Publication news – AntipodeanSF issue 250

I received some very exciting news this weekend. A short story of mine, Where Everybody Knows Your Name, has been accepted for publication in the upcoming 250th issue of AntipodeanSF.

Long time readers will know that I’ve published quite a few flash fiction pieces in AntipodeanSF over the years, so when Ion “Nuke” Newcombe put out the call to the community of writers that have previously published with him to do a special, longer short story for the 250th issue I knew I had to try to be a part of it.

I snuck my story submission in with a whole hour to spare before the 31 March deadline, and I got the great news back today that my story made the cut.

AntipodeanSF has been going since 1998 – that’s 21 years ago – and Nuke was a pioneer of the internet age, back when most of us couldn’t even spell internet. He has given so many authors their first writing credit over the years, and is an absolute stalwart of the Australian speculative fiction community.

Issue 250 is exciting stuff. There will be over 45 stories (see the end of this post for a list of just some of the titles), and Nuke will be producing the issue as an anthology as well as an online read, so you can actually read your favourite AntipodeanSF authors in print, if you so desire!

There are so many stories that Nuke will be leaving them up for 3 months on the website, with issue 251 not appearing until August 2019.

I’m very excited, and proud, to be a part of such a fantastic milestone for AntipodeanSF. If you get a chance to read it, I hope you enjoy my story.

As well as my story, the issue will include excellent work such as:

  • 10 To The Six And The Natural Order Of Things by Shaun A. Saunders
  • A Place Of My Own by Zebuline Carter
  • A Rift Of No Return by Laurie Bell
  • A Witch’s Place by Zena Shapter
  • Between The Ticks by Lynda Young
  • Beware! The Blab by Tony Owens
  • Cassini Falling by Cat Sparks
  • Cloned + Apocalypse by Eugen M. Bacon
  • Colour by Jason Butterfield
  • Dissonance by Jason Nahrung
  • End of Days by Ray O’Brien
  • Evidence Of A Dark Transformation by Phllip Berrie
  • Frank’s Best Friend by Col Hellmuth
  • Halloween Party by Kim Rose
  • Hatch by Trent Jamieson
  • In A Phobos Garden by Rick Kennett
  • In Salt And Starlight by Pamela Jeffs
  • Neanderthal by Edwina Harvey
  • Off Planet by Tony Steven Williams
  • Once Upon A Moonlit Clearing by Rebecca Fraser
  • Pictures Of You by Ishmael A Soledad
  • Possession by Lee Battersby
  • Sandbox by Kevin J. Phyland
  • Science Fiction by Jackie Hosking
  • Serratoria by Chris Gladstone
  • Sit Up And Beg by Michael T. Schaper
  • Slower Than The Speed Of Light by Kris Ashton
  • Soylent 7 by Shane Griffin
  • Sparks by Martin Livings
  • Special Delivery by Garry Dean
  • The First Law Of Havoc by David Kernot
  • The Forgotten Sea by Louise Zedda-Sampson
  • The Optimist by Simon Brown
  • The Past Begins by Jan Napier
  • The Slow by Antoinette Rydyr
  • Trespassing by Sue Clennell
  • when Willie came home from the war hoorah hoorah by Bart Meehan

And more… 

Antipodean SF Issue 249

As you may know, I help out on the Antipodean SF website, creating the eBook version of the online magazine each month. 

Image by Enrique Meseguer from Pixabay

Issue 249 has a great range of stories, including:

  • A King May Look At A Cat by Lynne Lumsden Green
  • Applicants Must Be Able To Cackle by Nikky Lee
  • Crash Dummy by Roger Ley
  • Giants And The Little Tykes by AE Reiff
  • Infinite Monkeys by Aiki Flinthart
  • Kitting Up by David Scholes
  • She’s Dead by Mark Towse
  • Surfing On Neptune by Eugen M. Bacon
  • The Forgetful Visitor by Barry Germansky
  • The Sin Of Envy by George Nikolopoulos

As well as reading on line, you can also check out the eBooks, which include both .epub and .mobi versions.

While we’re on the AntipodeanSF train, I should say that Issue 250 will be absolutely huge. Forty-five plus speculative stories from the community of authors who have contributed to AntipodeanSF over the years.

There are so many stories that website copy will remain online throughout May, June and July, with normal monthly publication resuming on August 1, 2019 with Issue 251.

Nuke (AntipodeanSF’s editor) is even creating an “on demand” printing option, so you can even get this mammoth edition using dead trees and special, one of a kind ink (*). How can you resist!

(*) Actually normal ink, made special mostly by the magic of the stories it will trace out on the page.

Ditmar awards

The Ditmar Awards, Australia’s premier popular vote SF awards, are open for nominations. Anyone who has bought a membership of the national convention (Continuum 15 is Melbourne this year) or is “active in fandom” is eligible to vote. There’s an extensive list of eligible work here, an explanation of voting rules here, and you can nominate work with this online form.

