Sparks

By Martin Livings

sfgenreMarie Kondo, author of Spark Joy
c/o Ebury Publishing
Penguin Books
80 Strand
London WC2R 0RL

Dear Ms Kondo,

I’m hand writing you this letter on the advice of my guidance counsellor, who has assured me that contacting you in this way will do me a world of good. Of course, I’ve listened to well-meaning advice like this before in the past, and it’s resulted in me ending up in my current circumstances, so I’m understandably dubious about this, but nonetheless, I wouldn’t want to disappoint her, so here we go.

I recently found your book, Spark Joy, in amongst a pile of self-help books in my wife’s study. It immediately caught my eye, because, as coincidence would have it, my wife’s name is also Joy. So, despite being in no real mood for reading, I found myself picking the book up and flicking through it. And the more I read, the more sense it made to me. The central premise was simple but evocative — keep only that which sparks joy.

Steely resolve replaced the listless apathy I’d been feeling for some days beforehand, and I set my mind to tidying my admittedly fairly uncluttered life even further.

First it was the books. I’ve seen that you suggest that one should stick to a carefully curated collection of under thirty books. This wasn’t a huge problem for me, as I’ve never been a huge reader, but going through my wife’s collection of trashy paperback thrillers by such geniuses as James Patterson and Kathy Reichs was a liberating experience. In the end, I took five crates of books to the Good Samaritans, and I kept a carefully curated collection of exactly one book. Yours.

(Side note — I tell a lie. I added another book to it later on. But sorry, I’m getting ahead of myself.)

Next it was CDs and DVDs. Yes, I admit, we’re pre-digital dinosaurs, preferring our music and movies on an actual physical medium rather than some nebulous computer cloud somewhere on the Internet. And so we’d accumulated a sizable library of disks over the years that I went through, one by one. Every CD and DVD had a story behind it, a memory. Some had belonged to us before we were married, before we’d even met, and others we’d bought together, our tastes merging into one homogenous blancmange of mediocrity. Looking at it, at every single disk that we’d gathered unto us like dull satellites orbiting our lives, I realised how vacuous and pointless they all were. No fond memories. No joy. Again, every single one was boxed up and taken to the Samaritans. And, with each disk gone, I felt that much lighter, that much more free.

You’re absolutely right, Ms Kondo. Or can I call you Marie? Either way, you’re absolutely right. Our material possessions are what tether us to the ground, like balloons yearning to be released, dreaming of the open skies. The things you own end up owning you, as Tyler Durden pointed out on one of the DVDs I’d disposed of. Ironic.

Now, my guidance counsellor says that this ecstatic feeling is unhealthy, that addiction to decluttering is just as damaging as addiction to hoarding in the first place. But I can’t understand that. How can something that feels so good possibly be bad for me? No, she’s just jealous. She doesn’t know what she’s talking about. But you do, don’t you? You do.

There was so much more clutter in our house. Firstly, clothes. Does anybody need so many clothes? I kept some jeans and shirts, some underpants and socks, a single pair of shoes. The rest went in boxes for the op shop if good enough, or the bin if not. The same with my wife’s clothes, I gathered everything from the wardrobes and drawers and cupboards and everywhere else she’d secreted her fashion caches around the house. I even found her wedding dress, in a suitcase on top of the wardrobe, wrapped in plastic and worn only once. It all went.

It was not enough. It was nowhere near enough. Our bins were now overflowing, so I ordered a skip from the local council to continue the tidying process. Furniture was next; couches, tables, chairs, beds, everything was surplus to our needs. It all went in the skip. Electrical appliances joined them, kettles and microwave ovens and televisions and PlayStations and mobile phones. We didn’t need them, and, more importantly, they didn’t spark joy.

I think in hindsight that perhaps this was my problem, why I might have gone a bit too far. Nothing really sparked joy, you see. So nothing is exactly what I kept. Nothing at all. My counsellor uses words like “depression” and “obsession”, but really, all I was doing was tidying. Is that so wrong?

Light bulbs. Light bulbs didn’t spark joy. Nor did the carpets and floorboards. I ripped them all out and threw them in the skip, followed by every photo, every album, every keepsake and knickknack. My neighbours were giving me strange looks by this stage, but I ignored them. They didn’t spark joy.

Eventually, I had tidied everything that could be tidied. The house was a shell, nothing more, with me rattling around inside it like a ball bearing in a tin can.

And it still

Wasn’t

Enough.

