SF News

The Wyndham Writing Awards (previously Words of Wyndham) returns in 2019 to inspire, encourage and recognise emerging Victorian adult writers and literary creators. Prizes will be awarded for unpublished works in four categories: short story, graphic short story, flash story and poetry. Shortlisted entries will be published in the Wyndham Writing Awards Anthology 2019. Entries open Wednesday 1 May – Sunday 30 June 2019. More info: <wyndham.vic.gov.au/writingawards>

 

Upcoming Cons

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!

Writing NSW Speculative Fiction Festival 2019 - Sydney NSW. Writing NSW is excited to announce that their biennial Speculative Fiction Festival will be taking place on 29 June 2019. <https://writingnsw.org.au>.

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

Any sufficiently advanced ETI is indistinguishable from God.

Michael Shermer

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