Hello again and welcome to the March 2016 issue of Aphelion!
February has come and gone once again, and so has another AnachroCon
convention in Atlanta. This year's theme was the Weird Wild West, so
there were cowboys and cowgirls galore as well as time travelers and
anachronauts from many a varied timeline. My two Flash costumes were a
hit with several photgraphers, as well as most of the convention
atendees. I wasn't the only Flash there by any means. There were at
least four others, each different, each fantastic! A thousand people or
more were gathered into a lovely hotel in Atlanta to throw one of the
best parties ever known. Con programming was layered five and six deep
throughout the convention, making it difficult to choose which panel or
event to attend every hour of every day. I swear, if I had fifteen
camera crews to station in every event room, the lobby, the huxters
suite, and the con suite I still would need the ghost of Stanley
Kubrick to mix it all down into a cohesive representation of the con.
And still I know that I would miss hundreds of those tiny special,
personal moments that go to make up every convention, no matter which
one or where.
But that's the thing about conventions. I mean, no matter how big or
small they are, the events are amazing but it is those small personal
moments that make them such wonderful memories for every single person
attending. Scoring a moment with your favorite artist or writer or
actor in an autograph line or a panel discussion- or in an elevator, or
the con suite, or even a chance encounter in the endless hallways. That
intimate personal moment which means so much to you, and will be
treasured for so long once the convention is over and you go back home.
Such intimate moments lead to lasting memories, however they happen to
I once struck up a short, but memorable conversation with Ben Bova
as we both washed our hands after exiting our respective stalls in a
men's room at one convention several years ago. We discussed two of his
many novels, one well known and one which garnered less critical
attention. He related one minor plot point of the lessor-known novel,
and hinted at more to come in the series represented by the more
well-known novel we chatted about. Both trivial points allowed me to
see deeper into his work than I had been able before that restroom
break. All from a casual "hi there, love your work," sort of
conversation. And no, I'm not saying that restrooms are the best place
to meet your favorite writers, or whatever. Just, mind your manners and
seize the moment sort of deal.
So imagine my delight when I found myself sharing conversation time
with several iconic steampunk celebs in the con suite as they waited
for the line at the bar to thin out a tad, and garnered munchies from
the buffet! One I had known for years through his work and reviewing a
pair of how-to books he wrote, the others I had met on social media,
but not in person before last weekend. They told such interesting
stories, and politely listened to one or two of mine. The upshot is
that now I have some new friends, and have gotten to know them for more
than just their work.
There were many old friends, and now some more new ones, at the con.
I managed to sit in on many an interesting discussion, even while
missing out on several others, every hour of every day of the con.
There was live music every day, in the lobby and elsewhere, fantastic
costumes, arts and crafts demos, historical panels, much and many
personal conversations and moments, and still I missed out on over half
of the convention because ai can only be in one place at a time.
Conventions occur all over the world. Some are big and some are small,
but all offer some memorable happenings. You owe it to yourself to make
the time to attend something near to where you live. You will have fun.
You have a chance to learn more about something that others love to do,
and you might even make a whole bunch of new friends. Give it a try,
whenever you can. You'll soon find something you never knew about
before, but after having found it you won't be able to imagine your
life without it.
In real life I am very painfully shy, I suffer from a fear of
crowds, I am socially awkward, and my jokes can be cryptic at best. I'm
not rich, I'm not famous, I'm not pretty, and I'm not particularly well
educated. What I am is willing to try new things, willing to try to
have a good time, and willing to accept people I meet on their own
terms. A little respect, a little open-minded acceptance, a willingness
to have conversations, and the ability to look at the world as an
adventure worth undertaking rather than a duty to be performed is all I
have to offer. So far it has worked wonders!
Now, each of you are Aphelion readers and writers. That gives you a
secret super power, one that you must use wisely, and one that must
never be abused. You know hundreds and hundreds of writers who have
appeared in Aphelion. Some of them have become big names in their own
right. Some were already big names before they came to Aphelion. And
some of them are going to become big names soon. What I want you to do
is remember where we all came from, and how hard each of us has worked
to get where we have gone so far. Recognize Aphelion writers and tell
them how much you enjoyed their work here. Be proud to be Aphelion
readers, but never brag. Be polite and respectful to any pro writers
you may meet. Tell them which of their works you enjoyed. Fail to
mention the works of theirs which you didn't like, unless you can be
diplomatic about those. Not every story by our favorite writers appeals
to us, personally. I adore Larry Niven's work, for instance, but he has
written a few books that I didn't enjoy reading. I won't ever say "that
book sucked," but I would say that "that one didn't appeal to me the
way 'such & such' book did. I'll give it another read later on and
see if I just needed to learn more to understand it better..." In other
words, be diplomatic. After all, when I was 19 I thought Jane Austin
novels were boring and dull, but when I was 35 I realized they were
snarky and sarcastic and pretty cool. I just needed to learn more about
life and people to see it. We each learn more stuff as we grow, the
trick is to respect what we haven't grown enough to understand yet.
Your super power is that what you think and say can have an influence
on people you just met. Snark can harm. Negative opinions phrased
politely can help someone learn something they needed to learn. This is
our power. Use it wisely.
Now, I should shut up and let everyone get to reading!
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!
ON THE COVER
Title: A Dying Star Shrouded by a Blanket of Hailstones Forms the Bug Nebula (NGC 6302)
Photo Credit: NASA,
ESA, and A.Zijlstra (UMIST, Manchester, UK)