Aphelion Issue 249, Volume 24
April 2020
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Cloud Racer

by Carleton Chinner

Mother would be so proud of him when he won. Parek’s footsteps echoed across the great hall of Paradellia accompanied only by the hum of his hardshield deflecting the overwhelming radiation. Grey wisps of cloud drifted outside the arches of the floating palace. He hugged himself as the chill cut through the comforting warmth that had infused his body on the shuttle.

“Quaint you. This unit has not registered a great number of humans here.”

Parek blushed. The radiance was speaking to him. He bowed to the organo-metallic block behind the counter.

“I’m here for the race, sir.” Such a simple statement. How could he tell the radiance he needed the prize? A body upgrade from weak human flesh to the constructed power of a radiance shell cost more than his family would earn in a lifetime.

The radiance said nothing, but Parek felt a subtle flood of neutrinos over his hardshield. “It has been many cycles since this unit last registered a human. How is it that this human stands in the open air of Jupiter?”

“My family are cryodapts.”

“A neighbour? How are the tunnels of Europa? Do the sealkin still hunt pyrworms in the mud?”

“You’ve been to Europa?”

The radiance shifted to a humanoid shape. “How did this human extend through space to Paradellia?”

Parek shuffled, there was no point in bluffing his way through this. “I hid aboard the service freighter.”

The square centre of the body glowed a subtle yellow-green. Parek gaped, radiances seldom showed their feelings, let alone amusement.

“You may address this unit as Pharos Tenkian.”

Parek held out his hand. The radiance extended a loop of plasma that brushed his skin.

“Enjoy the race.”


Open archways supported the silver vault of the great hall’s ceiling doing nothing to hold out the emptiness beyond the arches. Parek focussed on the abstract lines engraved in the metal floor.

A flutter of silver vanes collided with him, knocking him to the floor. Chrome extensors flashed towards him, servos whirling. “Observe. A meat brain joins the race.” The hard, flat voice echoed from inside the cloud of edges with a distinct edge of disdain.

A bewildering variety of other radiances drifted closer displaying a selection of the shell fashions the artificial intelligences chose to wear. Parek could never have guessed that sentient machines could be so individual. A cluster of floating silver globules drifted to his left. Two grey-green cubes with fluted sides stood next to it. A crab-like collection of metallic servo arms completed the group.

“How are you addressed, air breather?” The silver-vaned show-off was speaking to him.

“I’m Parek. Who’re you and what makes you think you can talk to me that way?”

“This unit is addressed as Torgak. This unit will address a lesser processor as it deems fit.”

“Ignore that unit,” said a ringing bass voice behind him. “That unit is a cloud dweller and full of airy thoughts.”

The speaker was a dense cloud of black nanites interspersed with emerald green stars. It drifted clear of the floor.

Parek picked himself up off the cool metal floor. “What’re you?”

“This unit is addressed as Oorasa, a designate dweller of Charyx.”

“The deep city?

A voice rang from the walls drowning out Oorasa’s answer. “Contestants are to assemble at the flight deck.”
“Pharos Tenkian,” said the cluster of floating silver globules, glowing an awestruck amber. “The prime radiance itself addresses these units.”


Wisps of pale green-grey methane filled with icy flakes flowed through the flight deck. Parek clutched his flight suit and wished he was back in Europa’s warm glaciers cuddled with his brood mother and siblings.

Pharos Tenkian waited for them, drifting a hand span above the floor, its titanic mass held up by thin air. “The Parradelia Cup honours the memory of all those who gave their consciousness in the Great War to make Jupiter a free home to any sentience. As in the final days of the war, competitors will use their wit to win using feats of logic. Their wit is sufficient, no training is given, and no connection to data banks will be permitted. Competitors are permitted the use of anything on their yacht, and nothing further.”

The great radiance flowed toward the edge of the flight deck. “This year the Committee has drawn inspiration from ancient Earth devices. Each contestant is allocated an identical yacht.”

Pharos led them to a row of eight elongate dish-shaped vessels, each half as tall as Parek. He clasped his hands to stop them shaking. Stubby projections on each side of the yachts attached to enormous orange spheres. The blunt prow complemented an ornate pair of ailerons at the rear completing the impression of an old Earth boat.

“Your yacht is a combination of sailing vessel and vacuum airship. As with the inventions of the Montgolfier brothers, contestants will sail among the clouds.”

