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November 2022
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Aphelion: The Webzine of Science Fiction and Fantasy

Issue 146, Volume 14 -- September / October 2010


Oops, We Did It Again


The Real Life Blues

Guest Editorial by Robert Moriyama

Loyal Aphelionites who have been eagerly awaiting the September edition may have noticed that it never...quite...arrived. Instead, after a delay of about a month, you got this super-duper special September / October Double Issue, with more stories, poems, and features than you can shake a stick at. If you have a stick handy, and haven't thought of other ways to use it, that is.

We didn't plan this. We are running a September / October Double Issue for the same reason as we ran the July /August Double Issue -- Real Life raised its ugly head like the Kraken in the "Clash of the Titans" remake (but with much more convincing 3D effects), and a key staff member was sidelined. Again.

Outrageous! cries the Aphelion-deprived reader. Editors and such are not allowed to have Real Lives! And anyway, why should Real Life interfere with our publication of stories and features and poetry that focus mainly on characters and creatures and situations that most would consider to be UNreal?

Let me count the ways...

Computer problems. Over the years one or another of the folks who put Aphelion together have suffered failures of hard drives, video cards, monitors, internet connections, and software meltdowns, resulting in downtime ranging from a few hours to a few weeks. Even when files are salvageable, fixing a computer usually costs money, and we all get money from...wait for it...

"Day jobs". But sometimes the jobs that pay the rent (or mortgage) and put food on the table demand so much time (or overtime) and energy that Aphelion staffers have nothing left for editing, coding, uploading, preparing graphics, etc., etc. Or at least not enough to perform those functions up to the standards that (we think) Aphelion readers expect. And sometimes the day job disappears, or threatens to do so, and the World of Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror is overshadowed by worries about Real Life survival. It would be nice if Aphelion staff were independently wealthy, but like most of the readers, we live from paycheck to paycheck. And sometimes paychecks shrink or are interrupted due to...wait for it...

Personal crises. We, the wage-slave Aphelion staff, get sick, sometimes more than our workplace benefits (if any) allow for. And worse, our loved ones get sick, and sometimes they die, leaving possessions to be distributed or disposed of, paperwork by the ream, and enough emotional turmoil to make even the greatest story or poem an Editor could ever hope to read or publish seem like a month-old helium party balloon, limp and pathetic and not...worth...the...effort.

I won't go into the particular combination of circumstances that derailed the planned launch of the September issue. Regular readers of the Forum probably know the details; others should be comforted by the knowledge that this is not something that happens often (in fact, it can only happen a maximum of four times in the lives of a married couple). We have added more material to the stuff (good stuff, some of it exceptional) already prepped for the September issue to make up for the delay, and we plan to Get Back On Schedule with the November edition.

But as Robbie Burns said (more or less), The best laid plans of mice and men gang aft agley. Wish us luck!

Robert M.

Serials & Long Fiction

The Hot Bolt Kids
By Cody L. Stanford
A steampunk horror tale about sweatshop orphans, werewolves and a nosy reporter.

By Ché Frances Munro
Civil war has left the planet in a shambles, its technology in ruins. However, its biotechnology has a will of its own and plans to survive.

Short Stories

Welcome to the Short Stories section of the special September / October edition of Aphelion. Put up your feet, turn the lights down low except for the reading lamp next to your favorite chair, and dig in...


By McCamy Taylor
A story that spans almost 80,000 years, from a time when the gods of the Hindu pantheon walked the land to the far future when the human race spans the stars... Bridging the two, the not-place called the Darkhall.

Reichenbach Falls
By McCamy Taylor
In this sequel to A Study in Silicon and The Lost Clones of Sakumoto Hero, the artificial intelligence named Mycroft vanishes. The game's afoot -- but what game, and who are the players?

The Quiet Woman
By Chris Sharp
Anthony was homeless, and found himself depending on Leona, a woman he barely knew, for a place to sleep. They got along pretty well, but there was something odd about her...

Martin's Vow
By Jason Atwood
A virus had killed much of the human race. Power struggles between the nations still strong enough to fight had almost finished the rest. Now Martin Carter lives day to day, clinging to the vow he made when the world began to fall apart.

By Dustin J. Monk
Their house was gone, and there was nothing left for them at the remote colony. The ship headed for oldearth would not leave for days -- if the colony itself lasted that long.

