The Future of S.F (The Image Manipulator)

By S.R Malone

sfgenreYou can’t expect a machine to create a piece of art, so the old saying goes. The emphasis is on the ‘old’ part of that saying.

The Imagination Machine changed that. Artificial intelligence began writing the new script for art and fiction. 

I’m Lincoln Nimri, by the way. I wrote ‘Paradise in Darkspace’. Have you ever read it? No, I don’t suppose you have.

Error, too many words. 

Error, formatting incorrect.

Error, cover letter bordering on insolent, the mechanical voice drones on.

Can you believe the most creative thing the movement does these days is find new ways to penetrate the system? Impervious to human intervention, we’ve tried it all. 

‘The Image Manipulator’, that’s what we call it. T.I.M when we’re feeling casual.

Its role is no longer just to filter out the stories from its masters’ inbox, manuscripts sweated over for hours in the tumour-inducing glow of a terminal. Generative art, that’s its latest trick. That’s what the algorithm conjures.

Perfect fiction, every time. Why have more variety when one can have more of the same, from a solitary reliable source? The gluttonous public ate Earth to death; now they’re doing the same to Mars. They do the same with entertainment as they do with food. Preserve your pleasure receptors? Fuck no! Burn them out. Entertainment is mass produced, but not by the masses. You can quote me on that, or could, if it would deliver the words to the presses.

The point is, the gastro-aberrants won’t blink a weary eye, so long as they get a dose of escapism. And this is on bloody Mars! Science fiction is outside your plastiglass cell, not assembled by way of an algorithm on an hourly basis. Dolts! And T.I.M: that thing has a lot to answer for.

Ludicrous as it may sound, creative types can have fangs. They can defend themselves as viciously as they would their own texts, sculptures, paintings. While T.I.M may only be out for writers at the present time, he— it, rather— will eventually find the others and replace them, too.

An explosive device found its way into the printing press where the main core for The Imagination Machine resides. The once-stunning 19th century printing and publishing house in New Jersey, redbrick in construction and still containing many of the ancient presses, felt the chilling iron grasp of post-modernisation and, before long, a barricade was erected to protect the building, and their fancy sorting machine. How a bunch of poets wriggled a fragmentation device past security and into that fortress is beyond my comprehension.

I wouldn’t be writing this diatribe had it been a success, however. One fumble and the plot went belly-up (such is the way in writing, but not always in real life), and two of the four were arrested; one was mystified by the wondrous core of the A.I and tripped an alarm through sheer clumsiness. The other was shot dead.

Would the truth scamper free? 

My only hope is this document will do more damage than that bomb, sent into T.I.M’s innards and filtered up the chain due to mention of the machine’s name. My wish, feeble though it may be, is it would reach a pair of human eyes, even for a second, through the sheer alarmist nature of the text; anarchist literature, deemed a threat worthy of judgement by someone beyond the mechanical brain. Then, for the first time in almost a decade, human thought and empathy might reawaken like a dormant volcano when it shatters its top.

That’s only science fiction, for you. “Why waste time wishful thinking when you could be woefully drinking?” as my father used to proudly announce.

With some trouble I managed to print a copy of this very document with my old inkjet, and I intend to leave it sandwiched between the surface of the table and an empty bottle of grocery store bourbon. A photon pistol lies there at the moment, a gift from my sister-in-law Wynna, for my oft-discussed trek through the swamps of Hestia that never came to fruition. 

I don’t know yet where the smoking gun will even land; maybe catapult through my apartment window after the trigger has been squeezed, toppling hundreds of feet to the concrete below. Maybe the building security will scoop it up and analyse it, get his lazy mechanical dogsbody to scan it for prints.

“This is old Lincoln Nimri’s gun, huh?” the lad will say, his square-set jaw propped up by his knuckles. “The mad old blotter up on floor sixty?”

“There are approximately forty-five reasons why Mr Nimri’s gun may have fallen from his window,” the mech will reply.

“We should check on him, anyhow,” the lad replies, tucking his closely-shaven head into a cap and heading for the lift.

But really, who is to say? Perhaps they will then find me in my apartment and call for a clean-up crew, and that will be that. The article never reaches print, the news never sees light of day, and the public never give a shit.

Still, at this point, it’s all just science fiction.

There are plenty of photon cells in the chamber, I can see from my desk right now.

I toast The Image Manipulator and wish it a bright future in publishing.

Avanti. 

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About the Author

S.R Malone

sr malone 200S.R Malone is a writer living just outside Edinburgh, Scotland.

He has been published in Synthetic Reality Magazine, 365 Tomorrows and Entropy-Squared.

When he is not writing or reading, he likes to spend time with his family and dog, going for walks in the Scottish wilderness.

Get in touch on Instagram: <s.r_malone>.

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.

<https://asff.org.au>

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Newsflashes...

  • Publishing News

    KJ Hannah Greenberg's newest book, Owmapow Rides Again, launches Jan. 2nd.

    Find out more at her website:

    kjhannahgreenberg.net

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 281

Arrival Date
By Stephanie Koorey

Far From the Tree
By Tim Borella

Friday Afternoon, Third Trimester
By Emma Louise Gill

Inflicted
By Ben F. Blitzer

Inversion
By Brian Biswas

Mater Tenebrarum
By Keech Ballard

Mr. Denton Explores the Universe
By Andrew Kozma

Property Acquisitions
By Chad Bolling

Starshine
By Andrew Dunn

The Order of Things
By Chris Karageorge

scifaiku
By PS Cottier

AntipodeanSF January 2022

ISSUE 280

Speculative Fiction
Downside-Up
ISSN 1442-0686

Online Since Feb 1998

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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.

