Aphelion Issue 278, Volume 26
November 2022
Long Fiction and Serials
Short Stories
Flash Fiction
Submission Guidelines
Contact Us
Flash Writing Challenge
Dan's Promo Page

Aphelion: The Webzine of Science Fiction and Fantasy

Issue 158, Volume 15 -- December 2011 / January 2012


We've reached the end of another year. It's been a crazy roller coaster of a year with many ups, downs, and a few loops we've all been thrown. We've seen new lives enter the world and old friends make their exits. Joy and sadness, birth and death, happiness and despair, changes in all manner of things have come and gone. It doesn't seem like all that long ago we entered into 2011. But now the year is nearly gone. It is time to celebrate everything that has gone before. It is time to look ahead to whatever may come.

Aphelion is winding up our 14th year. We've leaped into our teens with added maturity as well as a youthful zest for the stories and poetry we all enjoy so much. So it is time for us to bring out our double-sized Holiday issue to say farewell to 2011. The Aphelion staff and I are already working on the February Best Of 2011, Aphelion Birthday Issue. But we've put together this huge Holiday issue to hold you readers over until then.

There are some special surprises inside. Extra Features, extra stories, extra poems. Just our way of thanking you for allowing us into your lives. So let us all join together to bid our fond farewells to the past year. No matter who you are or where you are from, you are all members of the Aphelion family. Readers, writers, artists, editors all together in a world-wide celebration of the fiction we love so much. Welcome to the party, everyone! Come on in and make yourselves at home. Pick up a story and begin reading. I'm sure you will find something special here. A present, just for you, gift wrapped in bright festive colors, and tied up with a pretty bow. So gather round, pass your gifts from one to another, and share in the joy.

It's time to open your presents...


*** Speaking of presents, Dan has graciously provided a preview of Book IV of his Steampunk novel, "The Pursuit of Happiness": "Against All Odds". Please note that you will need to return to Aphelion the hard way (using the "Back" button on your browser, or that "Favorites" entry we KNOW you have -- sacrifices had to be made in order to preserve the format Dan envisioned.***

The Pursuit of Happiness Book IV: Against All Odds - an excerpt
By Dan L. Hollifield
In a world not unlike our own, the Industrial Age began with the ancient Greeks. The history of this world has progressed differently from our familiar past. In the present day, great fleets of airships range the skies, armies are equipped with steam-powered vehicles, and Earth has repulsed a series of invasions from another world. Armed with alien devices scavenged from the wreckage of the invader's war machines, the inventors of this alternate Earth have made great strides in some areas of science. In other areas, this steam-powered civilization still has much to learn. This is a world of adventurers, pirates, explorers, inventors, heroes and villains. This is their story...

Serials & Long Fiction

The Tales of Finnegus Boggs -- Marid Djinn
By J. Cafesin
Finnegus Boggs has been a Somalian warrior, an Egyptian scribe, a Cambridge professor. In 2010 he's a doctor, and never in his over 5,000 yrs had he been forced from his home -- currently a Ferrari Testarossa -- at gunpoint.

Chang'd Innocence
By Cody L. Stanford
Shapeshifter Zefiryn Piotrowicz was raped at age twelve by a stranger who then destroyed her family to acquire the strength of Zefiryn’s magic. Two years later a disgraced Shakespeare professor and a kidnapped lawyer help runaway Zefiryn comb through New York’s nighttime monsters to find this stranger in the service of evil, and take revenge.

By McCamy Taylor
Selkirk Sandros had left the light sea world to become general of the armies of Na Chan in the dark sea. But the impending birth of the child he had fathered with Yam, the woman warrior who had been one of his guides to the ways of the dark sea, made everything else seem unimportant. **First chapter of the sequel to Chatterton Reef!**

Short Stories

*** Merry Christmas, Happy Hannukah, Happy Kwaanza, etc., etc. Welcome to the year-end-spanning December / January Short Story section!***

Special Bonus: A new Mare Inebrium story! ('Mare' Christmas to all...)

Forbidden Archaeology...
By Sergio Palumbo
The market for forbidden artifacts has always been a cut-throat field of commerce. Sudden death is forever near at hand when such sales take place. When a 13 million year old off-world statue winds up in the Mare Inebrium under dubious circumstances, and the Reever is busy with far more serious crimes, even Max can find his hands tied if the putative buyer is a distant relation. But what exactly makes this random lump of rock so valuable?


Tin Indian
By Joel Doonan
The day Alena had vanished without a word of explanation was the day his life had gone into a holding pattern. He worked at the cannery, ate lunch with his friend Samson, and waited... Then the tin Indians, fortune-telling machines at the old arcade, spat out the strangest messages he'd ever seen.

Biotic Crisis
By Dean Giles
The UN Discovery had made the long, slow trip to the asteroid belt in search of the source of the first indisputably artificial signal of non-human origin. What they found raised more questions than it answered -- and awoke something strange and deadly.

The Troll and the Maiden
By Rachel Eliason
Troy insisted that the filthy homeless man was a troll, of all things, which Jennifer thought was taking their shared interest in their Nordic heritage a little too far. Des Moines, Iowa hardly seemed like the place for any mythical creature to be eking out a living by dumpster diving.

