By Simon Petrie

sfgenreTommy lifted his head from the pillow. “You’re not really here,” he said to the pale apparition in the darkness at the foot of his bed.

“If you say so,” replied the unicorn, its voice deep and smooth. Tommy wasn’t sure its lips had moved when it spoke. It started to fade.

“Wait!” Tommy blurted out, urgency warring within him with confusion, with unease, with the need not to wake his parents and older brothers.

“What I meant was — if you weren’t really here, you wouldn’t be able to say ‘If you say so’.”

“If you say so,” replied the unicorn, perhaps slightly less faded than it had been. There was a strong smell of — well, Tommy supposed, of horse — in his room, mixed with something else. Electricity?

Perhaps that was just the way unicorns always smelled. Tommy wouldn’t know. “Do you ever say anything except ‘If you say so’?”

The unicorn chose not to reply, merely stared at Tommy. Its coat looked wonderfully white and glossy. Its teeth, visible through the thin gap between its lips, were pearly white, blunt, big. Straight-edged. Its horn, a faintly-glowing silver spire protruding from its forehead, was slender and unbelievably sharp. Its eyes… Tommy met its eyes briefly, and looked away. But he could tell the unicorn was still staring at him.

“Is this about … the shoe?” Tommy asked at length, heart pounding.

“If you say so,” replied the unicorn.

“Would you …” Tommy felt the intensity of the unicorn’s stare, its warm, unhurried, electricity-and-horse breath, the size of it looming at the foot of his bed. “Would you like it back?”

“If you say so,” replied the unicorn.

Tommy sat further upright, turned aside to rummage through his bedside cupboard. He found the shoe, filigreed and silvery — he’d thought at first it was plated plastic, but it was both too heavy and too intricate for that — under his catapult, and next to a library book he hadn’t got round to returning.

It hadn’t been him who’d found the shoe — it’d been six-year-old Aggie, nextdoor — but, well, Tommy was bigger than Aggie, and good with his fists. But the unicorn didn’t need to know all that.

He lifted up the shoe, the ornate silver loop of it, and before he knew what was happening the unicorn had leaned forward, peeled its lips back, and plucked the shoe from Tommy’s hand with its teeth. It was a wonder he hadn’t been scratched by the horn during the manoeuvre, or bitten.

The unicorn tossed its head, the shoe spun through the air and landed fair-square on the sole of its rear hoof, which was tucked under and around as if just in position to catch it. Tommy was impressed, even if he did feel mildly cheated at the speed with which the transaction had occurred.

He realised that, come morning, he was almost certain to recollect all this, if at all, merely as a dream. And unicorns didn’t happen every day. “Won’t you give me something to remember you by?” he asked. “Something to show my friends?”

“If you say so,” replied the unicorn, bowing its head and stabbing him deeply in the sole of his foot before vanishing.


Nextdoor, the unicorn dropped its shoe near a six-year-old’s bike, where she'd be sure to find it in the morning. Perhaps she’d manage to take better care of it this time.


“You didn’t get that stepping on a Lego,” Tommy’s mother said, applying an antiseptic-soaked dressing to the underside of his foot.

Tommy, wincing and whimpering with pain, refused to say any different.

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About The Author

Simon Petrie

simon petrie 200Simon Petrie is a NZ-born, Canberra-based research scientist and short story writer whose first spec-fic story acceptance, over a decade ago, was from AntipodeanSF. Since then he's had over a hundred stories published; he's also worked as an editor and typesetter for Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine, the Canberra Speculative Fiction Guild, and Peggy Bright Books, and has inexplicably picked up three Sir Julius Vogel Awards (two for Best Novella) alongside a few other nominations on both sides of the Tasman. A representative selection of his stories can be found in his new collection 80,000 Totally Secure Passwords That No Hacker Would Ever Guess, which is available in various places.


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AntiSF & 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.


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.


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

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 245

Coffee With God
by Col Hellmuth

Crossing Mercury
by Kevin J. Phyland

Hugh's Friend
by Mark Towse

by Natalie JE Potts

Much Needed Boost
by David Scholes

Painting The Future
by Robin Hillard

The Final Squeeze
by Zena Shapter

The Fire
by Chris Gladstone

The Prince Scamp — His Wrath
by Wes Parish

by Roger Ley

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(Rob Hood)

AntipodeanSF November 2018


Speculative Fiction
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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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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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 <>

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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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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 <> or Twitter: <@LaurienotLori>

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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 <>

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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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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, 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 <>.

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SF News

Upcoming Cons

Supanova Adelaide 02/11/2018 till 04/11/2018, Adelaide Showground, John Barrowman & a calvacade of others. <>

Supanova Brisbane 09/11/2018 till 04/11/2018, John Barrowman & a calvacade of others. <>.

Monsterfest Horror Movie Festival 22-25 November, Cinema Nova Melbourne <>.

INDIE COMIC CON 2018 8 Dec Northcote Town Hall, Melbourne Free event. <>.

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: <>.

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 <>. AntipodeanSF will be at Continuum 15 and celebrating Issue 250 of AntiSF!

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: <>.

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.

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SF Quote

The advance of civilization is nothing but an exercise in the limiting of privacy.

Isaac Asimov, Foundation's Edge