What We Are

By James Patrik

sfgenreIt was one of those days.  

One of those days where I’d woken up angry without reason.  I rolled out of bed with a belligerent cloud swirling about my head as I stumbled through my day, seeking amusement or distraction from my stress.  Had I the courage to be honest with myself, it was me I was angry with.  I was frustrated at having risen so late, and for expending so many wasted hours upon my couch, staring blankly at various screens as I beseeched them for stimulation. 

Though a tired truism of a sentiment, I was easily ensnared by the technological marvels that constitute modern life.  Inconceivable to our antecedents, such devices stood ready to sate any human appetite no matter how banal or pornographic.  Now the hour was late, and my morning had evaporated into a hazy afternoon, making me feel worse.  One lazy indulgence compounded by another.

So, craving at least the pretence of productivity, I did what I had always done when feeling restless — I went for a run.  Donning worn trainers and an old t-shirt, I left the house and began my laboured shuffle through the unremarkable streets of my neighbourhood.  The topography was hilly, ordinary streets winding through tiny peaks and troughs.  My body moved with difficulty, ungracefully, as though through water — a punishment for habitual inactivity.  But it moved nonetheless, and for that I was grateful.  I ran past some old ladies on an amiable ramble and past a gaggle of absent-minded dog walkers.  A fellow runner — a shirtless Adonis — sped past me with relative ease and soon disappeared into the distance.

Still, I persisted, as my lungs burned and groaned under the strain.  Undeterred, I proceeded without destination, past the well-to-do houses sporting high fences and fancy security systems.  The sight of them set my mind musing on the notion of urban separation as a light sprinkle of rain moistened my face.  Turning from a trickle into a shower, the precipitation soaked through my clothes and underwear endowing the uncomfortable sensation of being both sweaty and wet.

Exhausted, I clumsily came to a halt in front of a house atop a hill and locked eyes with a cream-coloured greyhound.  His graceful countenance offered me a doleful stare through the bars of a corrugated iron fence.  I watched him, for a moment, his patient breathing evident in the gentle rise and fall of his ribcage as I felt my own heart pounding like a jackhammer in my chest. 

My anxious demons exercised and exorcised, I limped home in unspectacular fashion, dropping down upon my front step to cool down as I always would before entering the house.  The brief shower I’d traversed was now concluded, leaving small pools and patches of water upon my driveway.  As my heart rate settled, I lamented my poor fitness and stared vacantly at a potted plant by my front door.  I’d placed it there, years ago.  Unremarkable in every respect, its few droopy leaves were a testament to floral mediocrity.  Upon the leading edge of one of the leaves I spied a single raindrop — a remnant from before — dangling precariously, only seconds from falling.

As my eyes focused on the raindrop, I noticed with simple pleasure how the daylight shimmered through the small quantity of water, a tiny iridescent display one-tenth the size of a fingernail.  As I examined the drop more closely, I was able to discern an image — the face of a newborn baby, scrunched up and tiny.  Before I could question the veracity of my vision, the image had changed and the baby had become a boy who soon became a man.  Like a life on fast forward, the man in the raindrop raced through his days and years as I witnessed them all.  The peaks and troughs of his trajectory through existence — exciting, mundane, revelatory and boring.    

Caught up in my act of curious voyeurism, I couldn’t help but notice the little man looked a lot like me. As I savoured my wonder, he clutched his chest in pain, and collapsed without fanfare.  The awful occurrence was random, and arrived without warning.  Before the man could summon help, the drop of water finally fell from its precarious position and splattered onto the floor, exterminating the man inside.  Startled, I inhaled sharply at the sudden finality of it all.  Just like that, it was over.

Sharp pangs of grief pierced my chest as I remembered the man and his life, lost to me, yet still speaking quietly in my thoughts.  In that moment, I conjured the faces of the dead and remembered strange words spoken to me in my sleep.  He’d always be there as a reminder of my mortality and the ticking clock embedded in my brain.

In a single drop of rain I had seen the futility of my illusions that life was long, and that each one of us was somehow significant, special.  A repudiation of all my self-importance in a simple act of nature.  I sat there, in my running shoes, humbled and terrified by the display, feeling suddenly fragile.  Transient.  As the fear fermented in my stomach, I knew I’d witnessed something extraordinary.  To think it happened on such an ordinary day.

I replayed all the ungrateful moments when I’d wished my life was somewhere else, had wished that I was someone else.  What a fool I’d been.  The man in the raindrop would be with me like an albatross, even when I was petulant or lost in a wretched mood.  Even when I wasted my life.  I wiped wetness from my cheeks, mistaking it for rainwater but instead found tears as I fathomed the enormity of my revelation.  The very nature of what we are.  What we are is nothing at all.

rocket crux 2 75

About the Author

James Patrik

james patrik 200An emerging writer, James Patrik enjoys exploring the existential themes.

A lifelong science fiction fan, he has a particular fondness for Japanese culture—especially Tokusatsu.

James is also passionate about psychology and is currently studying a Bachelor of Psychological Science.

You can read more of his work at: <www.jamespatrik.com>.


AntiSF & The ASFF

AntipodeanSF supports the ASFF

ASFF logo 200

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.


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.


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.


In The Next Issue...

Coming In Issue 272

By Tony Owens

By Ashley Cracknell

By Chris Karageorge

Fodd Prints
By AE Reiff

For More Options Press 9
By Myna Chang

Hotel de Mort
By Emma Louise Gill

The Hot Equations
By Simon Petrie

The Smeg
By Harris Tobias

The Walls Have Tongues
By S. A. Mckenzie

Tribunal on the Misuse of Swords and Knives
By Len Baglow

AntipodeanSF April 2021


Speculative Fiction
ISSN 1442-0686

Online Since Feb 1998

rocket crux 2 75

Download AntiSF E-Book

Epub version:

Kindle version:

AntiSF's Narration Team

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.

old style mic flat 25

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.

angle mic

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.

angle mic

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.

angle mic

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.

old style mic flat 25

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>.

old style mic flat 25

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>

 old style mic flat 25

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>.


