Antipodean SF, an ezine produced by Ion Newcombe, provides a market for stories 500 words or under, and it is interesting to watch the site's contributors try to limbo their way under the barrier. Some ideas are obviously too big for the word limit, stretching the seams of their narrative suit, but a handful make the most of the restriction, and while not always successful as stories nonetheless encourage applause for the effort.
Two of the better examples come from Edwina Harvey. "The Party" (Antipodean SF, No 1, 01/98) is less a story than a fantastical reminiscence of a housewarming with a few unexpected, if not unwelcome, guests. It's a warm a little piece, and makes me wish I had been there.
"Moving On" (Antipodean SF, No 3, 04/98) is a more conventional work, which may explain why it is less successful. It tells the story of a cocky who, dying from cancer, commits euthanasia with the assistance of a machine operated via a laptop computer. Well written and not all mawkish, it is let down somewhat by its ending, a problem common among the stories offered in Antipodean SF, where so much seems to depend on the last line.
"If Silence Is A Lie" (Antipodean SF, No 4, 06/98) is by Brendan Carson, whose first two published stories appeared this year in the new Altair and were reviewed in the previous column. The tale movingly describes the plight of a man whose wife's mind has been captured by alien visitors, leaving him nothing except the body of the woman he loves. In his allotted 500 words, Carson describes well the despair and the pain the man feels.
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©1998 Simon Brown.