Grandpa Eddie
By Stuart Plotkin
Aaron and Bart had to decide where their brain-damaged brother Cal would live -- in New York, near Aaron, or in California, with Bart. Their heated argument was sidetracked by the appearance of a pair of legs -- complete with shoes and baggy trousers -- but no upper body -- that wanted to lead them somewhere.

Last Chance
By E. S. Strout
The guided missile cruiser U. S. S. Chancellorsville was obsolete and slated for retirement even though it had only been in service for twenty years. The arrival of the alien warship forced her crew to prove that 'obsolete' and 'worthless' were not at all the same thing.

The Kafka-Harrier
By David Hox
In a near-future America, the justice system is anything but soft on criminals. And instead of putting offenders in jail, the State sends the punishment directly to them.*** Contains graphic adult situations ***

Ruta Norte
By Jonathan Mascitelli
He was backpacking across the northern regions of Chile, a stranger in a strange land. Then he boarded a bus that seemed to be going further than he ever imagined...

The Tale of the Heavenly Bureaucracy
By Stephen Weinstock
The spirit Cta was not conventionally religious in life, so she had no firm idea of what the afterlife might be like. But she never expected a bureaucracy that made the Department of Motor Vehicles and the Passport Office seem downright sensible and efficient by comparison.


Red Sky At Night
By Libby Faucette
They called her Red, like her father before her. She knew that a blood-red sunset could mean trouble, but she did not expect to find it at the lighthouse.

By Kami Schexnayder
Disease had killed off most of the people and all of the animals. The cities were crumbling ruins, filled with the detritus of years of neglect. But the girl Poppenella still found magic in the air...

The Cobbler's Off
By Daniel Ribot
The news that practical -- if limited -- teleportation of solid objects had been achieved brought together some of the world's most powerful men. The possibilities were endless, and endlessly frightening. And the food wasn't very good, either.

High Tide
By J. S. Watts
The good ship Safe Returns was the first vessel in years to visit the long-prohibited fishing grounds. Her Captain didn't like the odds -- a long voyage, far from any help, with no guarantee of a good catch.

The Prickling Inside
By Morva Shepley
The machines controlled everything. The only jobs were in factories patrolled by cold, soulless robots. The girl, Elly, had to trust Lockey, her University-expelled mentor, to find a way to beat the system. But there's more than one way to be soulless.

The Unfriendly Skies
By Alvin G. Chua
If you think the glamor of air travel has faded, wait until you fly the unfriendly skies of 2030.

Sunshine City
By Dave Weaver
Matthew didn't really fit in among his friends, all well-rounded reality-pad addicts. His love of reading old books was about to make things worse.

By James A. Andrew
Everything changed for Frederick Drake and his wife when the clock displayed 2:54 AM.

***August 2010 Forum Challenge***

Congratulations to J. B. Hogan, author of the favorite entry in the August 2010 Forum Flash Fiction Challenge. Check out "Hielo" and seven more tales of icy worlds here -- after reading and commenting on the short stories, novella, poetry, features and editorial, that is...

***September 2010 Forum Challenge***

Congratulations to Bill Wolfe, author of the favorite entry in the September 2010 Forum Flash Fiction Challenge. Check out "The Applicant" and five more tales of people whom the world actually is out to get (note that this does not mean that they aren't paranoid anyway) here...

Poetry and Filk Music

by Stephanie Smith

Crystal Material
by Robert William Shmigelsky

Death Ships
by Stephen Jarrell Williams

End Times
by Thomas Reynolds

Hairy Mutant
by Mike Berger

Lament for the House of Arender
by Joshua Hampton

Marriage of Earth and Antares
by Richard H. Fay

Not Forgiven
by William Landis

by Richard Tornello

Sensuous and Strong as the Serpent
by Bruce Whealton

Siren's Song
by Heather Kuehl

by Richard Tornello

by Bruce Whealton

Fantasy Tower Defense
by Robert William Shmigelsky

History Class
by Mike Berger

Ride a Broomstick
by Richard Tornello

Sorceress Devolution
by Richard H. Fay

by Iain Muir


Thoughts on Writing #23: Embrace Revision
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.

Nurarihyon no Mago: A Manga Review
By McCamy Taylor
McCamy Taylor brings you the best of manga and anime.

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