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Aphelion: The Webzine of Science Fiction and Fantasy

Issue 140, Volume 14 -- February 2010

Editorial

That has a nice ring to it. Welcome to our annual Birthday Issue, featuring new stories and the Best of 2009's stories and poetry. The Staff have sifted through long lists of links to last year's offerings to find the works they felt were of outstanding quality. I hope everyone had a nice Holiday break, with all the blessings of home and hearth and family the season entails. I'm also hoping that 2010 will be a good year for us all.

So how can I tie in some sort of lecture on writing with the beginning of  new year? Easy! A new year is like a blank page shining back at you from the screen of your word processor. The months are chapter headings in an outline. The seasons are a rough draft of how the story of the year can link together. Each day on the calender is a paragraph heading. The story of the upcoming year is there, waiting to be written. Oh sure, some things are already known. Carryovers from the story of the year before. You know that your bills and shopping have to fit into the outline. You know that your work schedule will have to be wedged in there too. Holidays, anniversaries, vacations, romantic outings with your loved ones all have to be worked into the new year's story. And birthdays- Mustn't forget the Birthdays!

Like now, as we come together to celebrate another new year beginning for Aphelion we can also celebrate how far we have come from that simple beginning oh so long ago. Everything is changing and growing so fast. Time rushes forward, taking us all with it whether we want to go or not. Aphelion is leaving childhood behind and growing on towards adulthood. We're in that middle period that for humans is such a trying time. Some things will change, and some things will remain the same. Excitement and wonder lay ahead of us. As do some more hard times- Let's face it, there is no growth without challenge. We've all come so far, faced so much, become more than we ever dreamed was possible. Now we're on the threshold of another stage in the great adventure. Another milestone in the path has been reached and is now going slowly into the past. We will never stand in this same place again. Whatever comes, we will face it together.

We have a new story to write. The outline is there before us. It stretches out through the new year. We have our heroes and our villains, our triumphs and our disappointments, our friends and our fellows and our family together. Let's make it a grand tale- Forward! Into the future, one step at a time, we will go together.

So now I guess I should stop blathering and let you get to reading. Behold! The Best of 2009, and the beginning of 2010 is ready for you.

Dan

2-10-2010

Serials & Long Fiction

Weregild
By Kristen Lee Knapp
A sword and sorcery story about a woman seeking revenge against the man who murdered her father.

The Voices of Angels
By Gil Miller
What is the noise down by the pond that keeps disturbing the sleep of Harvey, a 78 year old retired farmer? And why does he keep hearing the voice of his dead wife?

The Essential Nightwatch

In preparation for the upcoming launch of a new series of "Nightwatch" tales, Jeff Williams presents the story that introduced Simon Litchfield and his colleagues back in June, 2004:

Nightwatch: Dragon's Egg
By Robert Moriyama
To some, the Nightwatch Institute for Strategic and Economic Studies was an adviser to governments and major corporations. To others, it provided expertise and equipment to help build -- or rebuild -- vital services in every corner of the world. But Nightwatch did its most important work in the shadows ... For Dr. Simon Litchfield, engineer, linguist, and -- other things, the discovery of a mysterious object in Afghanistan was just another day at the office.

Best Long Fiction of 2009 (Selected by McCamy Taylor)

New Columbia
By J. B. Hogan
Ari Blanque is a citizen of a futuristic world which has been divided, race against race, class against class, civilian versus military. As a rich young man of privilege, he has never had to work or accomplish anything. However, he has one skill. He is a demon when he gets behind the wheel of his car. This talent attracts the attention of rebels, who need a driver to help them reach their base near the legendary paradise, New Columbia. Against his will, Ari undertakes a long and dangerous journey, during which he learns the secrets of the brave new world which people like his father helped create. (This epic tale originally appeared in three parts, from October 2009 through December 2009 / January 2010.)

Pop Fly
By N. J. Kailhofer
A tale of miners versus pirates in outer space. (The author tells us that "An earlier draft of this story won an Honorable Mention in the L. Ron Hubbard's Writers of the Future Contest, 2004. Adding up all the different versions, MS word says this story has been revised 76 times since the first draft in '94 (when it was a 3rd person story). Enough is enough.") (Originally appeared in the June, 2009 issue.)

Three Revolvers On Mars
By Kristen Lee Knapp
A tale of murder and revenge set in the future. (Originally appeared in the September, 2009 issue.)

Lady Of Knives
By Chad Banks
Figuring out who killed a member of a rival gang is the easy part for Monkey and his companions. Stopping her and her knives is much more of a problem. (Originally appeared in the December 2009 / January 2010 issue.)

