Outer Space, Inner Minds

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Even more so, they have speculated on the celestial objects that we can see with a naked eye and those beyond the reach of our most powerful telescopes and space probes. We continue ask is there life beyond our fragile atmosphere, our solar system, our galaxy—or are we alone, a cosmic accident in an otherwise lifeless universe? And, if other lifeforms do exist on moons or distant exoplanets elsewhere, what form/s does it take? Is it intelligent, more or less so than we humans are?


Ever since humans have looked up, we have been mesmerised by the changeable wonders of an evening sky.

Even more so, they have speculated on the celestial objects that we can see with a naked eye and those beyond the reach of our most powerful telescopes and space probes. We continue ask is there life beyond our fragile atmosphere, our solar system, our galaxy—or are we alone, a cosmic accident in an otherwise lifeless universe? And, if other lifeforms do exist on moons or distant exoplanets elsewhere, what form/s does it take? Is it intelligent, more or less so than we humans are?

The sheer volume of unknowns involved with exploring what might be out there seems daunting to many of us, but this only makes our scientists and the adventurers all the more determined to find answers to the most challenging questions that will engage generations well into the foreseeable future.

For this anthology, we asked artists to respond creatively not only to these cosmic questions but also from an internal angle, from the perspective of a mind trying to make sense of elusive notions of “reality” in time and space, and who we are in the scheme of things. We offered them the freedom to present us with work on and beyond the printed page. So here you’ll find not only stimulating words, but images and audio, and thought-provoking links to external websites that will prompt you to further explore the frontiers of our constantly expanding universe and our responses to it.

David P Reiter

Dr David P. Reiter is an award-winning poet and writer of fiction, and CEO of IP, an innovative print and digital publisher in Brisbane. His fourth book, Hemingway in Spain and Selected Poems, was shortlisted for the Adelaide Festival Awards. His previous books include The Cave After Saltwater Tide (Penguin, 1994) for which he won the Queensland Premier’s Poetry Award. His book of short fiction, Triangles, was shortlisted for the Steele Rudd Award. Other works are The Gallery, interactive multimedia; Kiss and Tell, Selected and New Poems 1987-2002 (Penguin); and Sharpened Knife, a multimedia murder mystery. IP released his novel Liars and Lovers in 2003. His script, Paul & Vincent, was broadcast by ABC Radio National, followed by the release of a multimedia version and audiobook from IP Digital, based on his poetry book Letters We Never Sent. He’s completed a film and audiobook of Hemingway in Spain. Real Guns is a children’s picture book illustrated by Irish artist Patrick Murphy. His Project Earth-mend Series of four children’s books includes The Greenhouse Effect, Global Cooling, Tiger Tames the Min Min and Tiger Takes the Big Apple. He won the Wesetern Australian Premier’s Award for Timelord Dreaming (2016) and the interactive website My Planets: a fictive Memoir (2012). His most recent works are the digital narrative Black Books Publishing (2018) and Time Lords Remixed: a Dr Who poetical (2020). David has had several grants from the Australia Council and Arts Queensland and has been writer-in-residence at a number of places including the Banff Centre for the Arts, Bundanon (the Arthur Boyd property), the Michael King Centre in New Zealand, and the Katharine Susannah Prichard Centre in Perth, Western Australia.He gives talks and leads workshops on all aspects of publishing. Recent works include Black Books Publishing (2018), an interactive satire about the publishing industry; the medical/micro-textual hybrid TimeLord Dreaming, which won the 2016 Western Australian Premier’s Award for Digital Narrative, Your eBook Survival Kit, now in its 3rd edition, and the picture book Bringing Down the Wall, which was 2014 Best Book for Teens & Kids (Canadian Children’s Book Centre). As artist-in-residence twice at the Banff Centre for the Arts, he completed My Planets Reunion Memoir Project, which won the 2012 WA Premier’s Award, and The Gallery (2000), a non-linear interactive work featuring the relationship between Paul Gauguin and Vincent van Gogh. To celebrate IP’s 20th anniversary, he curated and designed Just Off Message, an anthology of more than 40 Australian and international authors. Most recently, he produced Dark Sky Dreamings: an Inland Skywriters Anthology, which is currently touring.


Deep Breath

You’ve really let yourself go
inside this vanity trap where we
need to wear cyber labels

to decode our hands right from left
so we’ll have somewhere better
to land than backwards. Never try to

control a control freak, especially a
robot urging himself into human guise
for some Promised Land. Because we’re

all organs on a preordained menu for
unwed diners outside a conjured escape
capsule. There’s something wrong

when no one else but you are breath-
ing, as you wonder what flirting has
to do with spontaneous regeneration.