Oorasa drifted near him. “Good computing, young human. May the most efficient processor win.”

“Good luck to you too.”

Oorasa glowed yellow-green. “Luck is not necessary. This unit is interested in observing a human effort in this race and is hoping you do well.”

The competitors surged towards the yachts. Oorasa flowed into the first. Parek followed intending to take the second one. A heavy collection of silver vanes knocked him aside. “This yacht is taken.”

Parek opened his mouth to protest, but Torgak flowed past him onto the yacht. Parek climbed onto the next one and sat on something uncomfortable. He found a webbing harness and strapped it on.

Deep chiming tones rang from the organo-metallic block. “The human contestant is allowed the addition of his breathing equipment. No other contestant is permitted an addition. Discovery of such will result in immediate disqualification.”

“Enjoy the extra weight, wet head. You will only register this unit’s tail fins.” Torgak’s voice echoed from the sides of the yacht.

“No, I won’t. You just watch me.” Parek waited for a return taunt, but none came. He scanned the yacht with his memplant and blushed when the on-board communications unit connected to him.

“Contestant units, ready your yachts.”

His memplant registered a connection to the bewildering steering controller. He tried to move the ailerons. A klaxon wailed in response and the flight deck dissolved in a flurry of grey nanites.

The yacht canted forward into free-fall, and Parek gasped as the grey bulk of Parradelia vanished into wispy clouds above them.

He screamed in surprise as the yacht tipped over leaving him suspended by his webbing. Below him the air turned clear showing a layer of heavy cloud a hundred kilometres further down.

“Enjoy the fall, organic simpleton. The deep dwellers will appreciate your donation of trace minerals.”

“Just you wait, you pompous collection of spare parts.”

Air wailed past the yacht in a rising crescendo. Parek’s stomach lurched at the endless nothing of open sky below. He reached for the ailerons with his memplant and the yacht pitched to the left. Trying the other dimension, he looped over maintaining a moment of being upright before the yacht flipped upside-down again.

On the next loop he held it vertical for long enough to spot two other yachts a huge distance above him. The third loop was enough for him to stabilise the yacht. Now he was falling the right way up. He scanned the mental controls and found the vacuum activator. If he could start them, the pumps would empty the spheres, making them lighter than the atmosphere.

Minutes dragged by after he togged the control until the howling wind took on a lower tone and the spheres’ internal struts creaked with ambient pressure. His stomach stopped trying to find its way up his throat.

The deck wobbled. Parek drew in a deep breath as the yacht rose. High above him the dark bulk of Parradelia hid behind scudding methane clouds. Of the others, there was no trace. Flicked through the control, he found a simple three-dimensional map holding eight dots relative to the start. Five competitors were in a tight group with one higher and further back. Another yacht was far below him in the heavy cloud. It had to be the deep dweller. No one else could withstand the pressure and temperatures at that altitude. The pack was taking advantage of a jetstream to push them further toward the first waypoint. He had to get to their level.

An angry, boiling maw opened below the yacht. Parek leaned back hard in a desperate attempt to stop the rolling storm vortex from sucking the yacht into the crushing depths. The downdraught plucked at the yacht with vicious intensity. The sudden turbulence at these latitudes was what Earth folk had seen as rolling waves through their primitive telescopes. Below the keel, mountainous ropes of cloud poured into the gaping wound in the atmosphere. The yacht wallowed in the uneasy air then righted itself. Parek leaned over as far as he could and held tight as the yacht slid to the edge of the vortex.

Parek scanned the vapour trails around him in frustration. Far over to his left, a cumulonimbus cloud towered from below him into the stratosphere. He could ride it into the heights and at least be back in the race.

It took longer than he expected to reach the tower of cloud; the whole area bubbled with the instability of an impending storm. The cloud mass reached over with an undeniable Coriolis force that sucked the minuscule yacht up as soon as it approached. Parek gripped the console and whooped with joy as he rose at a dizzying pace.

A metallic rumble vibrated through his chest. He turned, puzzled by the sound until skeletal fingers of lightning wrapped around the cloud like a closing hand. His hoarse screaming filled the cockpit as gigantic bolts pierced the surrounding air. The reek of ammonia accompanied the slow rain of white flakes accumulating on the deck. Parek ignored them until their combined weight slowed his rise. After that he took care to sweep the stinking sludge over the side.

