By Imogen Cassidy

sfgenreThe find was good, he was certain of it. If he was lucky it would be enough to cover the repayments to Bernadette, and even get some of those more urgent repairs done.

The only problem was the other ship that was already there.

They hadn’t seen him yet, and he hadn’t changed course, frozen into indecision by the hopes he’d been harboring being dashed.

Drift brought him closer and closer to the ship and he could see the tether tying the pilot to his scrapyard hulk and anchoring him to the asteroid that held the wealth that Ethan coveted.

His ship could be on course to fly right through that cord, he realised. He would only have to make the slightest of adjustments to make sure that the sole finder on that asteroid was severed from the line that gave them life. Drift would do it, he told himself. An accident in calculations. Life was so fragile, really.

One single miscalculation could destroy it.

His hands were on the controls before he had even finished the thought. In the back of his mind something was screaming, but he shoved it down to lie foetid with the fears that came to anyone who had worked any length of time in deep space. Solitude. Confinement. Death.

He couldn’t let himself think on the fact that he was about to visit on someone his own greatest fear. It was worse, far worse than letting the ship fail, than being indebted to his sister for the rest of his life — for what would that life be that was so terrible? Safe and comfortable?

A choice, then.

He flicked on the comm. “This is Ethan Guthrie, approaching your position on course four eight two, can I render any assistance?”

He could hear the breath of the other pilot in his ears. Don’t think on it. Don’t think about what is going to happen. Just act. “Copy that, Guthrie,” a deep voice, not young. Weathered with age and experience. “No assistance necessary. You can change course.”

There was a lot of hostility in that reply. Ships didn’t come upon each other by accident in the belt. Not when there was this much space surrounding them. Sure, two ships could get a reading on a promising asteroid and would end up going for the same find, but to actually arrive so closely together was almost unheard of. A stroke of luck or fate.

It was easy enough to make it look like he’d changed course, altered enough that a hard thrust at the right moment would give him the momentum he needed.

“Guthrie, you’re cutting it awfully fine.”

“Sorry. Low on fuel this trip. If I bank any harder I won’t make it back.”

A perfectly legitimate excuse.

“How long have you been out this run?” the other pilot asked.

“Long enough to wish I had a better stock of synths,” Ethan said, trying for a chuckle. He was charming, on the comm, and the sheen of sweat on his upper lip was something only Ethan could feel.

“I know how that is,” the pilot said. Grudging amusement in that tone. The grunt of breath as the pilot shifted something — moved equipment, maybe. Checked his anchorage. Even tethered to the ship, as he was, there was a chance he could be thrown by an unexpected movement and end up drifting, having to do the long haul hand over hand up his lifeline to get back to his ship and then start all over again.

He could see, despite the importance of his task, that the pilot periodically checked Ethan’s position, hunched and defensive over his equipment. Tense. That tension, that fear wouldn’t lessen until Ethan was out of range, and Ethan knew it.

He turned the comm off before he hit the thrusters.

There wasn’t even a bump as his ship sailed through the line. Proximity alarms were going off — of course they were — but he’d timed it well. The course correction had come too late for the pilot on the asteroid to do anything but watch in horror.

There was no sound in the vacuum of space save the sounds you made yourself. He could hear his own breath echoing back to him in the confines of his suit, the rub of fabric against skin as he cut the body free. He was quite dead — the time Ethan had spent cataloguing the other ship had been more than enough for the suit’s limited oxygen supply to run dry. It wasn’t a man any longer, just a piece of space debris, the smallest of small specs in a vast unending darkness.

He shoved it towards the biggest gap in the belt he could see. It would float for… days. Years. Decades if it didn’t collide with an asteroid before then. Perhaps he — it would be pulverised by those rocks, perhaps it would simply be nudged in a different direction altogether, until it drifted close to a strong enough gravity well. The Sun, maybe. Mars. In a hundred years, maybe two, some other miner, some other salvager might find a body, and know that it had met its end by the hands of another human.

Ethan would be dead by then, of course.

He could almost pretend that he was cataloguing a regular find. Not unheard of, to find a drifter out here. Unusual enough that he might have to stretch things out — use the supplies rather than sell them, break down the ship and use the parts to upgrade his own.

Even so, there was enough to pay his debt. He was free.

He could almost ignore how much his hands shook on the controls as he programmed his course home.

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About The Author

Imogen Cassidy

imogen cassidy 200Imogen Cassidy is a Sydney based speculative fiction author who divides her time between writing, podcasting and parenting.

Her work has appeared in Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine, The Colored Lens and Aurealis.


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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.


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.


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In The Next Issue...

Coming In Issue 245

Coffee With God
by Col Hellmuth

Crossing Mercury
by Kevin J. Phyland

Hugh's Friend
by Mark Towse

by Natalie JE Potts

Much Needed Boost
by David Scholes

Painting The Future
by Robin Hillard

The Final Squeeze
by Zena Shapter

The Fire
by Chris Gladstone

The Prince Scamp — His Wrath
by Wes Parish

by Roger Ley

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AntiSF's Narration Team

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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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 (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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SF News

Upcoming Cons

Supanova Adelaide 02/11/2018 till 04/11/2018, Adelaide Showground, John Barrowman & a calvacade of others. <https://www.supanova.com.au/>

Supanova Brisbane 09/11/2018 till 04/11/2018, John Barrowman & a calvacade of others. <https://www.supanova.com.au/>.

Monsterfest Horror Movie Festival 22-25 November, Cinema Nova Melbourne <https://www.monsterfest.com.au/>.

INDIE COMIC CON 2018 8 Dec Northcote Town Hall, Melbourne Free event. <http://www.indiecomiccon.com.au/>.

Nullus Anxietas VII: The Australian Discworld Convention — will be held in Melbourne on April 12-14, 2019, and is themed on Going Postal. More information: <https://ausdwcon.org/>.

Continuum 15 Other Worlds (Natcon 58): Continuum 15 is the Australian National SF Convention, to be held in Melbourne on June 7–10. More information and memberships <https://continuum.org.au>. AntipodeanSF will be at Continuum 15 and celebrating Issue 250 of AntiSF!

Worldcon Dublin 2019 — An Irish Worldcon 15/08/2019 till 19/08/2019, The Convention Centre Dublin (CCD). <More info here>

For more up-to-date Aussie SF info join the ASFF: <asff.org.au>.

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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

There’s no real objection to escapism, in the right places… We all want to escape occasionally. But science fiction is often very far from escapism, in fact you might say that science fiction is escape into reality… It’s a fiction which does concern itself with real issues: the origin of man; our future. In fact I can’t think of any form of literature which is more concerned with real issues, reality.

Arthur C. Clarke