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

Issue 148, Volume 14 -- December 2010 / January 2011


Well now, it's time for another thrilling end-of-the-year double-sized issue of Aphelion! You're going to have to savor every bite of this one 'cause there won't be another new issue out until February. There are loads of goodies inside for you to relish during the coming weeks. Enough to sate the appetite of the hungriest of readers... Woah, I'm taking this Holiday Feasting meme to its limits. LOL!

As it happens, I have some personal news that I've bee wanting to relate to you all. Circumstances have forced me to keep mum, for the most part, but now it is safe for me to reveal all. Gather 'round, dear friends. I'm here to tell you that I have sold another short story! My second pro sale, in fact. And here is how it all went down-

A few months ago, our very own Gareth D. Jones e-mailed me with an invitation to submit a short story for a steampunk-themed anthology he was editing for an independent UK publisher. If my story were to be accepted, I would be paid semi-pro word rates. I racked my tiny little brain for an idea, finally dreamed one up, sat down, and started to write. Within a week of typing the first word, I had a completed first draft of a lovely story. I set it aside for later critical rereading after I had finished my next work week at the factory. Once I was off from work again, I did an editing pass through the draft, and added a bit or rewriting. That took up all the free time I had off from work that week. So I did it again on my next set of days off.. Then I worked another week and did another run of edits and rewrites when I had more days off... Over and over and over again, I edited, added rewrites, edited, added more rewrites until I had no idea how to improve the story any further. I e-mailed a copy of the latest version off to Gareth, and waited to see what he thought. Gareth did some proofreading and edits of things that I had missed, but he also sent a short list of changes and suggestions for another rewrite. I did that, and sent the latest version back to him. He sent back some more suggestions and a set of questions about things I hadn't made clear in the manuscript thus far. I did another rewrite keeping his questions and suggestions uppermost in my mind. I sent that version off to him. He sent it back with more suggestions. I rewrote it yet again and sent it back to him. After four rewrites of my own and three more using Gareth's suggestions, he felt that my story was ready for the anthology. That's right, it was accepted. I was on cloud nine. I told Lindsey and my family. I told a few close friends at work. Now I'm telling you.

Sometime in 2011, "The Immersion Book Of Steampunk" will be released by Immersion Press. It is a happy moment for me as a writer and for Gareth as an editor. We will keep you posted with more information as it develops.

In other news, about the same time as the March 2011 issue of Aphelion is being laid out and readied for publication, Lindsey and I will be attending AnachroCon 3 in Atlanta. February 25 through 27th, at the Holiday Inn Select Perimeter hotel. Writers Jana Oliver, Nick Valentino, Emilie Bush, Kimberly Richardson, and G. D. Falksen are among the guests. The Extraordinary Contraptions  and The Vauxhall Garden Variety Players are among the musical guests. J. D. Sutton as Thomas Jefferson, Bill Pacer as Ben Franklin, and Scott Hodges as General James Edward Oglethorpe are among the historical character guests. Steampunk Boba Fett (John Strangeway) will be there. Lyn has been asked to play hostess for an authentic British Tea Party as one panel, and I will be on at least two panels myself. More details and the full guest list are available on the AnachroCon website. Check out the website, come to the Convention if you can. We'd love to see you there!

In the meantime, I'd like to join all the Aphelion Staff in wishing each and every one of you a safe and happy holiday season! Now, on with the stories and poetry! Enjoy!


Serials & Long Fiction

Plastic Santa
By Kent Rosenberger
A plastic Santa learns the real meaning of Christmas.

The True Death
By Colin Heintze
The Rapture has come, and the elect have gone to Heaven, leaving behind a world full of people who can neither age nor die. Being “left behind” is not be such a bad thing for those who are young and healthy. But, what if your loved one has just suffered a horrendous accident and now she has to spend the rest of time horribly disfigured and in pain? How far would you go to end her suffering?

Impact Event
By McCamy Taylor
In the near future, Italy is ruled by fascists again, and two innocent men are condemned to death. Join them on an elevator ride to hell -- or heaven?

Short Stories

Welcome to the Short Stories section of the December 2010 / January 2011 edition of Aphelion. Throw another log on the fire, add some more rum to that hot toddy (or use the poker to warm your mulled ale), and start reading...


Gone to Abaddon
By McCamy Taylor
They were creatures of the Summer Lands, never meant to live in the mortal world. But some fell in love with humans, and paid the price.

Druglegger's Run
By Kurt Heinrich Hyatt
To the drug lords, the native Eu were less than human, slave labor to harvest the ingredients for powerful narcotics to be shipped offworld and to satisfy the drugleggers' sexual whims. The Eu woman Trine Ahn was an exception, and her half-breed son...

By E. S. Strout
They made a computer from human brain tissue grown from stem cells, and installed it in a weapon of terrifying power. Then things started to go wrong -- or right, depending on your point of view.

