Second Man

Ishmael A Soledad

sfgenre“Might as well.”

Ukko turned.

“If you like. What is it?”

Akka brushed one gloved hand over the engraved panel sending away a gray mist.

“Apollo 11 landing site, 1969.”

He looked down from the perspex platform to the descent stage then up at the ascent stage.

“I don’t like that.”

“Why?”

“Well all this is real, their footprints, where they first stepped out. Doesn’t feel right having a holo on top.”

“Why’s this important again?”

“First men on the moon, start of it all.”

“Oh. Never was one for ancient history.

 

“Ancient history? Ancient history my ass!”

“C’mon Buzz, it’s been a while.”

“And you’re keeping count, Mike?”

“Not like there’s much else to do.”

He walked through the LEM’s legs, tried and failed for the millionth time to smudge out Buzz’s footprints.

“Four hundred thirty six years, fifteen days and eight hours. Ancient history.”

Neil glanced at his Omega.

“Plus or minus ten minutes.”

They left their own marks in the dust-coated perspex, smooth soled above rippled.

“Doesn’t get much business.”

“Not popular Ukko, no hero worship like back when. Everyone thought they were something else, role models, supermen.”

“Seems to me the whole Moon thing’s a dead end. The view is okay but Io, now there’s a view. Or Titan. But this?”

“First steps, that’s all. No real significance or meaning. Just flag waving. No one cares, I doubt if anyone ever really did.”

 

Mike sneered, poking one finger through Akka’s visor.

“Just get a load of long hair, I don’t see your bio in Wikipedia.”

“Well it’s not like anyone did much afterwards. Six Apollos, a few others later then on to Mars. Can’t compete with that.”

“But this was first. Hell Buzz, being first matters.”

“You’re telling me.”

 

Akka tapped the plaque.

“Typical late 1960’s neurotic military alpha males. Take Aldrin. Hairy chested fighter jock on the outside, fragile as glass inside.”

“So?”

“He was the second one out and couldn’t handle it, spent his whole life trying to soothe his fractured ego. Always in the shadows, always justifying why, a complete social misfit who could only talk about orbital rendezvous techniques.”

“Poor guy.”

“You kidding me? Never good enough to lead a mission, never man enough to admit it.”

 

“Hear this, Mike? Fifty years no one’s been here and now I get Mr. Never-Has-Been. A few missions over Korea and we’ll see who’s man enough.”

“Don’t let it get to you, Buzz. It’s the way things go, always paying out on what they don’t know.”

“I’d like to pop back for one second and straighten him out.”

Neil wrapped one arm around Buzz’s shoulders, led him back to the edge of the perspex.

“Everyone forgets, believes their own lies. If I had my way the ladder would’ve been twice as wide, we’d have gone down together. But you remember what those Grumman designers were like.”

“I know, I know. At least I got here, better than Haise in ’13.”

 

Ukko stood gazing at the horizon.

“Was it worth it?”

Akka looked over Ukko’s shoulder.

“All those billions to satisfy a dead politician’s boast, bring back some rocks? I don’t think so.”

“How long after did we get the Drive?”

“A hundred years. Could’ve saved so much if they’d just waited. But that’s ancient Americans for you.”

“How’s that?”

“Act now, think later, no patience. All ego, showmanship, each one believing they’re the best regardless. A country of narcissistic prima donnas.”

“Surely not all of them. What about their leader?”

“Armstrong? The worst. Aloof, snappy, autocratic, didn’t talk to anyone about anything. Classic superiority complex. But that’s not the worst.”

“What is?”

“He used his position to be first. It should’ve been Aldrin.”

 

A single ripple soled boot briefly popped into existence sending Akka skidding face first into the regolith.

“That’s one small boot for man, one giant pratfall for mankind.”

Neil turned, walked away.

“I’m going over to Descartes, see what Charlie’s up to.”

Mike set off after Neil. Buzz watched Akka shakily pick himself up, then hurried after them.

“Hey Mike, he screwed the pooch again.”

“What?”

“Neil. He left out the ‘a’ again.”

“I did not, Buzz. You just heard wrong.”

“You never got it right did you?”

“Well at least they remember what I said. Who remembers ‘Get your ass to Mars?’ ...”