I don’t think you truly understand what your book can do to people, Marie. What your ethos, taken to its extreme, can produce. I realised this, as I sat in the dark in my empty house, not reading or watching or listening or anything at all. Just being. It brought a strange kind of clarity, a higher level of mindfulness which I never imagined possible. I wondered if that’s what monks experience in their tiny cells, or hermits in their caves, unburdened by things and stuff. I wondered if this was madness, or epiphany.

I wondered if there was any difference.

I soon realised that there was still one thing left in my house, still one possession left unculled. And, looking at that possession, I quickly determined that, no, it did not spark joy.

Myself.

I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking that I killed myself. But, then again, if I had killed myself, how could I be writing this letter? Unless I’m writing this from beyond the grave. Ooh, spooky. But no, I’m not dead, far from it. So no, I didn’t kill myself. But, I will confess, I planned to. Suicide? Hardly. In my mind, it was simply more tidying. Removing the detritus. It seemed perfectly logical.

Then I hesitated. There was another item in my life that I hadn’t considered, one that I realised I needed to deal with before that final step. Obviously, since I could hardly do it afterwards.

Unfortunately, that involved re-cluttering my life somewhat. It hurt to do so, and I do mean hurt, almost physically in fact, adding things to the minimalist perfection that my world had become. But I went and bought a book from a dodgy little second-hand book shop, one that didn’t ask too many questions, and also a kerosene lamp to see by, and some electrical wire and adaptors, a cheap mobile phone and SIM, and a large roll of chicken wire. Then I sat and read, studied the book cover to cover, until I was absolutely clear on what I needed to do. I worked hard for two days straight, just making sure everything was perfect.

Then I called Joy.

Oh, I forgot to mention that Joy left me. She told me she didn’t love me anymore, that I wasn’t the man she had married. I asked her who I was in that case, but she didn’t have an answer to that. She said she’d met someone else, someone who gave her what she needed. I asked her what that was.

She said, ‘a spark.’

I had no answer to that, no words, and she had left, packing a small suitcase and promising to return for the rest of her things when she was able. After a week without her, without a word, without a phone call, without her answering her mobile, I realised that she might not be able to return for some time. I realised it was over.

That’s when I found the book, your book, and my life changed forever. And hers too.

She answered her mobile when I called from the new phone, since she had no idea who it was who was calling her. She nearly hung up, but I begged her not to, begged her to come over and talk. She agreed, reluctantly, said she’d be over that evening. I thanked her and ended the call.

With nothing else to do, I simply sat and waited. After smashing the cheap mobile phone and throwing it away, of course. I sat with my back against the wall of my living room, opposite the front door, the kerosene lamp burning by my side. It wouldn’t be long now.

Around seven in the evening, I heard a key in the front door lock. I smiled and waited as the door unlocked and opened. It was dark in the room except for my lamp, and dark outside, so I could only make out shadows as Joy entered the room. My heart skipped a beat at the sight of her, then skipped another when I realised she wasn’t alone. She was with Daniel, the senior accountant at her office, the man she’d left me for. The man who gave her a spark.

That thought made the corner of my mouth twitch with a rather complicated emotion. Amusement? Resentment? A bit of both? I wasn’t sure.

She called my name, her tone of voice half-way between concerned and annoyed. I heard the light switches flicking on and off on the wall next to the front door, but of course there were no light bulbs in the house anymore. She said my name again, and I savoured it, held onto it for as long as I dared, as the two of them stepped into the room.

Stepped onto the chicken wire I’d covered the entire floor of the room with. The chicken wire I’d hooked up to the electrical socket by my side, according to the detailed instructions in the book I’d bought, Urban Snares and Booby Traps for Dummies. I mean, it’s not as good as your book, of course, but beggars can’t be choosers.

I smiled and reached out, my finger resting excitedly on the switch. Soon it would be over, over for all of us. I was on the chicken wire too, you see. I’d be rid of the last items in my life that needed to be tidied.

But before that, just for a split second, just once, I would spark Joy.

If this was a short story by some hack horror writer, that would have been the finale. The ironic death of all three players in this sordid little melodrama, the circle of justice completed. The End. But this is no short story, and in the real world, things rarely work out as we plan, don’t you find?

I flicked the switch, and…

Nothing. Nothing at all.

Furiously, I flicked it back and forth, again and again. But there was no reaction. No spark, just as Joy had told me. Meanwhile, Daniel had noticed the chicken wire on the floor, seen me toggling the power switch by kerosene lamplight, and, like any good accountant, had managed to add two and two together. He took three long strides towards me, drew his fist back, and clocked me with a roundhouse.

