Fortune Telling For Beginners

By Col Hellmuth

sfgenreI was at a country fair, somewhere in south-west Western Australia — one of those towns suffixed in '-up', commonly misconstrued as meaning 'water' in the European interpretation of traditional Noongar language, a fact I had recently learned and found amusingly appropriate, being an Aquarius — eating a Dagwood Dog and loitering by the ubiquitous shooting gallery that always seems to accompany these affairs. It was well after sunset. The meagre and unimpressive fireworks display had just finished and the small crowd — presumably mostly local farmers and their families, or itinerant backpackers, keen to get home to check on their cows/chickens/wheat/dope crops — was rapidly dispersing.

I waited a few more minutes then decided it was time to make my move.

I ambled over to the fortune-teller's tent, smirked briefly at the sign over the entrance then let myself in. 

"Um, I was about to close up actually," said The Amazing Wazza, proclaimed teller of fortunes, sitting glumly back down in his chair. I held out my five dollar note, the price denoted on the handwritten sign pinned to the front of his tent, and waved it in front of his face.

"Alright then," he sighed, reluctantly taking my money and reaching for his virginal-looking deck of tarot cards, "What would you like to know?"

"What can you tell me?" I challenged. 

His eyes narrowed to little more than slits, as he scrutinised my personage in what I assumed was supposed to appear a knowing, unknowable way. He self-consciously reached under the ridiculous looking scarf he had wrapped around his head and scratched his scalp.

"Well, I'm really quite good at telling the past."

"My past?"

"Yes ... dependant of course on the date and location."

"How so?"

"Well, subject to whether or not I was in the same place as you, at the same time as you and looking in the right direction ... and paying attention," he added, looking and sounding just a little harried beneath his embarrassment. "Yeah, look, I can't actually tell fortunes, not accurate ones anyway. Surely you don't really believe in that bollocks anyhow. Here mister, here's your five bucks back, I've really gotta get home now," he apologised as he tried to hand back the note I'd given him earlier.

I didn't take it. There was a small lockable metal tin on the collapsible table by his right elbow. He opened it resignedly and carefully placed the note inside. I gestured toward it with a nod of my head. 

"Hand it over."

"What?" he exclaimed, a look of surprise on his face. I could see he had already clocked my size. I was quite tall for my age (or anyone else's) solidly built and not above using this genetic advantage to intimidate people. In fact, I usually didn't even have to try.

"You may not be able to tell me my future," I explained to him calmly, "but I can tell you yours: you're about to be mugged," and walloped him on the back of the head.

Judging by the contents of the cash tin, he really was a rubbish fortune teller. Two twenties, four fives (including the one I had handed him) and assorted shrapnel. The two twenties were obviously there as part of an unneeded float. Sixty-odd bucks. Not enough. The clairvoyant was lying on the ground, his deck of cards scattered about him. Out cold. I left the tent and made my way back over to the shooting gallery.

A spotty teenager was trying to impress his girlfriend with his marksmanship skills. I could see his increasing agitation as he continued to miss the moving targets. He slapped another note down on the counter and demanded a different rifle for his next attempt. He had clearly shot enough rabbits in his few short years to recognise a rifle with a cock-eyed barrel. The showie running the stall shrugged his shoulders with practised indifference and handed him another one from the rack. The showie was gaunt and had a sickly pall to his skin. He looked like he might spend a fair amount of time in a different kind of shooting gallery. This time the kid managed to knock over one of the metal ducks endlessly looping with the others on the closest of the three conveyors. He took his winnings — an unidentifiable fluffy piece of crap — with the lack of grace to be expected from a teenager and presented it to his girlfriend. She went all gushy with the fake admiration she knew would pander to his ego and improve his mood, then the pair left hand in hand — presumably to go do what kids their age do at night when left unchaperoned.

The showie went to hand me a rifle when it came to my turn. 

"No, that one." I pointed to the break-barrel air rifle the kid had last used. I took a quick glance around to make sure nobody was watching, then pointed the gun at his head.

'"What do you think you're doing, pecker-head?"

If anyone looked like a pecker-head it was him, with his shaved dome and herpes-encrusted lips. He slid a pair of sunglasses down from where they were perched high on his forehead before nonchalantly putting his hands in his pockets and I was able to ken what they were for. They weren't an accessory to a delusional attempt at the rock-star look after all, but rather a safety precaution.

"Hand over your takings," I demanded.

"It's just a pellet gun, you idiot."