Hours later, the storm abated. He canted the yacht out, his arms shaking as the spheres settled into a laminar airflow. Two kilometres in front of him, a flotilla of seven yachts drifted in the same airflow.

“Hello, small human.” Oorasa’s holograph floated above the console. “This unit appreciates your unorthodox approach, using the storm to regain altitude was elegant computing.”

Parek flushed. “Thanks, I tried to stay alive.” “Hey Oorasa, how’d you get up there so fast?”

The hologram glowed a subtle purple. “Ahead of us lies a minor spot. We meet at the city of Ketran for the mandatory refuel stop. A small colony of humans lives there. They may help you find fuel.”

A moment of puzzlement followed before Parek realised that fuel for a radiance meant food to a human.

The edge of the spot rose in front of the yachts in a permanent storm wall stretching as far as Parek could see. He stared at the yacht’s stubby sail a moment then angled the yacht closer to the storm than the others were travelling. Dangerous shear winds drove the the turbulence, but the risk would give him the chance of finding a faster stream of wind to make up the gap.

The tessellated sphere of Ketran loomed above them by the time Parek had narrowed the distance to a mere three minutes. He emptied the spheres further and began a gentle rise towards the kilometre-wide, funnel-shaped entry. He followed the others to one side as a klaxon wailed its mournful warning. A hulking gas freighter displaced the air within the funnel with a rumbling thump that brushed the yachts up against the walls.

Parek held steady until he secured his yacht on the flight deck alongside the others.

Oorasa drifted over, its radiance the cool blue of satisfaction. “Refuel well. The return to Parradelia takes our units around the immense Red Gyre, a journey of significant time cycles. Many units have suffered an energy failure while circling the gyre and failed to complete the race.”

“Can you tell me where to find the local humans?”

The black cloud of nanites extended in a slim pseudopod tipped with an arrow. “Go to the centre, they like the space.”

Parek looked where Oorasa pointed saw an arched walkway leading south and upwards.

He scrambled up the steep incline of the tunnel and tried hard not to bruise his knees as he climbed. Radiances flowed past him in an endless stream of colours and shapes. He gaped as five jet-black darts flew off down a side passage, exchanging private thoughts in bursts of colour as they travelled.

The passage led deep into Ketran. Crosswinds from intersecting passages buffeted Parek as he passed air redolent with exotic hydrocarbons. Radiances fluttered everywhere, many in the assembly of vanes that Torgak affected. Even radiances had fashions.

He emerged from the tunnel into a vast interior space, evenly lit by equidistant floating globes. The hollow centre of Ketran curved away into sweeping space with entire cities clustered at points across the shell.

A winged radiance made its way across the emptiness towards the shelf where Parek stood. As it approached, Parek made out the human eyes and facial skin of an avidapt, the rare breed of humans that dwelt in airy spaces.

It landed with a clicking of claws and turned bright eyes toward him. “The featherkin heard a human had joined the great race. You must be Parek.” Her voice whistled and clicked over hard consonants.

“Yes, That’s me.”

“I am Firtlestama, second wing of Orange Nest. Will you join our feeding?” She pointed the hand, at the end of one wing towards a mountain of loose packing material that had several entrances. “I will fly. You follow the orange lights on that path.”

Firtlestama spread her enormous wings and took off towards the nest. Parek followed along the floor. The lights led him through a maze of buildings until he emerged next to the entrance.

A melodious din echoed from dozens of voices as he entered the tunnel. Warm, humid air carried the sweet tang of a high-oxygen environment. Parek breathed deep on the life-giving gas as his internal organs switched over from catalysed methane; a slow warmth spread through his core.

“Welcome, cold-dweller. Our nest is yours,” said an avidapt who dwarfed Firtlestama. Parek recognised him as male by his bright red comb and razor-like leg spurs. “My nestling tells me you are competing in the race.”

“Yes, sir. She invited me to join your feeding.”

The avidapt glanced at Firtlestama using a sudden flick of his head almost too rapid for Parek to follow. “Then you must flock with us. I am Preetikatata, first wing of Orange Nest.” He turned and strutted deeper into the nest. Parek stifled his smile at Preetikatata’s odd, waddling gait.