Finally, I saw sparks. Somehow that made me happy, as I fell into blissful unconsciousness.

I woke up in police custody. The evidence had all been scattered around me when they’d arrived, called by a furious Joy. They also found that all the safety switches in our fuse box had tripped, presumably at the exact moment I’d flicked the power switch in the living room.

Urban Snares and Booby Traps for Dummies wasn’t a very good book, obviously. Definitely not as good as yours, Marie.

I was charged with two counts of attempted murder, and multiple counts of robbery and vandalism. I pleaded guilty to all charges, so there was no trial, no dramatic jury, no gavel beating judge demanding order. In hindsight, I almost wish there had been; it would have been entertaining, at least. A swift and uncontested divorce from Joy had also occurred in the interim. I could hardly say no, though you’d think that getting a chance to play a part in a crime thriller like the ones she liked to read might have earned me at least a few Brownie points. Apparently not.

They sent me to prison. And here I remain.

Now, you might think I blame you for this, Marie, that I hold you responsible, and you’d be right, but not in the way you imagine. In fact, I’m eternally grateful to you. Without you and your book, I could never have tidied my life in the way I have. Today I reside in a small grey room with only the bare necessities. A bed, a toilet, a sink. They even offered me a television, but I declined. I get three meals a day, three flavourless basic meals. I exercise a little when I can.

My life is as tidy as can be, and I couldn’t be happier. The only thing that concerns me now is what will happen in ten years when I get out. There’s no way that my life outside of prison can be as ordered, as tidy, as joyous as my life inside. But then my guidance counsellor in here gave me this opportunity to write to you, to get this all off my chest, as if somehow by articulating what had happened, I would realise how wrong I’d been and how I should return to being a responsible member of society.

No. Society is untidy and joyless, and I want no part of it.

Writing this letter has definitely given me an opportunity, though, and one I will not squander. As I write, I can hear my counsellor coming down the hall, supposedly to collect this missive and post it to you, though I know that they’ll just file it away in the prison’s records, never to be seen again except at parole hearings. So I know you’ll never actually read these words, but it’s been lovely setting them down nonetheless. It’s reminded me of what’s important. Of what I have to do.

When she comes to collect the letter, I’m going to drive this pen into her eye as hard and deep as I can. Assault, attempted murder, perhaps even first-degree murder if I’m lucky. This letter, instead of going ignored, will prove unequivocally that the crime was premeditated. That should add a goodly stretch to my sentence.

And that, my dearest friend Ms Kondo, that will spark joy.

Kindest regards,
[redacted]
Long Bay Correctional Complex
PO Box 13
MATRAVILLE NSW 2036

rocket crux 2 75

About The Author

Martin Livings

martin livings 100Perth-based writer Martin Livings has had over eighty short stories in a variety of magazines and anthologies. His first novel, Carnies, was published by Hachette Livre in 2006, and was nominated for both the Aurealis and Ditmar awards, and has since been republished by Cohesion Press. <http://www.martinlivings.com>.

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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.

<http://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 251

A Prayer To Saint Bibiana
by Tim Borella

A Quizzical Occurrene
by Malina Douglas

Addicted
by Shane Griffin

Five Years
by Mark Towse

Marriages Are Made In Heaven
by Russell Kightley

Possession
by Kevin J. Phyland

Skyfire
by Laurie Bell

The Biggest News In History
by Anderson Fonseca

The Horn Of Amalthea
by George Nikolopoulos

The Perfect Balance
by Zebuline Carter

The Contributors

mconlyMichael Connolly lives in Bowraville NSW, Australia. He has worked as an art teacher, music teacher, printer and illustrator among other things (such as chicken de-beaker), and has a keen interest in science-fiction and the natural sciences. He has illustrated for the magazine Tabula Rasa, which specialises in the horror genre, and is a regular contributor to AntipodeanSF.

consig

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laura goodin 200American-born author Laura E. Goodin's novels are published by Odyssey Boooks; her stories have appeared in numerous print and on-line publications; and her scripts, libretti, and poetry have been performed internationally. She has a PhD in creative writing from the University of Western Australia, and attended the 2007 Clarion South workshop. She lives in Melbourne with her husband, composer Houston Dunleavy, and divides what little spare time she has between trying to be as much like Xena, Warrior Princess as possible and ringing tower bells.

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lee battersby 200Lee Battersby is the author of 2 novels for adults and one for children.

