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Aphelion: The Webzine of Science Fiction and Fantasy

Issue 67, Volume 7 -- February 2003

Issue 68, Volume 7 will be online 1st week of March.

"And if you believe that- you'll buy this watch..."
Saint Robere Guilams

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Since January 27th 1997

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Hello and welcome!

Well, the good news is that this is the first issue of Aphelion's Volume 7, so we are six years old now. What a long, strange trip its been. Aphelion has helped several writers and artists go pro since our inception. And now one of our writers, Darl Larsen, has had a film made from a story that Aphelion published in April (Issue #23) of 1999. "The Snell Show" (director/screenwriter Andrew John Black) won the Grand Jury Prize at the Slamdance Film Festival, Jan. 24, 2003. Please join me in congratulating Darl and Andrew for jobs well done.

Furthermore, the inaugural Annual Wooden Rocket Awards were launched today (1-30-03) to identify online excellence in the science fiction and fantasy genre. I posted their whole press release in the Lettercol along with the link to their website so everyone can check it out and cast their votes for their own favorite e-zines. (Hint: one of these awards would look great in my office- Dan)

There are plenty of serials and novellas on tap for the next few months. However, no one is submitting any poetry. Iain is getting to that hair-pulling stage over the lack of submissions.

Now for the bad news: Mrs. Heinlein died in January. She will be greatly missed. Rather than just rephrase what everyone on the internet has posted about her, here is a link to a very good article in the online version of a Jacksonville, Florida newspaper: Heinlein, widow of sci-fi writer, dies at 86.

Two days after I wrote the above words the Columbia burned up on re-entry. Rob and I were planning to upload this issue that very day, but then the tragedy struck. It is only now, days later, that I have felt able to continue. My deepest sympathies go out to the families, friends, co-workers, and communities of the Columbia crew, as I'm sure yours do also.

Last night I got involved in a discussion on a Message Board on this very subject. Emotions were running high and various side issues were interjected, such as resentment of the repetition of what information there was on CNN and other news agencies, and why this disaster was filling the news when there were other tragedies throughout the world that should also be covered. Also mentioned were questions of why we considered the astronauts to be heroes, why was there not more coverage of the impending war in Iraq, and other side issues. I'd like to copy my post from that discussion here rather that re-work it into a new article:
I'd like to concentrate on the topic of this thread, but I assure you that I do not ignore the threat of war that looms over us all, worldwide. But war is not germane to the subject at hand, except peripherally.

I too am saddened by the loss of Columbia and her crew. And I am angered by the budget cuts that seem to be the ultimate cause of the tragedy. If you want to point the finger of blame, then you have to go all the way back to the Nixon administration and the first cuts to the funding for the space program.

To address the CNN coverage of the Columbia disaster, one has to remember that CNN is on 24/7/365 and is geared towards people who tune in, watch for a few minutes, then go back to whatever they were watching before. They aren't in business to provide anyone with constant, timely updates of what we as individuals deem important. They can only do so much with what they have given to them before its time to show another advert for the latest car sale/computer sale/newest patent medicine/whatever. News doesn't make money, commercials do. People *watch* news programs, so they sell ad time. So when CNN runs out of new news, they have to repeat the old news, then comment upon it, ad infinitium nausium.

Unfortunately, this is normal for our culture.

As for the finding of some remains of the crew, I for one was bloody glad that some were able to be found. Not for any ghoulish reason, but for the fact that the families will have something besides an empty casket for the funerals. They will have some sort of closure.

Those of us who aren't family members, can be granted some degree of closure too. This is a human thing, and to be praised.

There are tons of other disasters in the world, every minute of every day. All directly affect differing groups of people to differing degrees. The American space program has always been a highly visible (and newsworthy) endeavor. But Americans have gotten complacent with years and years of successful missions. The rare disaster tends to draw us all together to once again pay attention to what should always be the most thrilling attempt of humankind- To reach for the stars, to strive to learn about the universe that spawned us, and to insure that we pitiful blobs of protoplasm continue to advance towards a greater future.

We, each of us, live out our lives as individuals. Alone within our own skulls, only forming connections with those other individuals who share our bloodlines and our deepest interests. Everyone else on the planet is a stranger. And those individuals that draw us together, that force us to think of other people we have never, will never, could never meet should be honored.

