An Angelic Interview With Saltbush Bill

By Wesley Parish

sfgenreI trudged up Mt Stromlo. At the top, I had been informed, was the man I had been searching for for all these many long years, the quintessential Aussie — Saltbush Bill himself. None other.

My partner had dropped me off with the usual warning: "Be back by 10 pm or I'll lock the doors — I'm sure one of the astronomers'll give you a lift home."

Saltbush Bill! No other Australian fitted his shoes — maybe the Breaker came close, but no, not quite.

When I arrived at the summit the observatory was closed, but someone had thought to put food out on a table, and vehicles stood motionless in the car park.

The man I had come to see was seated at the table, scoffing the scones and drinking the tea like it was going out of fashion.

"Take a seat, mate," he said, catching sight of me. "You look like you could use
some tea and maybe a scone or two."

"Thanks," I said. "I'd like to interview you for my magazine, The Fortean Dunny."

"Fire away. Here, take a scone — my great-great-granddaughter's a wonderful cook, isn't she, besides being head astronomer here! Isn't she wonderful!?"

Saltbush. The oldest man alive. How to start? "I understand you've been talking to angels recently."

"Talking? Not really. I've been overhearing them. Wish I didn't have to. Did you know they have planned a stop-work meeting today?"

"A stop-work meeting? Not. How? I mean — why?"

"They're tired of all the riffraff sneaking into heaven. They don't like illegal immigrants. They want to deport the lot. And those lowlifes that insist on seeing the Boss for a private chat, as if he would care to know them ... "

"So ... a stop-work meeting?"

"They're threatening a strike. No sunlight tomorrow from six to eleven, and damned to the consequences."

I gasped. I didn't know if The Fortean Dunny's readers would enjoy that, even though I had scooped all my fellow journalists.

"Nice tea, isn't it. Beats drinking from a billy," Saltbush said, paused, then gasped, "Oh God, no! You know, Mr Gibson, they have demanded, and the Boss has agreed, to build a Politician-Proof Fence on the border between Heaven and Earth."

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About The Author

Wes Parish

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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In The Next Issue...

Coming In Issue 233

Asset Class
by Matthew Harrison

Build Blast
By Douglas J. Ogurek

Home Hardware & Rentals
By Zebuline Carter

Iron Will
By David Whitaker

Neoanderthals
By Darren Lipnicki

The Drop Out
By David Scholes

The Maiming Fields
By Kevin J. Phyland

The Numbers Danced
By Laurie Bell

This Page Unintentionally Left Blank
By Wesley Parish

Totally AI
By Kevin J. Phyland

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SCIENCE FICTION: A POSITIVE SOCIAL INFLUENCE

Take a listen to Dr. Alan Finkel, Australia’s chief scientist on Radio National’s “Big Ideas” with Paul Barclay, who sums up Finkel’s speech in the following way:

“Our future leaders and policy makers should read more science fiction…scifi can be useful for the building of a good society.”

You can find the program audio here: <http://radio.abc.net.au/programitem/pgM7rLEl26>, originally broadcast on ABC Radio National on Tuesday September 19 2017.

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