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About the Author

Ishmael A Soledad

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

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

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

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

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AntiSF & The ASFF

AntipodeanSF supports the ASFF

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Please visit the ASFF website and consider joining for up-to-date info about Australian SF cons, awards, competitions, and to receive the Foundation's newsletter, Instrumentality, and more.

<https://asff.org.au>

The AntipodeanSF Radio Show

AntiSF's Production Crew

nuke conflux 2017 200Ion Newcombe is the editor and publisher of AntipodeanSF, Australia’s longest running online speculative fiction magazine, regularly issued since January 1998, and conceived back around November 2007. He has been a zealous reader and occasional writer of SF since his childhood in the 1960s, and even sold a few stories here and there back in the '90s.

“Nuke”, who it turns out loves editing more than writing, lives in the New South Wales North Coast holiday destination of Nambucca Heads, where he is self-employed in IT training, computer support, desktop publishing, editing, writing, and website implementation. He is also the resident tech-head, skeptic, and board member of community radio station 2NVR, where he produces a number of shows including The AntipodeanSF Radio Show.

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mark web 200Mark Webb's midlife crisis came in the form of attempting to write speculative fiction at a very slow pace. His wife maintains this is a good outcome considering the more expensive and cliched alternatives. Evidence of Mark's attempts to procrastinate in his writing, including general musings and reviews of books he has been reading, can be found at www.markwebb.name.

One of Mark’s very best forms of writing procrastination is to produce the eBook series for AntipodeanSF, which he has been doing since issue 175.

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In The Next Issue...

Coming In Issue 264

Anna's Mother
by Vicky Chapman

Antitheosis
By Marcus Rockstrom

Human Cruelty
By Steve Bellavia

Jesus the Man
By Eugene Samolin

Morpheus Rising
By Kevin J. Phyland

Myopia
By Malena Salazar Maciá - Translated by Toshiya Kamei

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

Rubicon
By N.M. Cunningham

Shedding
By Deborah Sheldon

Single Journey - Multiple Travellers
By Ed Errington

The Circle of Gods
By Botond Teklesz

The Last Message
By Zac Gilfridus

The Contributors

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

Find Roger at: <https://rogerley.co.uk>.

Roger’s Amazon author page: <https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B01KOVZFHM>.

His YouTube playlist: <https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLHDmc8dxD57cPaMnsYfuJhQIirRohnaWY>.

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

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

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

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

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George Nikolopoulos is a speculative fiction writer from Athens, Greece, and a member of Codex Writers' Group. His short stories have been published in Galaxy's Edge, Daily Science Fiction, Factor Four, Grievous Angel, Helios Quarterly Magazine, Unsung Stories, Best Vegan SFF, The Year's Best Military & Adventure SF, Bards & Sages Quarterly, Havok, SF Comet, Mad Scientist Journal, Truancy, Digital Fiction QuickFic, The Centropic Oracle, StarShipSofa, 600 Second Saga, Antipodean SF, Manawaker Studio's FFP, Fifty Flashes, 9Tales from Elsewhere, Event Horizon 2017, and many other magazines and anthologies.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Too many pieces of the puzzle missing.

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Wesley Parish is an SF fan from early childhood. Born in PNG, he enjoys reading about humans in strange cultures and circumstances; his favourite SF authors include Ursula Le Guin, Fritz Lieber, Phillip K. Dick, J.G. Ballard and Frank Herbert. He lives in Christchurch, NZ, is an unemployed Java and C programmer, and has recently decided to become a mad ukuleleist, flautist and trombonist, and would love to revert to being the mad fiddler and pedal steel guitarist..  "Where oh where has my little pedal steel got to ... ?"

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david-scholesDave has written over 250 speculative fiction short stories. Some of these are included in his nine collections of short stories (all on Amazon). He has also published two science fiction novellas and been published on a range of speculative fiction sites. Including: Antipodean SF, Beam Me Up Pod Cast, Farther Stars Than These, 365 Tomorrows, Bewildering Stories, the WiFiles and the former Golden Visions magazine. His latest work “Contingency Nine and Other Science Fiction Stories” was published in October 2019 and he is currently working on another collection of science fiction short stories as yet unnamed.