He followed through tunnels woven from packing material that led to a cosy hollow where a dozen avidapts picked at fruit and small pastries.

“Feed well,” said Firtlestama. “There is nowhere to eat after here until the end of the race.”

Parek did not need a second invitation and scooped up a pastry.

After the meal, Preetikatata clapped an enormous wing around Parek’s shoulder and pointed to a side passage. “Sleep in there.” He smiled as Parek turned to leave. “Join us for the dawnsong before you go.”

The short tunnel led to a comfortable hollow lined with down. Parek’s eyes grew heavy as soon as he lay down.

A melodious chain of bass notes woke him, hours later. Male voices wove a deep insistent rhythm while lighter female notes threaded a complex melody around the bass. He sprang out of the sleeping chamber. Dawnsong meant the race would start soon. Firtlestama met him in the main chamber. She pressed a woven package into his hands. “Take this food, Red Gyre is far.”

“Bring victory over the metal ones,” rumbled Preetikatata from an entrance.

“Father!” Firtlestama’s cheeks flushed as she led him out of Orange Nest.

Parek ran back to the flight deck hoping he wasn’t too late but arrived as the last yacht drifted away from the flight deck.

“Excellent timing, competitor,” said the race controller. “You have two minutes until your start.”

Parek breathed out, he had a chance to strap in and check everything.

Two minutes passed, and a klaxon sounded. He eased the yacht into the great funnel.

Torgak’s yacht was in front with Oorasa a close second. A flutter of silver vanes appeared as a hologram in front of him.

“Meat brain, you live!” Torgak’s voice dripped with condescension. “Keep up, this unit would like you to witness our victory over the deep dweller.” The hologram glowed the green of amusement. “Try not to run out of fuel.”

The yacht sagged against the spheres as it fell into the funnel. Parek ignored Torgak’s taunts and concentrated on keeping the yacht stable as they dropped out of the funnel and into the great storm again.

He accessed everything he could on the yacht, noting three sets of sails for various wind speeds. A series of airflow schematics appeared. The exit from Ketran was a straightforward drop into laminar flow that fed out into the edge of the storm, a location chosen with great care to assist departing freighters.

Parek extended the largest of the sails as soon as clear air offered itself. The yacht slid sideways until he unfurled the hundred-metre-long pyramidal keel and then shot forward with a rush. He grinned as he passed two trailing yachts still struggling to deploy sails. The yachts in front pulled further away until he realised that they had trimmed their sails. He copied them, keeping careful balance to prevent tipping over again then settled in for the long haul to Red Gyre.

The great storm was already visible even though it lay thirty hours ahead of them. Red Gyre was the latest great spot in the eternal turmoil of the Jovian atmosphere, the great-grandchild of the red spot his ancestors had first seen through telescopes. From this distance, it appeared as a solid brown column filled with dark materials from the extreme depths. Close up it would be a titanic storm of boiling water mixed with hydrazine compounds that would unleash flurries wide enough to swallow his home world, Europa.

The entire Gyre rotated every six days. With care, Parek knew he might circle it in that time and catch an eddy that flicked him back towards Parradelia.


Twenty-six hours later, the wind had risen to an unbearable fury. The atmosphere throbbed and moaned around the yacht as tendrils of compressed gas in muted shades of orange snaked through the air. Parek scaled back to the smallest sails, and then abandoned the sails altogether, relying on just the drag of the keel to keep him stable. The tactic worked; he passed four other yachts that still struggled with their sails.

He drew up level with Torgak and Oorasa and wasn’t surprised when Oorasa’s hologram popped up.

“Air breather, you join our units in the quest for victory. This unit wishes you elegant computing. Let the most efficient unit win.”

Torgak’s hologram materialised next to Oorasa. “This unit cautions the animated lamebrain to stay back.”

“Try and stop me,” said Parek as he shortened the amount of keel he had out. The yacht fell until the other two were a hundred metres above him. He pumped gas into the sphere to stabilise and the front of his yacht crept past the two in the lead.

“Let’s see if you can catch me now,” he transmitted to them. Neither replied, but a bright beam, no wider than a finger, stabbed out from Torgak’s yacht and sliced a jagged hole in Parek’s left sphere.

“Goodbye, processor weakling,” said the fluttering vanes. “Send regards to the deep dwellers.”

