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Aphelion: The Webzine of Science Fiction and Fantasy

Issue 31, Volume 3 -- December 1999

Issue 32 will be online 1st week of January.

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Since January 27th 1997

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Jeff Williams and Mike Tanier
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The Senior Editor's usual drivel about whatever...

It gets harder and harder to nail down a topic each time I write one of these things. This month (during an argument at work) I was reminded of my views on the multiple-universe/timeline theory that I and other, far better writers have been using to tell alternate-timeline stories. It seems that modern physics is rapidly catching up with us, folks. Since the physicists are now saying that the whole of the universe is really some kind of "quantum foam" of probabilities where anything can happen, this makes writers like H. Beam Piper, Andre Norton, L. Neil Smith, Larry Niven, Keith Laumer, and many others seem quite like prophets when they described time as being infinite in a sideways direction according to how "probable" some arbitrary event is. The TV show "Sliders" is a prime example of this premise- World after world with strangely differing histories, and all of them just as equally our own dear planet Earth. Robert Heinlein's last few novels explored this concept pretty fully, although there's always room for a new voice in the choir if you'd like to do some conceptual spelunking of your own. Here's a ground rule that I've noticed; given an infinite universe (or infinite number of parallel universes- the multiverse) then not only is anything possible, but everything is required! The usual image of entire universes being created by the toss of a coin is a bit old, but still holds true. And Niven's concept of alternate timelines branching off from each possibility of each choice that each of us ever makes is equally true. But, and here's the kicker, but each of us can only perceive only one timeline at a time. So this means, for instance, that there's a timeline out there where my stories actually sell! (Throw everything in the truck, Baby. We're moving!) The problem is that I don't live on that timeline, alas.

Now having said that; I have to add that I think that each of us wander from timeline to timeline at will, but usually the difference between them is too small to be perceived. What do I mean by that? Well, do you know someone who seems so lucky that they're downright irritating? They get all the breaks, they're always in the right place at the right time, they never roll through a speed-trap until the cop's radar gun stops working, their car never gets dented in the parking lot, the elevator is always there when they press the button, ad infinitum nauseum... These people are natural timeline-shifters, to my way of thinking, without them even noticing. Something they want to happen isn't probable on the timeline they inhabit? They just shift over to another one where what they want is more probable. This goes far beyond mere branching of timelines to something more messy, but probably more accurate; that timelines don't "split away" from each other like tree limbs, so much as they weave in and out of each other like a field of kudzu vines. Confused yet? It gets worse, believe me. I postulate that the basic unit of a timeline is the individual. You, me, Shakespeare- anybody. Each of us would have to have our own individual timeline that weaves and splits and grows and weaves again in relationship to everyone else's timelines. I'd explain further, but in about three steps the whole process gets so intertwined that (1) it'd get boring to read, (2) I'd forget something and screw it all up, and (3) before I was halfway through even Heisenberg would be sure... that I'd escaped from some mental institution.

So maybe I should just save it for a story. That way no one would think that I expected them to believe me, or that I actually believed it myself. So, you say that the universe is stranger than I can imagine? Hmmm... We could debate that. {GRIN}

Thanks for your time.


Tell us what you think in Aphelion's Lettercol!

I'd like to thank those of you who have sent e-mails or signed into the Lettercol for your feedback. Keep those messages coming, folks! Without those messages we will never know what we need to improve upon. Hope you like the improvements so far!

Aphelion Staff:

Dan Hollifield
Senior Editor, Publisher
Roger Bennett
Editor Emeritus
Robert Wynne
Cary Semar
Short Story Editor
Kim Holec
Poetry Editor
Jeffrey Williams
Production Editor/Serials Editor

Serialized Stories and Novellas

  • To Play's The Thing
    By Robert Yosco
    Take a short trip down memory lane as very old friends meet again just in time for an awakening to usher in the new millennium.
  • Color Conformity
    By A. J. Thompson
    Imagine a world where the color of your skin isn't just a matter of genetics; it's the law!

  • Strange Awakenings
    Experimental Excerpt from "Stranded"

    By Dan L. Hollifield
    Unit AHVC of the Dinochrome Brigade was dead as a doornail...
    until he received an SOS from the Reever.

    This is a different format from what you may be used to seeing.
    A self-scrolling webpage, with background graphics and sound.

  • Read more great stories from the Aphelion Archives

    Buckle up, true believers!It's time for
    Aphelion's Second Ever Short Story Contest!

    Short Stories

  • Seance with the Sun Kings
    By Lloyd Michael Lohr
    An enigmatic message is received from deep space.
  • Trompe le Monde
    By Chris Wood
    Based on a dream by the author, which featured the cover of the Pixies' "Trompe le Monde" album, two brothers in a small town discover that a little old lady living alone in a dark house isn't all she seems to be. Her appearance could "fool the world.”
  • Virtual Pet
    By Linda Kelly
    The absent-minded inventor Camforrt is back at the Mare Inebrium- with a new toy!
  • Remembering
    By Wesley Ike
    If you could go back and talk with yourself as a boy, what would you tell him? And what might he tell you?