I watched the expression on his face quickly change from mild amusement, through growing concern to finally alarm, as I lowered the rifle and pointed it at his left thigh. He hurriedly tried to pull his hands from his trousers, but wasn't quick enough.

I pulled the trigger and shot him squarely in the balls.

"You asshole," he hissed through clenched teeth as he doubled over. Figuring this wouldn't slow him long, as much of the projectile's impact had been absorbed by his filthy jeans, I reloaded, reached over the counter and shot him again — at almost point-blank range — in the ear-hole.

He didn't give me any more trouble after that.

I casually counted my loot as I made my way back to my vehicle, discreetly parked on a side street a couple-hundred metres from the showgrounds. Four-hundred and twenty dollars. Enough to cover the cost of fuel for the drive to Perth — plenty more rubes to target there — and a proper hot meal as well. I opened the door of my mustard coloured Land Rover and climbed in.

***

The Amazing Wazza — aka, Warren the local plumber — awoke with a thumping headache. His scented candles had burnt down and out and it was pitch black in the tent. There was no sound from outside other than the noise of a million crickets. Everyone had either gone home, or retired to their sleeping quarters for the night.

He switched on his phone so he could see by the light of its screen. Three missed calls from the wife — yet nobody had thought to bother checking on him. First and last bloody time he would pose as a soothsayer no matter how insistent his wife was he do his bit to raise money for whatever stupid cause he was supposed to be raising money for. The evening had been a total disaster and completely humiliating — even before he had been assaulted and robbed. He was just not cut out for the role of charlatan. He pawed gingerly at the lump on the back of his head and winced. For Christ's sake, the main reason he'd left the city to move to this redneck, hillbilly dump of a town a decade-and-a-half ago was to get over the trauma of being robbed in his own home in the middle of the night by some dogmatic nutter with delusions of omnipotence. That and the fact his wife had always been out all hours of the night partying with her friends. They had been a bad influence on her. Why else would she stay out regularly until four o'clock in the morning?

He fought to get the entrance flaps of the tent open and stumbled out into the night. Apart from a couple of dim lights shining from the windows of caravans over in the section of the grounds reserved for the carnival worker's accommodation, and the faint odour of cannabis smoke mingled with horse shit on the breeze, there were no signs of life outside. He tore the sign down from over the entrance of his stall, ripped it in two and stomped on it a couple of times for good measure, then trudged off despondently towards home.

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About the Author

Col Hellmuth

col hellmuth

This story is a linking piece to two stories previously published in Antipodean SF, Coffee With God (Issue 245) and Frank's Best Friend (Issue 250) both first drafted whilst living in Western Australia, where I spent the best part of two decades. This piece (ironically written whilst sitting on the bank of Emmagen creek in FNQ) is an attempt, not just to further develop some recycled characters beyond the limitations of the short short story format, but also to give these stories a sense of place, a nod to the multitude of unique landscapes (and people) to be found in WA. The huge distances and wide open spaces between locations are also riddled with untold stories, so many that I find myself still writing them years after moving back to North Queensland.

Col Hellmuth lives a quiet (excepting weekly jam nights,) uncomplicated life, off-grid in the Daintree rainforest of Far North Queensland.

His day jobs over the years have found him contracted to do various work around the country in such exotic locations as mine-sites, SAS barracks, a Collins-class submarine, prisons, operating-theatres, swanky restaurants and wineries, chicken sheds, the Great Barrier Reef and the open road. He does not have any fancy letters after his name, or a pet cat, but does read a lot. 

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 bandmates, the Excruders.

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AntiSF & The ASFF

AntipodeanSF supports 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>

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 257

A Tale of Tyl Feánn: In which loyalty is tested
by Steve Duffy

Couples Therapy
By Roger Ley

Crocs are Incorruptible
By Wes Parish

Cryogenic Heartbreak
By Terry Persun

Fruitricide
By Michael T. Schaper

Hole
By BG Hilton

Mallcity Endgame: The Great Velocity
By Shaun A. Saunders

RXPV
By Geraldine Borella

The Longest Journey
By George Nikolopoulos

The Sea Will Have
By Deborah Sheldon

The Washing Machine Ate the Socks
By Sayo Onada

The Contributors

jt velikovsky 200JT Velikovsky is an Aussie transmedia writer, cartoonist, musician, inventor, actor, director, firefighter, academic, and rabid A.I. enthusiast(!)