Under the Lake

Ghosts? Never met one I couldn’t tame,
until now. Just say boo from behind
your sonic sunglasses and they

dissolve – or do they? But no, these
cosmic sailors hover, persistent,< br/> curious, even. Who’s in charge?

(I need to know which one I can ignore)
Meanwhile, everyone’s abandoning
ship, or falling softly into death.

They can pass through walls, locked
doors, even Clara’s holographic double,
whispering the dark, the sound, the

forsaken temple, rewinding past, through
dark space from Orion’s Nebula. I need maps,
precise coordinates to frame their positions,

a suspended animation chamber to see
how the slain relearn to hum, transmit
via some Puppeteer’s impossible magnet.

But then the flood, and Clara has to
trust me to teleport without the Tardis
and come back, ghost-free, to her


The Return of Dr Mysterio

What do I have in common with Clark Kent?
Certainly not his love of skin-tight threads, but yes
keeping a phone box handy for the first threat

of danger, and being on call 24/7 to buffer
humans, especially page turning companions,
despite their impulse to hug him or me

at the drop of an alien. Save is just what we
freelancers do without bronzing or vows.
During a pause, I was trying to power up

a time distortion equaliser thingy with a Hazandra
gemstone, when young boy Grant swallowed it
and developed a persistent case of levitation,

a capital G, and a blue rubber speed handy
24 years on to sidestep his part-time nanny
job for high school sweetheart Lucy

(read Lois Lane). Tagged the Ghost because
all the better comics names had been branded,
he was super as a backstop brake for a spaceship

with nukes cross-haired at NYC. I could
have snagged it myself, but I was missing Clara
and River Song, it was Christmas again,

and everyone deserves a happy
reboot after a sad

The Woman Who Fell to Earth

Once you learn how to tumble
from a bike you never forget.
Bad timing: I was in mid-transform

from my grey-haired Scottish
skin (bless his sexy drawl!)
bracing for my train roof grand

entry, no time to muck about
with who I am or was or should be
though I do have this niggling

yearn for a certain runaway police-
box especially as I confront the data
coil of this flying spaghetti monster.

Have I ever tasted a Hersey’s Kiss?
Does it really matter as carriages uncouple
and Tzim-Sha can zap us at will?

I do prefer the height-thrill of cranes
to the afterburn of virtual chocolate
as I blowtorch a fresh sonic screwdriver

from random scraps of metal. Damn
those budget cuts! We can do so much
better than purloined teeth for trophies.

Yes, always be kind!

Ticking boxes: ‘is he still conscious?
When did his #chest pains, shortness of breath, begin?
Please secure all dogs & attack guinea pigs.’

In situ: ‘you say your father died of a #heart attack?
Have you ever smoked?’ Passive counts.
As my pain tightens… #regeneration coming on?

‘Please scale your #pain from 1 to 10.
We sustain for the EW – no exits on our watch.
Name, date of birth, allergies – best to memorise.’

Drugs, glorious drugs! please Mr Para
may I have some more? Mr #Morphine and I
have never played tag, until now…

4D Print from the #Tardis
#Dr Who at the EW shapeshifts for the transfer,
blue jab in my bowels, #centrifuge of max focus
betrayed by a tease of dancing lights.

After the Kangaroo had solidified ever so slightly from his normal holographic state to bid the Crew a farewell that Tiger the cat took to be almost fond, if not teary, before fading into the darkness, it was pitch dark at Uluru save for the pin-pricks of light overhead that were stars, and only stars, or so Tiger hoped.

He felt the fur stiffen on the back of his neck. ‘Do you suppose Mick will be back?’ he asked no one in particular, hoping that anyone who had an answer would chime in.

‘Weren’t you listening?’ snapped Tark, the extra-terrestrial from the Planet Griffon disguised as a frog so as not to call too much attention to himself. ‘I already answered that question!’

‘Yes,’ sniffed Tiger. ‘But I hoped if I asked again that I’d like the answer more this time!’

Wanda the Blue-tongue Lizard stuck out her tongue, more to test the night air, than to make fun of Tiger’s twitchy question. ‘It would have been fair enough to ask again,’ she said, ‘if you hadn’t had the first answer less than two minutes ago!’