This year I actually have a work that qualifies for your consideration, namely:

In the Best Novella or Novelette category:

“The Reclaimers”, Mark Webb, in Dimension6 Issue #13, Coeur de Lion, April 2018.

You can go and read Issue 13 for free, or invest the grand sum of $1 to purchase the annual collection from Amazon and support Coeur de Lion and their excellent work on the Dimension6 publication.

Regardless of whether you are interesting in my novella, there are so many excellent Australian authors and works out there, I’m sure you would be able to find many fantastic works to nominate. Get nominating!

Antipodean SF Issue 248

As you may know, I help out on the Antipodean SF website, creating the eBook version of the online magazine each month.

…and beyond…

Issue 248 has a great range of stories, including:

A Taste For Salt by Noel Osualdini

Better Ballers by Salvatore Difalco

First Choice by Vanessa Kittle

Forever In Time by Shane O’Halloran

Frozen Moments, Stolen Out Of Time by George Nikolopoulos

That Monster Show by Bart Meehan

The Last Word by Roger Ley

The Tower by Mathew Nelson

Vocation by Ishmael A Soledad

Wet Paint by Simon R. Gardner

As well as reading on line, you can also check out the eBooks.

I worry about… ghosts

I worry about ghosts. I know that doesn’t make me unique. A lot of people worry about ghosts.

Maybe you fear ghosts. They have, after all, been at the centre of a lot of frightening fiction over the years, insubstantial wraiths hell bent on destruction, revenge or mischief. I think being scared witless by the thought of a supernatural spirit with a single minded goal to wreck havoc on your life is a perfectly human, even rational, response to a disturbing situation.

But that’s not why I worry about ghosts.

Maybe the divulging of secrets concerns you. The potential for ghosts to gather information both during and after their lifetime is extensive. The idea that some intelligence is invisibly watching what you do is understandably worrisome. Think of your most secret shame. The thing you would never admit to, sometimes even to yourself. The ghosts know. They may tell, and in telling bring cascading waves of unbearable embarrassment down upon you.

But that’s not why I worry about ghosts.

Perhaps your concerns are more specific, like a nagging sense of concern about how they manifest clothes. If ghosts are the souls of women and men made manifest after death, then where do the clothes come from? Does clothing have a spirit? And, perhaps more disturbingly, who picks the outfits? The clothes they died in? The clothes they were buried in? Their favourite outfit from high school? Can they change clothes? And if the clothes are malleable, why not other features? Can a women who died in her 80s come back with the look she sported in her 20s? Can a baby extrapolate what they would have looked like if they’d had the chance to grow up?

But that’s not why I worry about ghosts.

Perhaps the defiance of natural laws unsettles you. Concerns about the application of physics to ghosts have been well documented. Many people cannot abide the thought of a ghost’s persistent failure to sink through the ground and fall towards the centre of the earth, even though they have no trouble walking through walls. Perhaps gravity has no pull on their insubstantial form, but why not? Perhaps they can move at a normal human pace through force of sheer will, but what substance does that will work on? And if they can’t interact with the physical world, how do they disturb air molecules to make all the moaning sounds?

But that’s not why I worry about ghosts.

I worry about ghosts, but maybe it is more accurate to say that I worry for ghosts. I worry that if they are real, and if they can be perceived in the physical world, that rather than being exempt from the laws of nature, they might be all too susceptible to them. The Earth hurtles around the Sun. The Sun rockets around the Galaxy even faster. The Galaxy moves in the Universe at such a speed that even if we somehow pooled the collective intelligence of every brain reading this missive we would not truly comprehend it. And with all that momentum, all that sheer velocity, I worry that in the exact moment that a spirit is released from its physical form, that insubstantial phantom is immediately left behind. The Earth hurtles on, spiralling and spinning its way across the Universe. And dotted like spectral tear drops highlighting our passage sit the ghosts. Each one alone, separated by incomprehensible distances. Each one with no way to move, stuck at the exact point in space where they died. Perhaps every now and again two people die simultaneously while lying right next to each other and have the dubious comfort of an eternity with soundless company in a frozen vacuum. And maybe occasionally some of them fleetingly impact with other stellar phenomena, a brief moment of colour and movement as an object crosses the Earth’s long deserted path and then vanishes.

But the rest of them. Oh, the rest of them. Poor bastards, scattered like breadcrumbs marking our trail through the Universe, alone, scared and most likely rapidly driven completely insane.

I worry about ghosts. I worry for ghosts. No wonder the ones that work out how to grab hold and stay with us are so cranky.

Antipodean SF Issue 247

As you may know, I help out on the Antipodean SF website, creating the eBook version of the online magazine each month.

Best Thing. Really.

