The Smeg

By Harris Tobias

sfgenreYou didn’t have to be a Smeg hating racist or a xenophobe to hate them. Their condescending attitude and smugness were insufferable at the best of times, but the threat they posed to us and our planet made hating them a patriotic duty. They made us feel as ignorant and inadequate as those indigenous people our ancestors encountered and annihilated a few centuries ago. 

And like those long lost cultures there must have been a lively debate about how to respond — about patience or resistance. In their longhouses or teepees I can imagine the aboriginal elders counselling patience. Learn their ways and find their weaknesses. Give them what they want for now while we learn ways to defeat them. The opposing point of view must have been equally as convincing. Fight them now. A proud death is better than a cowardly life. Better to die on your feet than live on your knees. Attack with what weapons we have while we can. While our numbers are large, before we are enslaved and reduced to beasts, broken and lost. 

We know from our own history that both cooperation and resistance led to the same outcome — humiliation and defeat. The only real question was which was the better way to die. That the Smeg had the superior technology there was no doubt. They had traversed the stars in their strange donut shaped ships. They landed in six world capitols: D.C., Moscow, Beijing, Deli, London and Bonn. This indicated that they knew far more about us and our politics than we knew about them. What they made clear was that they regarded us as little more than primitive savages. Our weapons were puny and ineffective and any resistance would be met with massive retaliation and result in the loss of many millions of lives.

Faced with a common foe, humanity was united. For the first time in its history humankind spoke with one voice. Still, the problem remained, What were we to say? Should we fight a certain suicidal war or wait and scheme? The world’s leaders conferred and, faced with an implacable foe, took the prudent alternative of patience and plotting. The world’s armed forces were disarmed and disbanded as ordered by our Smeg overlords. A secret intelligence gathering agency was established to research the Smeg technology. The Smeg expected this and did not seem concerned. They were so confident in their superiority.

In truth, Smeg tech was at least a century ahead of ours. It was nearly as impossible to figure out how their stuff worked as it would be for a New Guinea tribesman to decipher a cell phone. The Smegs strutted around the planet like you’d expect. They were the conquerors and they acted like it. I was reminded of those old newsreels of Hitler and his army strutting around Paris. The Earth had surrendered without firing a shot. It was this realisation more than anything that made us so docile. Humiliation will do that to you, I guess.

Pieces of Smeg technology were not all that hard to come by. Like soldiers anywhere, they went on leave, got drunk, got into accidents, fights, lost things. The pieces were gathered and analysed by our best minds and equipment. The hope was that we would be able to learn their physics and fabricate something to use against them. How naive we were. After twenty years we have learned next to nothing about them — but the Smeg have transformed humanity completely. In the last thirty years, our Smeg overlords have socially engineered us completely. Many hundreds of millions of us have been sterilised through some process we cannot imagine. There was no announcement but it was evident by the enormous decline in the birth rate.

The Smeg also commandeered most of the planet’s arable land and forced us to grow mala, a nut like seed that is poisonous to all terrestrial life but compromises the sole food source of the Smeg. Terrestrial food was just as noxious to them. This was an exploitable weakness and our brightest biologists studied mala from every angle. Mala had no natural predators. No Earth born insect or pathogen could affect it. It was not a green plant. It did not have chloroplasts or require the energy of the sun in any direct way. Mala was more of a fungus in that respect. The alien plant used whatever biological material was available in the soil. It didn’t care if the sun was shining or not. It sucked the nutrients from the soil — effectively sterilising the topsoil after about 20 years. Our scientists predicted environmental disaster. 

Chemicals were developed that would effectively kill mala, but the Smeg would deal harshly if they saw we were using them. The chemical was code named Agent M. The underground government began to secretly stockpile it. In the meantime, the Smeg employed fully half of humanity as its workforce. The vast fields of Mala had to be harvested, and half of us were reduced to field hands. The other half were permitted to keep the power grid and other human infrastructure going. We still had stores and schools and hospitals but most of us were basically migrant workers. There was almost zero time for innovation or, for that matter, resistance. With our numbers reduced and half of us toiling in the fields there wasn’t much energy for war. 

With our spirit broken and our government reduced to insignificance, humanity limped along like beasts of burden. 

The worst thing of all was the looming ecological catastrophe. Once the mala had rendered our agriculture useless and the Smeg had departed to plunder another world, what were we to do then? It would be too late to do anything. This was our great wake up call. If we couldn’t save ourselves, at the very least we could save the planet. If we unleashed agent M, what would the Smeg do? No one knew the answer. It was one frightening prospect — that is something everyone agreed. Did we fight and die or cling to our diminished status and wither away? Did we fight and die or wither and die? This time around the choice seemed clearer. We had nothing to lose, nothing at all.

