Aphelion Issue 295, Volume 28
June 2024 --
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Aphelion Editorial 067

February 2003

by Dan L. Hollifield

Hello and welcome!

Well, the good news is that this is the firs tissue 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 infinitum 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.



2003 Dan L. Hollifield

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