Issue 247 has a great range of stories, including:

As Time Ticks On by Elizabeth Kovacs

Beneficence by David Scholes

Best Thing Since Sliced Bread by Andy McGee

Cleanse by Mark Tremble

Left Overs by Monica Carroll

Statement To The Ship Walkabout’s Coroner by Wes Parish

Stop Copying Me by Jason Retallack

The Alien Nutcracker by Brenda Anderson

What’s So Funny? by Ed Errington

My Dream Girl by Tim Train

As well as reading on line, you can also check out the eBooks.

Dimension6 2018 Annual Collection

You might remember that my novella, The Reclaimers, that was published earlier in the year in issue 13 of Dimension6. Each year, Keith Stevenson, the editor, creates a collection of all the stories from that year.

I’m pleased to say that this years collection, the Dimension6 Annual Collection 2018, is out now for the low, low price of $0.99. You can buy it directly from the Coeur de Lion website, or from Amazon etc depending on your preference (links available to various ebook retailers at the website).

Dimension6 2018 Annual Collection cover

I am very proud to be part of this collection. The Reclaimers is my first novella length work, and it is a source of great pride to have it published with such a fantastic collection of wonderful stories.

You won’t find much better value than the Dimension6 Annual Collection 2018.

The Regersek Zone (a story)

I’ve often wondered that if aliens had the technological wherewithal to travel the stars, why they wouldn’t just terraform another planet in our solar system, rather they take the risk of tangling with a sentient species and its associated diseases. That wondering found its way into this very short story.


The Regersek Zone

Rignof watched in unfeigned awe as data from the visual spectrum scanners brought the first images from the Destination up on the screen. Twenty generations of Aarnak had been born, lived and died on the Desolate Hope and finally the giant seed ship was about to reach the end of its long journey. Rignof’s fingers danced over the input device, trying to bring the picture into sharper relief.

There were eight planets in this solar system all told, as well as a vast array of smaller bodies. There was even a dwarf planet, a planetary phenomenon that had been theorised but never before seen. The best scientists on Aarn had determined that it was extremely likely that there would be worlds in the Regersek zone of this messy system, capable of sustaining Aarnak life. They had not been wrong. While gas giants dominated the outer solar system, there were four inner planets that were candidates for colonisation.

The innermost planet was little more than a molten rock – too close to the sun to be viable for any form of life.

The fourth planet was a dry, barren world, smaller than the remaining two inner planets and with gravity only a third of the Aarn home world. The aarnaforming technology contained in the lower reaches of the Desolate Hope combined with the resources to be found across this solar system would be able to convert the planet into an acceptable world, but it would be too chilly for the cold-blooded Aarn when there were other options.

The third planet teamed with life. It was closest in size and gravity to Aarn and would require a lot less modification than the other worlds, but the effort of subduing an entire planet, especially one with an intelligent species on it, was too high for their limited resources. The alien inhabitant’s technological level was not great, but they had split the atom and visited their moon. They may look like furry grozts, but a grozt with a bomb is still dangerous for all that it is stupid.

Besides, the germs! Who the hell would want to live with the ever-present risk of a deadly alien flu?

But the second planet – oh, the second planet was perfect. A little too close to this new sun, but nothing that a well placed array of solar mirrors couldn’t overcome. Completely barren, so the introduction of Aarn native species could go ahead unhindered by alien biology once the initial atmospheric modifications had been made, the surface cooled and the planet’s magnetic field jump-started. It even already had sulfuric acid in the air! This planet could be an Aarnian paradise.

Rignof turned off the display and sighed in satisfaction. Barring misadventure he would live to walk on the surface of this marvellous new world, although he himself would be old and scaleless by the time it happened. He wondered how their soon-to-be neighbours would react to sharing their solar system.

They shouldn’t complain. It wasn’t like they were using the planet.

THE END


‘The Regersek Zone’ was originally published in Antipodean SF, in issue 184 (October 2013). It is also available in the free collection of my published flash fiction and short stories A Flash in the Pan?See my bibliography for more details about my published work.

What’s shakin’? – July, August and September 2018

What have you been looking at lately?

TV

I tore through season 2 of the Marvel’s Luke Cage. I’m enjoying the various Netflix Marvel series and Luke Cage is not exception. Like in season 1, there is a level of African-American cultural references that I suspect are going way over my head, but not in such a way as to make the story incomprehensible. I’ve enjoyed the course they are charting for Luke Cage, and I think they’ve set up for an interesting third season down the line.

Likewise I worked my way through season 2 of Marvel’s Iron Fist. This is still very newly out, so I won’t give away any plot spoilers. Suffice to say I enjoyed it more than season 1, and it seemed like they engaged with a lot of the issues people raised re: cultural appropriation and gender bias (maybe not completely, but they seemed to at least be acknowledged). My perspective should be treated with suspicion though, as I’m as likely as the next person to have biases and blind spots. I’ll be very interested to see how people who have direct experience around those kinds of issues engage with the show.

