Hello and welcome to another new year of Aphelion!
It is February, and that means it is time to celebrate our birthday.
Back in 1997 the first issue of Aphelion went live. Back in the day, it
was pretty much a one-man band, and it showed. I had only the most
rudimentary of skills at editing, website design, page layout, etc. I
think it was sometime in 1999 that I was just about ready to close up
shop and admit I wasn't able to do the work everyone deserved to see. I
was getting two dozen submissions a month, I had no time to write,
myself. I had little time to proofread or edit submissions, about the
best I could do was HTML the submissions and toss the issue online,
then start all over again. It wasn't good enough. The readers as well
as the writers deserved more than I was able to give. I was ready,
though unwilling, to throw in the towel and join the other dead
dinosaurs of the e-zine age.
Then a miracle happened. Friends and loyal Aphelion writers refused
to all me to put Aphelion to sleep. Like a storm of Virtual Particles
appearing in empty space, these wonderful people came together to tell
me to get my head out my doldrums and keep going. These wonderful
people, these heroes, became the first Aphelion Staff. They worked
their collective butts off to make me look good, to make Aphelion the
best and brightest of all the e-zines online. Each stayed as long as
they could, then passed the torch on to another when they could give no
more. If you think Aphelion is special, thank them. Each and every one
of them has my eternal gratitude. They deserve your praise, not me. I
just pay the bills for the website, write my little editorials, and
edit whatever Mare Inebrium stories are submitted. The Editorial Mafia
does all the work. It's not right that I get all the recognition. Oh
yeah, sometimes I am asked to make an editorial decision. Sometimes a
submission has adult content, and one of the Editors wants me to make a
call as to accept it or reject it. We do have readers who are teens, so
I have to decide if a story is worth the risk of an irate parent
calling a lawyer over whatever sex or violence or language those
submissions may contain. If it's a good story, I'll say "stick an Adult
Content flag next to the link on the index page." If the story isn't
awesome enough to overcome the risk of being sued, I'll recommend
sending the writer a polite rejection slip detailing why we can't
publish it as written. Nineteen years... Think of it! There are people
out there who started reading Aphelion before they were in High School.
Now they are raising families of their own. We've had stories from
actual rocket scientists, from a Navy man on a submarine on duty
somewhere in the Pacific Ocean who could only e-mail his stories with
his Captain's permission, we've had stories from school children, from
pro writers, from college kids, and from grandparents. We have had
readers in eighty countries around the world. Our writers are just as
My very first SF&F convention I wore a home-made Aphelion
t-shirt. People recognized the name! Because of Aphelion, I get asked
to be on discussion panels on creative writing or e-publishing at
LibertyCon in Chattanooga. Because of Aphelion, I have been seated at
an autograph panel with Larry Niven, Jerry Pournelle, and Janny Wurtz-
and two people brought up copies of Flash
Of Aphelion for me to sign! Because of Aphelion, I am currently
co-writing a novel with a real Rocket scientist! Because of Aphelion, I
am on first nam basis with over a hundred writers whose books are on my
bookshelves right now. No, I'm not going to name-drop. But what applies
to me can equally apply to any Aphelion writer who goes to conventions.
Aphelion is more than an "exposure market." Aphelion is a tiny foot in
the door to the pro markets, we average ten writers a year getting pro
contracts after learning everything the editorial staff can teach them.
I was on one panel with half a dozen representatives from big name and
small name pro publishers. Half the panel time was over before someone
in the audience asked why I was up there with these movers and shakers.
My first question on that panel, and it was THAT one! I looked at the
person who asked the question, then I turned to look at my fellow
"I'm here," I said. "Because I publish Aphelion Webzine, and it is
our job to teach new writers how to stand out above the other
submissions YOU FOLKS get. My staff shows our writers the ins and outs,
the tips and tricks to submit manuscripts that you cannot possibly
ignore. Aphelion functions as a permanent floating writer's workshop.
When you see Aphelion among the list of publishing credits from a
writer you've never heard from before, you can rest assured that they
know their stuff! They understand what you require, and they are
willing to work with an editor to make their submission even better.