He lives in country Western Australia and can't get out.

He occasionally turns up at: <leebattersby.com>.

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simon brown 200Simon Brown has been writing for nearly fifty years. His novels and short stories have been published in Australia, the US, Russia, Japan, Poland and the UK.

He currently lives in Johannesburg, South Africa, but his true home is on the south coast of New South Wales, where he will return one day and never move again.

His website, Strange Borders, can be found at <https://simonbrown.co/>.

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andy mcgee bioAs a sixties’ hippy and more recently an exploration geophysicist, I have travelled the globe for work and pleasure.

My many weird, funny, poignant, educational experiences have led me to writing various short stories and three novels to date. Spreading the word of basic science and energy issues is my current aim, all done with a sense of fun and overall optimism.

I have a view that we should try to unite on solutions rather than forever bickering over options. Basic science is often neglected as battle lines are drawn up. You can check out my blog ‘Science Kept Simple’ at <mcgee.id.au>.

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jason nahrung 200Jason Nahrung is a Ballarat-based journalist, editor and writer.

He is the author of four novels and more than 20 short stories, all within the speculative fiction field.

In 2019 he completed a PhD in creative writing from The University of Queensland in the field of climate fiction. <www.jasonnahrung.com>.

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Trent Jamieson is the Brisbane based author of the Death Works series, the Nightbound Land Duology, and the multi-award winning novel Day Boy.

He is currently finishing a host of new projects, and starting on the greatest adventure of all: fatherhood.

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cat sparks 200Cat Sparks is a multi-award-winning Australian author, editor and artist.

Fiction editor of Cosmos Magazine from 2010-2016, she’s also been a media monitor, political and archaeological photographer, graphic designer and manager of Agog! Press, which produced ten anthologies of new speculative fiction from 2002-2008.

Cat directed two speculative fiction festivals for Writing NSW and is a regular panellist and speaker at speculative fiction literary events.

Her collection, The Bride Price was published in 2013 and her debut novel, Lotus Blue was published in 2017.

She has published 70 short stories and multiple articles since 2000 and her 22 awards include the Peter McNamara Conveners Award for services to Australia’s speculative fiction industry. She recently completed a PhD in creative writing through Curtin University.

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kris ashton 200Kris Ashton is an Australian author, travel writer and motoring journalist. He has published three novels and nearly forty short stories, mostly speculative fiction. He lives in the wilds of south-western Sydney with his wife, two children, and a slightly mad boxer dog.

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louise zedda sampson 200 2Louise Zedda-Sampson is a freelance writer and editor from Melbourne, Australia. She copywrites and writes short stories, flash fiction and non-fiction articles. Her fiction has appeared in anthologies and student publications and her non-fiction in journals and magazines.

Louise has a Diploma of Professional Writing and Editing and updates her skills regularly through industry courses and seminars. She edits a broad range of fiction and non-fiction and specialises in structural editing for both novice and experienced authors.

Louise also runs writers’ retreats in the tranquil settings of the Dandenong Ranges.

Visit Louise at <www.novelsolutions.com.au>.aus25grn

col hellmuthCol Hellmuth lives off grid in the Daintree rainforest.

His day jobs over the years have included electrician, kayak expedition tour guide, service station attendant, traffic controller and chicken catcher.

When he is not enslaved at work he is usually found bumming around his local beach dodging crocs in his kayak or jamming on the blues harp with his fellow band mates, the Cow Bay "Excruders."

He has previously had his stories published in issues 239 and 245 of AntipodeanSF.

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Ishmael A Soledad has read and watched science fiction since before he went to school and thought it was time to give back instead of just taking. In between writing, working and reading he likes to daydream he's a rock star and annoy the neighbours with his guitar collection. He lives in Brisbane, Australia ('cause that's where the money and packed sandwiches ran out) with his long-suffering wife and psychotic cat.

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Tony Steven Williams was born in Penzance, Cornwall, UK (that’s right, the one with the pirates!). He eventually saw the light and became an antipodean, emigrating to Adelaide in the last millennium. Tony and his artist wife now live in Canberra. He is a short-fiction writer, poet and occasional songwriter/performer with work published in anthologies, newspapers, print and online magazines, and broadcast on the radio. He writes across the genres but has not yet settled down to any particular species; however, SF is a very frequent visitor. His poetry book Sun and Moon, Light and Dark was recently published by Ginninderra Press (2018). Tony is immensely proud to be represented in AntipodeanSF’s 250th issue, a truly remarkable achievement by Ion and all the contributors over 21 years.