Final Space is a cartoon space comedy on Netflix. Season 1 is 10 episodes, and I liked it. A little bit Futurama, but a lot more blood and guts. I may have been reading too much into it, but the straight, white guy protagonist was such a doofus that it almost seemed a commentary on sticking someone like that at the centre of a narrative. A bit stupid, but a lot of fun.

Speaking of stupid, I also watched Future Man, another sci-fi comedy. Again a lot of blood and guts, and some funny and self-aware commentary on time travel as a plot device.

The Good Place season 3 has just started – the whole household is very excited by its return.

Books

Hidden City by Alan Baxter – an urban fantasy with strong horror elements (as you’d expect from Baxter). I enjoyed it, pace was good and Baxter develops the characters quickly and well. From Goodreads:

When the city suffers, everyone suffers.

Steven Hines listened to the city and the city spoke. Cleveport told him she was sick. With his unnatural connection to her, that meant Hines was sick too. But when his friend, Detective Abby Jones, comes to him for help investigating a series of deaths with no discernible cause, Hines can’t say no. Then strange fungal growths begin to appear in the streets, affecting anyone who gets too close, turning them into violent lunatics.

As the mayhem escalates and officials start to seal Cleveport off from the rest of the world, Hines knows the trouble has only just begun.

Cabaret of Monsters by Tansy Rayner Roberts – got this through Robert’s recent Kickstarter to resurrect her Creature Court trilogy. I enjoy Robert’s writing a lot, and this was no exception. Very much stand alone, although it I think it adds something if you’ve read the Creature Court trilogy (I’m planning a re-read when the new editions come out). From Goodreads:

Saturnalia in Aufleur is a time of topsy-turvy revels, of the world turned upside down and transformed before your eyes. The city’s theatres produce an annual display of reversals, surprises and transformations.

In this city, flappers can transform into wolves. Even the rats are not what they seem.

Evie Inglirra is on a mission to infiltrate the theatrical world of Aufleur and discover what lies beneath their glamorous cabaret costumes and backstage scandals. Has she bitten off more than she can chew?

Luna and Luna: Wolf Moon by Ian McDonald – great space opera.

I’ve been enjoying the Murderbot series by Martha Wells (not the only person on the planet that this is true of) so I decided I might try one of her fantasy books, and picked up Death of the Necromancer. Really good fantasy, set in a secondary world with a kind of 18th/19th century feel (muskets and swords, not medieval). Unfortunately, a lot of the books she has written based in this world don’t seem to be available in Australia, but I’ll keep looking.

Starting the Galactic Suburbia book club where they are reading How to Suppress Women’s Writing by Joanna Russ. Only up to chapter one at the moment, but I can tell it will be a very interesting experience.

I’m not reading as much as I should!

Movies

Normal superhero palaver – Ant Man and the Wasp, Deadpool 2, even went and saw Venom last night. I remain a sucker for superhero movies, even the bad ones. Ant Man and the Wasp I really enjoyed – funny, light hearted enough to be a good antidote to the slightly depressing Infinity WarsDeadpool 2 was funny, I’ve just picked it up on DVD and looking forward to watching the extended edition. Venom… wasn’t great, but watchable and I do like the anti-hero trend at the moment.

I suspect my daughter will insist on going to see the Teen Titans Movie some time these school holidays, and I’m also looking forward to the Spiderman cartoon with Miles as Spiderman.

Games

I’ve downloaded some old games onto the iPad – Baldur’s Gate and Baldur’s Gate 2. I loved those games when I was younger, and I love them still! Have completed BG1 and working my way through BG2 as a Cleric/Ranger character (which I’ve never played before).

I also bought the new Tomb Raider game, but haven’t had a chance to play it yet as my 10yo daughter has decided she is going to be Laura Croft when she grows up and is devouring the game herself.

Writing

I’ve gone back to my novel manuscript, and have been slowly working my way through it editing. It is a very slow process – I don’t have a lot of time to devote to writing at the moment, and what time I have tends to be late at night when I’m not at my freshest.

Dimension6 Issue 15 out now

The latest issue of Dimension6 is out now, a free Australian magazine of speculative fiction. You can get your copy at the Couer de Lion website, or download a copy here.

My novella, ‘The Reclaimers’, appeared in Issue 13 of Dimension6, so you know the editor has excellent taste. Well worth checking out.

Issue 15 features:

‘Zodiac’ by Mark Barnes
She was the only living woman in the Never Never. They didn’t stand a chance.

_________________________________

‘Easy Like Arsenic’ by Ephiny Gale
This ‘once upon a time’ is nothing like the others.

_________________________________

‘The Shaming’ by David Coleman
Never question a Scrutineer. Ever. But Rosie would.