Number 12, the now-almost-completely-retired-racing-camel, rapped each of his left hooves in turn against its right number to free it from a clog of sand before clearing his throat to speak. ‘While it’s true Tiger just asked the question, he did it at the end of Tiger Tames the Min Min, which for us may have been five minutes ago, but this is a new story entirely, and I believe that it took its author quite some months to write.’

‘You don’t know that,’ piped in Syd the crow. ‘It might end up very much the same story, or no story at all if the writer doesn’t get a move on.’

‘Writer?’ Tark demanded. ‘What writer?’

Number 12 snorted. ‘The one who left us standing here in the cold night air for more than a year now pretending that it was five minutes, while he went off to do… other things.’

‘Alexander’s like that,’ Tiger nodded. ‘When he’s working on one of his feature articles, he forgets to eat sometimes. Which is OK, except when he forgets to feed me.’

‘Well, you’ll have plenty of time to remind him,’ said Tark, ‘when we get back to base.’

‘Oh, goody,’ cried Tiger. ‘You mean we can go home at last?’

‘I reckon we’ve earned some R & R,’ said Tark. ‘Besides, Prince and Eudora will want a full update on Mick and his nasty starships. Before they tell us where we’re going next.’

Number 12 anticipated Tiger’s question. ‘Rest and relaxation – that’s R & R. What I was planning to get lots of, before you detoured me out of retirement!’

‘Count this lizard out!’ snapped Wanda. ‘First you drag us up the east coast of Australia to the pointy Top End of Queensland. Then across the Simpson Desert to Uluru. With just a slight change of pace to plug that burst oil well. Ducking Min Min Lights all the way. I do believe that I’ve served my time!’

‘And done it very well,’ Tark said, pouring it on like thickened cream. ‘Where would we have been without Judge Wanda?’

‘Oh, go on,’ Wanda said, her skin going ever so slightly sunset red despite its stubborn greenish black. ‘Any native creature would have done the same in my place!’

‘You can never take a compliment,’ tittered Syd. ‘But if you’ve got a better offer than saving the Earth and our fellow creatures, Wanda, just say so. I’m sure there are others who’ll gladly take your place!’

Wanda eyed Syd. ‘Once a scavenger, always a scavenger. I suppose I’ll have to see it through – if only to keep you in line.’

Syd winked at Tiger. ‘That’s settled, then. Though Judge Syd could have a nice ring about it!’

‘What about you?’ Tark asked Number 12. ‘Are you game for the next phase of Project Earth-mend?’

Number 12 managed a smile as much as any camel – ex-racing or otherwise – could. ‘My race against the emus brought it all back – the thrill. I can’t see myself moping around a paddock all day, flicking away blowflies day in and day out. Sign me up!’

‘And I’m certainly keen!’ Tiger chimed in. ‘After all, what’s an adventure without a leader?’

‘Excuse me, Earthling,’ Tark snapped, stretching his magic toe. ‘Who’s in charge here?’

Tiger gulped, eying Tark’s toe, which was already glowing an eerie green with just a hint of blood red in it. ‘Um, I meant to say deputy leader.’

‘Of course you did,’ Tark said, more kindly, while his toe faded back to its normal frog-like hue. ‘Now we must all teleport back to the Sacred Pool for further instructions.’

‘The Sacred Pool?’ said Number 12. ‘Is that some kind of oasis?’

Wanda laughed. ‘It’s in Canberra, the watering hole for most of Australia’s politicians!’

‘Oh,’ said Number 12, deflated. ‘I’ve never met a politician before. But I hear you can’t trust them as far as you can buck them.’

‘That’s not entirely true,’ said Tiger. ‘The previous Prime Minister was rather fond of Myrtle’s Greenhouse Ginger Cheesecake, so it was a snap to sign him up for Project Earth-mend. He’s still onside, but I don’t know about the one we have now.’

Wanda shook her head. ‘Myrtle will take care of him, or her, if it ever comes to that again. Wait and see!’

‘We won’t have to wait long,’ Tark said, tilting his head toward the sky as if a transmission was coming in. ‘Prince wants us to report back, pronto.’

‘But Canberra’s days away from here,’ sighed Number 12. ‘Even if we keep up a steady trot. And do the politicians even allow camels there?’
‘Of course they do,’ said Wanda, sounding very much like Judge Wanda again. ‘If not, I’ll have the law changed!’

‘T-thanks,’ said Number 12. ‘I suppose I could take a bath in tea-tree oil, or something.’

Tiger had never heard of tea-trees, let alone their oil. It sounded rather disgusting if it had to be licked off afterwards.