  • A Certain Attraction
    By Ralph Benedetto, Jr.
    Mike and Mae Linn were two very different human beings, but when it came to police work, they had a lot in common.

  • The Changing of the Guard
    By Django Wexler
    On the corner of Park Avenue and Fortieth street, an old man stands, every day. He's one of the many slightly crazy people who inhabit the streets of the city...

  • Night Bloomer
    By Sommer Rae Meade
    Damon was certain of two things during his duration as a vampire hunter. If he didn't quit smoking, the habit would kill him, and if he didn't exterminate the demonic race of kindred, others would join him in a similar darkened death. What he didn't know was that the prejudice he fueled with his hatred would soon become a revelation as well as a life saver.
  • Mare Crisium
    By Mark E. Cotterill
    EHS inspectors were notoriously thorough and had immense powers, they were feared throughout known space for their diligence. They had powers to suspend trading licences, seize equipment and stock, and even arrest or execute staff. The Environmental Health and Safety inspector was fully entitled to spend as long as she liked looking at every aspect of the Mare Inebrium's operation.
  • Christmas Angel
    By D. F. Lewis
    The christmas angel wanted everything to be perfect on the best day of the year.

  • The Choice of the Goddess
    By Karen Shepley
    A wizard's spell sends a slave girl into the past in a desperate attempt to change history.

  • Rosaline
    By McCamy Taylor
    Before Juliet, there was Rosaline.

  • Timeline of Mathematics and Computing
    By The Hansen Family
    This is your last warning. The Y2K bug is about to bite.

  • Brittle Vision
    By Jennifer Handforth
    Fedya found the crystal and everybody wanted it.But only Fedya knew how to use it.

  • Junkyard Carol
    By Kate Thornton
    Running a recycling park is a lonely job most of the time, but the worst part of the year is Christmas.

  • Read the updated Submissions Guidelines
    Aphelion Submissions Guidelines Page

    Poetry and Filk Music

  • Pale Horse
    By Rob Wynne
  • Pre-Millennial
    By Jim Parnell

  • Mary, Mary, Not So Contrary
    By Richard Stevenson

  • Castle of Epiphany
    By Joseph B. St. John

  • Features

    The Mare Inebrium shared universe project
    I open up my own Spaceport Bar to other writers! An introduction to the project.

    The Mare Inebrium Shared Universe Project

    The Mare Inebrium stories to date.
    A shortcut to the links to all the mare stories.

  • Aphelion's Daily Comics
    By Mark Stanley, and Steve Troop
    Did he say daily?Yep, Aphelion is proud to feature two of the funniest comic strips on the Internet, Mark Stanley's "Freefall" and Steve Troop's "The Melonpool Chronicles". Bookmark this page, you don't want to miss a single installment!

  • The Listening Room
    By Rob Wynne
    Rob Wynne takes a look at recordings of interest to science fiction and fantasy fans in this semi-regular column. In this issue: Passing Through by Bill Sutton
  • Wayward Musings
    by Kim Holec
    Kim warns readers about a new and present danger: the government wants a piece of your e-auction.
  • Double Wide
    by Jim Parnell
    2000 Years and All I Got Was This Stupid T-Shirt WARNING:Contains Language.

  • Excentrivial Musings
    The Aphelion Cartoon Page.

  • Dan Hollifield reviews:
    Coming soon- a new review. I promise.

  • The Awards Page
    All of the Awards that Aphelion has won.

  • P.S.

    In case anyone is curious as to exactly what's been keeping me so busy, I've planed a few webpages that show the progress of my landscaping, interior decoration, and housework. Look for it in my personal pages at Casa Vila. Its the begining of a sort of photographic timeline of my yardwork and such. I don't know why anyone would want to see it, but Rob thought that someone might so I worked it up. Expect it to be updated as I get new film developed and scanned.


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    As always, this mailing list will only be used to notify you of new issues and will never be given out to anyone else... 'cause I hate spam as much as you do!

  • Click here to see the Links Page
  • - 12\03\1999 - A Challenge to Writers...
  • Short story submissions; Cary Semar
  • Serialized stories: Jeff Williams
  • Poetry: Kim Holec
  • Features: Robert Wynne
  • Mare Inebrium Stories: Dan Hollifield
  • Click here to see the Submissions Guidelines Page.
  • Aphelion Explanations and Thanks Where the name "Aphelion" came from and other info.
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    Help support us by supporting Amazon.Com -- When you buy books and music
    from Amazon.com through Aphelion, you help us continue to bring you
    the best science fiction and fantasy fiction on the web!

    Back Issues:

    Instead of the back issues the banner below now takes you to the Archives-where all our past stories are available for you to read.

    I've decided to ditch the back issues in favor of the Archives. The Archives are easier to use and can be indexed by author or story title. Hopefully this will ease the task of finding a favorite story. We may start a page of our past cover art, if there is a call for it. Thanks for your readership for without you, nothing we do has any meaning.

    Aphelion Back Issues!
    You can e-mail the Senior Editor by clicking here.
    Sideways to the Mare Inebrium!

    Sideways to the Mare Inebrium, homepage of Aphelion's Editor: Dan L. Hollifield

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    Aphelion Webzine is 1997-99 by Dan L. Hollifield