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November 2022
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Aphelion: The Webzine of Science Fiction and Fantasy

Issue 142, Volume 14 -- April 2010


There's a speech to a college graduating class that's been getting a lot of replay on a local Alternative Radio station lately. It starts off "use sunscreen." The speech was dubbed over some music and began getting lots of attention. There are even versions of it on You Tube. I'm told it has been making the rounds for years, but the basic idea is even older. Just words of what the speaker hopes is wisdom. Simple observations of the world and how it seems to work. I heard it again just days before it was time for me to write my editorial. For some reason, I couldn't get it out of my head, so I thought that typing out a few words of wisdom of my own might help drive it out. Here goes...

  • Everyone has some special talent for something. Find yours, practice it, try to become better at it than anyone else. You may not succeed, but you may get a lot of pleasure out of the pursuit.

  • Never let anyone tell you that algebra is useless. It isn't useless. It isn't a lot of fun for mathematically challenged folks like myself, but I wind up using it several times a week to do simple calculations that make my life easier.

  • Take good care of your tools. It doesn't matter if it is a $300 drill motor or a $2 calculator or a $40,000 bulldozer. Take care of it, keep it out of the weather, service it when it needs it, and it'll last you a long, long time. Even if your tools are only your education, skills, and your own two hands. Keep your wits sharp and your mind well stocked, and remember to come in out of the rain.

  • By the way, dancing naked in the rain is an entirely overrated human endeavor. All you get is wet, cold, and wrinkly-looking. Unless your significant other is the one who came up with the idea. In which case you can ignore the wet and cold, and get down to some serious romance when you both decide it's time to go back indoors to get warm and dry. Relationships are like that; sometimes you have fun, sometimes you compromise, sometimes you get upset with one another, but you are always willing to take a chance that at least one of you knows what you're doing.

  • There are many simple mechanical skills that everyone needs to learn in order to keep from being too dependent upon other people. Everyone should be willing to learn to build a bookcase, wire up a lamp, balance their bank account, build a fire, start a car with jumper cables, measure and saw boards, drive nails, drive a car, mow their yard, pack a moving van, cook simple meals, unclog a drain, paint a wall, plant a tree, throw away old junk, and change a diaper on a baby. You might never need all of those, but most of you will need to know more than one of them.

  • Pets are like children, and they have the ability to restore their owners to a child-like state of mind. Usually, this is a good thing, but it can be taken to extreme.

  • Extended families are just the same as biological families, only larger. Mothers and fathers, sons and daughters, brothers and sisters- None of them mean any less to you because of that "step-" prefix. Family is family, no more, no less.

  • People seldom set out to become what they turn out to be. Life has been compared to a journey, with many detours and side trips. This is an apt description. It is useful to help you understand other people and their points of view. People are a sum of all the steps they've take along their individual journey. Some of those steps were bold strides into the unknown, some were safe strolls down familiar paths, and some were stumbling pratfalls to an unfortunate destination. Think of this the next time you have to deal with someone whom you simply can't understand why or how they came to be what they are. You still might not understand they why of them, but at least the how won't be a total mystery.

  • Critical thinking is more difficult than blindly believing everything you are told. This fact is what keeps con men in business. It also makes the advertising business possible. Don't accept everything you're told about anything. Stop and think about whatever it is. If you don't understand it, look it up, research it. You might find that you are being misled, or you might find you are being educated. Both are useful things to know. Question authority, its motives and reasons, and make up your own mind. You might still be wrong, but at least you won't be led around by your nose.

  • Never be afraid of someone else's negative opinions. Other people will always have different opinions that you can't share. Disagreement is not disloyal or incorrect. It only means that you don't think the same things in the same way that they do. You can't live a good life by appeasing everyone. Sometimes, your own happiness depends on thinking the unpopular thoughts, believing the minority opinion, or just telling "Mrs. Grundy" to STFU and keep her upturned nose out of your business. If you don't chose to run your own life, rest assured that some busybody will turn up attempting to tell you what you should, or shouldn't do with it. Such people will always be with us. One of life's pleasures is being able to tell them what to kiss, and when.

  • Life is full of disappointments, missed opportunities, regrets, surprises, unexpected pleasures, precious moments, photo ops, and joy. Learn to tell one from the other and act accordingly.

  • Saying goodbye to a loved one never gets any easier. No matter how many people you lose, each one hurts. A lot. Deal with it. Life is a series of hellos and goodbyes. The older you get, the more goodbyes you have had to face. So cherish those hellos, and the memories that they lead to, because one day those will be all you have left of that friend.

  • Don't sweat the small stuff. When you get right down to it, there isn't much that didn't turn out to be small stuff. Even if it didn't look all that small to begin with.

  • Oh, by the way, the dude was right about the sunscreen.