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


old style mic flat 25

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) 

old style mic flat 25

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

We should grant power over affairs only to those who are reluctant to hold it and then only under conditions that increase the reluctance.

Frank Herbert, Chapterhouse: Dune

The Contributors

Chad has a B.S. in Biochemistry from California State University Dominguez Hills and an Associates degree in Culinary Arts from Le Cordon Bleu, Pasadena.

His fiction has been published in Larks Fiction Magazine, 365 Tomorrows, Farther Stars Than These and Verdad among others.

He has made a few short films the most recent of which was an official selection of Dances with Films.

Link to Chad's Vimeo: <https://vimeo.com/cbcinema>.

nick petrou 200Nick works as a freelance writer out of Perth, Western Australia, where he likes to read unsettling fiction and complain about the sun.

His short fiction is forthcoming in two anthologies by Black Hare Press.

You can find out everything there is to know about him (and more) at <nspetrou.com>.


callan j mulligan 200Callan J. Mulligan was born in Melbourne, Australia, in 1988.

Writing poems and fiction from a young age, his imagination took him through several creative careers including Marketing, Music, and Film & Television.

At the age of 29 he wrote his first published work of fiction, a novella titled ‘A Mind of His Own’. The debut work received critical acclaim and scored amazon's Top 100 for thriller and suspense.

Callan predominantly writes science fiction, and his work often contains existential and philosophical themes. He has a deep, personal, love of science, especially astronomy and cosmology.

Callan lives with his wife on the Queensland Gold Coast and spends his time playing more video games than should be considered healthy, and not reading nearly as much as an author should.


louis evans 200Louis Evans is a sci-fi writer living in Brooklyn with his partner and two cats named after fictional European detectives, Hercule Poirot and Lord Peter Wimsey.

His fiction has appeared in Analog SF&F, Interzone, GigaNotoSaurus and more.

He would never get involved in a pyramid scheme, which is why you can have complete confidence that THIS business opportunity is the! real! deal! Let's do lunch . . .

His website is evanslouis.com and he tweets @louisevanswrite

Kaoru Sakasaki 200Kaoru Sakasaki lives with his family in Yokohama, south of Tokyo.

He writes late at night after putting his children to bed.

In 2020, he won the Judges’ Special Prize in the first Kaguya SF Contest organized by Virtual Gorilla Plus.

neil a hogan 2020Neil A. Hogan has been writing space fiction on and off since the '80s.

His next novel, The Robots of Atlantis, is due out in May 2021.

Find out more at <https://www.StellarFlash.com>.


João VenturaJoão Ventura writes short fiction, which has appeared in several websites (AntipodeanSF and Bewildering Stories among them), and also in printed form: Somnium, in Brazil; Dragão Quântico, Hyperdrivezine, Phantastes (Portuguese fanzines); Universe Pathways (in both the English and the Greek versions).

He had short stories in several Portuguese and Brazilian antologies: A Sombra sobre Lisboa (2006), VaporPunk (2010), Antologia de Ficção Científica Fantasporto (2012), Lisboa no ano 2000 (2013), Lisboa Oculta - Guia Turístico (2018), O resto é paisagem (2018), Almanaque SteamPunk (2019), Winepunk (2019), Regiana Magna (2020).

In 2018, a collection of his short stories (in Portuguese) came to light, with the title Tudo Isto Existe.

He likes reading, writing (surprise!), has a blog and is a university professor (now retired).

He is married, with two children and he lives in Lisbon.

Those who read Portuguese can have a glance at some of his stuff in Das palavras o espaço.

Samuel Gachon is a student in creative writing at QUT, with a minor in media and entertainment.

He lives in Brisbane, and has published a few stories on Wattpad and Deviantart.

Links:WordPress: <https://wordpress.com/pages/samuelgachon.wordpress.com>.

Wattpad: <https://www.wattpad.com/user/SamuelGachon>.


james patrik 200An emerging writer, James Patrik enjoys exploring the existential themes.

A lifelong science fiction fan, he has a particular fondness for Japanese culture—especially Tokusatsu.

James is also passionate about psychology and is currently studying a Bachelor of Psychological Science.

You can read more of his work at: <www.jamespatrik.com>.


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.

steven fritz 200Steven Fritz graduated from the University of Maryland, became a Naval Aviator and flew helicopters and maritime patrol aircraft in the US Navy.

After leaving active duty, he earned a Ph.D. in Radiation Biophysics at the University of Kansas and spent several years as a medical school faculty member and senior administrator.

After university he managed a seed stage venture fund and did a stint as an avionics entrepreneur. He’s been infatuated with science fiction since his youth and has been writing SF full time for three years. You can follow Steven on his website at <InigoPress.com> or on Twitter at @StevenLFritz1.

brian-biswasBrian has published over sixty short stories in the United States as well as internationally.

His short story "A Betrayal" was nominated for a Pushcart Prize and anthologized in The Irreal Reader.

A collection, A Betrayal and Other Stories, was published by Rogue Star Press in 2018, and his novel, The Astronomer, will be published by Whiskey Tit Press later this year.

Brian is listed in the International Writers and Authors Who's Who, Marquis Who's Who, and the Internet Speculative Fiction Database.

You can read more of Brian's work at his website: <www.brianbiswas.com>.

Or follow him on Twitter: @brianbiswas

"Mercury" is an extract from Brian's upcoming novel The Astronomer.

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



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.


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 <quantummuse.com>. 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: <harristobias-fiction.blogspot.com>

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.