His short stories have appeared in 365 Tomorrows, the anthology Shadows of Life, and Opus magazine. His screenwriting credits include the videogame Looney Tunes: Acme Arsenal, the movie Caught Inside, and the TV show The Comedy Sale! His satirical sci-fi novel A Meaningless Sequence of Arbitrary Symbols (2011) is on Amazon. JT received his Ph.D (on: Movie Creativity) in 2016, and is currently reading several books as fast as he can write them.

Transmedia Writing website: <https://on-writering.blogspot.com/>

PhD blog: <https://storyality.wordpress.com/>

YouTube: <https://www.youtube.com/joeteevee>

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james walton 200James Walton was a librarian, a farm labourer, and mostly a public sector union official.

He is published in many anthologies, journals, and newspapers.

He has been shortlisted for the ACU National Literature Prize, the MPU International Prize, The William Wantling Prize, the James Tate Prize, and is a winner of the Raw Art Review Chapbook Competition.

His poetry collections include The Leviathan’s Apprentice 2015, Walking Through Fences 2018, Unstill Mosaics 2019, and ‘Abandoned Soliloquies’, 2019.

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terry persun 200Terry Persun’s poems and stories have appeared in many magazines including Wisconsin Review, Kansas Quarterly, Riverrun, Rattle, Hiram Poetry Review, Bluestem, NEBO, Cirque, Eclipse, Bacopa, and many others.

His poems have appeared in six, chapbooks and five collections.

He was recently included in the 2019 Rhysling Anthology for sicnce fiction and fantasy poetry. He is also a novelist and has recently won first place in the Book Excellence Awards for science fiction.

Terry speaks at writers’ conferences and universities across the country. <www.TerryPersun.com>.

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 <www.hedgehogcircus.com>.

JD Campbell has been creating alternate realities and transforming factical realities for several decades.

A self-taught writer, musician and artist and unfortunate member of the 21st Century precariat, they live in Melbourne with two rats named Being and Nothingness.

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JacobEdwards 200Jacob Edwards hails from Brisbane and spends much of his time either writing or indulging his love of 80s synthpop.

He served two tours of duty stacking deckchairs for Andromeda Spaceways and has contributed a chic 60s-era Doctor Who monograph (#32: The Romans) to Obverse Book’s Black Archive range.

Jacob can be found online at <www.jacobedwards.id.au> or very occasionally tweeting <@ToastyVogon>.

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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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martin lochman 200I am an emerging author from the Czech Republic, currently living and working as a University librarian in Malta.

I first started writing and publishing in Czech but as time went by and my affinity for English language grew, I switched to English.

Some of my flash fiction and short stories appeared (or are forthcoming) in Theme of Absence, Asymmetry Fiction, Aphelion, Aurora Wolf, AntipodeanSF, 101Words, The Weird and Whatnot, and 365tomorrows.

You can find me at: <https://martinlochmanauthor.wordpress.com/> or twitter: < @MartinLochman>.

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chris kelso 200Chris Kelso is an award-winning genre writer, editor, and illustrator from Scotland. His short stories and articles have appeared in magazines and journals across the UK, US, and Canada, including: SF Signal, Lovecraft ezine, Daily Science Fiction, AntipodeanSF, Dark Discoveries, Pantheon, Evergreen Review, Sensitive Skin, Shoreline of Infinity, The Airgonaut, New Coin, Verbicide and many more.

His work has been translated into French and he is the two-time winner of the Ginger Nuts of Horror Novel of the Year (in 2016 for 'Unger House Radicals’ and in 2017 for its sequel 'Shrapnel Apartments'). 'The Black Dog Eats the City' made Weird Fiction Review's Best of 2014 list. ‘Shrapnel Apartments’ was endorsed by Dennis Cooper on his blog — “4 Books I read and Loved”.

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col hellmuth

This story is a linking piece to two stories previously published in Antipodean SF, Coffee With God (Issue 245) and Frank's Best Friend (Issue 250) both first drafted whilst living in Western Australia, where I spent the best part of two decades. This piece (ironically written whilst sitting on the bank of Emmagen creek in FNQ) is an attempt, not just to further develop some recycled characters beyond the limitations of the short short story format, but also to give these stories a sense of place, a nod to the multitude of unique landscapes (and people) to be found in WA. The huge distances and wide open spaces between locations are also riddled with untold stories, so many that I find myself still writing them years after moving back to North Queensland.

Col Hellmuth lives a quiet (excepting weekly jam nights,) uncomplicated life, off-grid in the Daintree rainforest of Far North Queensland.