Night Owls
By P. B. Hampton
Government agent Carl Raker came to the little town of Noah's Peak to investigate reports of owls -- four-foot tall owls that might not be owls at all...

Catch and Release
By Daniel C. Smith
Project Icepick sent ships plunging under the surface of Europa's ice-covered oceans to explore -- and to find resources that could be exploited in support of a slowly-dying Earth. When Lieutenant John McAlister found life -- possibly sentient life, the size of Earth whales -- he was ordered to kill and retrieve a specimen for study.

Mother and Child
By Robert Watts Lamon
Annabel and her son, Jimmy, appeared in Dan Ferguson's house one night, and soon became part of his life. But Annabel couldn't promise that they would stay, and she had good reasons.

By Roderick D. Turner
It started as a trip to the mall for a little retail therapy. Then the UFO or dirigible or whatever it was did something weird to time, and Jackie and Monica ended up having an Adventure instead.

A Traveler Returns
By Ian Cordingley
The Benefactors -- the machine intelligence(s?) that ran the world -- had given Madison St. Thomas a chance at a normal life by removing the diseased half of her brain and retraining the rest. That life had been ended by a tragic accident -- but her father believed that part of Madison lived on in the 'Bubblehead' grown from her brain tissue...

Fresh Meat
By Jackie Cannon
They had been traveling for a long time, subsisting on tasteless processed rations, and the children were hungry. They needed fresh meat to grow and prosper -- but so did all the other children back at home. So before they could indulge their appetites, they had to prepare the new world for freezing.

Ticket To Samarkand
By Dave Weaver
Mohamat didn't know why the woman frightened him so much, but he was willing to go anywhere, as long as the flight took him away from her as soon as possible.


The Adoration
By Robert S. C. Cutler
When Mitchell brought Becca along to meet his Oma -- his grandmother, he planned to ask her to marry him. Of course, first he would have to reveal the secret of the family farm's uncanny prosperity.

Do Not Read
By J. E. Deegan
Randy Dobson was counting on his aunt's bequest to allow him to continue his 'career' as a worthless parasite. But all the ancient hag had left him was a book -- and worse, the book was emblazoned with a warning: DO NOT READ.

An Evening With Kaeding
By Stephen Frentzos
Luke Kaeding was normally the least excitable (or exciting) person in the lab, so a frantic invitation to his house for the evening was not a promising prospect. But his sudden exuberance turned out to be justified -- he had accomplished something amazing...

Teacher 417
By Eric Jackson
The Teachers were literally remote -- communicating with their students only via instantaneous text and video messaging -- and always, always impersonal. Then Teacher 417 asked Jessica to help with "getting me out of here".

Protect and Serve
By Richard Tornello
George Brent, like Archimedes, made the biggest discovery of his life while he was relaxing in the tub. The HLC (Home Life Companion) artificial intelligence he called simply "House" was a lot more complicated than he had ever imagined...

Intimate Merger
By Jo-Ann Psoras
With the latest VirtaIntel upgrade, Robert could delete unpleasant memories, real or virtual, but he would also be changed in ways that might erase his feelings for his comatose wife. He would become part of something larger -- but was it worth the cost?

Junkyard Haze
By Mike Phillips
Take one undefined bouillabaise of assorted chemicals, add random cosmic radiation and two slightly drunk and slightly stoned junkyard laborers, stir, and stand back.
***Contains coarse language***

The Cave
By Kristen Lee Knapp
Walt's friends and colleagues wanted him to give up his seeming addiction to virtual reality, but he loved the film noir detective story he had created more than anything the real world had to offer.

The Wind Tree
By Joel Doonan
Listen, children, to the story of the Wind Tree and the marvelous gifts it confers upon those who eat its fruit...

Cult of the Blue Assassins
By Jim Alciere
The king had purchased one of their own to serve as a sacrifice to the gods to try to bring back the rains, and she was now guarded by the fearsome Blue Assassins. Now a handful of simple shepherds (who sometimes enjoyed making and setting off fireworks) set out to effect a rescue.

***November 2011 Forum Challenge***

Congratulations to I. Verse (you don't want to know what "I." stands for), winner of the November 2011 Forum Flash Fiction Challenge (a 2-peat!). Check out Mr. Verse's "Buzz Jordan Saves The Galaxy" and seven more flash Space Opera stories here, after sampling this month's editorial, poetry, short stories, and long fiction, of course...

***December 2011 Forum Challenge***


Poetry and Filk Music

by Stephen Jarrell Williams

by John Marshall

Interstellar Real Estate Agency
by Thomas Reynolds

Lost In Time
by Richard Tornello

Mutant Groundhogs
by Mike Berger

by Richard Tornello

Was The Journey Worthwhile?
by Peter Adamakakis

What is Poetry?
by Jean Jones

by Richard H. Fay


Thoughts on Writing #35: Gimme a Break!
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 Case of the Displaced Detective, Books 1 & 2, by Stephanie Osborn: A Preview
By Dan L. Hollifield
Dan provides a look at Stephanie Osborn's series featuring a time-shifted Sherlock Holmes battling evil in a high-tech modern world.

iSLY, by Stanley Gerson: A Preview
By Dan L. Hollifield
Dan gives us an excerpt and comments on Stanley Gerson's novel of 'droids gone wild -- or worse, wily.

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