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kim rose 200 2Kim Rose is a professional writer of romance and erotic fiction.

Long time lover of fantasy and sci fi.

Keen spokesperson for sex positive culture and breaking social stigmas.

For more information please check out these pages

<https://www.deviantart.com/kalikapsychosis>.

<https://www.instagram.com/kimrg6_6_6/>.

<https://www.facebook.com/Kimrg2/>.

<https://www.patreon.com/kimrg666>.

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eugenbaconEugen Bacon has sold many stories and articles, together with anthologies. Her stories have won, been shortlisted and commended in international awards, including the Bridport Prize, L. Ron Hubbard Writers of the Future Contest and Copyright Agency Prize. Literary speculative novel — Meerkat Press (2019). Creative nonfiction book — Macmillan (2019)

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kat pekin 200Kat Pekin is an emerging speculative fiction writer living and studying in the Western Suburbs of Brisbane. She recently completed a Bachelor’s Degree in Creative and Professional writing with QUT and is currently undertaking an honours degree in the same field. Her work has been published in numerous anthologies and her stories have won, placed, or received High Commended in local and Australia wide writing competitions.

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andrea teare 200Andrea Teare is an emerging writer from Sydney Australia. She writes Sci-Fi, Horror and Fantasy and has a number of short stories available in anthologies from Horrified Press and The Unfading Daydream.

She is currently working on her first novel.

More about Andrea can be found at her website, <www.andreateare.com.au>.

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Phill Berrie lives in Canberra with his extended family and is in the second half of his first century. He is the author of the Canberra-based urban fantasy story The Changeling Detective from US small press Hotspur Publishing and the high-fantasy tale Transgressions (available now as an ebook and hopefully coming soon in print form from Satalyte Publishing). He is a member the ACT Writers Centre and the Canberra Speculative Fiction Guild, where he was one of the editors for their most recent anthology, The Never Never Land. He is also a specialist editor of speculative fiction and works part-time at the Australian Science Teachers Association as their Digital Projects Officer.

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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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zena shapter 200Zena Shapter writes from a castle in a flying city hidden by a thundercloud. Author of 'Towards White' (IFWG 2017) and co-author of 'Into Tordon' (MidnightSun 2016), she’s won over a dozen national writing competitions — including the Australasian Horror Writers’ Association Prize, a Ditmar Award, and the Glen Miles Short Story Prize. Her short stories have appeared in 'Midnight Echo', Hugo-nominated 'Sci Phi 
Journal', ‘Antipodean SF’ and Award-Winning Australian Writing (twice). She’s a movie buff, traveller, diversity enthusiast, and story nerd. Find her online at <zenashapter.com>.

towards white zena shapter

Zeb writes:

Last week, on a whim I submitted some of my own musings to ‘Nuke’, and when I checked back today — my time in my ‘verse, which is plus six years comparative to you — I saw that he had published some of them! I wasn’t even sure the contrived email and attachment would get through, let alone end up published on your internet of things. (BTW — We have nothing quite like your ‘net, but we’ve gone far further into the solar system than you have. Figure that!) Now that I know a connection is possible, I thought I’d tell you a little more about myself and where I’m from. So, from the beginning…

Hi. My name is Zebuline Carter — that’s Zeb for my friends or Zeb-you-leen if you want to get formal — and I’m a forty-two year old former astronaut now working as an administrator at Farside, on Luna. Farside is a research base, where innerscopes are just starting to peel back layers of our sheath of the local multiverse. Because our work is so sensitive to em influences, Farside is situated within a one hundred klom diameter exclusion zone.

In my late teens I earned a double major in aerospace and business but passed over grad school for civilian astronaut training. As a kid I collected coupons from cereal boxes until I had enough for my first telescope, and built scale models of all the commercial shuttles and orbiters. Growing up, I’d always felt slightly out of place, like I was meant to to be somewhere else and part of me already was — until, that is, I had my first trip into low orbit aboard a high-riding intercont-cruiser, or ICC. That was a high-school graduation present from my Uncle Jim, and during the fifteen minutes of freefall I found that other part of myself, grabbed it tight, and never let go since.

Did I also mention I’m 180 cents tall with bobbed chestnut hair? Or that because of heart damage from a bad landing, I’m also marooned in low gravity? But heh, there are now six bases around Luna, supporting a permanent population of around twelve thousand Lunans, and a transient population of several thousand tourists and stopovers returning form the outer system, so it never gets boring and I don’t get lonely. And living in low G means I won’t age or sag as fast, either.