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About the Author

Harris Tobias

Harris Tobias lives and writes in Charlottesville, Virginia. He is the author of two novels: The Greer Agency & A Felony of Birds. He has written dozens of short stories many of which are available on line at <>. He is the author of many children’s books including At The Robot ZooMoonRivet Saves His Skin and An Alphabet Book of Bugs available in print from

CreateSpace and as ebooks for Nook & Kindle. You can find links to his writings here: <>

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

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


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

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


In The Next Issue...

Coming In Issue 273

A Farewell to the Best Friend
By Alexander Iurvetski

A Morning with Grey Clouds
By Swylmar S. Ferreira - Translated by Toshiya Kamei

A Winged Bug's Pain
By Sele Hanakusa - Translated by Toshiya Kamei

Christmas Cheer
By Stephanie Koorey

Microscopic Love
By João Ventura

By Scott Steensma

By Tim Borella

The Author
By Chris Karageorge

The Heart
By Ovidiu Bufnilă

The Price of a Manospondylus Sandwich
By Wes Parish

AntipodeanSF May 2021


Speculative Fiction
ISSN 1442-0686

Online Since Feb 1998

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AntiSF's Narration Team

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

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

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

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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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garry dean narratorGarry Dean lives on the Mid Coast of New South Wales Australia, and has been a fan of SF for most of his natural life. Being vision impaired, he makes good use of voice recognition and text to speech in order to write. Many of his stories have appeared in AntipodeanSF over the years, and his love of all things audio led him to join the narration team in 2017.

You can read examples of Garry's fiction on his website <>

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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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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 <>.


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 <> Look for her on Facebook <> or Twitter: <@LaurienotLori>

Rambles, writing and amusing musings

Smile! laugh out loud! enjoy the following


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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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AntiSF Radio Show

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

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Listen to the latest episode now:

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SF Quote

Any dogma, primarily based on faith and emotionalism, is a dangerous weapon to use on others, since it is almost impossible to guarantee that the weapon will never be turned on the user.

Isaac Asimov, Foundation

The Contributors

emma louise gillEmma Louise Gill is a British-Australian spec-fic writer of flash fiction and short stories.

She writes most genres (except horror, since the real world is scary enough).

Currently querying her first novel, a space opera.

She likes cats, coffee, and computers that don’t break.

Emma lives in Perth, Western Australia, with her hubby and two kids.

You can read more stories on her blog at <>.


ashley cracknell 200Ashley Cracknell is an Irish-Australian writer who lives in Sydney.

His short fiction has featured in the Honest Ulsterman and two University of Sydney Student Anthologies.

He has also dabbled in editing, for ARNA.


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.


Len BaglowDreams of worlds that might be, and the clash that brings them into existence.

In past lives he was a policy advocate in Canberra and an environmental activist in Queensland.

In awe of such great Australian SF authors as Glenda Larke, Garth Nix, Trudi Canarvan and Kate Forsythe, he dares to dabble in the arcane art.


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 <> or find her on Twitter at <@MynaChang>.

S.A. McKenzie lives on one of the better-looking islands of New Zealand, in the earthquake-ravaged ruins of Christchurch.

After surviving more than 12,000 aftershocks she has become adept at estimating the exact magnitude of any quake based on the amount of coffee spilled.

She writes offbeat and blackly humorous science fiction and fantasy stories featuring time travelling rabbits, carnivorous unicorns and man-eating subway trains, because someone has to speak up for these misunderstood creatures.

Find her online at <>.

sculpture reiff 200AE Reiff has two recent collections, The True Light That Lights @ Parousia Reads, and Recon @ Trainwreck Press.


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,18, Darkest Depths and Andromeda Spaceways Magazine 2017’s Best Stories.

He is a proud member of the Vision Writers Group and his ultimate ambition is to find the literary sweet-spot between H.P. Lovecraft and P.G. Wodehouse.


Harris Tobias lives and writes in Charlottesville, Virginia. He is the author of two novels: The Greer Agency & A Felony of Birds. He has written dozens of short stories many of which are available on line at <>. He is the author of many children’s books including At The Robot ZooMoonRivet Saves His Skin and An Alphabet Book of Bugs available in print from

CreateSpace and as ebooks for Nook & Kindle. You can find links to his writings here: <>

simon petrie 200Simon Petrie, born and educated in New Zealand, now lives in the Australian Capital Territory, where he is paid to be careful with words.

He's had a few stories published before, both in AntipodeanSF and elsewhere. He has been shortlisted several times for the Aurealis and Ditmar Awards, and is a three-time Sir Julius Vogel Award winner, most recently in 2018 for his SF/crime novella Matters Arising from the Identification of the Body.