“No!” Parek sat there with his mouth open. That pretentious collection of shiny surfaces had cheated. He shook his fist at the departing yachts. “Come back!”

The yacht tipped and slid towards the depths.

The pressure and temperature rose as he fell in a wailing spiral until he had to grab for the breathing kit. Parek knew it was only a temporary reprieve before the monstrous pressure in the depths crushed him.

The yacht shuddered as it crashed through atmospheric layers. Parek struggled to draw breath against the mounting pressure. Torgak’s illegal ion cannon had left a fist-sized hole in the end of the sphere. His eyes dashed around for anything that might help, and then he spotted the food parcel Firtlestama had given him.

He undid the binding fibre then grabbed at the pastries as they flew out of the wrapping. He caught two before the turbulence swept the rest of them out of the yacht. With the pastries secure in a pocket, he reached for the wrapping.

The wind became a living thing; its voice deepening as the air pressure increased. Parek glanced at the damaged sphere. There was a chance. He undid the harness and stood, balancing himself against the wind. The yacht tipped over further as he crawled onto the sphere, and the yawning emptiness below beckoned. Parek focussed on the woven metal of the sphere instead. The wind snatched at him. He lay flat and reached for the hole. The yacht yawed from side to side. He spread the wrapping over the jagged rent in one desperate motion before scurrying back to the harness.

The vacuum pumps took on a different whine and the yacht’s plummet slowed until he came to a stop. This deep the storm had shrunk to an angry, black tube only kilometres across. Parek gave a grim laugh as he realised that the six-day rotation would take mere hours down here. The atmosphere quivered with unbearable heat. Parek did not feel it; his physiology was adapted to swimming near deep Europan lava vents.

He trimmed the yacht into a slower airflow then reached for the pastries. His mouth watered at the thought of food until his hand encountered the breathing mask. Laughing at his mistake he took a small breath then raised the mask long enough to take a bite. With the mask secured on his face, he breathed a flush of clean air and chewed while he gave the problem some thought.

He contemplated using the storm tube the same way he had used the updraft on the previous leg of the race. Red Gyre was no minor upwelling, forces inside the storm would shred the yacht if he wasn’t careful. He edged the yacht closer to the storm wall.

An invisible hand reached out and plucked the yacht from the calm air. Parek fastened a white-knuckle grip on his harness as the yacht groaned spinning in aimless circles as a draft of hot steam pushed it hundreds of metres upwards. The front of the yacht disappear into the solid brown of the Gyre’s core. Parek cowered away from the coming impact. The yacht bucked upwards with such ferocity that he blacked out. He came to moments later hanging upside-down in the harness with the yacht flying sideways at an incredible speed. His vision faded as the side stream joined an updraft that pushed him upwards so fast that the blood drained from his head and the world faded.


Consciousness returned to the quiet hiss of his respirator punctuating the silence. The yacht hung at an angle in a glittering fog of ice crystals. The biting cold suggested a great altitude.

Beyond the yacht, the cloud streamed upward. His makeshift repair had survived the storm’s treatment, but he was falling. Parek twisted to one side, and the yacht righted itself as it sank through the fog.

His memplant detected no signal from the electronics. The fine spider web of burns extending from the console to the side told him he had sustained a lightning strike. The smallest sail lay in a twisted heap at the back. Of the two larger sails, there was no trace.

Moments later, the yacht dropped into clear sky. The top of Red Gyre’s great cloud mass lay behind him, the fury of the storm petering out at this altitude. Above him, the Galilean moons of Calisto and Io reflected light from the distant sun, offset by stars glittering in a dark sky.

Parek turned his eyes to the front and contemplated what was to come. Most likely a slow death by starvation. He stretched his meagre knowledge of orbital mechanics to consider what the moons said about direction. Far below and to the right, a distant white structure glinted against the horizon. There was no way to tell what it was from this distance, but it was a destination.

The yacht spun in slow aimless circles as it dropped. Parek extended the keel, and the horizon stabilised as he headed in one direction, even if it was away from the structure.

The small storm sail flapped in the breeze. If he detached it, he could use it as a surface to direct airflow. He stretched a hand towards the sail and waited. His patience was rewarded when the sail flapped close enough.

He leaned out and lifted the sail breathing out hard as the yacht swung to one side. A small amount of experimentation aimed the yacht at his destination. The air thickened, and the temperature increased as the yacht sank. After a while, Parek removed the breathing gear knowing his body would survive at this altitude.