Until next time —

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ed-erringtonFollowing two decades of working in the area of scenario-based learning (particularly speculative scenarios) within the university sector, Ed maintains an interest in Futurology. That is, evidence-based suppositions and theories about potential trajectories of humanity, science, technology and civilisation into potential futures. 

‘Download 505’ was inspired by a range of BBC articles on the advent of weaponised clones in military arsenals and their potential impact on humankind.

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Shane is an ageing scientist, cricket fanatic and long term indie writer. He lives in Australia at the foot of the Blue Mountains with one phone obsessed teenager. He has completed many short works, several novella's and one novel. Shane also now publishes via his own independent publishing label —Poupichou Press via Smashwords.

His other works can be found here;

<https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/drgriffo13>

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ed-harveyPretty much a life-long fan of speculative fiction, Edwina Harvey is a writer, editor, silk painter and ceramic artist.

Her short stories and articles have appeared in a variety of publications including Aurealis, Antipodean SF, Grass Roots, Harbinger, Magpies, Strange Pleasures #3 and Worlds Next Door.

She has had three books, The Whale’s Tale, The Back of the Back of Beyond, and An Eclectic Collection of Stuff and Things and a novelette, Never Forget, published through Peggy Bright Books. <www.peggybrightbooks.com>.

 Edwina received her editing qualifications in 2012 and now works as a freelance editor, specialising in speculative fiction.

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Chris writes:

With the advent of accurate speech recognition software I began writing in late 2011. Incensed by a particular episode of "Doctor Who", I wrote my own. I enjoyed the creativity so much that I have continued on. Writing, while challenging, gives me a sense of empowerment and joy, and has been added to my list of passions.

My other passions are science, nature, animals and all things sci-fi, and my stories reflect these interests. My very first published story was "What If" in AntipodeanSF in Jan 2012. Since then I have written 13 stories for the magazine.

I enjoy Asimov, Clark, and many other classic writers as well as Terry Pratchett. My favourite author is still Alastair Reynolds.

In a fit of insanity I decided to write a novel. Six years in the making my Science Fiction novel, "Upload" is now available from Lulu (print edition), Smashwords and Amazon (e-book editions). Check out my website at <www.Christaleyes.com> for more information. 

I am a senior citizen, and live in sunny WA with my husband and our cat Tilda.

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mark webb 2019 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 can be found at <www.markwebb.name>, including details of his stories in AntipodeanSF, Dimension6 and other reputable publications.

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Tony Owens is an ESL teacher living in Brisbane with his wife and son.  His short fiction has appeared in the anthologies In Fabula-Divino, Zombies Ain’t Funny, and 18. He also does a flash fiction series chronicling the adventures of the long-suffering Klinko, the King of Klowns, which appears semi-regularly on the AntipodeanSF website.  His ultimate ambition is to find the literary sweet-spot between H.P. Lovecraft and P.G. Wodehouse.

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jason-butterfieldJ. M. M. Butterfield is an aspiring writer of speculative fiction living on the North West Coast of Tasmania. He has just completed his first novel, "Bastion: Holy City", part of a series titled "Chronicles of a Star-Born King". He is now set upon finding a path to publication whilst he begins his second novel, "Bastion: Fallen City". You can find out more about his upcoming works at www.facebook.com/JMMButterfield.

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antoinette rydyr 200Antoinette Rydyr is an artist and writer working in the genres of science-fiction, fantasy and horror usually bent into a surrealist and satirical angle. She works with fellow creator, Steve Carter and together have produced graphic novels, award-winning screenplays and esoteric electronic music.

In 2018 their collaborative steampunk western novel, “Weird Wild West” parts one and two were published by Bizarro Pulp Press, USA, and part three will be published in 2019.

They have also published graphic novels including, “Savage Bitch”, “Weird Worlds”, “Bestiary of Monstruum”, “Weird Sex Fantasy”, and the celebratory resurrection of the infamous “Phantastique”, ingloriously presented in full bloody colour!

More grotesque delights can be viewed on their website: <https://www.weirdwildart.com/> and their Amazon Author Page:

<https://www.amazon.com/Carter-Rydyr/e/B07DBYBBZT/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_1>.

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Bart Meehan is a Canberra writer who has published a number of short stories in publications such as Hello Horror, Aurealis and AntiSF. He has also had a number of radio plays produced for national community radio — now available as podcasts at <https://podcast11793.podomatic.com/> as well as stage plays performed in Canberra and Sydney Short and Sweet Festivals.