His day jobs over the years have found him contracted to do various work around the country in such exotic locations as mine-sites, SAS barracks, a Collins-class submarine, prisons, operating-theatres, swanky restaurants and wineries, chicken sheds, the Great Barrier Reef and the open road. He does not have any fancy letters after his name, or a pet cat, but does read a lot. 

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 bandmates, the Excruders.

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I've read and watched sci-fi all my life I think it's time to give back instead of just taking. My stories have appeared in Aphelion, AntipodeanSF, Far Cry Magazine, Planet Web Zine, Schlock! Webzine, Short-story.me and Unrealpoloitik!. I have one short story collection - Hawking Radiation - published and am currently working on my first novel, due for release in 2020. You can connect with me on Twitter (@Ishmael_Soledad) or my blog at: <https://ishmael-a-soledad.com/>

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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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derek smith 100I am a writer and published author with many short fiction stories published in online and print magazines. My first books were SF including an anthology of all my published and unpublished short fiction. My last book, The Boarding House, was a very long term project a story based on my early time in Oz. I am a baby boomer born in England but migrated to Australia in 1966 when I was eighteen. I live in Canberra now with my family and am all but retired from writing. My current author page is here: <https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8277328.Derek_Smith>.

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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AntipodeanSF January 2020

ISSUE 256

Speculative Fiction
Downside-Up
ISSN 1442-0686

Online Since Feb 1998

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Download AntiSF E-Book

Epub version:

Kindle version:

Poetry

By James Walton

sfgenreYou can get your fingers burned
by Creation’s vanities
the way they hop skip and jump
into various unknowns
or can be motionless pretending
a confirmation beyond them yet

The energy of one of their minds
freed of hemispheric axis
would drive dimensional shift
get you transpired home
solve the linguistic paradox
generate new nebula storms

They like to shape and fix things
with artistry beyond lexicon
but their world is on broken stilts
what they could be teeters
between fronds of unfolding stamens
and the wreckage of diminishing returns

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About the Author

James Walton

james walton 200James Walton was a librarian, a farm labourer, and mostly a public sector union official.

He is published in many anthologies, journals, and newspapers.

He has been shortlisted for the ACU National Literature Prize, the MPU International Prize, The William Wantling Prize, the James Tate Prize, and is a winner of the Raw Art Review Chapbook Competition.

His poetry collections include The Leviathan’s Apprentice 2015, Walking Through Fences 2018, Unstill Mosaics 2019, and ‘Abandoned Soliloquies’, 2019.

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By Terry Persun

sfgenreSpace Station Interlude
manual adjustments 
connect, clamp 
secure attachment 
open hatch 

join crew 
complete experiments 
log findings 
eat, exercise 
sleep, work 
again…again 

check systems 
reenter rocket 
set course 
going home 
can’t wait

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About the Author

Terry Persun

terry persun 200Terry Persun’s poems and stories have appeared in many magazines including Wisconsin Review, Kansas Quarterly, Riverrun, Rattle, Hiram Poetry Review, Bluestem, NEBO, Cirque, Eclipse, Bacopa, and many others.

His poems have appeared in six, chapbooks and five collections.

He was recently included in the 2019 Rhysling Anthology for sicnce fiction and fantasy poetry. He is also a novelist and has recently won first place in the Book Excellence Awards for science fiction.

Terry speaks at writers’ conferences and universities across the country. <www.TerryPersun.com>.

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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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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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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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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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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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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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

Upcoming Cons

Swancon 45 - National Convention 2020. Swancon is Australia's longest-running science-fiction, fantasy, and speculative fiction convention, and is the premiere event in Perth for fans of all forms of speculative media.More information: <https://swancon.com.au/>

WorldCon 78 2020 ConZealand, 29/07/2020 - 02/08/2020 Wellington, New Zealand Worldcon 78 in 2020 is to be held in Wellington, New Zealand, on 29 July – 02 August 2020. Antipodeans, mark it in your calendar now — and the rest of the world, well, it’s time for you mark it in your calendars too: to visit the other side in 2020. Facilities for the event include: TSB Arena and Shed 6, the Michael Fowler Centre and the Intercontinental Hotel. More information is on offer at the official website of ConZealand: <https://conzealand.nz/about-conzealand/>. AntipodeanSF's editor, Nuke, will be at ConZealand!

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

The advance of civilization is nothing but an exercise in the limiting of privacy.

Isaac Asimov, Foundation's Edge

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