The Lost Clones of Sakamoto Hero
By McCamy Taylor
Sadie Hope is a clone with a terminal disease. Exiled to an “isolation facility” to die, with gunmen on her trail, her life seems to be headed in the wrong direction -- until she encounters the Lost Clones of Sakomoto Hero. This story is a sequel, of sorts, to “A Study in Silicon”, about the artificial intelligence, Mycroft. (Originally appeared in the August, 2009 issue.)

Short Stories

In A Time Past
By J. E. Deegan
Cleo and her beloved dog, Joe -- or at least their spirits -- visited their graves every year, remembering the lives they had led and the events that had ended their brief lives. But this year would be different...

The Homecoming
By K. A. Masters
When Larissa Macsterna found the stranded and injured merman in the tidal pool, her life would never be the same.

Dreams On The Wind
By Steele Tyler Filipek
As punishment for their crimes, working on the Atlantic Basin High-Altitude Wind Plant -- a gigantic wind turbine suspended miles above the earth -- had seemed better than the death penalty. But if Corey and Jackson couldn't fix the cables that kept the machine suspended like an enormous kite, they would ride the wreckage all the way down.

The Rebound Effect
By Roderick D. Turner
He thought he was pretty ordinary -- less than ordinary, judging by the way most people treated him. But then the girl said he had potential, and told him to meet her yesterday...

Wanderling
By Benjamin Taylor Jr.
The Captain of the Wanderling seemed to think his current assignment as skipper of a research vessel was boring after years commanding combat ships. The Chief Scientist almost agreed with him -- their mission to gather water samples from remote locales was hardly likely to produce any interesting results. The First Officer, however, found magic in the simplest things.

The Collector
By James Mascia
Jerry was a collector. He retrieved surveillance devices from their observation stations when their tasks were complete. It only looked like he was kidnapping children from their beds.

Best Short Stories of 2009 (Selected by Robert Moriyama)

The Glass Cage
By James Lecky
Ulphia's beauty was legendary. No man could resist it. To preserve it, she would pay any price... (Originally appeared in the February 2009 issue.)

The Wellness Center
By Lee Gimenez
When humans colonized Azulation, they found the natives to be very useful, as slave labor -- and more. But when some of the Blues forget their place, Detective Erik Larson must investigate. (Originally appeared in the March 2009 issue.)

Faux Pair
By Patrick Welch
Apprentice thief Brendell was elated to be given an important assignment the moment he arrived in Perlenz. There was, of course, a catch -- no one who had attempted the job in the past had returned. (Originally appeared in the April 2009 issue.)

Virtual
By T. Richard Williams
Alexis was to participate in a total-immersion telepresence mission to Sedna. Two men thought they knew why; both were wrong. (*Contains adult situations*) (Originally appeared in the May 2009 issue.)

By Invitation Only
By Noel Carroll
Cassie and her husband wanted to see something special on their vacation in the Greek islands. They got their wish at a quaint, very out of the way restaurant... (Originally appeared in the June 2009 issue.)

Wood, Mud, Blood
By Mark Ward
The wizard Edmund Farrier had been sent to investigate trouble in the North Country -- an escalating battle between the king's soldiers and an army of ludkin -- magically animated wooden men...(Originally appeared in the July 2009 issue.)

The Sword in Zoe's Hand
By Gary W. Feather
All that Zoe had left of Michael -- her lover and her sensei -- was a sword and the skill to use it. And with zombies everywhere, it was a very good thing to have. (Originally appeared in the August 2009 issue.)

Pale Nations of the Dead
By James Lecky
In Pame Glorias, the Llorona Xalbadora wept tears of ruby crystal, and waited for one who could free her from her eternal sorrow. (Originally appeared in the September 2009 issue.)

Rad Day
By Roderick D. Turner
Most people sealed themselves in their homes on Rad Days, when radiation levels rose to dangerous levels. But intrepid reporter Kayla Foster knew that the best stories happened when the weirdos figured there were no witnesses... (Originally appeared in the October 2009 issue.)

Blood, Bears, and Canvas
By P. F. White
A two-fisted -- well, two-pawed -- tale set in the dark and dirty world of underground interspecies boxing. (Originally appeared in the November 2009 issue.)

Thy Kingdom Come, My Will Be Done
By Frederick Rustam
The starship TerraNav carried scholars for every major discipline on a mission of exploration. Unfortunately, it also carried a frustrated Chaplain and an A.I. that was eager to hear The Word. (Originally appeared in the December 2009 / January 2010 issue.)

Receipt For A Dragon
By Stuart Sharp
Brian was between jobs, and about to be between girlfriends, thanks to his love of reptiles. Investigating the odd receipt he found in an old book would at least occupy his time.