Bart recently published a novella called The Parting Glass, about the experiences of 5 men and women during World War 1.

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ca clarkCA Clark is a writer of short fiction with aspirations to complete that great space saga gathering e-dust in a file lost somewhere on the portable hard drive.

Apart from being too busy to write as often as any writer should, C A Clark squeezes out the odd flash fiction; there are eight flash fictions with AntipodeanSF and half a century of pieces in varying length in anthologies so far.

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LyndaRYoungHeadshot200Lynda R Young is a writer, editor, game developer, 3D artist, graphic designer, photographer, gamer and so much more. She has a Christian daily devotional book out called Cling to God. She is currently working on a Young Adult Fantasy Adventure series of novels set on the High Seas. She lives in Brisbane with her sweetheart of a husband. Find her at <http://lyndaryoung.blogspot.com.au/>.

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garry dean 200Garry lives on the Mid North Coast of New South Wales Australia, and has been a fan of SF, ever since his older brother took him to see 2001 a Space Odyssey for his eighth birthday. He has a soft spot for classic science fiction, along the lines of Isaac Asimov and Arthur C Clarke.

Although he was painting, and writing about other worlds in his teens, it wasn’t until his 40s, that Garry had a serious go at writing. When the onset of a genetic eye disorder made things difficult, he turned to adaptive technologies, including voice recognition and text to speech.

Garry’s work has appeared in AntipodeanSF, as well as Quantum Muse and Daily Science Fiction. He is currently working on a collection of short stories, due out in mid 2019. Website: www.garrydean.wordpress.com/

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ProfilePic 2Natalie has tried everything from Air Traffic Control to Zoology, but writing has been the one constant across all the years.

She had her first publication in Antipodean SF and can still remember the heady excitement of that first acceptance.

She is eternally grateful for that first flush of encouragement, and is proud to be one of the regular contributors.

Congratulations to Ion and the team for reaching 250 issues of such a fantastic ‘zine, and thank you for your ongoing championing of the speculative fiction voices of the antipodes!

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martin livings 100Perth-based writer Martin Livings has had over eighty short stories in a variety of magazines and anthologies. His first novel, Carnies, was published by Hachette Livre in 2006, and was nominated for both the Aurealis and Ditmar awards, and has since been republished by Cohesion Press. <http://www.martinlivings.com>.

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In addition to short stories Sue Clennell has had poetry published in various anthologies including 'Best Australian Poems' and 'Australian Love Poems.' She has also had four short plays performed in Campbelltown, Sydney and Canberra.

Sue was a book reviewer in E-scapes, a regular column for AntipodeanSF, for three years and is grateful to AntipodeanSF for providing a market for the weird and wonderful. Visit Sue's Youtube site: <bit.ly/1wdTfcM>.

 

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Michael Schaper lives in Canberra with his partner Nadine, a standup paddleboard, two goldfish, some visiting sulphur-crested cockatoos and the ghosts of many half-written stories.

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jackie hosking 200Jackie Hosking is an Australian born in Nigeria to Cornish parents. Being short, she writes short. Flash fiction, poetry and picture books. If she were braver she’d be a stand-up comedian. But she isn’t. Jackie has published many poems for children. And her dream of publishing a rhyming picture book arrived in 2014. Thanks to Edward Lear and Walker Books Australia, she mutated ‘The Owl and the Pussy Cat’ into its Aussie cousin, ‘The Croc and the Platypus’.

Her next dream is to publish another one. A Jackie of all trades, she writes, edits and publishes an ezine for anyone interested in the children’s book industry. She has two blogs that she’d love for you to visit <www.jackiehoskingblog.wordpress.com> and <www.jackiehoskingpio.wordpress.com>.

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Kevin J. PhylandRetired after 33 years of teaching, Kevin now indulges his passions full-time: weather, reading and writing. His fiction usually embraces darker themes or the new weird, but lately he has gone back to more traditional old school SFF. He has set himself the task of reading every Stephen King novel, in order, and all of the recommended SF reading lists of Locus magazine for the last 35 years <http://www.sfadb.com/Locus_Awards_1983>. His eyes hurt.

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rebecca-fraserRebecca Fraser is an Australian author with a solid career of writing with influence across a variety of mediums.

Her short stories, poems, and flash fiction have appeared in numerous Australian and international anthologies, magazines, and journals since 2007.

Her first novel "Curtis Creed and the Lore of the Ocean" was released by IFWG Publishing Australia in 2018.

