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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,
I'd like to thank those of you who have sent e-mails or signed
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folks! Without those messages we will never know what we need to
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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
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.
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.
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.
By Jeremy Kuban
Her name was Kendra Neumer. She was thirteen years old. She wanted to
meet a troll.
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!
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.
A Challenge to
Writers... --8\8\2000-- 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.
Click here to see the Links Page. Our fellow E-zines, Astronomy,
research material, entertainment, and much, much more!
Aphelion IRC Chat --2\16\2001-- 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.
Chat --2\12\2001-- 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
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 firstname.lastname@example.org with the
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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!
Instead of the back issues the banner below now takes you to
the Archives-where all our past stories are available for you to
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.