He grinned as warmer air streamed past his bare face but lost the grin moments later when a crosswind slammed the yacht aside. The small sail bucked and tore at his hands like a living thing. as the yacht slewed to one side, threatening to overturn. He twisted his body using the sail as leverage to right the yacht.

The hours passed in a turbulent chaos of twists and spins until, much later, the yacht fell into calm air and Parek got his first look at his destination. He whooped as he recognised the gleaming spires of Parradelia.

Three jet-black delta wings screamed out of the floating palace toward him, each twice as large as his yacht. Invisible neutrino beams scanned Parek and the yacht.

A hard metal voice echoed through Parek’s memplant. “Identify yourself.”

“I’m Parek, a participant in the Parradelia Cup.”

“Impossible. Race participants are not expected for another thirty-seven hours. Why does your vessel not identify?”

“Lighting hit my controllers.”

“Follow these units to the flight deck. Do not deviate from the flight path. Non-compliance will result in termination.”

The long approach to the flight deck sapped Parek of his remaining strength. All he wanted now was to get off the yacht and have something to eat.

The damaged sphere gave better lift in the thicker atmosphere. He eased into a suitable configuration for landing and leaped with joy as the flight deck connected with a reassuring thump. He staggered across the empty deck towards a radiance who stood nearby.

“Am I too late? Is the race over?”

The radiance glowed a confused brown. “This unit is assigned to flight maintenance.”

“Parek of the tunnel-kin of Europa,” a booming voice echoed across the flight deck. “Raise your hand if you identify as such.”

“I’m Parek.”

“Wait there, young human, this unit will dispatch an avatar.”

Two minutes passed before an organo-metallic block drifted onto the flight deck. “This unit recognises the winner of the Parradelia Cup. Let the records reflect the achievement.”

“Are you Pharos Tenkian? Did I win?”

The organo-metallic block twinkled a vivid green. “Come, young man. I have not conversed as a human for a long time, but you must be hungry and tired. We will speak tomorrow when the others arrive.”


Parek returned to the flight deck the next day and watched as Torgak and Oorasa vied for position. Oorasa touched down metres in front of Torgak. The deep dweller’s dark nanites flared a triumphant red that faded to a dull grey when he saw Parek standing there. “Well computed, Parek, this unit salutes you.”

Parek’s memplant registered a burst of dense information between Oorasa and Pharos Tenkian.

The great radiance drifted towards the third yacht, flushing steel-grey. “The rules were simple. Units were to use, only what they had on their yachts.”

Torgak flushed an angry red. “The breather used something to repair the damage.”

“The breather used the wrapper from his fuel package. Fuel, and its packaging, were permissible during the race,” said Pharos Tenkian. “The ion cannon was illegal. Your processing is therefore demoted to base level.”

Torgak reared up, the vanes puny against the immense organo-metallic bloc now the death black of judgement. Pharos Tenkian emitted a deep bell tone and the fluttering cloud of vanes collapsed in on itself, each vane folding into the central core until only a squat cylinder remained. When the clattering stopped, Torgak was a menial service bot.

“The race does not tolerate computing outside of parameters,” said Pharos Tenkian. “That unit will provide service until it has earned back its processing capacity.”

The organo-metallic block chimed. “These units will wait for the rest to arrive.”

Of the remaining five yachts, only three arrived. Oorasa recorded one succumbing to a crushing downdraught. The final yacht never returned.

Pharos Tenkian assembled them. “Each Parradelia Cup brings its share of elegant computing. This year has been no exception. Parek of the tunnel-kin has been declared the winner.”

The other five cheered.

Pharos Tenkian twinkled at him. “A long time ago, this unit was as human as you. I know a body upgrade is a big step. Return to your brood mother and think on it.”

“I’ll do that,” said Parek. “But I already know what I’ll do.”

“And what is that, young human?”

“I’m going to visit Oorasa in the deep city.”


2020 Carleton Chinner

Bio: Carleton Chinner is the author of the Cities of the Moon series of science fiction novels. His work has been long-listed for the Adaptable award and received honourable mention from the Writers of Future competition. He is a reviewer for the Aussie Speculative Fiction Review and is Secretary of the Management Committee for the Queensland Writers Centre.

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