Aphelion is a filter on your own slush piles. When one of our writers
submits something to you, you're going to sit up and take notice. You
are going to know that they can do pro-quality work." I looked out into
the audience and asked, "How many Aphelion writers have we got out there
today?" Five people raised their hands, the slowly a sixth. I asked the
last one why she hesitated. She said, "I submitted a story last week,
first time ever submitted anything anywhere. I don't know if it has
been accepted yet." I looked straight at her--she was nervous to be the
center of attention--then I said, "If you are willing to work with an
editor to make your story the best you can, then I have no doubt your
submission will be accepted." Then I turned to the panel and asked them,
"What are the odds that there would be six Aphelion writers in the
audience of one panel at one medium-sized con?" For the next half hour,
I owned that panel. Publishers and audience members alike asked me
question after question, and it is all because dedicated people would
not allow me to let Aphelion die back when I was overwhelmed with the
job of doing it all by myself. That is our shared power.
Each of us is part of something the pros recognize as a special
entity. Aphelion writers are known for quality work. The Editorial
Mafia is known as dependable teachers. I'm known as an entertaining
public speaker who publishes Aphelion. I wouldn't have it any other
Now, before we get to the stories, please allow me to brag a little.
Over the holidays, Aphelion was once again nominated in the P & E
Readers Poll in the Fiction E-zines category. We took both Fifth and
Tenth place in the Top Ten! One of the people nominating us made a
typo, but both entries continued to receive votes. Also, one of
Aphelion's writers took Seventh place in the Science-Fiction Short
Stories category, "The Harlequin Girl" by David Cleden. Congratulations
to them! His story originally appeared in the February 2015 issue. And my own
Tales From The Mare Inebrium short story collection took Fifteenth
place in the Anthologies category. Well done to all of us, and thanks
go out to everyone who voted!
This time next year we will be celebrating Aphelion's twentieth
anniversary. We are already planning how to make that a special year
for our readers. So please mark your calendars for February of 2017. It
will be a blast!
I'm sure that by now everyone is aware of the unfortunate losses we
have all suffered through the unexpected deaths of so many musicians,
artists, and heroes from our pasts. I will not list them here, for that
would both take too long and bring tears to many. So let us join
together in remembering their lives and their works and every
contribution they have made to our lives. Though while sad losing them
may be, we were all enriched so much more by their having lived. Our
world is a better place because they were part of our lives. Each of
them gave us so much! Everything they did, we still have. We can pass
those gifts on to our children and grandchildren. Forever they will
inspire others to create music and art, to explore and learn, to
become, to strive, and to inspire others in return. Remember their
lives, celebrate them, teach others what our heroes did, and help
coming generations reach for a bright future!
Now this is usually the point in my editorials where I try and turn
my observations of current events into a writing lesson. I'm not going
to do that this month. February is too short and we have a lot of
material to cover in the stories. I'll just thank you for sticking
around for almost two decades of Aphelion, and turn you loose to go
read. And please be sure to go to our Forums and comment on the
stories! That's very important to the writers. They need to know what
you readers think, what they got right, what they got wrong, and what
they can to to improve. Without your input, we're all just working in
the dark, here.
Happy Birthday, Aphelion! Thank you, each and every one of you, for
being part of this glorious adventure!
First off, if you do the Facebook thing, feel free to join us
Aphelion page there. The link is Aphelion Webzine.
As an aside, the Editorial Mafia and I have found Facebook to be very
useful. Given our different
locations and schedules, it's come in handy as a way to discuss
production details of new issues. Sometimes there are several of us
using Facebook at the same time, so it's almost like the old chat room
My first collection of Mare Inebrium spaceport bar short stories was
published in February by Dark Oak Press. It is available in both Kindle
an Nook e-book formats, paperback, and hardback. I also that thre
albums of instrumenal music out throgh the Create Space self-publishing
website. If you like, you can click on the photo or the link below to
fin all the info you would need to purchase my book in your preferred
format, or an e-book of Flash of Aphelion, buy a CD of my music, or
listen to tracks off of the albums on my Bandcamp website. Enjoy!
Dan's Promo Page
ON THE COVER
Title: Hubble Panoramic View of Orion Nebula Reveals Thousands of Stars
Photo Credit: NASA,
ESA, the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA).