Issue 121, Volume 12 -- May 2008
"What inspires you to write?" People ask me this question almost as
often as non-writers ask "how do you come up with all this weird
stuff?" I have yet to formulate a really good answer beyond the flip
and obvious "I'm crazy, OK?"
But the basic question is still valid. What, as writers, provokes us
into the act of creativity? It could be a TV show or a
movie,something that we wonder how we could do differently. It
could be something that we've read or a song that we've heard. It could
be some incident that we watched happen... Almost anything can cause a
writer to think up some story or scene from a story. We seem to just be
hardwired to look at the world in a slightly different way from
everyone else. Is that a bad thing? Hell no! Looking at the universe in
a different way from other people is a good thing. Inventors,
innovators, musicians, writers - all have that in common. We have the
ability to see not only what is, but what could be. If that falls under
someone's definition of insanity, then make an appointment for me for
my straitjacket fitting - and do those come in dark gray canvas with
blue silk lining, and some nice brass buckles? Maybe a formal bow-tie
& cummerbund? Can I keep my hat on? These chrome-steel handcuffs
clash with my cast iron chains - can we send them all out to be
gold-plated? And what's with the rubber pads on these walls? Don't you
have something in a nice brocade pattern? I'm just saying...
So yeah, we're all Bozos on this bus. Our job is to be different, to
think differently from the norm, to see the things that aren't
necessarily real, and occasionally to point out that the Emperor is not
only naked, but that he has knobby knees as well, and that he
really needs to reply to one of those spam e-mails about erectile
dysfunction... But I digress.
OK, all silliness aside - we're supposed to be different. Writers are
dedicated to creating new ways to look at the same old things. You can
offer social commentary, or entertainment, or even escapism when you
write. Or any number of other things in other combinations, for that
matter. But the best of us make people/readers think about those "same
old, same old" situations that we use in our stories. Creativity is a
power. It can be a power for good or for ill; for advancement of the
species or for enslaving the masses with propaganda, for making the
world a better place or just offering a bit of relief from the tedium
of everyday life... It all depends upon the individual writer and the
subject matter they choose.
What it boils down to is that we have an ability, a power, (a mental
illness - if you're looking for ways to degrade and insult us) that
others lack. Some simple twist of the mind that allows us to see things
a bit differently, and to point out those differences. For good or ill,
we can change the world. Or at the very least, we can help the world to
forget about it's troubles for a short while.
Oh well, enough philosophy. I'm going to go read this month's stories. You're welcome to join me...
Elegy for Mary Alice
By Charles Ebert
There is a reason Mary Alice can see ghosts and a reason she has never fit in at school. The cemetery in her home town holds the key to the mystery.
The Philip's Baby
By Joseph Jordan
The doctors told Antonella Philip that she was crazy to try to carry her baby -- conceived the old-fashioned way -- to term in her own womb. After all, the virus that had swept across North America made birth defects all but certain...
The Black Death
By Jeani Rector
The Plague was killing everyone around her -- rich and poor, commoners and nobles alike. Elissa Hastings would need all the courage and luck she could muster if she was to survive.
Cameron Philips and the Great Cosmic Do-over
By Jon Wesick
On Novikov Station, they planned to make a stable artificial wormhole swallow its own tail. In theory, this might allow them to send information -- a beam of coherent light -- back in time. Of course, the universe seemed to have other ideas.
What We Said That Day
By Dianne Rees
She had abandoned her crewmates on a new world -- under orders? She wasn't sure anymore. It was hard to be sure of anything in this place where the laws of space and time didn't seem to apply.
By E. S. Strout
A momentary lapse in judgement can have far-reaching consequences. But that's Life...
The Battle for Castle Greystone -or- Beanie and the Floaters
By Michael J. Flanagan
Only the old and the young who had nowhere else to go lived in the flooded coastal cities. Satch, Beanie, and What's-her-name had made a home for themselves in one old building, and were content with their makeshift castle -- until outsiders tried to claim it for themselves.
By James Hart
Chuck hated the exaggerated enthusiasm of the motivational seminar, but attendance had been forced on him. Still, how bad could it be? A few hours of slogans and group-hug phoniness, and his job would be secure again.
The Human Touch
By Kim Rush
Kerr had to outwit the big cat and take the antelope carcass back to Klee and Little One. His chances of survival, let alone success, were slim.
By Noel Denvir
Playing Irish folk music for an inattentive and half-drunk pub crowd was not exactly Jim's idea of a dream gig. But the Japanese-looking newcomers seemed to love him, and that was something special. So what if the so-called lighting rig made them look...blue?
By Ken Keegan
Danny could almost do his job -- driving a campus parking shuttle bus -- in his sleep. Anyway, he was pretty relaxed and enjoying the music on his CD player the night the odd-looking guy with his maybe-English accent climbed aboard...
Results of Forum Flash Challenge for April 2008
Congratulations to Bill Wolfe, winner of the April 2008 Forum Flash Challenge. Check out "Old Wounds", "Dead Bored", and "Best When Served Cold", the first stories -- or half-stories -- based in Bill Warren's "Aphelion Project" universe (after you read and comment on our other fine features, of course)... And take a shot at finishing what Bill has started by entering the May Challenge!
Poetry and Filk Music
Sorry, but there are no feature articles this month. Do you have a
book, cd or film review that you think would be interest to Aphelion
readers? How about a convention report, or an essay?
Send your non-fiction queries to email@example.com.
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