Space Train

By Laurie Bell

sfgenreThrough the endless expanse of space a train is traveling. That’s what the humans call it—the Space Train. It’s not a train per se, there are no tracks to guide its way, nevertheless it does have a trainlike look. Each carriage is connected to the previous one via a rubber tube that carries the essentials: air, water, electricity. Beneath each carriage lies the interconnected propulsion system, pulsing with energy in five-second bursts. The train has no stops. Carriages join and depart as it passes populated systems, the tail growing and shrinking over time. The engine room of the train—the head, so to speak—is automated. No driver, no conductor.

I was born on the train. Carriage 172 is my home. I attend school on carriage 60. There are 90 students in my age group. It may seem like a lot but it’s not... not when you think of how many there should have been. Eight years ago, an explosion took out dining carriages 15 through 40. I lost my parents, others lost their children. We never found out what caused the explosion. Not officially. We all have our theories. Gossip flies throughout the train faster than lightspeed. The funeral carriages ran mourning sessions every night for days. The damaged carriages were ejected from the train moments after the rumble shook the rest of us to prevent the fire spreading through the train.

Life continued. The orphans were adopted by families who had the space to share. I joined a couple who were unable to conceive. They’re nice, but they’re not my parents. I have several close friends in The Ninety. That’s what the parents call us—The Ninety. They think it’s rather clever. I think it is lame. So does Trina and Lem—my best friends. We are like one entity and I’m the brain. Right now, we’re racing to the rear carriage. News had trickled up this morning that a new carriage was to join us. Last month we had a ballet troupe. The month before was a circus. Hopefully today it will be an animal nursery. I want a kitty. Lem says they’re lame and thinks it would be more awesome to get a pup. Trin wants a bird. Ugh... why a bird? I was in the lead as always. “Come on. If we’re late we’ll miss the best ones.”

“They haven’t docked yet,” Lem said, his voice tight and thin. He needed his asthma puffer. We were going to be late, but he’s my best friend so I slowed my jumping steps (lower atmosphere in the carriage linking tubes made travelling through them so much fun but it was super hard to stop once you got moving.)

“Why are we stopping?” Trina moaned. She bounced up and down in place, pushing off the rubber ceiling and bobbing off the floor.

Lem puffed once and then again and coughed.

“You good?” I asked him. He nodded. “Right, rest stop over.” I launched from the floor, twisted longways and kicked off the roof spinning like a screw through open space. I grabbed hold of the interlock door and pressed the cycle. We landed on our feet as the bubble of gravity grabbed us and sucked us into carriage 567. We crowded around the porthole windows with the rest of The Ninety. “Do we know yet?” I demanded. My classmates ignored me. I scrunched my shoulders and poked my elbows out to create a space. With Lem close behind me and Trina at the back we shoved our way through the crowd to the front.

The rear carriage’s thick docking door gave a squeal and rumbled as it turned.

An electronic eye blinked at me and a squat round body with six wheels rolled down the ramp. Oooooooo. Robots. Two more followed the first but my gaze was glued to that single blinking white LED eye.

“I think it likes you,” Trina whispered.

I crept forward with my hand out (like the e-readers said to approach a wild animal—they actually said NOT to approach wild animals but whatever.) It wasn’t a kitty, but it might be just as good. All vision of what was happening around me fell away as my whole attention fixed on the robot. A small arm swung out from its belly.

“We haven’t seen a robot carriage in years,” came a voice from the crowd. Everyone was pushing to get to the front.

“Eight years I think,” said another.

I blocked them all out. The robot tilted its head and bobbed at me.

“Sweet,” Lem huffed. “Lucky you.”

When the robot brushed its arm against my face I grinned. “Do you want to come home with me?” I whispered. Its eye lit up and it bleeped.

“Awwww,” Trina said.

And that was how I met Robby. 

Robby came with me everywhere. Front carriages, home carriage, school carriage, dining carriage. Everywhere.

It even followed me to the Engine. We weren’t supposed to come here. I left Lem and Trina at home because it was forbidden and I didn’t want them to get in trouble if I was caught. Robby stole the codes to open the door. My heart was racing when the door popped open. A giant woman stood up. “What are you doing?”

A driver! They said there was no driver but here was proof. A driver! I turned to Robby grinning madly. This is the BEST gossip ever. Robby rolled forward pushing the startled driver aside. “Robby, what are you doing?” Robby’s eye was shining red. His lights flashed. “Robby?”

“Apologies friend. It is my mission,” Robby said. The door swung shut in my face. I heard a scream. The floor rumbled and I recognized that sound. It was the sound that came from the dining carriages eight years ago.

Oh no. What have I done?

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About the Author

Laurie Bell

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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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.

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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:

Kindle version:

AntiSF's Narration Team

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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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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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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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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sarah pratt 200Sarah Pratt is an avid fiction writer and a Marketing Consultant.

She is currently working on her first novel but loves diving into short stories to bring a little lightness, intrigue or humour to the day.

Her work has appeared in Sponge Magazine and The Commuting Book.

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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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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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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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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

Politicians should read science fiction, not westerns and detective stories.

Isaac Asimov

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