Rebecca actively engages in various writing communities and holds a Master of Arts in Creative Writing, and a Certificate of Publishing (Copy Editing & Proofreading).

For more information about Rebecca, you can visit her website <www.writingandmoonlighting.com>, or follow her on Twitter and Instagram <@becksmuse>.

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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 Kernot is an Australian author living in the Mid North of South Australia. He writes contemporary fantasy, science fiction, and horror, and his short stories can be found in a variety of anthologies, magazines, and eZines across Australia, the US, and Canada. More information can be found at <http://www.davidkernot.com>.

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Ray O'Brien's last contribution to AntiSF was in March 2014. In the meantime he has continued to experience the joy and despair of living "amongst women", sustain a career in keeping old computer applications alive, and play drums in a dad rock band. One day he will be free to unleash the many stories that have swirled around his head for years. Ray lives at the top end of Sydney, near the Hawkesbury River.

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david-scholesDavid has written over 200 speculative fiction short stories. Some of these are included in his eight 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.

He will soon publish a new collection of science fiction short stories “Contingency Nine and Other Science Fiction Stories”.

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Jan Napier was inhouse reviewer for Antipodean SF from 2009 to 2012.

Jan is a rabid Terry Pratchett fan, and plans to live on the disc world, preferably in one of Ankh Morpork’s more salubrious suburbs, as soon as her small, gas powered time machine has its obconic modulator adjusted. The gods of the multiverse have determined that she write poetry till then.

Sometimes her poems are labelled speculative fiction.

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rick kennett 200I'm a life-long resident of Melbourne, Australia, where I work in the transport industry. I like to explore graveyards, an odd hobby I call necrotourism, although I believe the correct word is taphophile.

I've been writing since 1979 and have had SF and ghost stories in many magazines, anthologies and podcasts. In 2008 my story "The Dark and What It Said" won a Ditmar, and in 2013 my podcast stories "Now Cydonia" and "The Road to Utopia Plain" won two Parsec Awards. I'm presently the podcast reporter for the M.R. James journal Ghosts & Scholars. I have two novels, a novella and two collections at Amazon. One of these collections, Thirty Minutes for New Hell, a series of connected short stories, is the original publication of "In a Phobos Garden."

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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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pamela jeffs 200Pamela Jeffs is a prize-winning speculative fiction author living in Brisbane, Queensland with her husband and two daughters. She is a member of the Queensland Writers’ Centre and has had her work published in both national and international anthologies and magazines. Pamela grew up in rural Australia, and likes to draw upon the natural world for inspiration in her work. Visit her at <www.pamelajeffs.com> or on Facebook @pamelajeffsauthor.

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AntipodeanSF May-June-July 2019

ISSUE 250

Speculative Fiction
Downside-Up
ISSN 1442-0686

Online Since Feb 1998

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Issue 250 Congrats!

Like many — perhaps even most — of Australia's speculative-fiction writers, I was thrilled beyond words to get my first acceptance ever from Antipodean SF. That one bit of early encouragement was immeasurably important in helping me believe in my writing and keep going through the inevitable setbacks and dry spells of the Great Writing Desert. Thus I'm also thrilled to be part of Issue 250, happy to join yet again with the throngs of writers fresh to the task and those hunched and hoary who contribute to and value this wonderful publication. Congratulations and thanks, Nuke!

Laura E. Goodin

AntiSF's Narration Team

 

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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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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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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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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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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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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SF News

SF News

The Wyndham Writing Awards (previously Words of Wyndham) returns in 2019 to inspire, encourage and recognise emerging Victorian adult writers and literary creators. Prizes will be awarded for unpublished works in four categories: short story, graphic short story, flash story and poetry. Shortlisted entries will be published in the Wyndham Writing Awards Anthology 2019. Entries open Wednesday 1 May – Sunday 30 June 2019. More info: <wyndham.vic.gov.au/writingawards>

 

Upcoming Cons

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 <https://continuum.org.au>. AntipodeanSF will be at Continuum 15 and celebrating Issue 250 of AntiSF!

Writing NSW Speculative Fiction Festival 2019 - Sydney NSW. Writing NSW is excited to announce that their biennial Speculative Fiction Festival will be taking place on 29 June 2019. <https://writingnsw.org.au>.

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: <asff.org.au>.

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

Science fiction writers, I am sorry to say, really do not know anything. We can't talk about science, because our knowledge of it is limited and unofficial, and usually our fiction is dreadful.

Philip K. Dick

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