Aphelion Issue 296, Volume 28
July 2024 --
Long Fiction and Serials
Short Stories
Flash Fiction
Submission Guidelines
Contact Us
Flash Writing Challenge
Dan's Promo Page
D'rrish and Friend-Fan art by Jon Nixon

A Modest Proposal...

Can we share the Mare Inebrium?
Updated: April 1st, 2018

A long while back, Roger Bennett (Editor of the great Dragon's Lair Webzine) approached me with an unusual proposition. He had a story wherein some of the action took place in a spaceport bar.

My earliest Mare Inebrium oil paintingRoger had published two stories of mine (during the early days of Dragon's Lair) that were set in a spaceport bar that I had created. It was called the Mare Inebrium, which is very bad Latin for "Sea of Drunkards", and was the brain-child of myself and a very good friend & roomate; Jim Parnell. We came up with the idea of a Bar at the north pole of Earth's moon, where people & aliens of any species and/or timeframe could interact. Later, after I had begun the grand odyessy of trying to become a writer (and Jim had finished college, moved far away, and gotten married), I created a planet called Bethdish and moved the Mare Inebrium's location there. It was sort of a poetic gesture, designed to keep the memory of some fun times alive. In any case, Roger wanted to put his story in the Mare Inebrium because he had enjoyed reading my stories about the place and thought it the perfect setting for his own tale. I agreed to allow him to do so and set about giving him some background material for the description of the bar and it's staff.

Little did I realize what Roger was about to start.

To make a long story longer; Roger turned out a gem of a story. I loved it! Here was a chance to read more about one of my favorite creations, without the work of writing it myself! Roger sent me the story as a submission for Aphelion, rather than keeping it for his own Zine. (Polite bugger, wasn't he?) I accepted it for the December '97 issue. So far, nothing unusual, but then I was struck by an idea... After taking some aspirin for the resulting headache, I dashed off a quick e-mail to Roger and asked him if he thought that other writers might want to do something similar. Could there be more people that might want to write a spaceport bar story in a bar already made? Roger thought that there would be, and named two writers that he thought would be perfect. After reading the names, I agreed that those two would be marvelous choices. But would they want to do it? Would anyone want to? Damifino...

Artwork by Yvonne Weinstein for Absent-minded Shall Inherit... And so, this page was born.

Well, I guess that I should get to the point. Absolutely anything can happen at the Mare Inebrium. If the idea of a place where Star Trek's Mr. Spock could play chess with DC Comic's Brainiac, where Sherlock Holmes and Buck Rogers could sit down together and have a beer, where Tom Swift Jr and H.G. Wells could go to talk shop with Ford Prefect and Fu Manchu, where your favorite aliens from your own imagination could interact with your favorite folks from other writer's works... If that sounds like a place that you could write stories in, then I've got neat place for you to hang out!

Of course, putting familiar charactors in a new setting isn't all there is to the Mare Inebrium. You can simply tell a good story, one that needs a Spaceport Bar as a backdrop. In fact, that's the way I write my own Mare stories. Of course I throw some familiar faces in at the far tables of the bar, but they're just window-dressing for the real story. I've seen folks do some really subtle background characters in some stories- better than I do, even! I like to see it work out that way. That means to me that I created something that people can have fun with, a concept that writers can run with, and a story that the reader can enjoy even if they haven't read a Mare story before.

Cover Art for Tales from the Spaceport Bar

I'd suggest reading Larry Niven's "Draco Tavern" series and his stories"The Fourth Profession" & "For a Foggy Night", Arthur C. Clarke's "Tales from the White Hart", Spider Robinson's "Callahan's Bar" & "Lady Sally's House" books, and "Tales from the Spaceport Bar" edited by George H. Scithers & Darrell Schweitzer.

"Tales..." is a collection of stories from many of the world's best writers, all set in various bars and pubs throughout the space/time continuum.

What I'm getting at is that I'm opening the Mare Inebrium to everyone. All I ask is that you stay true to the spirit and decor of the place. I have floorplans, outlines of the permanent staff, and the history of the planet where the Mare is located... all on the starter kit page. Click here to read that. The Online version of the Starter Kit was last updated on 2-7-04, so its current.

You should also read all of the Mare Inebrium stories so far- if only to keep from contradicting each other as people add more stores to the Mare's mythos.

To read the Mare Inebrium stories that have been published so far:

Click here to read the stories.
Click here to read the Starter Kit.

Click here to submit a Mare Inebrium story or artwork as an attachment .txt, .rtf, .docx or .doc file for stories (& as .jpg or .gif for artwork) to an e-mail to me at the Aphelion. Please send all Mare Inebrium stories to this and only this address! That will save the other Editors time and make sure that your submission is read by me ASAP.

Pet Peeves: Italics, underline, differing fonts throughout a manuscript, smart quotes--All these things slow me down when I'm doing the HTML coding for a story. Sometimes it takes hours to process one short manuscript into a web page because I have to keep slogging through the original to find out where to put each HTML code to display on a webpage exactly what the author submitted. That said, using all those does not mean that your story will be rejected. All it means is that you submission will take me extra time to process. If you are familiar with HTML and want to include the right code mark-up for these things, that's something I consider a blessing. But NOT a requirement. If you do use HTML codes to indicate any of the above formatting, please make a note in your submission, somewhere near the top under your byline, that you've used HTML tags for format changes. Common HTML tags to use before and after format changes are:

<i> before italics and </i> at the end of the italic string.
<b> before bold type and </b> after,
<u> before underlined words and </u> after, and so on...

Another thing that slows me down are HUGE, LONG, NEVERENDING list of previous publication credits. Seriously, just pick out the five or six that you are most proud of instead of sending me your entire publishing history. I'd suggest your first publishing credit and the date, then follow that with "and most recently" and your five most recent publication credits. But if you don't yet have six publication credits, don't worry about it. Just mention what you have and it'll be fine. But I'm not going to wade through a list of pub creds that is longer than the Unabridged Oxford English Dictionary! I'll pick out the first one and the last five, and call it a day. Not trying to pick on anyone here, but I do have a day job too, you know.

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