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Aphelion: The Webzine of Science Fiction and Fantasy

Issue 117, Volume 11 -- December 2007

Editorial

Hello, and welcome to Aphelion Webzine!

There's a new Shared Universe project underway at Aphelion. After a long delay, I finally got off my butt and wrote up Bill Warren's suggestions for the new series into a web page. Everything is still in development, but will proceed apace once folks have had time to look it over and come up with stories. As yet, there aren't any continuing characters. Bill has given us the hardware, the vision, the playground equipment. It's up to us to decide how we'd like to play. I will assume the duties of series editor for it, at least temporarily. For now, send submissions and suggestions to me. Please include the phrase "BWSU" in any e-mails to me about it, at least for now. Once we get rolling, a proper title will suggest itself. Look in the Nav Bar on the left of your screen and click on the "Series" button to get to the link for the tiny bit that's been done so far. Let's work together on this and do something Bill will enjoy seeing.

This is the yearly double issue, so there are more stories and poetry to read to tide you over until the February "Best Of" issue comes out. I think that Nate might be planning to have a December and a January Flash Fiction contest in our Forums to keep you busy. The November contest was fun for me, even though I didn't win. I had a lot of fun writing my entry, and even more reading all the contest entries and voting for my favorites. If you haven't checked out these contests, click on over to our Forum and take a look. You don't have to join to read or vote, only to post comments or enter the contests. I invite every Aphelion reader to go check it out. You might find something you like.

Following up on last month's editorial, reporting the ups and downs of life over the year of 2007... Events continue to bring me both joy and dispair. Some things are looking up, while others are real downers. But they seem to even out, in the long run. In fact, the downers are actually not as bad as they seem, and the ups are actually better than I feel like they are. Coping with my injuries is beginning to have an effect on my outlook, but that'll improve as my condition gets closer to my pre-injury state. I try not to let the slow recovery get me down. I am getting better. I'm just not getting better as fast as I'd like.

The good news: My wife and I will soon have the funds to buy a replacement vehicle. Paperwork has been filed for a mortgage re-finance loan that will allow us to buy something in the 2005 - 2006 range of automobiles. The end result will be a new car for us, and a smaller house payment per month. While it is true that I won't have the house paid for in 2013 AD, The smaller per-month payment means that we'll be in better financial condition overall. We'll even be better able to save more money to use for paying on the mortgage so as to get it paid off ahead of the new schedule. Lyn and I are agreed in this, so we're totally re-doing our proposed budget for after I'm allowed to go back to work. The plan is to use the extra monthly cash, plus my yearly IRS refunds and Certain-Teed bonus checks to pay on the loan's principle. That'll get the mortgage paid off ahead of schedule. How far ahead will depend on what the future holds.

Speaking of what the future holds: My wife let slip what one of my Christmas surprizes will be. Her son Anthony will be coming to visit for a week or so during his college break in December. Both of her daughters have visited this year - Michelle and Judith were here during late October to Early November and helped celebrate my 50th birthday. Michelle has been visiting a couple of times a year, but this year was the first time that I got to meet Judith. My step-son Shaun, who lives nearby, dropped in one afternoon while the girls were here. They were delighted to meet their newest brother. With Anthony's visit, I will have gotten to meet all three of Lyn's wonderful children. They've already made me feel welcome and accepted into their hearts. I feel like a real father, not just a step-father. These kids are just totally made of awesome!

Other good news: Lyn's oldest daughter, Michelle, will be moving here to Georgia shortly after New Years. She'll live with us for a short while. Sometime in mid-January I'll be taking my first flight on an airliner to go out to New Mexico and help her U-Haul all of her stuff here. I've been in small airplanes before, but never on a big one! The time she'll spend with us will be brief, however. After only a short delay, she'll be getting married! Please join us in hoping she and Marc live happily ever after. Of course, they haven't decided where they'll be setting up house, but North or South Carolina seem to the the two front-running states. They'll be much closer to us than they would be if Marc had moved to New Mexico to be with Michelle.

Still other good news: I've been asked to be on a panel on e-publishing, e-zines, and small press publishing at the 2008 LibertyCon convention! Lyn and I will be driving to Chattaooga, Tennessee for the weekend of July 11th-13th. It looks like a great weekend getaway for us. Additionally, we'll be celebrating our 2nd wedding anniversary on July 14th and may drive on up to the Knoxville area for a family reunion. The reunion's scheduling is still being debated by the family, but it'll be set by the time the convention draws nigh.

The bad news? Not worth bothering with making a list, really. Just talking about the good things that have already happened and the good things yet to come has made the perils and pitfalls of the past year seem easier to bear. I feel far better than I did when I first started typing this editorial. Life really *is* just what you make of it. So I'll get back to making lemonade out of all these lemons... At this rate, Lyn and I will be able to sell enough lemonade to float a cruise ship!

This December/January issue of Aphelion is marking a transition from 2007 to 2008. For me it marks moving from "Interesting Times" to (hopefully) great times. From Aphelion's 10th year online into our 11th year. From past to future, we tread along a path full of new things and favorite things from our past. The occasional misfortune only serves to amplify the joy given by each wonderful moment along the way. Life really is good. We just need to keep sight of that. Sometimes it's hard, sometimes it's unhappy, but neither of those lasts forever.

I'd like to wish to all of you the happiest of holidays, however you celebrate them. May your new year be filled with happiness and fulfillment. May each day be filled with the joy of living. And when bad times come, always remember that there will be good times to follow. The past is a memory, the future a promise, and the present is just that. A present. Have fun unwrapping yours!

