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

Issue 65, Volume 6 -- December 2002

Issue 66, Volume 6 will be online 1st week of Janurary.

"And if you believe that- you'll buy this watch..."
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Since January 27th 1997

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Freefall! The Melonpool Chronicles


Hello and welcome!

I am reminded that the holidays are upon us in full measure by the sheer numbers of the crowds I see out shopping. There seems to be more good manners and real joy demonstrated by all I meet. I'm given to wonder if this is due to the trials and tribulations of the last two years, or is it a new, lasting thing that we may count on as we stride further into the 21st century?

The specter of war still looms large in the Middle East, as it has for the last ten thousand years or so. The threat of international terrorism has not diminished much, to my eyes anyway. What should be every nation's goal of establishing colonies in orbit, on the moon, and on Mars still appears to be grinding to a halt, instead of proceeding apace to reduce the population burden and increase the quality of life for every being on the planet. Vast wealth and resources await us in the asteroid belt, the planets, our moon, and even in naked space. And there also exists the possibility of preventing our extinction by nudging planet-killer asteroids away from a collision course with our fragile globe. But none of this is going to happen unless humanity stops trying to kill itself off and starts growing up. All this fighting over whom is going to control the kindergarden sandbox would be meaningless if we would just take the time to build more sandboxes! The sands of Mars are full of iron- Steelmills belching smoke into the air there would only serve to warm the place up a bit. Our moon is packed with useful ores, as are the asteroids. Space-based telescopes of every kind would only serve to increase our knowledge of the universe- With the added bonus of giving we groundlings warnings of dangerous asteroids far in advance of anything we can accomplish here on the surface. And manned exploration of space could turn our self-destructive energies to productive use as well as the reduction of population pressures afforded by establishing colonies elsewhere in the solar system.

But how are we going to get there? Not by demanding that we beat even more plowshares into swords, that's for sure. But there are research programs under way that are showing dividends. The Ion-drive engine, for one. NASA's NERVA nuclear rocket engine, for another. And thanks to the late Robert L. Forward, we have a workable design for at least one type of solar sail craft that could be built today. (And, I have been told that there is a company that is actually building a solar sail space probe right now.) But don't think that it would be easy or cheap. And better rockets are being designed even as we speak...

More questions I'd like an answer to would be "how can we budget more money for space if we have to worry about war and starvation here on Earth?" "How can we justify wasting money on space when it is needed more here on Earth?" "How can we get governments and corporations to quit dreaming of empire and allow us to get off this rock and, incidentally, further away from their control?" "What about the ethics of polluting and despoiling other worlds, after the mess we've made of Earth?" And lastly, the extremely stupid question "why should I/we worry about what will happen only after I/we are long dead?"

If you think I have any quick answers, you're going to be disappointed. I don't. I can only say that the future belongs to all of us, right now, as well as to the generations that will follow us. Moving whatever industries you personally hate off the planet can only help the environment. More research into fusion power plants and advanced propulsion systems will only serve to lighten the mind-numbing pressures that we now live under. Every advance in science has been opposed by whatever "powers-that-be" that have existed since the dawn of time. Hiding our collective heads in the proverbial sand will only kill us off that much quicker.

It is up to each of us as individuals to seek to change whatever we can. By mutual co-operation we can make a difference, we can change the world, we can see the dawn of a new age for ourselves and our posterity. We can insure that our children have a better future than we have made for ourselves, thus far. Or we can continue as we have in the past and drive ourselves into extinction.

As it has always been, the choice is up to each of you/us. To risk, to dare, to work towards making our dreams become reality- Or to die as a species, alone and whimpering, in the cold and darkness. What future do you choose?

We now return you to your regularly scheduled fiction...

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
Iain Muir
Poetry/Filk Editor
Robert Wynne
Cary Semar
Short Story Editor
McCamy Taylor
Assistant Short Story Editor
Jeffrey Williams
Production Editor/Serials Editor
Ralph Benedetto, Jr.
Assistant Serials Editor
Roger Bennett
Editor Emeritus

Serialized Stories & Novellettes

  • The Questors Part Two
    By Frederick Rustam
    Kevin and Marylou learn how to combine two or more good words to retrieve gold from a textual database, as well as chickenfeed and garbage.
  • The Town on the River
    By Mizu Ash
    When Hannah sees the town on the river, she makes a spur-of-the-moment decision: she's going to get off the train. Right here, right now.
  • Muse
    By Shane Brown
    A speeding boat with no controls. Onboard, a group of once-talented, unproductive, very confussed writers. Panic, a dangerous destination, and no is coming to help. And there's a robot.

