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Aphelion Editorial 075

October 2003

by Dan L. Hollifield

The Usual Rant from the Aphelion Senior Editor

Fall is approaching and change is in the wind. Oh, that's not some gloomy rant beginning, I don't feel a rant coming on. And yet there is an editorial due, so I'm just going to ramble on a bit and hope I don't bore you. First off, (to get back the the changes in the wind bit) the Editorial Mafia have petitioned me, in my vast and awesome aspect of Aphelion's Tyrannical Publisher, (does that make me a P-Rex?) for the Christmas holidays off. Naturally, since I'm no Scrooge I agreed. So we are discussing various ways to combine the December and January issues from now on. Secondly, we'd like to revive Aphelion's writing contests. Which means that I've got to come up with better prizes than little web page graphics from my artwork. LOL! So the contest results might wind up appearing in the combined issue, along with other options. When we think of a good contest theme I'll announce it here, but don't look for a contest this year. We don't have time. We're already working on the November and December/January issues for this year. (Yes, we actually do plan that far ahead. Well, most of us. LOL!) So a contest this year is out of the question. Thirdly, I'd like to revive the chatroom. Rob fixed it and the links to it are working, but he's usually alone hanging out there. I'd like to set up a weekly chat at a convenient time for the majority of readers. There won't always be someone from the Aphelion staff there (most of us are on Eastern or Central US time), but that's no reason you readers and writers can't talk to each other. I'm leaning towards Thursday evenings as being the best match to my personal schedule, but I'm willing to accept any other time except for Tuesday nights. My Tuesday nights are already committed. We'll see what evolves, if anything. Just think of the chatroom as a realtime Lettercol and you can imagine how much fun a group of people can have.

OK, for something a little different... I've been e-mailed by a reputable firm in Texas whose mailing list I subscribe to about a new health clinic being opened in a rural area near their headquarters. The doctor there needs an affordable X-ray machine and is asking that other clinics who have recently upgraded to new machines to consider donating or selling cheaply their old X-ray machines. In either case, the doctor is willing to pay at least the shipping costs out of his own pocket. Please note that they are not asking for money to buy a machine. This is not a scam. If you find that you can help this clinic get an X-ray machine, feel free to e-mail me for the contact information. Naturally, I can't post it here online because of spammers and crank callers. If you know of a hospital, clinic, or doctor's office that needs to get rid of an X-ray machine, here is a chance to help the residents of Italy, Texas and the surrounding area.

So how do I follow that? Well, I've just learned that Baen Books is going to shelve their line of Bolo books, written in a universe created by the late, great Keith Laumer. They aren't selling well, so they're gone unless they suddenly sell out of what's on the shelves now. Which is particularly bad news for me because not only am I a fan of the Bolo stories, but I had hoped to sell Baen a Bolo novel myself. I have one half done, and now it has no market. I've been transfered from the slush pile to fanfic in one fell swoop. That's depressing. The only good news is that Aphelion readers will be the only ones to have access to the finished work. Unless Baen threatens to sue me, in which case I'll be the only one who gets to read the book. Oh well, the first half is in about the 4th draft stage, but the storyline for that half is finished. The other half is meant to go in a completely different direction and leave almost all of the characters from the first half behind. That second half of the book only exists in outline form at the moment. As do most of my story sequels.

On the one hand, the limbo of the "I don't have time right now, but when I do I'd like to..." holds five or more of my stories in cold storage. Sad. I need to write more, get these things done and out there where you can read them. I run this great webzine and I hardly ever get a story finished to put in it. This is issue #75, and no one is making a fuss about it. How many other e-zines have been running for six years? Suddenly my life feels like a Pink Floyd album. "Dark Side of the Moon" fits best. (Gosh! That was gloomy. Funny, I don't feel gloomy.)

On the other hand, the limbo of the "that's a good idea and I need to make a note of it for a story" file holds fifty or more story ideas, pending my time and ability. I usually carry a notebook with me for just such emergencies- jotting down story ideas. The entire novel version of Threat of Valleor was first written down as an outline in a hip-pocket spiral notepad while I was standing around at work, watching my machine run. The second draft was written as a more detailed outline with key dialogue sections on notepads also. The third draft made it into a primitive word processor in a TRS-80 CoCo-3 computer, which produced over one hundred pages of very small print. The fourth draft is the version available in Aphelion which began being serialized back in the infancy of the zine. Roughly a third of those hundred pages have been transcribed and expanded (OCR doesn't seem to work on any of my computers), mostly because I switched to short story format to become a better writer and put the novel on a back burner. But from that first jotting of ideas in a spiral notepad came the whole setting of Bethdish, City of Lights, the 11,000 year story arc, the big map of the planet, the history, the natives, and all the characters I've been using regularly.

But on the gripping hand, there is that limbo of the "almost finished, but I have to work on something else now" that holds all my works in progress in thrall. That's where a change is gonna do me good. Its time to start producing text again- and let the grand concepts simmer on the back burner for a change.

Well, I'm about as good as I'm going to get without getting more work out to be criticized than I have been doing. In keeping with that theme of change, I'm going to get more of my work out where you nice folks can tear it to shreds in a piranha-like feeding frenzy of critical constructivity. Be it known that Redshift Sue Sings the Blues is coming along nicely and should be online before the end of the year to sate your bloodlust. I also hope to have an mp3 of the song (probably without the vocals, since I'm no singer) online by this time next year (oh yeah, sure, I believe that timetable), so cross your fingers and hope for the best, those of you who are audiophiles. It all hinges on time, doesn't it? I have to budget my time better. (I told you I was going to ramble, didn't I? Now watch as I tie it all together with a couple of pithy epigrams that make the preceding paragraphs look like a carefully plotted essay. LOL!)

Time is a non-recyclable resource. It has to be budgeted, allocated, savored, enjoyed, even cherished. Use it or lose it, but please don't waste it. Its the most valuable thing in the universe. (What a totally fatuous thing to say! My grasp of the totally obvious hasn't slipped a notch, even.)

Time- available now in limited quantities. Sorry, only one to a customer. (OK, that one was cute, I'll give you that.)

Thanks for the use of some of your time, (GROAN!)


I now return you to your regularly scheduled reading...


2003 Dan L. Hollifield

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