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Aphelion: The Webzine of Science Fiction and Fantasy

Issue 151, Volume 15 -- April 2011

Editorial

Writing is work! Hard work. Very demanding work, in an unrelentingly detail-oriented sort of way. Composition of a basic rough draft is relatively easy. One just sits down and writes. But revisions, rewrites, and editing is harder than it looks. And those tasks are necessary to turn a rough draft into something sell-able

Self-editing is difficult because a writer is often too close to their work to see minor problems. Sure, one can catch a few errors. But letting someone else give a rough draft a read-through and critique is almost always necessary to root out all the niggling little details that could keep a work from being sold.

Being edited is seldom easy on a writer's ego. Some writers never step beyond the "my words are etched in stone and are perfect the way I put them" stage of writing. Except in very rare cases, every writer can benefit from having an editor. The trick is to put one's ego away and admit that someone else might just happen to be correct when they point out changes that could very well make a manuscript better than its original draft.

I was first edited in 1976. I couldn't for the life of me understand why Tom Deitz didn't see my words as perfectly clear and comprehensible to any average reader. After an hour or so of watching my precious words be changed, I started to understand what Tom was getting at. His changes made the story better! I finally packed my ego away and followed along closely as he scribbled additions and corrections to my formerly-deathless prose. In short, I began to learn.

Now look, I started writing back when a typewriter was the state-of-the-art word processor. White-Out was new! Later on, computers were invented. After that, Word Processor programs were written. My first attempt at a novel was outlined on a typewriter, then eventually revised and expanded on a TRS-80 Color Computer 3. Aphelion Webzine came to be a decade later and first found life in a Radio Shack-version 386! About the only fad I haven't used very much is speech-to-text programs. And that's because I just don't have the time to train a program to understand my accent.

But one thing hasn't ever changed in my lifetime. The real need for critiques, constructive criticism, and someone to sit down and edit a rough draft into something a writer can then polish up to be a sell-able manuscript. If I were egotistical enough, I could load a rough draft into a modern Word Processor program, click on the "Export to PDF" option, and attempt to sell unpolished manuscripts as e-books on Amazon.com. I'm willing to bet that I wouldn't sell very many before word got around that my work needed an editor to give it a real shine. To be ready for a reader to actually enjoy, rather than painfully wade through. To be worth paying money for, in other words.

I've been writing little stories since the mid-1960s. Some of them have been good. Some have been crap. But all of them could have been improved by a little editing by someone outside my skull! I hope I never get so self-involved that I reject the advice of an editor. Editors exist because writers need an outside source who is willing to say "you could get your point across better if you word that sentence this way..."

People who choose to be editors really deserve our respect and thanks. That is one tough job! I'm thankful to have found a series of people willing to tell me what I can change to make my writing better. I have learned from each of them. I pray that I never stop learning.

OK, time for me to shut up and let you read the April issue.

Enjoy!

Serials & Long Fiction

D.A.V.E.
By Dean Giles
When Simon awoke, his body was a shriveled husk in the process of reconstruction by nanomachines. This, he understood -- his stasis module must have malfunctioned. But why was he alone when he had been only one of three thousand people on the ship when it was launched? Only the ship's artificial intelligence, the D.A.V.E., knew the answer.

Short Stories

Genesis
By Ché Francis Monro
To the intelligence-enhanced animals in the Gilead habitat, the humanoid intruders were like gods -- or demons. Their fates would be determined by the outcome of a battle in the void between worlds.

Debtor
By Noah Zachary
To save his own life, he had made a bargain with a demon. Now someone or something had set a hellhound on his trail, a dangerous situation even for someone with the powers that came with being a Debtor.

Sacred Logs and Crocodiles
By Walter G. Esselman
Gideon had been raised by dragons, and had gained some of their powers -- and a flying, fire-breathing foster brother. For that duo, even retrieving an overdue library book could turn into an adventure...

Rapid Transit
By E. S. Strout
Their teleportation experiments had progressed from inanimate objects through increasingly complex living things, all with no apparent problems. Now it was time to test the device with a human volunteer.

swodahS
By J. E. Deegan
Ned Reece was an apex predator in the lawless wasteland called Limboland. He knew how to survive, and how to kill with ruthless efficiency. And if he had a small obsession with shadows, what harm could it do him?

Liam's Bridge
By Mary Brunini McArdle
Long ago, Liam's sister Patricia -- a.k.a. Sweet P., or just Sweet -- had told him a comforting fable about an afterlife where people were eventually reunited with everyone they ever loved -- including their pets -- on a beautiful bridge between worlds. That tale failed to comfort Ellen, Liam's mother, when Liam died suddenly from a stroke, and soon after her beloved cat, Alice, seemed ready to join him.

Death with French Bread
By Chris Sharp
Chase and Ronnie were dining again in the French restaurant where they had their first date. Their lives had diverged long ago, but now their children -- her son and his daughter -- were repeating history in that same restaurant. How could they not watch?

Finding Our Voices
By Richard Tornello
The young man thought that his story of the cruel and senseless shooting of a deer by his thick-headed buddy made scintillating dinner conversation. The stepfather of his long-time friend had a very different opinion -- and so did the preternaturally intelligent wolf, lurking in the woods near the parking lot.

In Their Eyes
By Ian Cordingley
'Coming of age' has never been easy. When it meant accepting a cybernetic implant that would literally change (and enhance) your mind, and choosing a mate, it became much, much harder.

Pretty Little Foxes
By Lester Curtis
The foxes were beautiful little things -- but they were not what they appeared to be. In fact, they were killers, and if they managed to reach him in his hiding place in the ruined castle, he would be their next victim.

***March 2011 Forum Challenge***

Congratulations to Mark Edgemon, author of the favorite entry in the March 2011 Forum Flash Fiction Challenge. Check out "Sons of Angels" and three more Endings to the tale begun in the November Challenge in Michele Dutcher's "The Vanishing Stone" here, after sampling this month's editorial, poetry, short stories, and long fiction, of course...

Poetry and Filk Music

Report On The Recent Excavations At Norwich
by David Barber

Wondrous Gobbledygook
by Richard H. Fay

Gumshoe
by Thomas Reynolds

I’m Sorry, But…
by Stuart Sharp

Last Man
by Chris Wood

Life's A Party
by Richard Tornello

Out There
by Brian S. Lingard

The Arousal Indicator
by Mike Wilson

White Pinnacle of Pain
by Robin B. Lipinski

Features

Thoughts on Writing #28: For The Critics
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.

Retrograde: Alternative History At Its Finest
By Daniel C. Smith
Daniel Smith recalls James P. Hogan's novel, "The Proteus Operation"


Aphelion Webzine is © 1997-2013 by Dan L. Hollifield