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

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

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

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

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

Rambles, writing and amusing musings

Smile! laugh out loud! enjoy the following

<www.solothefirst.wordpress.com>

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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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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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carolyn eccles 100

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

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

(Photo by Jeremy Belinfante) 

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

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

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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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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

I have been a sore-headed occupant of a file drawer labelled ''Science Fiction'' and I would like out, particularly since so many serious critics regularly mistake the drawer for a urinal.

Kurt Vonnegut Jr.

The Contributors

rhiannon stevensRhiannon Stevens is a professional game designer and illustrator originally from New Zealand.

In her spare time, she writes and illustrates an ongoing xenofiction series which is primarily published through her website.

She lives and works in Brisbane.

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michael j leach 200Michael J. Leach <@m_jleach> is a writer and academic who lives in Bendigo on unceded Dja Dja Wurrung Country.

Michael enjoys writing about science. His science poems reside in Meniscus, Rabbit, Cordite,Consilience, Pangyrus, the 2021 Hippocrates Prize Anthology (The Hippocrates Press, 2021), and elsewhere.

He has published a sci-fi short story in Painted Words 2017 (Bendigo TAFE,2017) and penned two science-themed plays performed by Bendigo Theatre Company.

Michael’s first book is "Chronicity" (Melbourne Poets Union, 2020). You can read more about Michael’s work on his website: <https://mleach11.wixsite.com/writing>

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sr malone 200S.R Malone is a writer living just outside Edinburgh, Scotland.

He has been published in Synthetic Reality Magazine, 365 Tomorrows and Entropy-Squared.

When he is not writing or reading, he likes to spend time with his family and dog, going for walks in the Scottish wilderness.

Get in touch on Instagram: <s.r_malone>.

chris karageorge 200Chris Karageorge is a lover, brother, son, neighbour and a keen observer of all things in sight. 

He reads, writes and cooks in his spare time and dreams of coffee darker than a moonless night. 

He is from Melbourne, Victoria and can be found walking his pug Monty during the weekends.

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rudy diaz 200A Physicist in Engineer’s clothing, Rudy worked 20 years in the Defense Aerospace Industry, from performing Lightning Protection analysis on the Space Shuttle to the design of Radar Absorbing Materials. He then joined Academia as a Professor of Electrical Engineering, where for another 20 years he attempted to infect unsuspecting students with a love for Maxwell’s equations.

Since High School he has spent most of his free time either writing Science Fiction or trying to figure out how to make Science Fiction a reality. (His students' latest work has led to the realisation of efficient RF antennas that radiate using true magnetic (not electric) currents.)

His speculative fiction short stories have appeared in Residential Aliens, Ray Gun Revival, The Untold Podcast, and Antipodean SF. He blogs on the subjects of Science, Religion, and their intersection. The rest of his work is in the peer reviewed Physics and Engineering literature.

Rudy has also been involved in Jail Ministry for about 30 years. He and his wife Marcy live in Phoenix, Arizona.

Links: <https://rediazauthor.com/>

col hellmuthCol Hellmuth lives a quiet, uncomplicated life, off-grid in the Daintree rainforest of Far North Queensland.

He has scratched out a living in a variety of different jobs (and locations) over the years; these days he scratches out words in various sequences, and dreams of a day when he might be able to convert some of these ramblings into food.

When he is not writing or enslaved at work he is usually found bumming around his local beach dodging crocs in his kayak or jamming on the blues-harp.

He doesn't have any fancy letters after his name, or a pet cat, but does read a lot.

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ishmael soledad 200Ishmael, a regular contributor to Antipodean SF, hails from Brisbane.

His flash and short science fiction have appeared in Aphelion, Far Cry Magazine, Planet Web Zine, Schlock! Webzine, Short-story.me and Unrealpoloitik!, and are published in his two short story collections "Hawking Radiation" and "Sex and The Single Cosmonaut".

In 2021 his debut novel, "Sha'Kert: End of Night", was released through Temple Dark Books of Ireland.

You can connect with me on Twitter <@Ishmael_Soledad>.

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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 songwriter 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 both in his short stories and his poetry.

His debut poetry book "Sun and Moon, Light and Dark" was published by Ginninderra Press in (2018).

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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.

ps cottier 200PS Cottier is a poet who lives in Canberra, with a particular interest in speculative poetry.

She has been published widely at home and in Canada, England, New Zealand and the USA.

Two of her horror poems were finalists in the Australian Shadows Awards for 2020. Her latest books are Monstrous, which is a volume of speculative poems, and Utterly, which is non-genre.

PS Cottier is the Poetry Editor at The Canberra Times and blogs at <https://pscottier.com>

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kj hannah greenberg 200KJ Hannah Greenberg has been playing with words for an awfully long time. Initially a rhetoric professor and a National Endowment for the Humanities Scholar, she shed her academic laurels to romp around with a prickle of imaginary hedgehogs.

Thereafter, she's been nominated once for The Best of the Net in poetry, three times for the Pushcart Prize in Literature for poetry, once for the Pushcart Prize in Literature for fiction, once for the Million Writers Award for fiction, and once for the PEN/Diamonstein-Spielvogel Award for the Art of the Essay. To boot, Hannah’s had more than three dozen books published and has served as an editor for several literary journals.

Find out more at her website: <http://kjhannahgreenberg.net/>.