Aphelion Issue 216, Volume 21
April 2017
 
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P&E Top Ten Hello, and welcome to the third issue of Aphelion's 20th year!

It's pollen season here in Georgia, LOL! Unless it happens to raining at any particular moment, everything is dusted a bright yellow-green, and the normal birdsongs of Spring have been pre-empted by the sneezes and hacking coughs of the long-suffering natives. I wish I had a nice, lightweight spacesuit, LOL! At least then, maybe I could breathe.

Then we have that fire in Atlanta that resulted in a bridge collapsing, one of the main arteries of traffic through downtown Atlanta. Now a quarter of a million drivers have to reroute their daily commutes to deal with this situation. As an infrequent traveler through Atlanta, it has little effect on my day-to-day life. On the other hand, when I do visit Atlanta, that extra 250,000 drivers would tend to bulk up my normal challenges for the traffic on the roads I habitually use. In addition, this situation will continue for the foreseeable future while "reconstruction" is taking place. That bridge isn't going to be rebuilt quickly. Three months, at the earliest, a year would be the more conservative estimate. So I spent some time plotting alternative routes of my own to by-pass Atlanta completely. It'll be slower, smaller roads, but possibly quicker than facing the added traffic to the HWY 285 loop around Atlanta. We shall see when it comes time to head out to LibertyCon in Chattanooga this year.

Which causes me to consider what navigation in space could be like.

We write all these stories with people heading out to all these far-flung solar systems. Some in our home galaxy, and others in galaxies really far away. And that's the thing, space is so freaking huge that flying off to a nearby start is one thing, but who makes the Rand McNally Atlas of Interstellar Flight? How do you map that sort of thing? Somehow "just hang a left at Bernard's Star and straight on 'til Alpha Centauri B just doesn't seem like a sensible set of directions. And what about clouds of dust, micrometeor punctures, and is there a Pizza Hut outside of whatever solar system you're heading for? Is there AAA for Astronauts? Kind of hard to get a tow back from 40 light years out, don't you think? And just how do you change a tire in deep space?

All seriousness aside, we do seem to treat interstellar travel as if it were just another trip by a long-haul trucker. I mean, Low Earth Orbit is just the end of our driveway, right? Leaving the Solar System is about like getting out of our neighborhood subdivision. Alpha C is the next little podunk town in the same county. You know, one stoplight, a grocery store, a gas station, maybe an Intergalactic House of Pancakes if we're lucky. There's another couple of little towns nearby, so maybe they have a good taco joint and a Walmart or Tesco, but not a lot else. We're out in the boonies, to be sure.

Who makes the maps? Who leads the way? Further, once you're out there, how do you keep from getting lost? I know that there are people looking for answers to these questions, but most writers gloss over this stuff to keep the drama flowing. Should we? Probably, yeah. It all goes back to the basic assumptions in our world building. Rather than boring our readers with details that aren't exciting, we cut to the chase and forge on ahead into the plot and action. That's a good thing, really. Thanks to everyone who has been writing in all the years before we began, those are the tropes that it's been difficult to write within. How to tell an exciting story about exploring something nearby have been mined fairly well. Breaking new ground on that takes a set of skills not many of us, myself included, are willing to take time to research and develop, but we do have this "shorthand" that allows us to jump the boring bits and dive down into the stories we want to tell. That can be a good thing. I'm here to tell you, those "First Explorer and Pathfinder" stories haven't been mined completely out. There is still gold in them thar hills.

But you have to work for it!

Before I get to the video editorial for this month, I have an announcement to make. Aphelion is still taking applications for a position on our editorial staff. We need a new Short Story Editor. You are up to the task, or if you know someone who might want to join us, feel free to send us a message. We *might* have someone who is willing to take up the mantle of Flash Fiction Editor. If he enjoyed running the Flash contest this past month, you readers might be able to convince him to stay on. You'll have to convince him that you like his audition contest, and that you want him to keep going. I think he's done a great job, and I hope he wants to continue. But I'm just a single voice in this howling wilderness. Y'all need to give him some support in the Forums. Tell him what you think. It's that eeasy.

The Short Story Editor job is still open however, and we need a worthy successor to step up and do the heroic deeds the job entails. Applicants need only to go to the Aphelion Facebook page and indicate their willingness to join our motley crew. May the best applicant win. If you can deal with the staff in a Facebook chat, 'cause we're all crazy and who wouldn't want to be part of that, come see us there. At the very least, you'll be entertained, LOL!

We are also still looking for writers to do audio interviews with, and video interviews as well. That would entail using Skype to meet up with me for a chat. I'll record that, and then splice it into a video to post on You Tube. The link to those would be embedded on a page in the Features Section, or on whatever page that seems to be the best fit. The interviews that are audio only would have some still photos as a slideshow. The video ones would be a simple screen capture of my monitor while the chat is running. As I see it, scheduling these would be the most difficult aspect. This is, after all, a work in progress. I'll be ironing out the bugs for quite a while.

So, this is still a thing. A third video editorial, for which you will be the first victims--Um, the first to experience something unique in the annals of... whoever keeps annals online, as it were. I'd like to keep them a fifteen-minute format. You know, something that wouldn't be too long or too boring for viewers to sit through. I don't know about you, but as I watched myself on the first video, I kept wishing that I'd speed things up a bit and stop rambling so much. I also need to work on the lighting a bit. Everything looks a bit too reddish for my tastes. I'm still ironing out those bugs as well. And so, with much ado about nothing, I present to you, Aphelion's next step into the 21st Century:




Mare Inebrium Collection

BOILERPLATE:

First off, if you do the Facebook thing, feel free to join us on the Aphelion page there. The link is Aphelion Webzine. As an aside, the Editorial Mafia and I have found Facebook to be very useful. Given our different locations and schedules, it's come in handy as a way to discuss production details of new issues. Sometimes there are several of us using Facebook at the same time, so it's almost like the old chat room days back in the 1990s.

My first collection of Mare Inebrium spaceport bar short stories was published in February of 2015 by Dark Oak Press. It is available in both Kindle and Nook e-book formats, paperback, and hardback. I also have three albums of instrumental music out through the Create Space self-publishing website. If you like, you can click on the photo or the link below to find all the info you would need to purchase my book in your preferred format, or an e-book of Flash of Aphelion, buy a CD of my music, or listen to tracks off the albums on my Bandcamp website. Enjoy!

Dan's Promo Page

Dan





ON THE COVER

Title: Circumstellar Disk - MP Mus

Credit: NASA, ESA, G. Schneider (University of Arizona), and the HST/GO 12228 Team.