Best Mare Inebrium Tales of 2009

The Door of Renown
By Jaimie L. Elliott
The games people play is as nothing when compared to what deities can get up to the the Mare Inebrium's Pantheon Room... Gods and heroes and writers- Oh my! Jaimie Elliott's first ever Mare Inebrium story! (Originally appeared in the March 2009 issue.)

Never Friday
By Greg Barozzi
When the two Captains of the Silver Moon return to the Mare Inebrium, Max isn't very glad to see them. But they buy their way into Max's good graces with a large credit chip, and a sad story. After all, in the Mare Inebrium, a story to tell is as valuable as hard currency... (Originally appeared in the September 2009 issue.)

Results of Forum Flash Challenges for December 2009

Congratulations to David Alan Jones, winner of the December 2009 Forum Flash Challenge. Take vicarious delight in David's tale of icy wish fulfillment "Winter of My Disc Content", then rub the enchanted object of your choice (getcher minds out of the gutter, you in the back) five more times while you read the other enchanting entries.

Results of Forum Flash Challenges for January 2010

Congratulations to Bill Wolfe, winner of the January 2010 Forum Flash Challenge. Grumble along with Bill's protagonist as he copes with a surfeit of time tourists in "Case in Point", then elbow your way through eight more flash mobs from the future. And watch for the next challenge just in time (more or less) for Valentine's Day!

Best Flash Challenge Stories of 2009 (Selected by N. J. Kailhofer)

Forever the Day
By J. Davidson Hero
An old tree, an archivist, and a rescued girl combine for a Christmas tale that still makes the Flash Editor misty every time he reads it.

The Model Maker
By Richard Tornello
The greatest lesson Mario could learn lay before him on the workbench, but it took him almost a lifetime to figure it out.

Salviati's Siren
By J. Davidson Hero
Marooned on the distant planet Salviati, botanist Sola Gardiner had to use all her skills to not be forgotten.

The Warm Equations
By Bill Wolfe
Billy's guilt consumed him. He had to save Mary, but she wasn't about to be stopped.

Masterwork
By David Alan Jones
Simon Labree: Artist, inventor, thief, and troll.

The Ghost of Christmas Past
By Casey Callaghan
An asteroid miner gets an unexpected visitor in this Campfire Ghost story.

Old Mary
By Bill Wolfe
Almost everyone thinks it's great to gather around a campfire on a chilly night. Some people know better.

The Devil in the Details
By Casey Callaghan
The Devil went to see a painter. It was a meeting neither would soon forget.

Poetry and Filk Music

2012
by J. Davidson Hero

A Ripple In My Mind
by Richard Tornello

Antiquity
by Will Conway

Cry from the Abyss
by Michelle Dutcher

Flatworld
by Matt Tuckey

Smiling Faces
by Stephen Jarrell Williams

Taking the Confession of the Angel of Death
by Jean Jones

The Angel of Death Offers Consolation
by Bruce Whealton

Welcome
by Mike Berger

When We Were Large
by Robert William Shmigelsky

Your Dewy Throne
by J. B. Hogan

The Best Poetry and Filk of 2009

The Patient Suitor
by A. K. Sykora

Two Dimensional Visitors
by Richard H. Fay

Around The Campfire
by E. J. Tett

Just Call Me Joe!
by John Erickson

Orion's Belt
by Ben Cooper

Contagion
by Dave Weaver

Motto of the Gnomish Postal Service
by Stuart Sharp

Once Upon a Time
by Richard Tornello

The Cyborg
by J Davidson Hero

The Guest in the Attic
by John Grey

Features

Thoughts on Writing #17: Have Faith In Your Editor
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.

Best of 2009 Features

Ego Tutela Custodiae Custodie: Zack Snyder's "Watchmen"
Review By Terence Chua
Terence takes in Zack Snyder's film adapation of Alan Moore and Dave Gibbon's classic comics mini-series.

Convention Wisdom: Time Travelers Ball 2009
By Dan Hollifield
The hottest thing in the 21st century is...the 19th century. Our senior editor attends the first annual Atlanta steampunk convention, and files this report.

Myth Conceptions: A Thousand Nights and One Night
By Jaimie L. Elliot
Jamie Elliot relfects on the stories of Shahrazad and the mysteries of the old Middle East.

Star Trek: You Can't Get Here From There
By Terence Chua
Terence Chua tries to make the new Star Trek film fit into the context of the old one.

Thoughts on Writing #12: Good Critique, Bad Critique
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.

From the Balcony: Moon
By Robert Moriyama
Robert Moriyama examines Duncan Jones's tense, thought-provoking film, Moon.

A Few Words About Dogs
By McCamy Taylor
McCamy Taylor takes a trip to the futuristic world of Miwa Shirow in this month's manga review.


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