On Demand

By Kevin J. Phyland

sfgenreHow I wangled an invite to a party thrown by Howard Kippax I'll never know, but there it was  — gilt-edged and as solidly real as the frisson of excitement that ran through me in anticipation.

Kippax was the poster boy for self-made tycoons, larger than life in both physical presence and exploits. Hardly a boy any more, the latest feat of the forty-five year old had been funding an obscure biotech start-up that had come up with some startling gene copying and modification techniques which were set to revolutionise treatment of genetic disease and hinted at seriously marketable longevity treatments.

As a tyro journalist for a computer magazine I was not expecting a call-up to, for want of a better term, the hi-tech big league.

I chose a two piece suit and tie, the best things I owned and took the unusual step of going clean-shaven and pony-tailed. I might be a low-tier hack for TechNews but I didn't have to look like one.

When I arrived at the Kippax mansion, a two-storey labyrinth of crystal and Doric columns, I was separated from my rather forlorn car and ushered up a long drive by uniformed valets into a huge reception area, all of high ceilings and bright chandeliers, amid about sixty or seventy other people. They were a mix of the well-heeled in high society, friends and well-wishers and assorted carrion-eating hangers-on that the famous attract like remoras to sharks. I spied a number of other journos who distinguished themselves by being singularly undistinguished.

After an hour of milling about from one small group to another, sampling canapes and what I took to be some quite good champagne, I inevitably ended up with the tech journos, who were as mystified as myself as to how they'd merited such a sought-after invite.

The master of ceremonies appeared at about nine o'clock, as the sunset was dying and his own magnificence presumably would take over. He was a powerfully-built man, about 10 centimetres shy of two metres tall and carrying 120 kilos of mostly appropriate weight. His eyes were dark and displayed none of the humour that the rest of his features radiated aplenty, and there were ugly rumours about his personal life and his, shall we say, penchant, for controlling his wife in an overly physical manner.

The lady herself appeared about ten minutes after Kippax — Ciara, who was once a well-known fashion model but had been subsumed into the universal set that Kippax maintained. An elegantly coiffed woman about 20 centimetres shorter than Kippax, she was still slim in a startlingly bright emerald-coloured dress and carried an aura of mystique, despite her forty years. She wore a fascinator over her left eye and it was difficult to see her features through the dark-spotted gauze due to the shadowing about her eyes. Perhaps those ugly rumours had a basis in truth. 

With a stereotypical tinkling of a fork on a crystal goblet he called for silence and strode across to the wall where a large piece of machinery stood — something like an ancient photocopier.

“Thank you all for coming this evening,” he said. “I gather you've all heard about the gene therapy breakthrough at CytoTech and to celebrate this promising — and very likely profitable — ” there was a pause for polite chuckling “ — new venture, I have asked you here to demonstrate a spin-off one of the genengineers came up with.”

He stepped across to the large piece of white goods, and flicked a switch. An almost inaudible humming noise could faintly be heard.

“This machine is a smart copier — like your smart fridges or smart TVs — and is basically a standard biological 3D printer — with one slight improvement.” He gestured for Ciara to bring over a cardboard box and place it at Kippax's feet.

“Hmnnn,” he mused theatrically, “I wonder what I can make with this...” and he drew some dead plucked chicken carcasses from the box and with great ceremony placed them in a hopper at the left of the large printer. A second switch was thrown and a rather unsettling grinding and slurping sound emanated from it.

He moved from the bioprinter to a laptop set on a lectern and threw a switch which started a projected image of the screen on the wall behind.

“This is the database of all the archived genome and DNA data for organisms on this planet,” he said. “And this...” another dramatic pause, “is a...Raphus cucullatus... a dodo!”

On the screen an old zoological sketch of the extinct flightless bird appeared, looking just as silly and awkward as it may have been in life.

“And about two hours after I download the DNA information into the bioprinter our unfortunate feathered friend there will emerge from the output hopper.” 

Presumably the chicken ingredients were broken down into raw materials to construct the new organism, but the means escaped me.

There was a buzz of muted conversation and some rather desultory applause. It was not beyond the realms of possibility that he was pranking us all for his own amusement — it had happened before — but this seemed rather too elaborate and open. 

“Will it be...alive?” asked a female voice from the crowd, the tone echoing my own incredulity.

Fixing the woman with that steely gaze his mouth turned up in a practiced smirk. “Such I am assured will be the case, and for the sake of the party, my fervent hope.” He paused to fill his glass goblet with cognac from a nearby decanter.

“Ladies and gentlemen, raise your glasses to the future of wildlife preservation — not to mention exotic pet ownership and increased profits!”

There was a generally enthusiastic clink of glasses and sips of alcohol while the stunned audience, myself included, mulled over the ethics, or lack thereof, of this incredible stunt.

And so we waited.

I imagined the chicken carcasses being disassembled atom by atom and reassembled in a new DNA configuration based on the extinct sample blueprint but really had no idea just what might appear in the opaque region on the right hand side of the printer. 

