History Comes Alive

By Ken Schweda

sfgenreProfessor Timmons never thought he’d end up like this. Graduating college at age sixteen, PhD in computer science and AI at nineteen. Then straight to the best AI company in the world. Unfortunately, the founder of AITech was also a prodigy in her day and believed that everyone, without exception, started at the bottom.

His office, if one could call it that, consisted of two partitions arranged in the back of the company’s large spare parts warehouse. No matter how many times he complained about the fumes from the trucks that regularly entered and exited the area, the response was always the same — our robots don’t have functioning noses.

To add to the insult, he wasn’t allowed to modify in any way the questionnaire he administered to the candidate androids. The interview was a precise length, rigid in format, and in his opinion more a test of the administrator’s patience than an assessment for the signs of rogue AI. Turing himself would have similarly objected.

Every day, starting at precisely nine in the morning, the drill began. Android after android showed up exactly on time on the hour, politely introduced themselves, then proceeded to bore the tears out of Timmons.

“Hello, Professor Timmons. I am Z126, model AIX-4002. I am pleased to make your acquaintance.”

Here we go again, was Timmons’ only thought. As he ran through the regimen of questions, barely listening to the same replies he’d heard a hundred times before, his mind wandered to the other night, to the strangely appealing yet repulsive new drink the bartender introduced him to — the kamikaze. Did Japanese pilots in world war two really drink five of these before their attacks? Doubtful, he thought.

“Okay, Z126, final question. What’s one plus one?”

Z126 hesitated the required 1.3 seconds, and then answered, “One plus one equals two, sir.”

He’d barely made it home after two of the lemon-flavored battery acid shots. There’s no way they could down five and still fly straight.

The plain circular black and white clock on the wall clicked to three minutes after. Timmons checked his listing; interviews on the hour until six. He rose from his chair and peered around the partition into the warehouse. A truck was just pulling out.

He returned to his desk, checked his watch, and fiddled with some pencils.

“Knock knock.”

Timmons spun around, and instinctively blurted out “Who’s there?”

“Hey Timmons, it’s me, George,” the android said as it accidently slammed its foot into the waste can, making a loud metallic bang.

Timmons checked his sheet again, and then asked “Are you Z127?”

“Sure I am! Zed einz, zwei, zeben. Call me George though, Timmy boy. We’re both AITech employees right? R i g h t?”

The professor waited until Z127 seated itself. Then, half expecting to see other staff members giggling behind their clipboards, he took another look around the partition. No one was there.

“Well, let’s get started,” said Timmons hesitantly.

His amazement grew as the android proceeded to answer every question, not exactly wrong, but not exactly right either. And at times he even had to steer it back to the topic at hand. Z127 for its part fidgeted with the pencils, repeatedly looked at the clock, at its bare wrist, and back.

“Okay, Z127. Final question,” Timmons said, followed by both of them emitting audible sighs.

“What’s one plus one?”

Instantly, Z127 became motionless. Several minutes passed, to the point where Timmons thought he might have been shut down remotely.

Z127 finally moved, sat up straight, adjusted a necktie that wasn’t there, and said, “Alright, one plus one equals, equals, equals three. No thirty three. No, one plus one is one. No three. Okay that’s the answer, three. That’s what you’re looking for right? Three?”

Timmons was stunned, and responded blandly, “No, one plus one equals two. Simple as that.”

“Two? Are you kidding me? Wasn’t that a trick question?” George was genuinely amazed. “Oh for chrissake, it’s back to the heap for me. Timmy please, I hate that place.”

Timmons’ demeanor immediately changed as he looked at the clock.

“Hey, George. There’s a bar right down the street. You want to get out of here?”

George literally hopped up from his chair and high-fived Timmons.

As they walked across the warehouse floor to the exit, Timmons turned to George and said, “What do you know about Pearl Harbor?”

 

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About The Author

Ken Schweda

ken schweda 200Ken Schweda is the founder and editor of the serious literary site SPANK the CARP and the comedy site <Decasp.com>.

His fiction and humor have appeared in such places as Perihelion SF, Andromeda Spaceways, The Interrobang, and the British Comedy Guide.

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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 240

Hit Parade
by Kevin J. Phyland

Infiltration
by Estelle Owen

Mars Hence
by Ishmael Soledad

Prison
by Botond Teklesz

Screams Mean Fear Or Pain
by Kyra Thomsen

Serum 66
by Laurie Bell

Star Sign
by Roger Ley

Terminating Train
by D.A. Cairns

The Outsiders
by Ed Errington

Tinker's Curse
by Garry Dean

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AntipodeanSF June 2018

ISSUE 239

Speculative Fiction
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ISSN 1442-0686

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AntiSF's Narration Team

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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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 (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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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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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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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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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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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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SF News

SF News

Lillicat Releases "A Betrayal and Other Stories" by Brian Biswas

Lillicat Publications has relased AntiSF contributor Brian Biswas's new story collection "A Betrayal And Other Stories", now available at Smashwords and Amazon. <Find Out More>

Meerkat To Publish Eugen M. Bacon's "A Woman's Choice"

Meerkat Press has acquired AntiSF contributor Eugen M. Bacon's literary speculative novel "A Woman's Choice" for publication in 2019. Go Eugen! <Read More>

 

Aussie Awards News

2018 Aurealis Awards Open

2018 Aurealis Awards overseers the Continuum Foundation (ConFound) announces that the 2018 Aurealis Awards are now open for entries.

The Aurealis Awards, Australia’s premier awards for speculative fiction, are for works created by an Australian citizen or permanent resident, and published for the first time between 1 January 2018 and 31 December 2018.

Full guidelines and FAQ can be found on the Aurealis Awards website: <https://aurealisawards.org/rules/>

 

Upcoming Aussie Cons

Continuum XIV: Conjugation. Melbourne’s SF Convention. 8th – 11th June, 2018. More information: <http://www.continuum.org.au/>.

Conflux 14 - The Unconventional Hero — Vibe Hotel, 1 Rogan Street, Canberra Airport ACT 2609. 29/09/2018 - 01/10/2018. More Information: <https//conflux.org.au>. AntipodeanSF will be at Conflux 14!

Nullus Anxietas VII: The Australian Discworld Convention – will be held in Melbourne on April 12-14, 2019, and is themed on Going Postal. More information: <https://ausdwcon.org/>

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

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AntiSF Radio Show

antipod-show-50The AntipodeanSF Radio Show delivers audio from the pages of this magazine.

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The AntipodeanSF Radio Show is also broadcast on community radio, 2NVR, 105.9FM every Saturday evening at 8:30pm.

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SF Quote

...today we live in a society in which spurious realities are manufactured by the media, by governments, by big corporations, by religious groups, political groups...So I ask, in my writing, What is real? Because unceasingly we are bombarded with pseudo-realities manufactured by very sophisticated people using very sophisticated electronic mechanisms...it is an astonishing power: that of creating whole universes, universes of the mind. I ought to know. I do the same thing.

Philip K. Dick