We have spoken of heroes- Both of legend and of inspiration. Columbia's crew were inspirations to us all, and they have passed into legend. They *are* heroes, in the finest tradition that mankind has given birth to. Let us not dishonor them by confusing their lives and loss with the crass commercialism that permeates television in our modern, global society. TV is geared towards the lowest common denominator, but how else can it reach the most diverse of us all? We are, none of us, absolutely alike. How else can we all be reached, together? I abhor the dimwittedness of TV, but am I the standard that all others should strive to emulate? By no means. I'm just this guy, you know?

So heap criticism where you feel it should lie, but be aware of the differences that also lie between us all.

And let us not forget that we all can be heroes, if push comes to shove. When disaster strikes and we are there, we can all act to the greater good. If we are not there, we can damn well *go* there and act- if we determine to do so. There is no place on this planet that is so far away that we cannot reach it, in some way, to make a difference.

So if you think that TV is populated by newsghouls, salesmen, and pablum-- Turn the damn thing off, leave the house, and go out and make a difference in the lives of your fellow human beings. Don't just sit there moaning about the crassness of commercialism, 'cause that isn't going to make it go away.

And nothing will make the pain and loss of heroes go away either. But one can learn from it and strive to make one's own little corner of the planet a better place to live in, to raise children in, to leave a better world for those children to grow up in.

No hero should pass unmourned. No lesson should go unlearned. No injustice should go unchallenged. No threat to life and liberty should go unfought.

Whether it is the terroristic threat of a mad dictator, or the hunger of a child in some poverty stricken region, or the tragic death of intrepid explorers of the great unknowns of the universe-- Each of us as individuals must find what it is that we abhor and strive against it. To rage against the darkness and never to admit defeat. To strive towards a time where each of us can look toward those eternal mysteries of the universe with real hope of finding answers, of reaching out to our fellow beings and living together as family.

Together, forever, amen.

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 Four
    By Frederick Rustam
    Kevin and Marylou learn how the Internet got started, whose it is, and why it's a People's Medium---even for the Information Elite.
  • Something to Be Proud Of
    By Robert Collins
    RenČ needed a moment to appraise the young male bound to a chair in the cabin. She had never seen a male from outside the Valley. No one had in almost a decade. This male was a curiosity, an unknown quantity. RenČ knew she'd have to examine him before she would accept him...
  • The Spirit of the Forest
    By W. D. Wilcox
    When a small planet based in magic and superstition is attacked by an army of robots, William, the Forester, and Tom, a young boy orphaned by the attackers, find themselves pitted against Lox3, the most sophisticated computer mind in the galaxy and leader of the entire robot army. Will Magic win out over Technology?

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

  • Hibernation
    By Michael J. Martinick
    Can technology provide a solution to America's most urgent problem? Read on to find out...
  • Slaver Girl
    ByRobert Collins
    As a member of the Slaver's Guild, Cassia found herself trapped beneath the glass ceiling. Then she got her chance to prove herself...
  • Tears
    By Kyle Vorwerk & Joshua J. Scott
    Only one thing could save the dying child; a faerie's tears.
  • Giorxon And The Slaughterer
    By Indrapramit Das
    Every world has its tales and fables. Worlds of swords and sorcery have even more, for the breath of Gods hang in the very air of such places, and their tears flow in their rivers.
  • A Walk in the Park
    By Robert Moriyama
    It started as a relaxing walk in the park. It turned into something else entirely.
  • What the Mind has to Offer
    By Brian Grisham
    Do you remember one teacher who really scared you? She was nothing compared to Mrs. Harriet.
  • Wildlands
    By Peter Bergman, Jr.
    It was just a sign on a country road, but it showed the way to a place of mystery and terror.

  • Saint Valentine's Day
    By McCamy Taylor
    Marnie was born and trained to kill; a natural warrior. When she rebelled, the authorities were determined to get her back.

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.

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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.
  • Thank You, Grandfather
    by Heather Munn
    Heather Munn reflects on the spirit which brought us here today, and which will take us to new horizons tomorrow.

  • 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