I now return you to your regularly scheduled reading material...

Dan

Serials and Novellas

Fear Stomping
By Jesse Gordon
For as long as he can remember, Kenneth has been afraid. One day, he meets a boy, Vincent, who shows him how to conquer his fears, by finding the special places where fear is not real. A story about friendship and alternate realities.

Alter Id
By McCamy Taylor
When the robotically enhanced assassin that Doctor O.Leary buys for salvage turns out to be not quite so dead as advertised, it sets off a chain of events that involves organized crime, corporate intrigue, lunar mining and multiple personalities.

Formal Dinner and Demon Dreams
By Matt Spencer
It's the Dinner Party from Hell and everyone is invited. Just be sure to BYOD---bring your own demon. A Victorian Tale of class struggle, dysfunctional families and age old legends.

Choice Cuts
By Wayne Summers
Some people have a taste for meat. Some things have a taste for homicide. Butcher Stan Parker knows how to cater to all these tastes. A horror tale that proves a new maxim: we are what they eat.

Mind Power
By Mary Brunini McArdle
A handful of people wake up one morning under an unfamiliar sky. The world seems the same...but different. Find out why and how the difference changes their lives.

Short Stories

The Ouroboros
By S. H. Hughes
What goes around, comes around. And Ouroboros agent Hayden Cross will do whatever it takes to make sure that it does.

The Redoubt
By Gareth L. Powell
Scott and Anna were offered the chance to spend eternity exploring the farthest reaches of time and space. And it would cost them nothing -- or everything that mattered.

The Sorceror from Sand Creek
By McCamy Taylor
After the War Between the States, the remnants of the North's most closely guarded secret weapon -- the Secret Service Sorcery Society -- had to make a few adjustments in their lives.

The Missing Bag
By J. Alan Brown
Had the little aliens planted a bomb somewhere in the Houston International Air-and-SpacePort? Morgan Jefferson couldn't ignore the possibility, not after the April Fools' Day disaster.

Black Box Betty
By Frederick Rustam
The 'betty' was one of a kind -- a hardware/software/firmware intelligent search interface with the emphasis on 'intelligent'.

Inside Out
By E. S. Strout
The first mission to Sagitarrius-A had gone silent for reasons unknown. So Major Judith Saul was taking backup with her -- an A.I. package implanted in her brain.

Three Oranges
By Joel Doonan
The Red Moon Race pitted sand skiffs against each other on a grueling trip across the desert for glory and for the Three Oranges trophy. The crew of the Wild Orchid hoped they had what it would take to win.

Reflective Glass
By Richard Tornello
Richard found that there was something very special about the glass he purchased from the shop around the corner from his laundromat. For one thing, the reflections didn't always match reality...

The House
By Neil J. Beynon
The house Stevie's parents had purchased was old, and far from Stevie's school and all his friends. But that wasn't what had him screaming in the night.

Voyages of the Earthship Horus: Gangsters
By Michael Joseph
Plato Zhoth and the crew of the Horus just wanted to make a living. Unfortunately, the universe insisted on confronting them with things that needed fixing -- BIG things.

The Face Overhead
By Mary Brunini McArdle
The Face appeared in the skies demanding obedience -- and silence. Disobedience meant fiery death from above. But that didn't stop a few brave men and women from striving to save the world, no matter the cost.

Meltdown
By Vincent L. Scarsella
They were going to shut down the warehouse and thaw and cremate the cryogenically preserved bodies rescued from dozens of failed cold sleep businesses. To most of the attendants, that meant unemployment. Dave's objections to the shutdown were somewhat more personal...

The CCP
By Gerry Sonnenschein
Mir Station Three had all the characteristics of a small town on Earth, including cliques and Coddled Cooks marketing parties. Neither was much fun if you were an outsider.

Kill Fee
By Jonathan Lowe
Mark and Eddie had stumbled onto some hot news. A message from space had been received, warning of a cosmic event that might -- maybe -- drastically affect the whole world. They had only one question -- how much would the powers that be pay to keep them quiet?

Vishnu's Beer Garden
By McCamy Taylor
Danny Radusson thought his twin brother had all the luck in the family. Then Virgil, proprietor of Vishnu's Beer Garden, showed him a whole new way of seeing the world.

A TRUE Ghost Story
By Chris Sharp
Billy's mom treated him like a kid, mostly because he deserved it. But Chris knew that Billy had problems other than immaturity.

Results of Forum Flash Challenge for October 2007

Congratulations to G. C. Dillon, winner of the November 2007 Challenge. Check out "Mr. Megrim" and five more snack-sized morsels of twisty goodness (after you read and comment on our other fine features, of course)... And check the Fun and Games folder of the Forum in January for another impossible mission in the Flash zone!

Poetry and Filk Music

Deadly Pursuit
by Aurelio Rico Lopez III

Interdimensional Visitors
by Richard H. Fay

The Lambton Worm
by Richard H. Fay

The Dragon Scale
by James Matthew Byers

Day In A Life
by Richard Tornello

No Braner
by Richard Tornello

Hunting For Elves
by Stuart Sharp

Alicia's Diary
by Jon Stocks

Hyperspace
by Christian Ward

Features

Digital Goldmine: Stargate SG-1
By TaoPhoenix
TaoPhoenix takes a look at the new DVD release of the complete Stargate SG-1 series.

Space Policy In The 21st Century: The New Commons vs. A Sky Full of Enrons
By Daniel C. Smith
Daniel C. Smith examines the future of manned space travel.


Aphelion Webzine is © 1997-2007 by Dan L. Hollifield