‘Walking is so twentieth century,’ Syd said. ‘Even if we went as the crow flies – meaning me – it still would take more than a day to get there.’
‘Have finger, will travel,’ Tark reminded them. ‘Ready for teleportation?’

Juan was thinking about the toy gun made of plastic that his father bought him for his birthday. It was a huge green pistol that Juan could fill with water and it would reach enough to wet all the children in the neighborhood. Just one squeeze of the trigger was enough to shoot a torrent of water that reached the other side of the street. Juan knew very well that this was not a firearm.

Juan’s father had a firearm in his house. Juan knew about this gun because on one occasion (when he was supposed to be asleep) he overheard his parents talking about the gun.
—I want you to get rid of that firearm, his mother told him.
To which his father replied, “I can’t.”
“But it scares me,” she stated.
And he replied, “There’s no need to be scared, he’s in a
safe place.”
“I know exactly where it is,” his mother insisted.
And he replied, “Of course, between you and me we have no secrets.

Juan lay in his bed and thought about his father’s gun. If only I could see her, he thought to himself. Even if it’s only once. Well, first, he would have to find her.

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ISBN : 9781922332394
ISBN: 9781922332394
Categories:, , ,
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Weight 375 g
Dimensions 229 × 152 × 12 mm

Customer Reviews

1-5 of 2 reviews

  • IP (Interactive Publications Pty Ltd)

    For thousands of years, humans from all around the world – from different cultures, different regions, different views – have looked up. We have looked up and wondered what was out there? Who is out there? Will we be out there? Why we are here? It was only in fiction that we could get answers to these questions. That was, until recent times.

    It is no surprise that many kids want telescopes for birthdays or to be astronauts when they grow up. Knowing and exploring is literally built into our DNA. To be human is to wonder, and there is no better place to wonder than space.
    We are living in perhaps the biggest growth in our exploration of the Universe. Technology has allowed us to look wider, peer further, and visit our neighbours in our Solar System. Our ability and knowledge of the Universe has now surpassed the answers that fiction gave us. This expansion gives us a window into an exciting future. One that offers us hope, answers, and a new view of the Universe.

    It is safe to say that the Apollo 11 Moon landing was one of the most influential and memorable events in human history. The fact that people use it as the event of which to compare other big events to, “You’ll remember it like the Apollo 11 landing”, shows its importance. For the first time, humans set foot on place that wasn’t Earth. Only 25 years before, the world was at war. It showed what humans could achieve when we aimed high, were driven, and worked together. It brought out the best in us.

    Now, our rapid advancements in technology are bringing out the best in all of us. Space is no longer just for rich countries, or a select few. More and more countries are launching probes into space, astronauts into orbit around the Earth, and even looking towards Mars. There are countries that were not even countries when humans landed on the Moon that now have probes in orbit around Mars.

    In 2019 alone, three different countries attempted landings on the Moon. China landed on the far side of the Moon, a private company in Israel attempted a landing on the Moon as well as India. For all of human history up until 2019, only two countries had landed on the Moon. In 2019 alone, three more were added to this illustrious list. It doesn’t stop there.

    Now, we are not just talking about going back to the Moon, but staying there. What may have been depicted in fiction decades ago, like bases on the Moon, reusable rockets, and mining, are currently being planned for this decade. The Moon is the key to exploration. It allows us an easier and cheaper means to launch into space due to the low gravity and little atmosphere.

    The Moon is the gateway to Mars, asteroids, and even further. Exploring Mars is now part of our regular exploration. And it may hold the answer to “are we alone”.
    The clear evidence of water having once flowed on the surface of Mars, and water currently underneath the ground, means Mars has a lot of the conditions needed to support life. While the life that we may find is unlikely to be anything big – most likely bacteria or something small, it probably is (or at least was) there. Don’t be surprised that, by the end of the decade, we have clearly found life there. That by the end of the decade, we’d have an answer to “are we alone?”. That indeed, we are not alone.

    But if we are not alone, is there someone , or rather something else, out there, looking for us and asking the same questions? Does intelligent life exist?

    It was only in 1992 that the first planet around another star, an exoplanet, was detected. We know of thousands of planets, and we think that billions if not trillions more exist. There are about 300 billion stars in our Milky Way Galaxy, and we think that most of those stars have planets around them. There could be over a trillion planets in our Galaxy alone, and 20 billion or so planets could be like our own Earth. Then there are all the potential moons that may exist.