Three Pigments, One Dream
By Chris McKinney
The gods had made a mistake -- the afterlife couldn't handle the influx of souls that started when sin entered the world. Now the skills of three disparate artists -- a dwarf, an elf, and a goblin -- were needed to make things right. If they could just suppress the urge to insult (or assault) each other, then maybe they had a chance.

Fast Friends ***A Mare Inebrium Tale***
By Dan L. Hollifield
In which we learn how the D'rrish Kazsh-ak Teir met and became friends with the Reever and Guiles Thornby, just in time to join the battle against Valleor, the Chaos God of Bethdish.

Jesus of the West
By Joel Doonan
What if Jesus, the tough, angry Jesus who drove the moneylenders from the Temple, appeared in a tough town in the American West?

By Richard Tornello
Hewa was a nerd, the very opposite of what most girls wanted. The woman who called herself Terry, on the other hand, seemed to find him very attractive -- at least for genetic diversification purposes. (An expanded version of the Flash Challenge story.)

Let's Talk About Death, Baby...
By Sven Kloepping
He led Cassandra to their special place by secret ways, sometimes walking, sometimes teleporting. But somehow, he couldn't quite remember why he felt compelled to take her there...

Hollywood Squared
By P. F. White
Ace would do anything for his big break -- a starring role in Spade Studios' next blockbuster. Ben, once a star, was just as desperate. In fact, half the town was desperate in one way or another -- and prone to spectacular violence. It was Hollywood, after all.

Seconds Lost...
By Roderick D. Turner
Jan had 'lost time' on a number of occasions -- and no one could explain how or why it kept happening.

Felis Querent
By J. D. Huxley
Ever wonder what your cat thinks of you?


By Kurt Heinrich Hyatt
The man from Squash-M came to Colony to rid the Excon factory of an infestation of wirebugs. Fortunately, he was qualified to deal with bigger problems, too.

Car Park
By Mark Cotterill
The Corley 900dxs was the fastest, most exclusive, and smartest car ever built. It would do anything to protect its owner.

Frontier Minerva
By Anne Spackman
The specialist regulator was just one of many cops in the Minerva colony on Mars, making his rounds to enforce the curfew. It was just bad luck that he was there when a man ruined by a Minerva Corps frame-up confronted the man responsible.

Jack and the Box
By L. K. Pinaire
Howard Meyer was a decent man, too decent to suit his beloved Helen, who had left him for a more exciting man. The strange box seemed to offer the power to fulfill his most secret desires. But what, exactly, would a decent man wish for?

By Emma Horn
Sometimes, death is random. It can strike a cluster of people for any reason, or no reason at all. However, there is one way to avoid the breath of the Reaper...

By Richard Tornello
Neko's past is a mystery to everybody but the Sorceress who treated her as her daughter -- more or less. Why is her skin marked in black, ginger and white, while others are mainly a single shade? And why is the black sword magically bonded to her?

The Goblin's Whistle
By Bob Griffin
Matthews said he was an author, come to write about the wizards, barbarians, witches, and other interesting types that frequented the Black Toad Tavern. But his real reason for visiting had something to do with the goblin servant, Sanibel.

Turning Out The Lights
By Michele Dutcher
In the far future, the human race has changed, modified by genetic engineering and cybernetic implants. On old Earth, however, two visitors find what seems to be the last unenhanced human.

On the Reds
By Paul Taylor
Different planet, different threats -- but the cattle drover's job was the same as it had ever been back in Australia: keep the herd safe.

Or Nobody Does
By Ian Cordingley
All Paul wanted was to drive into the city. Unfortunately, today they were doing a security check of every vehicle. He had nothing to worry about -- right?

***October 2010 Forum Challenge***

Congratulations to Michele Dutcher, author of the favorite entry in the October 2010 Forum Flash Fiction Challenge. Check out "Heirs of Atlantis" and three more tales of good old-fashioned monsters on the loose here -- after reading and commenting on the short stories, novella, poetry, features and editorial, that is...

***November 2010 Forum Challenge***

Congratulations to Michele Dutcher (again!), author of the favorite entry in the November 2010 Forum Flash Fiction Challenge. Check out "The Vanishing Stone" and seven more story openers here...

Poetry and Filk Music

The Accursed Castle
by Richard H. Fay

Ancient Environs IX
by John Frazee

Change of Climate
by Mike Wilson

by Richard Tornello

Phyto Realism
by Teresa Ann Frazee

Temporal Knight's Sword
by Robert William Shmigelsky

The Ruined Tower
by Jeromy Henry

What Just Happened?
by Richard Tornello

by Richard H. Fay

A Winter Solstice Prayer
by Richard Tornello


Thoughts on Writing #24: Bibliophile Heroin
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.

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