Drinking and conversation had resumed at a much increased level after Kippax's speech and when a faint chime sounded it took a moment or two for the audience to gather its significance. 

There was a hushed air of expectancy throughout the audience as Kippax opened up the output bin's door. With a theatrical flourish he led out a most astonishing creature. It looked very much like the zoological drawing of a dodo, and it proceeded to honk with obvious fear and staggered drunkenly around in small circles.

The triumph of what had to be admitted was an amazing technological feat was fast becoming a queasy feeling of wrongness about the whole thing. Kippax cursed a little and herded the poor creature into an alcove off the dining room. His wife hurried to assist, and they were both lost to sight for a few minutes.

The conversation around me was mostly about what the poor creature might eat or find for company, and despite the aura of uniqueness it was generally felt to be cruel and somehow unnatural.

When Kippax reappeared he was alone and his features were ruddy, flushed with excitement of some sort, and the party broke up slowly in dribs and drabs.

I left with the bulk of the tech writers and we agreed that we certainly had a good story for our respective rags.

It was about three weeks later that the scandal broke.

Kippax's wife had filed police charges of assault against him for a litany of beatings going back to shortly after their marriage six years ago. Kippax had disappeared and a substantial sum of money had been turned into cryptocurrency and also moved to unknown destinations. It was assumed that Kippax had fled the country to avoid the charges and might be starting a new life in a country without extradition rights.

His wife made a brief appearance on media from the gates of the Kippax mansion to make a statement accusing him further and plead, rather half-heartedly and with the hint of a smirk, for him to turn himself in or he would forfeit his holdings which would revert to her in a year or so.

She would not answer any further questions and turned reporters back from the gates of the mansion, accompanied by five rather sizeable dalmatian dogs. All looked identical, and must have come from a cloning lab, their patterning featured a conspicuous black spot over each right eye.

As the interview ended I mused on a certain irony there. I recalled the bioprinter demonstration and felt a smug smile spread across my face as well. Those dogs taken together must have weighed about as much as a fairly large man. 

Somehow I didn't think the authorities would be finding Howard Kippax any time soon.

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About the Author

Kevin J. Phyland

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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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 270

333 Years
By Susan Cornford

Evan
By Ian Breen

Golf for Beginners
By Joanna Galbraith

HSC (Hancer School Certification)
By Sue Oliver

Incident at the Yarralumla Shops
By Wes Parish

Karen's Secret Story
By Gillian Polack

Luck - A Matter of Perspective
By Brian Catto

Maelstrom
By Kevin J. Phyland

Name Please
By Elwood Scott

Snuggles
By Ashley Noel

The Birthday Party
By Chris Karageorge

The Box
By James Patrik

Noisy Winds
By Binta Ohtaki - translated by Toshiya Kamei

The Hive
By Botond Teklesz

The Senate Inquiry
By Len Baglow

Worksite Stories
by S. F. Lowe

The Contributors

Of Indian origin, Sultana Raza’s poems have appeared in numerous journals, including Columbia Journal, and The New Verse News, London Grip, Classical Poetry Society, spillwords, Poetry24, Dissident Voice, and The Peacock Journal. Her fiction has received an Honorable Mention in Glimmer Train Review (USA), and has been published in Coldnoon Journal, Szirine, apertura, Entropy, and  ensemble (in French). She has read her fiction/poems in India, Switzerland, France, Luxembourg, England, Ireland, the US, and at CoNZealand,

Her creative non-fiction has appeared in countercurrents.org, Litro, impspired, pendemic.ie, Gnarled Oak, Kashmir Times, and A Beautiful Space. Her 100+ articles (on art, theatre, film, and humanitarian issues) have appeared in English and French. An independent scholar, Sultana Raza has presented many papers related to Romanticism (Keats) and Fantasy (Tolkien & GRR Martin) in international conferences.

<https://www.facebook.com/sultana.raza.7>

<https://tinyurl.com/yd9j8546>

tim dwyer 200Timothy Dwyer is an American science-fiction writer living in New Zealand.

He has written a novel (The Emergence) and a number of short stories.

He holds a degree in Electrical Engineering and was a consulting engineer for 25 years, specializing in Instrumentation and Controls.

Before his engineering career he was a professional musician — and he remembers most of it.

He loves cats.

"Carl grew up on a diet of Stephen King and "The Twilight Zone" - all re-told and (slightly) edited by his mum.

Consequently, he has an aversion to clowns, remote hotels and anyone who says they are 'your biggest fan'.

In and around teaching English, he writes stories, plays games and tries to do enough exercise to avoid ending up like the guy in this tale!"

haneko 200Haneko Takayama is an award-winning Japanese writer. In 2009, her short story “Udon, Kitsune tsuki no” was a runner-up for the Sogen SF Short Story Award. 

