Aphelion Issue 278, Volume 26
November 2022
Long Fiction and Serials
Short Stories
Flash Fiction
Submission Guidelines
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Flash Writing Challenge
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Aphelion: The Webzine of Science Fiction and Fantasy

Issue 132, Volume 13 -- May 2009


Ladies and Gentlemen, it is my sad duty to report the death of an old and very dear friend from my years in college at the University of Georgia. Back in January, Tom Deitz suffered a massive heart attack. Monday, April 27, Tom succumbed to the damage done to his heart by that attack. He'd spent the intervening time in and out of the hospital. When the end came, friends from Gainesville State College, where he had been teaching, were with him. Sunday, yesterday, some two hundred or more people gathered at that school he loved so well to celebrate his life. At his request, we did not mourn his passing, but rather cherished the memories of his time among us. Because, as was pointed out many times yesterday, Tom is not gone from our lives. For those of us who were blessed by knowing Tom, he will always be with us- invisibly, perhaps, but here just the same. Indeed, I can feel a comforting hand on my shoulder as I write these words. And as usual for Tom, he's trying to copy edit as I type.

I've known Tom since 1976. Deitz was my very first Editor. That is, he was the first person to take a story I wrote and attempt to make it readable by someone who wasn't living inside my head. I learned that I had not clearly presented the scenes that I typed out, that my story was a bit confusing, and that I couldn't spell worth a flip. Gently, he led me to see where I could reword different passages in order to allow a reader to understand what I meant to say, rather than what I had conveyed in a near-shorthand style. This was the single most aggravating and enlightening experience of my writing journey. And that seems to sum Tom up nicely. Gentle, enlightening, and sometimes aggravating in his quest for perfection. You couldn't help but love the man. His skills at painting, drawing, writing, costuming- at whatever he turned his hands to do -was nothing short of awesome. I could be envious, but not jealous, every time I saw some new creation of his. Be it novels, or artwork, or costumes for SCA events, Tom approached everything he did with the desire to get it absolutely right, down to the smallest detail. Back then, the name "Aphelion" was used as the title of the fanzine put out by the UGA Science Fiction Literary and Discussion Club. During my time at the University there were four, nearly quarterly, issues of Aphelion published and snail-mailed out so a couple of hundred people. I was lucky enough to have either a story or poetry in three out of the four, as I recall. When it came time for me to start my own e-zine, I contacted some of the folks in charge of that print fanzine and asked for permission to use the name. Since you're reading "Aphelion" online right now, I'm sure that you can guess that permission was granted.

One tradition from the original incarnation of the Aphelion fanzine has been carried on by Aphelion Webzine. Every issue is usually late. I believe that Tom would get a kick out of that.

Friends, Tom wrote twenty or so novels that you can find at online retailers. Or if you're really lucky, in brick & mortar bookstores. Prints of some of his artwork have hung on the walls of every apartment and house that I've called home since my days at college. His SCA costumes have been the envy of everyone who saw them. Murals he painted still adorn the walls of the homes of some of his friends. The few times I chose to bother him when I thought he was not busy writing, he was a joy to be around. He was supportive and offered advice when I decided to start writing and submitting stories to online e-zines and print publishers. His advice? "Don't get discouraged by rejections. Always do your best, then polish it to make it better. Never give up because something isn't easy to do. Everything worth doing is worth doing right."

Tom always sought to get the details exactly right. He was never satisfied with "that's good enough" but always wanted to go that extra step, to make the best better, to make things as perfect as was humanly possible. He never gave up on a project, but kept tinkering with it until he knew that it was right. He wasn't afraid to give his all. He wasn't content to do anything halfway. It was either right, or it wasn't finished yet. I think the worst thing Tom could ever say to anyone was "you can do better than that."

Tom touched thousands of lives. Through his books, through his time as a teacher, through the Society for Creative Anachronism, through his artwork, through his friendship. I, and everyone else who knew him are far richer for having done so. Some people may think that we're poorer for having lost him. I disagree. We haven't lost him at all. There is now, and always has been, a little piece of Tom inside everyone whose life he touched. Tom isn't gone, he's just moved to a different place again. This time it may be a bit further away, but his love and friendship and joy and example will always be with us.

Thank you, Tom. I hope I returned a friendship as good as you gave. I'll never give up. I'll be forever trying to go that extra step, to go beyond "that's good enough" into the realms of "that's right- now I can call it finished!"

Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you Thomas Franklin Deitz. Writer, artist, scholar, teacher, and friend.


Serials & Long Fiction

The Dolphin of Europa
By Ken Kraus
During a rescue mission to a remote weather outpost, a rookie nurse becomes trapped in a network of underground caverns inhabited by a half-crazed marine biologist and a creature whose hypnotic song feels too good to be true.

Helldiver (Part 1)
By Dan Edelman
A follow up to "Swords in the Fire". Kai Ferracanes mission is to deliver a very important artifact, and nothing, not sharks, not demons, not even a whole fleet is going to get in his way. Science fiction, fantasy and armed combat on the high seas.

Short Stories

By T. Richard Williams
Alexis was to participate in a total-immersion telepresence mission to Sedna. Two men thought they knew why; both were wrong. (*Contains adult situations*)

Franklin's Reach
By Jon Wesick
Art Franklin had always dreamed of going into space. Now it was possible -- just barely, but possible. All it would cost was his future.

Cosmic Chronicles
By Joel Realubit
Jack -- code-name "Cosmic" -- was the most power metahuman on Earth. Sure, he needed a blast-proof underground chamber to cut his own hair and nails without causing mass destruction, but that was a small price to pay. (*Contains adult language and violence. BIG violence.*)

Chaos Angel
By Roderick D. Turner
Matt had two problems. First, he had to win the biggest contract of his career -- a tough job for a relatively small player in a narrow field. Second -- well, maybe first -- he had to connect with the devastatingly attractive woman who had almost totaled his car.

Bart Tell
By Terry Larson
Bart Tell had a lucrative career as host of a popular radio show that focused on all things out-of-this-world. He just wished that he could find reason to be a believer again himself, instead of just playing along...

By E. S. Strout
Elinor Matson's body held the key to a cancer treatment that would be worth billions to whatever company could bring it to market first. BioTech Pharmaceuticals was determined to be that company, or see that the treatment was never made available.

The Man Called Silence
By Ed Barol
Miller had been born cursed. Electronics, hell, anything electrical, failed when he was around. It made for a lonely existence when almost everyone depended on gadgets to do business...

Asparagus Screams
By Joseph T. Christopher
Richard thought that the endless chatter of the ghosts that nobody else could hear was the worst thing ever. He was wrong, of course.

Painted Faces
By Mary Kiorden Hayden
In spite of her brother Desmond's warnings, Ledra was determined to learn magic from the wizard Yusif. Surely Yusif could not be as dangerous -- as evil -- as Desmond said.

I Call To You
By Tyler Hardin
Something was killing the homeless men who depended on the shelter, something that used sex as a lure and a weapon. The police and the minister who ran the place thought the deaths were due to natural causes -- or as natural as death could be for addicts and alcoholics and mental patients. Chris knew better, and he tried to prepare his buddies to fight back.

Voices in the Pipes
By Philip Roberts
Hank's marriage was not exactly perfect, but he thought it was -- tolerable -- until the voice that seemed to emanate from the bathroom sink started in, goading him, encouraging his suspicions and resentments.

***April 2009 Forum Challenge***

Congratulations to Casey Callaghan, winner of the "My Pet Monster" Forum Flash Challenge. Check out Casey's entry "Samuel's Esoteric Pet and Statue Shop" and five more tales of creatures that only a pet owner could love -- after you have read and commented on our other stories, novellas, poetry, and features, of course. (All entries will also be available (shortly, if not immediately) via the Flash Index in the Fun and Games section of the Forum, provided by Nate Kailhofer, Flash Editor and Challenge Master.)

Poetry and Filk Music

A Poem For A Recession
by Jon Stocks

by J. B. Hogan

Cyborg At A Restaurant
by Richard Tornello

Just Call Me Joe!
by John Erickson

by William Landis

Temporal Crack
by Richard H. Fay


Thoughts on Writing #9: Control Your Children
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.

A Few Words About Dogs
By McCamy Taylor
McCamy Taylor takes a trip to the futuristic world of Miwa Shirow in this month's manga review.

From the Balcony: X-men Origins: Wolverine
Review by Mark Edgemon
Mark Edgemon takes in the first summer blockbuster of the season, and checks in with this review.

Convention Wisdom: Time Travelers Ball 2009
By Dan Hollifield
The hottest thing in the 21st century is...the 19th century. Our senior editor attends the first annual Atlanta steampunk convention, and files this report.

Aphelion Webzine is © 1997-2009 by Dan L. Hollifield