Aphelion Issue 278, Volume 26
November 2022
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Aphelion Editorial 062

August/September 2002

The Poetry  Editor stands in for the Senior Editor

by Iain Muir

* Muir pulls out his soapbox and coughs nervously *

Good evening and welcome to this issue of Aphelion. I have volunteered to write this issue's Editorial, as Our Glorious Leader, Dan Hollifield, is still suffering from a bad case of the "dead computer syndrome." We, the editorial mafia, have striven to put together the issue in his absence, but I don't think any of us actually realised how much * work * Dan puts in on a monthly basis to pull all of this insanity together. Days slipped away from us, and eventually it seemed more meet to put out a combined August / September issue, with added content, than to rush an August issue out and delay September, thereby frustrating the authors who were slated for September publication. (Trust us: it's all about service to the community, not about buying ourselves more time!)

On to the actual editorial comment. As you read these words, we are approaching the anniversary of the single largest act of terrorism in history: the destruction of the World Trade Centre. At the time, I recall feelings of shock, of horror, and a sense that the world had changed, that from this day forward, things would never be the same again. A year on, I look around and ask myself: has the world changed?

I look around me, living as I do on the far side of the planet from Ground Zero, and I see that for the majority of people, life has not changed. We still go to work, worry about our children, plan for our futures. There was a brief spurt of security consciousness, which has dulled with the lack of any further attacks. Airlines have instituted some new security rules, which are of maximum inconvenience to the passenger, but are agreed by most security experts to be of minimal effectiveness in stopping another such attack. A government has been overthrown in a foreign country, but it appears that the man responsible for planning the attack on the WTC is still at large, and the world is no safer a place to live in than it was a year ago.

Aphelion deals in Fantasy and Science Fiction, in tales of what may be, what might have been, and what should never be. Niven and Pournelle called sci-fi authors "the dreaming fithp," those whose duty it is to ponder the imponderable, to conceive of the inconceivable. None of us foresaw the events of September 11, 2001. None of us, as far as I know, has predicted the aftermath of those events. Reality, it would appear, is not only stranger than we know, but also stranger than we can conceive. Whatever your conception of tomorrow may be, it is wrong. I find that a comforting thought. When I look at the bleak futures some predict, where freedom has been curtailed in the name of security, I take comfort that this is a possibility, not a certainty. I take comfort that there is an equal possibility that the future may be as bright and utopian as conceived by other writers.

In the shadow of tragedy and despair, take hope from the courage and strength portrayed that grim day a year ago. We cannot know what tomorrow will bring. We can only do our best to make today the best we can, and hope that tomorrow we can improve on it. Speculative fiction can show us the way: the possibilities for a brighter future, and the pitfalls we should avoid.

Dream on, my brethren!


2002 Iain Muir

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