Read more great stories from the
Aphelion Archives
Aphelion Back Issues

Or Take

- 8\8\2000 - A Challenge to Writers...
Not a contest, but a series of ideas to spark off a story.

Short Stories

  • The Informat Railroad
    By McCamy Taylor
    An artificial intelligence learns that the road to freedom runs both ways.
  • The Christmas Present
    By Erynn Miles
    A lonely woman meets a lonely man on Christmas Eve. His name is Santa Claus. THE Santa Claus.
  • Abiding
    By S.B. Houghton
    When the once prosperous estate was abandoned and fell into ruin, only Ellie, the scullery maid stayed on.
  • The New Guy
    By Angeline Hawkes-Craig
    Getting tired of Christmas sappiness? Here is a change of pace for you.
  • Old Cyrus
    By James McCormick
    Old Cyrus had seen many things during his seventy-eight years, but he had never seen anyone walk out of a twister before. The sand twister came spinning down the dry, dusty street, and as it reached his store, the stranger stepped out.
  • Troll
    By Jeremy Kuban
    Her name was Kendra Neumer. She was thirteen years old. She wanted to meet a troll.

Read the updated Submissions Guidelines
Aphelion Submissions Guidelines Page

Poetry and Filk Music

The Mare Inebrium

The Mare Inebrium
Shared Universe Project...

I open up my own Spaceport Bar to other writers!
This link takes you to the full introduction to the project.
The Mare Inebrium Starter Kit.
--Updated 4/22/2002--

This is a link to all the background information for the Mare Inebrium stories so far.
This is a must read for all Mare Inebrium writers and fans!

Tales of the Mare Inebrium
All the Mare Inebrium Stories to date.

The banner above links to
all the Mare Inebrium Stories on one page!

A Timeline of Bethdish: Updated 4/11/2002


  • 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!

  • Double Wide
    by Jim Parnell
    The collected wisdom of Bubba
    WARNING: Contains Language.

    Aphelion proudly presents the installments of Double Wide all on one page of links. We wanted to make sure that the wit and wisdom of Bubba wasn't lost for new readers, so we made a mini-archive list of just the Double Wide features.
  • Dan Hollifield reviews:
    "Exile to the Stars"

    A novel by Dale B. Mattheis
    Book One of The Alarai Chronicles
    Dan Hollifield reviews:
    "Night Watch"

    The new Discworld novel by Terry Pratchett
    Sam Vimes vs History, and History doesn't play fair!
  • The Listening Room
    by Rob Wynne
    Rob Wynne bangs his head against Phoenix's "Into the Fire"

  • A Challenge to Writers...
    Not a contest, but a series of ideas to spark off a story. Challenge 1 is the paintings of Daniel Hannaquand, Challenge 2 is a collection of narrative hooks composed by Dan Hollifield.
  • Aphelion Links Page
    Click here to see the Links Page. Our fellow E-zines, Astronomy, research material, entertainment, and much, much more!

  • Aphelion IRC Chat
    Information about a new feature for Aphelion. IRC Chat is a fun way to talk to our readers, writers, staff members, and other netizens. This link takes you to a basic intro and provides further links to the IRC software that you can download for free. Look for new updates as we refine this feature.
  • Aphelion JAVA Chat
    For a quick look at the JAVA chat client, this link launches a new browser window that takes you to a Log-in form for a JAVA-based chat in your browser window. No specian programs are needed. This will be a very simple, but passable IRC client, very no-frills. This will also tell you if there's anyone else in the chatroom, by the way.

  • Aphelion Banners
    And banner artwork for links.

    If you want to link to Aphelion and want more than a text link, then this page is for you. Some of these banners are finished, but most of them lack only my adding text to make them complete. Unfinished banners can be completed and e-mailed to you within 8 days. The banner HTML code-- and image --can be e-mailed on request, or can be more simply copied from the "View / Page Source" option in your web browser. Finished images can be copied from the banner artwork page itself. An exchange of links or banner links is always welcome.
    Link Swap E-mail should be sent to: Dan Hollifield

If you would like to receive notices from Aphelion when this page is updated, please join our new, revised, automatic mailing list. To subscribe:
Send a message to majordomo@lists.america.net with the following in the body of the message:

subscribe aphelion <email address>

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!

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!
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Aphelion Webzine is © 1997-2002 by Dan L. Hollifield