Serials & Long Fiction

By M. C. Fuller
A young man with remarkable extra-sensory abilities must find a way to defeat the evil god, Regina, and save the world.

Order of the Sun
By McCamy Taylor
A prequel to "Blood Red Rose" and "Vishnu's Beer Garden." As the Thirty Year War ravages Europe, a member of the Order of Malta finds himself cursed with a thirst for human blood. How does a crusader come to terms with being an abomination?

The Essential Nightwatch

Our review of pivotal episodes from the Nightwatch series with "Cardenio", the tale that put Stephanie Keel's painful history in the spotlight, and Part 1 of "The Kindness of Strangers", a two-part story in which the time-bending properties of the Dragon's Egg are tested -- along with Simon Litchfield's courage and ingenuity...

Nightwatch: Cardenio
By Kate Thornton
A lost Shakespearean play, a lost research station, and Stephanie Keel's lost past all converge in the steamy jungles of Amazonia. Simon Litchfield's khakis keep their impeccable crease as he, Tom Weldon, and Stephanie do battle over an incredible and ancient secret.

Nightwatch: The Kindness of Strangers - Part 1
By Jeff Williams
Stuck in unfamiliar circumstances, Dr. Simon Litchfield tries to solve a mystery with little more to go on than the knowledge that 'something strange and dangerous' is happening--and that failure could mean the end of everything as he's known it.

Short Stories

First Blood
By Sarah Deckard
Growing up without a father in the little village was hard for Galina and her mother. Things would get much more complicated when she became a woman...

The Girl Who Lost Time
By TN Dockrey
Francesca Adler wanted nothing more than to escape life in the small town, serving the whims of her brilliant but obsessive father. But then she became fascinated with his studies of the nature of Time.

The Persistence of Memory
By Pedro Blas Gonzales
The scientists were prepared for some similarities between themselves and their clones. They never expected to be quite as close as they turned out to be.

The Last Revelation
By Alex Granados
Marcus and Eliza were players -- or vital pieces? -- in a game thousands of years long.

The Tin City Good Deal
By Kurt Heinrich Hyatt
Moondog, wandering scavenger extraordinaire, had a chance to score a sweet handgun and all the ammo he could carry (to say nothing of the girl). All he had to do was steal or scam some food from the 900-foot Tin City tower, with packs of half-feral children doing their best to kill him.

Dinner With Henry
By Bruce Memblatt
Henry needed a job. Working for the never-seen woman along with her household staff of misfits and the maimed wasn't exactly ideal, but it had its moments.

Some Paradigms Don't Shift
By Jerrod Cotosman
Diaz fully expected the must-attend business presentation to be deadly dull and a waste of everybody's time. He was almost right.

Juliet and the Cowboys
By Chris Sharp
Another tale in which the artifice of the theater intersects with the spirit world in surprising ways...

The Exhibit
By Frisco Macae
Bill Padinski didn't think much of the new exhibit at the Museum he guarded every night. It looked like an empty room with glaringly-white walls...

Memoirs of the First Chip-Child
By Andrew Nash
They called him Lucas Newchild, the first infant to have memory- and thought-enhancing hardware implanted in his brain at birth. He spent his childhood like a lab rat, only gaining freedom when they changed his name and his face so he could go out into the world.

A Space War To End All Space Wars ***A Mare Inebrium Tale***
By Sergio Palumbo
Wars can be fought on many fronts, using many different weapons. Sometimes, even the most paranoid of warriors forgets that wars don't always have only two sides.

Results of Forum Flash Challenges for March 2010

The March 2010 Flash Challenge was an exercise in the fine art of Alternate History. Click HERE to read the winning story, "Arty", by Bill Wolfe, and six more tales of worlds that started out like ours, but then diverged... after checking out our other short and long fiction, poetry, the Editorial, etc., etc. Click HERE to view the rules and example story for the April Challenge.

Poetry and Filk Music

A Form of Ashes
by J B Hogan

A Warning
by Bruce Whealton

Butterfly Effect #2
by Richard Tornello

Nutritionally Correct Comfort Food for Fantasy Creatures
by Robert William Shmigelsky

Entrance to an Ashram
by Richard Tornello

Inexperienced Ranger #2
by Robert William Shmigelsky

Last Moments
by Jean Jones

The Cryptozoologist
by J. Davidson Hero

by Mike Berger

When Hunger Takes Me
by Richard H. Fay


Thoughts on Writing #19: Brontosaurus Bones
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.

The Engine of Writing
By Mark Edgemon
Mark Edgemon has a few thoughts of his own about writing. Ignore Adopt his advice at your peril!

Deadman Wonderland
By McCamy Taylor
McCamy Taylor takes a look at Katoaka and Kondou's Deadman Wonderland, and muses on what appeals to her about manga in the first place.

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