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November 2022
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Aphelion: The Webzine of Science Fiction and Fantasy

Issue 164, Volume 16 -- July 2012


I moved around a lot in the years before I bought this little house out in the country.

When I was a child, Dad kept getting better jobs and so we moved to new places. There was one school year where I was in two different schools in the same grade. I began the school year in Athens, Georgia, spent the Winter half the school year back in Tennessee, then back to the original school in Athens.

After college I moved from one apartment to another almost every year. Up until I bought this house, I averaged living in the same place for less than three years at a stretch. But that is just the average, not real data. I've lived in towns, cities, suburbs, villages, and many, many times I was so far out in the sticks the Saturday Night Grand Ol' Opry didn't reach our radio until Thursday afternoons. Which is sort of like were we live now.

Lyn and I live six miles from the nearest two old-fashioned small towns, the same distance from the nearest village, and the same distance from the nearest city. Which means we have to drive at least six miles to get to anything other than a gas station, and that gas station is two miles away. It's twenty miles to the nearest WalMart in one direction, and thirty miles to the next closest one. It is twenty five miles to the nearest movie theater, and roughly the same distance in a different direction to the nearest nightclub.

It's quiet out here, peaceful, and quite nice. The biggest excitement is either a thunderstorm, or perhaps once every five years or so some prisoner temporarily running away from the local jail's tender loving care. Geese fly low overhead on their migrations. Hawks fly overhead on hunting trips. Hummingbirds and tiny Finches fly around the house looking for flowers. Deer wander through the back yard. Owls hunt in the woods about thirty yards from our back door. Coyotes hunt there too, but the locals shoot them on sight, so they aren't as big a nuisance as they were five years ago. Possums, raccoons, skunks, rabbits, several kinds of snakes, squirrels, chipmunks, pheasant, quail, and dozens of species of songbirds can be seen without even opening our doors. There are beavers in local ponds and streams, wild turkeys in the woods, armadillos invading from Florida and Texas, and the occasional Eagle soaring nearly out of sight, so high in the sky that they scare the buzzards that roost on the power lines.

And sometimes, there is an ostrich or emu wandering around the woods, set loose when the fad for raising them like chickens fell apart many years ago. Local farmers raise cattle, and sheep, and even one place nearby that has buffalo. Chicken houses dot the landscape- scattered about the county like goldmines, and kids ride horses on the farm across the paved road from our house.

This is in sharp contrast to the place in England where my wife grew up. She could walk to the High Street shops in just a few minutes, or take a bus a bit further to even more places. She rode a ferryboat to get to school and back. Or a train to go to London. Her youngest two kids live out West in New Mexico, where the wide open spaces are even wider than they are here. Lyn had a house on the outskirts of a village that has since grown to be a small town. It might be fifty miles between the nearest village and a small city. So she is used to the open countryside. But her memories of living in that beautiful city in England are never far from her thoughts.


Serials and Long Fiction

A Question of Remembrance
By Kevin Gordon
Enforcement Officer stewart suspects that there is something more than just the gangs behind the resurgence of the brain-damaging drug beatin in the domes of the Titanus colony. But there is something else bothering him, something he has forgotten.

The Happy Specter
By Matt Spencer
On the eve of a massive campaign to crush the monstrous Gorlomongs (once created as a weapon, now a nuisance), magic-wielding prankster and swordsman Cassias Morningstar finds himself sleeping with the enemy -- well, the Empire's enemy, not necessarily his. And not exactly sleeping...

Short Stories

The Cistern
By McCamy Taylor
Draco XXVII was king of the Faro worlds by default, after the former king and his heir died of plague, and the next four presumptive heirs perished in various mishaps. But now that he was king, he wanted to do the best job he could. What he found entombed in the cistern might help -- if it didn't kill him.

By E. S. Strout
They were tiny -- literally the size of insects. But someone was using them to kill.

Age of Reception
By Zac Miller
Amanda's life was as complicated and messy as one might expect for a girl about to start college. Augmented Reality made things more interesting, but it didn't make them any easier.

The Horticulturalist
By Pedro Blas González
Plants and landscaping were Steven's life, and the Blooms had the most elaborate gardens of any of his clients. They were also his strangest clients. Then Steven's own life took a turn for the weird.

The Covenant
By Matthew Acheson
Dougal, thief turned friar, must lead his friends into the lair of the witch Kith-Anon in the hopes that they could strike a bargain for the life of a child.

Damned If You Do
By Edward Ahern
Nadia thought of herself as free of any qualms about indulging her dangerous and hedonistic impulses. She thought David was just like her. She was wrong.

No Pension Plan for Ghosts
By William Lowe
Abbas had been one of the best covert agents in the business, but at fifty-two, he was past his prime. And now it seemed that his superiors suspected him of treachery, and were willing to use extreme methods to find the truth.

Nooks and Crannies
By Terry Gibbons
There was something odd about the man, in the way he moved, in his seeming ignorance of everyday life skills, in his fascination with all the nooks and crannies of the city.

Running with the Pack
By Joseph E. Arechavala
Cassie and Craig were in love, but Craig had a habit of disappearing for a few days every month "on business". Then he decided it was time for the truth.

Paying the Price
By Damian Delao
He had hoped that he'd outgrown the dreams, but they had come back, and ignoring them was going to cost him...

***June 2012 Forum Challenge***

Congratulations to I. Verse, author of the favorite entry in the June 2012 Forum Flash Fiction Challenge. Check out "Bastille" and six more tales of "murder most fowl" (a humorous reprise of last month's theme) here, after sampling this month's editorial, poetry, short stories, and long fiction, of course...

Poetry and Filk Music

by John M. Marshall

Life’s Great Eternal Internal Questions
by Richard Tornello

Quantum Mechanics
by Richard Tornello

Robotic Flowers
by William Landis

Tree of Knowledge
by Robin Lipinski

True Prophecy
by Lee Morris

Zombie Rock
by Mike Berger


Thoughts on Writing #39: Getting Jealous
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.

Magic Knight Rayearth vs. Tokyo Akazukin: A Magical Girls of Manga Review
By McCamy Taylor
McCamy Taylor reviews two manga books featuring young, doe-eyed, microskirted female warriors... one of which will likely never appear in an American edition.

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