    When we look at our Solar System, moons of Jupiter and Saturn offer even better places to look for life. Moons like Titan around Jupiter, or the ice- and water-rich moons like Europa are interesting places to explore. Both of these have more water than Earth, and soon, we’ll have probes on them looking for life.

    And yet, this is just in our Milky Way Galaxy. There are about 2 trillion galaxies in the Universe, each of these galaxies with billions of stars, and probably planets orbiting around them, and moons orbiting around those planets.
    The Universe is a big place. Our knowledge, or rather, our discovery that our Universe is a big place is rapidly increasing. It puts into scale our movement around this planet, and how relatively small we are.

    While we are small, when we work together, we can unlock the secrets of the Universe. We can not only look up and wonder, but then solve. We can question and find the answers. The Universe has a lot of secrets out there, but when we humans are at our best, they are not out of our reach.

    – Brad Tucker, Mount Stromlo Observatory
    Australian National University

    July 18, 2023
  • IP (Interactive Publications Pty Ltd)

    Philosophical, descriptive, thought-provoking, evocative. Those are some of the adjectives that sprang to mind after reading Outer Space, Inner Minds, a collection of 80 poems edited by David P. Reiter. To augment the written content, images from NASA and from Dr. Who episodes are paired with some of the poems.

    The anthology includes the works of 35 contributors. Building off the title, the collection is divided into four sections: “Outer to Outer,” “Outer to Inner,” “Inner to Outer,” and “Inner to Inner.” The latter section in particular includes a number of thought-provoking pieces, among them Richard James Allen’s “When I Have Fears that I May Cease to Be”:

    . . . poetry is not just

    a clandestine language we are condemned to teach each other

    on death row, but a set of keys we have smuggled in

    to unlock the internal stratosphere of our freedom

    Although new volumes of speculative poetry often hail from North America or England, that’s not the case with Outer Space, Inner Minds. Many of the contributors are based in Australia, and references and descriptions woven into some of the poems reflect that fact.

    Many of the entries have intriguing titles like “The Man in the Quantum Mask,” “Nikola Tesla’s Night of Terror,” and “Mummy on the Orient Express.” A number of poems tip the hat to pop culture or famous historical figures such as Dr. Who, Pink Floyd, Frank Sinatra, and Agatha Christie. One of the more impactful poems is Mark Tredinnick’s “The Trees on Little Mountain Creek,” which contains the lines:

    . . . And how the fire leaps is how

    The earth pines for the sky, how long the sky

    Has hungered for the ground. And all life longs.

    For what it’s not or can’t: a fish to breathe;

    The air to swim; the wolf to pasture; trees

    To take up their beds; the barn owl not to know.

    And we, to forest. But this is just a way

    To say: there’s a divinity we know but cannot

    Touch, even when it touches us.

    Several poems reference the moon, including “Supermoon,” “Full Moon in May,” and “Peregrine Moon.” In Ron Usher’s “The Dark Side,” the moon is personified, becoming The Man in the Moon:

    Fairy tales and Pink Floyd

    had us believe one side of the cheese

    Moon is forever in darkness.

    Truth is, half’s merely unseen

    because the Man takes the same 28 days

    to turn on his axis as he does to orbit Earth.

    It’s called tidal locking by those who read poetry

    through telescopes, astronomers.

    Marion Wighton Packham’s “The River Calls Us” muses on the nature of time: “Water is slipping through our fingers. / And time stands still watching us in that precious moment smirking at our carefree ways.”

    Peter Cartwright’s “Time” also resonates:

    I dwell or rather exist

    at this bone hard time

    of cold dark weather

    of cold dark change

    this time of closure

    like the last grand closure

    of the Morning Glory that the frost will kill tonight

    The poems are not without humor, as seen in Tony Steven Williams’ “Pluto speaks out”: “I have to say how demoralised/ I felt in 2006, when you constructed/ those rules for planetary definition . . .” In addition to speculative references, many of the poems capture the magical moments of everyday life. Turning to another poem by Tredinnick, this one titled “Cycles of the Moon”:

    Evening now, the darkness just beginning

    To tell, and low above the paddocks, where

    The kite was up early getting the hang

    Of herself again in the sallow morning light,

    Going nowhere very very fast;

    The contributors employ a variety of styles, including free verse, rhyming poems, haibun, and prose poetry. While some poems are more powerful than others, the collection as a whole is enjoyable. As an added bonus, Outer Space, Inner Minds provides North American readers with an introduction to some talented poets they may not have previously encountered.

    July 18, 2023

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