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Aphelion: The Webzine of Science Fiction and Fantasy

Issue 126, Volume 12 -- October 2008

Editorial

Hello folks!

Well, that time has rolled around again. Here in the US we're gearing up for the final month before holding our political elections. It has been exciting to watch all the mud-slinging and thinly-veiled name-calling go on over the last couple of years. Our TV news companies are full of it - That last statement is so true on so many levels! (Grin) Unless this is the first time anyone has mentioned to you that this is an election year here, you've probably  already gotten more broadcast and online information about the candidates than you ever wanted to know. I'm not going to insult your intelligence by adding to that info-flow. I'll content myself with doing my patriotic duty by asking you to go register to vote, pick a candidate, and go vote on election day. That's it- just "go out and vote." You can make a difference, but not if you don't go out and vote.

All right, that's the last I want to say about that subject for another four years.

I want to add my congratulations to SpaceX for getting their latest rocket up and out into orbital space! Well done! With hard work and determination like that, SpaceX is bound to be able to make a real difference in the future of human space exploration. Excitement, adventure, and really hard work!

China's space program recently marked another milestone; their first spacewalk. As far as I've been able to find out, everything went off without a hitch. Mankind now has three space-going nations that have dared to build a ship and put their people out there above the thin blue haze of Earth's "security blanket" of atmosphere. Well done, China! Congratulations! Now, please don't forget that there are human rights problems and pollution problems that you still need to work on down here on the ground. Both can be solved, and space exploration can go on at the same time.

In other news, the Large Hadron Collider went online and Earth wasn't destroyed. Or maybe it was destroyed, and we were all too wrapped up in ourselves to have noticed. (Grin) In any case, some of the equipment broke down and the LHC had to be shut down a little more quickly than the builders had planned, but the repairs are proceeding and the LHC will be running again quite soon. After that, I expect Physics to become even more complicated as more new sub-atomic particles are found and more clues to the nature of the universe reveal themselves.

Speaking of the universe, I hadn't realized that it might just be larger than we humans generally think that it is. I was doing some online reading and came across a paper explaining that, because the universe went through a period of inflation shortly after the Big Bang, there could be more of it out beyond the limit that that we can see. Out past the distance that light has had time to travel, there could be more stars and galaxies than we can see. It's jut so far away that the light from  those stars hasn't had time to get to us. Inflation pushed them out further than we humans are old enough to see. As with most other things in life, time will tell.

In yet other news, part of the main control system on the Hubble Space Telescope has broken down. From what I've read about it, the Hubble can still collect data, but at the moment it has no way to send it down to us. NASA is working on a plan to send up the necessary replacement parts along with the normal service mission that had already been scheduled. But to do the job correctly, they'll have to delay the service mission until the equipment has been made and the astronauts have had time to practice installing it. They'll have to get more work done up there than they had planned on doing, but they won't have any additional time to do it. Everything will have to be planned and practiced before the mission can proceed. In the meantime, there is a secondary, or backup, control system that could be activated and used. But that system has been sitting there for the entire life of the Hubble, without having been switched on. Who's to say that it hasn't aged beyond usefulness? NASA is very cautious about activating it. They don't want things to become worse. In a way, it is a good thing that the system failed now. If it had failed after the scheduled service mission had occurred, Hubble would have been well and truly dead until after the time the Space Shuttle program has been scheduled to end. In between the last shuttle mission and the first mission by the still unbuilt replacement spacecraft, there is going to be several years when the US has no way of putting a crew into space without buying a ride on Russian launches. And the thing about hitching a ride is that you can't very well ask the driver to take a little detour just so you can do a little repair work on your own machine.

Well, I think I've been babbling on quite long enough. It's time for me to shut up and let you get on with your reading.

Dan

Serials & Long Fiction

Desert Motel
By Wayne Summers
A small motel in the middle of the desert, miles from the main highway. A mysterious proprietor. A story in Aphelion. Anyone with an ounce of sense would find someplace else to spend the night...

The End of the Matter
By Robert Moriyama
Al Majius and his allies face the undead superwizard Aaron Morgenstern in open combat. Lion-men and vampires and werewolves, oh my...

Short Stories

The Fey Prison Warden
By Scott T. Barnes
When creatures of the Other Realm broke the law, they were sentenced to serve time in a prison as far from home as possible: San Diego. Of course, funding cuts meant that they had to help pay for their incarceration...

Frosty
By Ben Whittaker
If you've ever thought that snowman on the neighbors' lawn was scary, you may have good reason.

Insurrection
By Jonathan Tidball
When Mercury Mining Station went silent after 55 years, Captain Melkin and his hand-picked team were sent to investigate. They were prepared for anything -- or so they thought.

Time Lies
By Richard Tornello
For some reason, he kept running into people who thought his name was Michael...

The Village of the Dragons
By Eric J. Krause
Pel thought the arrival of the Talespinner (apparently an old friend of his mother) was the most exciting thing that had ever happened in the ten years of his life. But then the dragon came, and his world changed forever.

The Two Witches of Vildaretz
By V. Ulea
In Vildaretz, there were two witches, both answering to the Sorceress. One was labeled "good", the other "bad", but the rules and the reality were more complicated than that.

Sideshow
By Georgy A. Kolotove
Ashan the assassin was an honorable man. He always lived up to the letter of his contracts, although those contracts were never written down. Working for both parties in a marital dispute was an interesting challenge...

Perspective Warp
By Roderick D. Turner
Lauren was worried when her video conference with Neil, her IT consultant, went bad. Oh, the audio and video were fine -- but Neil seemed to be in a loop!

Alien Summer
By Wallace Dorian
Captain Jesse Williams had to hunt down the remnants of the defeated Lazotian invasion force in the wilds of New Mexico. But the Lazotians had something new -- call it a weapon, call it a tactic, or just call it what the enlisted men whispered amongst themselves: a mirror.

The Man of Her Dreams (A Midlife Fairy Tale)
By Carolyn D. Whiteurst
Deidra was happy, for the most part, now that her kids were finally out of the house. All she needed was a good man -- and for Jr. to move out again. The fortune-teller, Chi Chi, had good news on both counts.

Results of Forum Flash Challenge for September 2008

Congratulations to J. Davidson Hero and Kerry Callaghan co-winners of the September 2008 Forum Flash Challenge. Whet your appetites with the first 200 words of Hero's "The 9 Ways of Truth" and Callaghan's "Premonition" and three more attention-grabbing openings. (If you want more, COMMENT and beg the authors to finish their stories!) And visit the Forum Fun and Games area around October 10th for the NEXT challenge to your imagination and writing skills. (Hint: It's called The Evil Henchman Challenge...)

Poetry and Filk Music

Beauty And The Rose
by Megan Arkenberg

Mary's Little Alien
by Stuart Sharp

The Nameless Squire's Tale
by James Matthew Byers

Superman
by Holly Day

The Outer Inner Limits
by Mark Edgemon

Walkin' Black Hole
by Richard Tornello

Features

Thoughts on Writing #3: You May Not Be A Novelist (And That's OK)
By Seanan McGuire
In an ongoing series, Seanan McGuire takes apart the engine of writing to find out how it works, and offers her insights into how to put it back together again.

Conventional Wisdom: Atlanta Steampunk Meetup
By Dan Hollifield
Dan heads to Oakland Park cemetary in Atlanta to participate in a gathering of steampunk fans, and files this report.


Aphelion Webzine is © 1997-2008 by Dan L. Hollifield