Her story collection of the same name was a finalist for the Nihon SF Taisho Award in 2014. In 2020, her novel Shuri no uma won the Akutagawa Prize.

Ashley Noel is a writer from Sydney, Australia. She is currently employed in the Early Childhood sector.

As a keen reader, with a quirky imagination she turned her hand to writing ten years ago and is at present searching for an agent to represent her first novel.

Ashley connects with a wide audience on her social media accounts, Medium and Instagram.

She is excited about being published on AntipodeanSF and looks forward to submitting future work.

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kerrie noor 200Kerrie Noor was born in Melbourne Australia in 1960 but has spent most of her adult life in Scotland.

She has, in the past been a regular on Dunoon Community Radio, taught and performed Belly dancing, ‘done’ a little stand up, performed as a story teller and appeared at the Edinburgh Festival.

She has had one radio script performed on BBC Scotland and has been short listed for the Ashram short story award.

She writes both Sci fi comedy and romantic comedy and is about to publish her fourth book in her Planet Hy Man series The Rise Of Manifesto a Sci Fi comedy with a twist.

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Connor Orrico is a student and field recordist interested in global health, mental health, and how we make meaning from the stories of person and place we share with each other, themes which are explored in his words in The CollidescopeBurning House Presshedgerow, and X-Peri, as well as his sounds at Bivouac Recording.

amy logan 200Amy Logan's first work was published on October 29, 1970. It has been a bit of a dry spell since, so  she is very excited to have the opportunity to contribute to AntipodeanSF.

She is a lifelong fan of speculative fiction and the short story and has returned to writing the weird tales that she loves.

She lives in Eastern Washington state, not far from the Canadian border with her human family as well as 2 cats, 1 dog, and a llama.

keech ballardKeech has been writing fiction and poetry for 40 years, and is currently working on a speculative novel of the Afterlife, focusing on Victorian literature, though it is technically set in the near future.

He recently published a short piece of creative nonfiction in Ellipsis Zine.

This is his first SF story to be published. Thanks for listening!

Bruce photoBruce is an older Australian, living in Adelaide, who enjoys reading and writing, especially short stories and flash fiction.

He has a master’s degree in science, specialising in computer science.

He has over forty years of experience in fields such as software engineering and systems engineering, particularly the development of complex systems.

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Michael Casey is a writer from Melbourne, Australia.

He has had short stories featured in publications such as Colp magazine, Fudoki Magazine, Scarlet Leaf Review, Black Scat Review, and Ash Tales, and he has had articles published in Cracked.com, Poplurker, and Nerdbot.

His novels and short stories areavailable through the following link: <https://amazon.com/author/caseymichael>.

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myna changMyna Chang writes flash and short stories in a variety of genres.

Her speculative fiction has been featured in Best Indie Speculative Fiction 2020, Daily Science Fiction, Antipodean SF, Mad Scientist Journal, and Twist in Time, among others.

She is the winner of the Lascaux Prize in Creative Nonfiction for 2020.

Read more at <MynaChang.com> or find her on Twitter at <@MynaChang>.

Umiyuri Katsuyama 200Umiyuri Katsuyama is a multiple-award-winning writer of fantasy and horror, often based on Asian folklore motifs.

A native of Iwate in the far north of Japan, she later moved to Tokyo and studied at Seisen University.

In 2011, she won the Japan Fantasy Novel Award with her novel Sazanami no kuni.

Her most recent novel, Chuushi, ayashii nabe to tabi wo suru, was published in 2018.

Her short fiction has appeared in numerous horror anthologies in Japan.

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.

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 and The Tiger's Eye (YA/Fantasy) White Fire (Sci-Fi) and The Good, the Bad and the Undecided (a unique collection of short stories set during the events of White Fire/Sci-Fi). 

You can read more of her work on her blog <www.solothefirst.wordpress.com> Look for her on Facebook <www.facebook.com/WriterLaurieBell/> or Twitter: <@LaurienotLori>

Rambles, writing and amusing musings

Smile! laugh out loud! enjoy the following

<www.solothefirst.wordpress.com>

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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.

aus25grn

AntipodeanSF February 2021

ISSUE 269

Speculative Fiction
Downside-Up
ISSN 1442-0686

Online Since Feb 1998

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Download AntiSF E-Book

Epub version:

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AntiSF's Narration Team

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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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 and The Tiger's Eye (YA/Fantasy) White Fire (Sci-Fi) and The Good, the Bad and the Undecided (a unique collection of short stories set during the events of White Fire/Sci-Fi). 

You can read more of her work on her blog <www.solothefirst.wordpress.com> Look for her on Facebook <www.facebook.com/WriterLaurieBell/> or Twitter: <@LaurienotLori>

Rambles, writing and amusing musings

Smile! laugh out loud! enjoy the following

<www.solothefirst.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

The Three Laws Of Robotics

  • A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
  • A robot must obey orders given to it by human beings, except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
  • A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.
Isaac Asimov

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