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Shaun Saunders lives at the beachside suburb of Merewether, in Newcastle, NSW. He particularly enjoys Asimov's Foundation universe, and stories from the 'golden age' of SF. He is a regular contributor to AntipodeanSF, and winner of 2003 & 2004 AntiSF awards, and the inaugural 2005 SFSSC. His novel Mallcity 14 has been favourably compared with both 1984 and Brave New World.

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AntipodeanSF August 2020

ISSUE 263

Speculative Fiction
Downside-Up
ISSN 1442-0686

Online Since Feb 1998

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AntiSF's Narration Team

geraldine borella 200Geraldine Borella writes adult short stories and stories for children and has been published in anthologies for both. In 2018, one of her children’s short stories placed second in The Buzz Words Short Story Prize and she won an ASA Emerging Writer’s Mentorship. She currently works part-time as a hospital pharmacist and as an online creative writing tutor.

She’s fascinated by stories that expand upon today’s technology, addressing the moral and ethical issues that might arise. Equally, she enjoys the creative freedom that writing for children allows. Right now, she’s writing a young adult novel, reworking a middle grade novel and writing adult short stories when inspiration strikes. She lives with her husband, Tim, in Yungaburra, Far North Queensland and dreams of one day taking a European gap year.

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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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mark english 100Mark is an astrophysicist and space scientist who worked on the Cassini/Huygens mission to Saturn. Following this he worked in computer consultancy, engineering, and high energy research (with a stint at the JET Fusion Torus).

All this science hasn't damped his love of fantasy and science fiction. It has, however, ruined his enjoyment of rainbows, colourful flames on romantic log fires, and rings around the moon. He has previously been published in Stupefying Stories Showcase, Everyday Fiction, Escape Pod, Perihelion and also on AntipodeanSF where he is part of the narration team.

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carolyn eccles 100

Carolyn's work spans devising, performance, theatre-in-education and a collaborative visual art practice.

She tours children's works to schools nationally with School Performance Tours, is a member of the Bathurst physical theatre ensemble Lingua Franca and one half of darkroom — a visual arts practice with videographer Sean O'Keeffe.

(Photo by Jeremy Belinfante) 

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marg essex 200Margaret lives the good life on a small piece of rural New South Wales Australia, with an amazing man, a couple of pets, and several rambunctious wombats.

She feels so lucky to be a part of the AntiSF team.

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ed erringtonAlthough a writer of the baby boom persuasion, Ed has not boomed for quite a while.

He lives with his wife plus a menagerie of non-domesticated — native Australian animals intropical North Queensland.

His writing within the ‘real’ science fiction context of COVID-19 is intermingled by long night sky vigils — searching for pesky aliens intent on maintaining their social distance to the nth degree.

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timonthy gwyn 100Timothy Gwyn is a professional pilot in Canada, where he flies to remote communities. During a lull in his flying career, he was a radio announcer for three years, and he is also an author.

In addition to short stories at AntipodeanSF and NewMyths.com, his SF novel is available internationally in print and ebook formats. "Avians" draws on his love of alternative aviation to tell the tale of a girl who runs away from home to join a cadre of glider pilots on a world without metal or fossil fuels.

On Twitter, he is @timothygwyn, and his blogs are at <timothygwyn.com>.

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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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lauriebell 2 200Laurie Bell lives in Melbourne, Australia. She was that girl you found with her nose always buried in a book. She has been writing ever since she was a little girl and first picked up a pen. From books to short stories, radio plays to snippets of ideas and reading them aloud to anyone who will listen.

She is the author of The Butterfly Stone (YA/ Fantasy — available now) and White Fire (Sci Fi — available now)

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

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pixie willo 100Pixie is a voice actor, cabaret performer & slam poet From the Blue Mountains in NSW.

She enjoys writing short fiction, plays for radio and stage as well as her own brand of weird poetry.

She hosts the 'Off-Beet Poetry Slam' held bi-monthly in Katoomba.

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The AntipodeanSF Radio Show

AntiSF Radio Show

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

The weekly program features the stories from recently published issues, usually narrated by the authors themselves.

Listen to the latest episode now:

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

You can find every broadcast episode online here: http://antisf.libsyn.com 

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Kurt Vonnegut Jr.

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