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Aphelion: The Webzine of Science Fiction and Fantasy

Issue 161, Volume 16 -- April 2012

Editorial

It's time for another thrilling installment of “Let's Write An Editorial!” :)

Fiction is a game of “let's pretend” carried out by people whose imaginations are more valuable than gold. Whatever the genre, a story not only has to work, but it has to be entertaining as well. But entertaining to whom? The reader? The editor to whom the story was submitted? The writer, themselves? The book reviewer? The critic? Ultimately, the best stories should answer “yes” to all those questions.

But people are so different, one from another, that it is impossible to please all the people all of the time. This is why there are stories that provoke so many differing opinions. It is also why there are so many genres of fiction. People are different and like different things. Nothing will appeal to everyone, all the time, everywhere. The same story that one reader loves, another reader will loathe. What one critic loves, another will hate. An editor might love a story, but the writer might think it is garbage. The writer might think it's the best story ever written, but the editor reading the slush pile might not be able to finish it before tossing it in the trash can in disgust.

It's a wonder anything ever gets published.

So are we writers supposed to aim for the lowest common denominator and write to please the largest number of people we can? The answer to that is “yes, if you want to get your stories read,”but it's a very cynical yes. And in fact, it's not a complete answer. In reality, a writer might submit the same story to a long string of editors before the story gets accepted. Why did one like it and the rest reject it? Probably because readers tend to congregate around publications that put out stories they like. The editors of those publications that succeed in attracting readers tend to choose the sorts of things that they think their readers will like. If they choose wrong, the readers go elsewhere. If they choose correctly, the readers stick around, as does the publication.

So what do we do? What is the answer?

With all due respect, that's really an easy question. We write the best stories we possibly can. We learn how to write better stories as time goes on. We study the places we want to send a submission to so that we can find out if it might fit in with what their readers like. And we never give up. Writing is hard work. You owe it to yourself to turn out the best stories you possibly can. You also owe it to yourself to learn more about writing, to learn where what you write has the best chance of being accepted, and to write for different markets, too. Stretch yourself as a writer. Grow, learn, study, research... It'll pay off in the long run.

Now that's quite enough from me. It's time I let you get to the reading. There is a lot in this new issue. Go explore it, and have fun!

Dan

Serials and Long Fiction

Frozen Garden
By Rick Grehan
Emalei was Kara's best friend, even though she was a hologram. But Kara had to leave her behind when the world started to fall apart.

The Diary: Confessions of God's Shrink
By Richard Tornello
Psychiatrists hear secrets that are known to only a few people. Imagine the secrets that a Therapist to the Gods would have in his personal journal!

Short Stories

Second Suicide
By Tim Britto
The Valash came to destroy the Earth, because its endlessly violent inhabitants would someday threaten peace in the galaxy. But human art -- music, poetry, fiction, dance and all the rest -- might lead them to suspend the death sentence they had come to carry out.

Night of the Green Devil
By Christopher Owen
John saw his master die at the hands of the Green Devil when payment for the power and wealth granted by the demon came due. He refused to make a deal for himself -- or so he thought.

Aliens Need Not Apply
By Noel Carroll
The alien probes kept coming, each more sophisticated than the last. Were they a threat? What should be done about them?

Here After
By Doug Donnan
The expedition had come to the deepest jungles of Madagascar to record and sample everything they could. Even in the age of satellites, there were secrets to be learned.

Vox
By Ian Cordingley
To survive in a ruined world, many resorted to upgrading their bodies and brains with implants and interfaces. Of course, there were those who weren't given the choice.

Escape
By Matthew D. Ryan
Dreggin Yorr and his companions went into fairy territory in search of friends and comrades who had done likewise -- and never returned. Now they had a new priority -- making it out alive.

Like...Chicken
By Jason Sturner
The old homeless man promised him the secrets of the universe -- or universes -- for five dollars. (The part about it tasting like chicken was a joke.)

Through Seven Stars
By Evan Sehr
Hroth and his Skraelings had destroyed Ojin's home and killed everyone Ojin loved, obsidian and wood being no match for steel. Now, after a lifetime of searching, Ojin had found a legendary weapon forged of metal that had flown through seven stars, a sword they said could kill a god.

Early Warning Chaos
By Chris Sharp
SurfCity was already the subject of a chapter in "50 Weirdest Cities in America" (thanks to its plethora of ghosts). But if Taylor Anglim was right, they'd be able to add alien visitors (or were they invaders?) to the guidebooks.

Thrall
By Joseph E. Arechavala
In which we learn how a female yuppie becomes human servant to a vampire... (Come on, you know you want to know.)

***March 2012 Forum Challenge***

Congratulations to Richard Tornello, author of the favorite entry in the March 2012 Forum Flash Fiction Challenge. Check out "The Soup Is Getting Cold" and two more tales of characters who are literally displaced in time here, after sampling this month's editorial, poetry, short stories, and long fiction, of course...

Poetry and Filk Music

A Bittersweet Comet
by Holly R. Appling

Foreign World of Pain
by Robin Lipinski

God Rest Ye, HP Lovecraft
by Iain Muir

The Tears Of Kharnoon
by Gordon J. L. Ramel

The Vision of Delphica
by John M. Marshall

US
by Richard Tornello

Wind’s Rabies
by A.J. Huffman

Zombie from the Putrid Blog
by Mike Berger

Features

Thoughts on Writing #35: Gimme a Break!
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.

Dreams of Steam II: Brass and Bolts - book review
By Dan L. Hollifield
Dan provides a look at the second volume of the Steampunk anthology series edited by Kimberly Richardson and featuring 25 new tales by some of the stars of the steampunk genre.

Steampunk Gear, Gadgets, and Gizmos - book review
By Dan L. Hollifield
Dan reviews Thomas Willeford's "how-to" guide for steampunk fans who want to make their own props and devices for that next gathering of enthusiasts.


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