Aphelion Editorial 067
by Dan L. Hollifield
Hello and welcome!
Well, the good news is that this is the firs tissue of
Aphelion's Volume 7, so we are six years old now. What a long,
strange trip its been. Aphelion has helped several writers and artists
go pro since our inception. And now one of our writers, Darl Larsen,
has had a film made from a story that Aphelion published in April
(Issue #23) of 1999. "The Snell Show" (director/screenwriter Andrew
John Black) won the Grand Jury Prize at the Slamdance Film Festival,
Jan. 24, 2003. Please join me in congratulating Darl and Andrew for
jobs well done.
Furthermore, the inaugural Annual Wooden Rocket
Awards were launched today (1-30-03) to identify online excellence in
the science fiction and fantasy genre. I posted their whole press
release in the Lettercol along with the link to their website so
everyone can check it out and cast their votes for their own favorite
e-zines. (Hint: one of these awards would look great in my office- Dan)
There are plenty of serials and novellas on tap
for the next few months. However, no one is submitting any poetry. Iain
is getting to that hair-pulling stage over the lack of submissions.
Now for the bad news: Mrs. Heinlein died in
January. She will be greatly missed. Rather than just rephrase what
everyone on the internet has posted about her, here is a link to a very
good article in the online version of a Jacksonville, Florida
widow of sci-fi writer, dies at 86.
Two days after I wrote the above words the
Columbia burned up on re-entry. Rob and I were planning to upload this
issue that very day, but then the tragedy struck. It is only now, days
later, that I have felt able to continue. My deepest sympathies go out
to the families, friends, co-workers, and communities of the Columbia
crew, as I'm sure yours do also.
Last night I got involved in a discussion on a
Message Board on this very subject. Emotions were running high and
various side issues were interjected, such as resentment of the
repetition of what information there was on CNN and other news
agencies, and why this disaster was filling the
news when there were other tragedies throughout the world that should
also be covered. Also mentioned were questions of why we considered the
astronauts to be heroes, why was there not more coverage of the
impending war in Iraq, and other side issues. I'd like to copy my post
from that discussion here rather that re-work it into a new article:
I'd like to concentrate on
the topic of this thread, but I assure you that I do not ignore the
threat of war that looms over us all, worldwide. But war is not germane
to the subject at hand, except peripherally.
I too am saddened by the loss of
Columbia and her crew. And I am angered by the budget cuts that seem to
be the ultimate cause of the tragedy. If you want to point the finger
of blame, then you have to go all the way back to the Nixon
administration and the first cuts to the funding for the space program.
To address the CNN coverage of the
Columbia disaster, one has to remember that CNN is on 24/7/365 and is
geared towards people who tune in, watch for a few minutes, then go
back to whatever they were watching before. They aren't in business to
provide anyone with constant, timely updates of what we as individuals
deem important. They can only do so much with what they have given to
them before its time to show another advert for the latest car
sale/computer sale/newest patent medicine/whatever. News doesn't make
money, commercials do. People *watch* news programs, so they sell ad
time. So when CNN runs out of new news, they have to repeat the old
news, then comment upon it, ad infinitum nausium.
Unfortunately, this is normal for
As for the finding of some remains
of the crew, I for one was bloody glad that some were able to be found.
Not for any ghoulish reason, but for the fact that the families will
have something besides an empty casket for the funerals. They will have
some sort of closure.
Those of us who aren't family
members, can be granted some degree of closure too. This is a human
thing, and to be praised.
There are tons of other disasters in
the world, every minute of every day. All directly affect differing
groups of people to differing degrees. The American space program has
always been a highly visible (and newsworthy) endeavor. But Americans
have gotten complacent with years and years of successful missions. The
rare disaster tends to draw us all together to once again pay attention
to what should always be the most thrilling attempt of humankind- To
reach for the stars, to strive to learn about the universe that spawned
us, and to insure that we pitiful blobs of protoplasm continue to
advance towards a greater future.
We, each of us, live out our lives
as individuals. Alone within our own skulls, only forming connections
with those other individuals who share our bloodlines and our deepest
interests. Everyone else on the planet is a stranger. And those
individuals that draw us together, that force us to think of other
people we have never, will never, could never meet should be honored.
We have spoken of heroes- Both of
legend and of inspiration. Columbia's crew were inspirations to us all,
and they have passed into legend. They *are* heroes, in the finest
tradition that mankind has given birth to. Let us not dishonor them by
confusing their lives and loss with the crass commercialism that
permeates television in our modern, global society. TV is geared
towards the lowest common denominator, but how else can it reach the
most diverse of us all? We are, none of us, absolutely alike. How else
can we all be reached, together? I abhor the dimwittedness of TV, but
am I the standard that all others should strive to emulate? By no
means. I'm just this guy, you know?
So heap criticism where you feel it
should lie, but be aware of the differences that also lie between us
And let us not forget that we all
can be heroes, if push comes to shove. When disaster strikes and we are
there, we can all act to the greater good. If we are not there, we can
damn well *go* there and act- if we determine to do so. There is no
place on this planet that is so far away that we cannot reach it, in
some way, to make a difference.
So if you think that TV is populated
by newsghouls, salesmen, and pablum-- Turn the damn thing off, leave
the house, and go out and make a difference in the lives of your fellow
human beings. Don't just sit there moaning about the crassness of
commercialism, 'cause that isn't going to make it go away.
And nothing will make the pain and
loss of heroes go away either. But one can learn from it and strive to
make one's own little corner of the planet a better place to live in,
to raise children in, to leave a better world for those children to
grow up in.
No hero should pass unmourned. No
lesson should go unlearned. No injustice should go unchallenged. No
threat to life and liberty should go unfought.
Whether it is the terroristic threat
of a mad dictator, or the hunger of a child in some poverty stricken
region, or the tragic death of intrepid explorers of the great unknowns
of the universe-- Each of us as individuals must find what it is that
we abhor and strive against it. To rage against the darkness and never
to admit defeat. To strive towards a time where each of us can look
toward those eternal mysteries of the universe with real hope of
finding answers, of reaching out to our fellow beings and living
together as family.
Together, forever, amen.
We now return you to your regularly scheduled
Thanks for your time.
© 2003 Dan L. Hollifield
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