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"Goodbye, Jean-Luc, I'm gonna miss you. You had such potential. But then again, all good things must come to an end."
- Q, Star Trek: TNG

Antipodean SF Uncovers the Flip-Side of Flash Fiction

by Ken Newquist / May 10, 2006

Antipodean SF I used to read a lot of webzines, but got out of the habit in the early 2000s when their numbers declined and my free time disintegrated. This month, in addition to striving to read more in general, I've specifically attempted to return to my old webzine ways.

Antipodean SF features something you don't see a lot of on the Web: Australian flash speculative fiction. While not all of its authors are from below the equator, a good number are (and each of those is denoted by an Australian flag). The monthly webzine makes for a quick read, thus making it an easy first-stop on my Webzine tour.

Fast Fiction

Issue #95 offers a typical mix of the webzine's offerings, presenting ten new flash fiction stories.

"A Better World" by David Shanahan sends the universe to the universe next door that has one unexpected, yet crucial, difference. Couldn't help but remind me of the classic universe-hopping Simpsons episode. "Scripted Events" by Ross Murray wears its politics on its sleeve, and comes across heavy handed because of it. I'm as skeptical of the anti-terror procedures as the next civil libertarian, but this story reads like an over-zealous, knee-jerk scaling of existing procedures -- no surprises. I think it would have worked better without the politician bit.

"Cuts Like a Knife" by Sterling Smith is a tale of unrequited (and by the end, downright creepy) love between a man and the woman who uses him. A lot of flash fiction tries to have a Twilight Zone-ish twist to the end, the hook that makes the lack of words work. The often fail, but "Cuts Life a Knight" is one of the happy exceptions.

The other stories were amusing, if not always memorable reads, but that just highlight's Antipodean's greatest strength: like the weather in Alaska, if you don't like something just wait 5 minutes and you'll have a brand-new story you might enjoy better.

And a side order of fries

Rounding the site's offerings are "E-Scapes", which reviews speculative fiction (in #95 it looks at the Australian journal Borderlands, Doctor Who: The Legend Continues) a monthly feature (this time looking at alternative uses for NASA"s Kenndy Space Center runways) and the regular "Ionospherics", state-of-the-zine column by the site's editor (who coincidentally goes by the nom de plume of "Nuke").

Final Analysis

Antipodean's a fun read, one you can easily breeze through over your lunch break (or your coffee break, if you read quickly enough).