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November 2022
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Aphelion: The Webzine of Science Fiction and Fantasy

Issue 156, Volume 15 -- October 2011


I never would have dreamed that my life would turn out the way it has. When I was a kid, I loved reading anything I could lay my hands on. Sci-Fi, Fantasy, History, Biographies, Myths and Legends, Mysteries, Comics, Classic Literature, even fluffy little magazine articles. I found entertainment in many sources. To tell the truth, I saw little difference between Tom Swift Jr. books and H. G. Wells books, Doc Savage and Tom Sawyer, Dick Tracy and Little Women… But then I figured out that what I was interested in was adventure stories. The genre wasn’t very important to me. It was the adventure that counted.

As I grew a bit older, I discovered Ray Bradbury, Clarke, Asimov, Heinlein, Dumas, Poe, Lovecraft, Tolkien, Doyle… I also discovered that adventure could take many forms. Huck Finn’s raft was just as much fun as one of Thor Hyerdahl’s rafts. “Twenty Thousand Leagues Under The Sea” was just as much fun as “Run Silent, Run Deep.” Reading “Have Spacesuit, Will Travel” was just as much fun as watching Apollo 11 on TV had been. Walking around downtown London was as much fun as reading Sherlock Holmes stories.

Adventure takes many forms, both in fiction and in real life. Whatever grand experiences I have lived often find their way into a story I write later. The same can be said of any writer. “Write what you know” is old, sage advice given to struggling writers from ages past. We are all the sum of our experiences. Losing ourselves in a good book is just as much an experience as getting lost on a highway during a long trip. But forgive me if I choose to believe that the book will be more fun than the highway. Unless, of course, the highway adventure leads to something new I can drop into a story.

So beware of dismissing elements of someone’s story as things they just dreamed up. Perhaps so, but then again, perhaps they actually lived through something similar. Earlier, I said that we are the sum of our experiences. True enough, but we are each also greater than the sum of our pasts.

Well, that’s enough babbling. You need to go read!


Serials & Long Fiction

Nightwatch: Transit
By Jeff Williams
"Faith is not trying to believe something regardless of the evidence; faith is daring something regardless of the consequences." --Sherwood Eddy
In pursuit of a lead on the mysterious Prometheus Group, Simon Litchfield and Stephanie Keel board a train -- but end up going somewhere not on the timetable.

The City of Never
By Roland Allnach
A science fiction retelling of one of the west’s oldest stories. An eccentric genius plans to create his masterpiece, the most beautiful city in the universe. In order to fulfill his dream, he must inject an element of sorrow and loss into the work---and he does not care who gets hurt in the process.

Short Stories

By David Falkinburg
Tony had suffered from narcolepsy all his life, like his father and grandfather before him. Lately, his meds had been failing him, and the moments between waking and sleeping had become more and more terrifying...

By E. S. Strout
At Dugway Proving Grounds, the Army field-tested every conceivable way to gain advantage on the battlefield. But one project had backfired, killing every man involved in the test.

By Jackson French
Jared and his friends had been playing 'Deadpool' -- betting that three celebrities on one player's list would die first -- for years. Then Jared stumbled on something that gave him an unbeatable edge -- or so he thought.

Blood From A Stone
By R. M. Kitson
Crikk was a demon or spirit, able to pass through or inhabit and animate the very stones and soil. But for all his power, he was bound to the service of the sorceror Tervor.

By D. A. Cairns
Goyyou watched the world above his late father's underground laboratory and habitat with sadness, for he could never survive there -- but to remain underground was to remain alone.

The Body Surfer
By Edward Ahern
Danton moved from host to host like a wisp of smoke sliding through the cracks in their souls, experiencing everything about their lives. But death, not life, was his real focus.

The Secret
By Ioan Alexandru Despina
Vasile had moved from the city with his wife Florica because he wanted to truly become one of the simple farmers and tradespeople in the village. Then he began to see terrible things surrounding and within the people around him...

On Both Sides of Reality
By Sergio Palumbo
The Dead had watched the Living since the beginning of time, using the births of new Living children as a means to live again. The virus that killed most of humanity and rendered the survivors Immortal -- and sterile -- changed all that.

The Man Who Turned Himself Off
By Dave Weaver
Findley discovered that he could mute or delete people and things around him that annoyed him with the twist of a dial...in his head. But even that wasn't enough to give him peace.

The Trip of a Lifetime
By Richard Tornello
Artie and Sandy were brave and adventurous kids, the kind that give their parents premature grey hair and ulcers -- or make them very proud -- or both. Artie figured that stowing away on a bus bound for a destination forbidden to children could be the trip of a lifetime!

***September 2011 Forum Challenge***

Congratulations to Sergio Palumbo (a.k.a. ente per ente, eh eh) winner of the September 2011 Forum Flash Fiction Challenge. Check out sergio's "The Consequences of Space Travel" and three more flash stories of Dark Matter written in a flash (two hours or less) here, after sampling this month's editorial, poetry, short stories, and long fiction, of course...

Poetry and Filk Music

by Holly R. Appling

A Winter's Task
by Richard Tornello

Halloween Poem
by Richard Tornello

Life is the Life
by Richard H. Fay

Blades of Heroes Fall - The Price of Glory
by James Dye

Spectre’s Song
by John Marshall

The Devil Speaks
by Jean Jones

Trapped, Trapped in a Peanut Coffin
by Amit Parmessur

by Mike Berger


Thoughts on Writing #33: Not Making People Hit You
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.

Retrograde: The Moon and Mars: Two Classic Sci-fi Vistas with Arthur C. Clarke
By Daniel C. Smith
Daniel Smith tackles a pair of classic novels by the grandmaster Arthur C. Clarke

"Sacred Band" by Janet & Chris Morris
A review by Dan Hollifield
Aphelion's publisher, editor in chief, and steampunk guru gives his thoughts on another Janet & Chris Morris novel.

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