Aphelion Issue 295, Volume 28
June 2024 --
Long Fiction and Serials
Short Stories
Flash Fiction
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Hello, and welcome to the June 2008 edition of Aphelion!

Sometimes I have to marvel at the way events sometimes seem to frustrate me, then suddenly turn around and present me with exactly what I wanted all along. For example; when I was a young child, not yet even ten years old, my Mom and Dad bought me loads of different sorts of books. Simply because I was one of those children who thought that reading was one of the most fun things ever invented. Whenever we went on a shopping trip to Knoxville, I could pretty much count on two things happening when we went into my favorite department store. First, my sister, brother, and I would be allowed to pick out a treat from the huge candy counter. I always chose a big paper packet of roasted mixed nuts, still warm from the oven, buttered and salted to perfection. Secondly, I was allowed to pick out a new book that they would buy for me. Sometimes, for special occasions, I was allowed to pick out more than one. This is the way that I wound up with 18 or 20 of the books in the Tom Swift Jr. series. Once I saw those wonderful illustrated covers with the marvelous inventions of the young Tom Swift, I was hooked. I read them over and over and over again, for many, many years. Even after growing up and finding myriad other writers that I enjoyed reading, I still had a soft spot for those corny scientific adventures and fantastic inventions - despite the stilted writing style and overuse of exclamation points. I loved those books. I suppose that I always will, no matter how many other, and how much better written, books I will read.

When I was about twelve, we moved away from the Knoxville area. Tom Swift Jr. books weren't stocked in the stores where we moved. However, the school Library had copies of the Tom Swift Sr. books! I discovered an added dimension to the stories that I loved. They followed a continuity. The inventions and adventures of Tom's Father were mentioned frequently in the Tom Juniors. I read all the old one I could get my hands on - falling just as much in love with them as I had the adventures of the younger Tom. When I was in college, I even managed to find a Tom Sr. in a thrift store, and proudly placed it on the shelf next to my treasured Tom Swift Jr. novels.

Then, when I was in my early thirties, disaster struck. My home was burglarized, and all my Tom Swift books were stolen. True, loads of other stuff was stolen too, but this was devastating. I was dumbstruck. Part of my childhood had been savagely ripped away from me. But I couldn't do anything about the loss, so I went on with my life. Eventually, I tried my hand at writing, started collecting rejection slips from publishers, was introduced to the Internet, and lucked into starting up Aphelion. Time flowed onwards, as it always does.

Cue our own Web Maven par excellence, Robert Wynne, aided and abetted by his wonderful Mom. Rob attended an ApheliCon bearing gifts, to wit: some Tom Swift Jr. books that had been kindly donated by Rob's Mom. They were duplicates from her own collection. Even before this, I'd long thought that Rob's Mom was fantastic lady. Now I was convinced that she was a goddess among we mere mortals.

Cue my lovely wife, and the passage of three more years. Last year, whilst I was laid up following the car accident, Lindsey introduced me to the wonders and horrors of e-bay. The wonders? Anything and everything on Earth can be found there, for sale. The horrors? Anything and everything can add up quite quickly to a truly astronomical sum of money, that the victim is quite prepared to sell his soul to possess. Or worse, to work overtime for the extra cash necessary to buy these many and varied trinkets. Out of curiosity, last December I set up a search to find Tom Swift books. I found 25 Tom Swift Sr. novels on CD as e-books, at a very reasonable price. Inevitably, I bought a copy. Months passed, and I was released to go back to work. I worked. In fact, I worked overtime, frequently. I paid off a credit card that had been hanging over my head for several years. I worked more. Finally, I had enough free cash to start replacing those beloved old books. I began bidding on them in April, as they became available on e-bay. Some I won, some went out of my price range, and some I had to buy in large lots as people liquidated their collections. Sometimes I wound up with duplicates, but as of last week I've managed to buy all thirty three Tom Swift Junior novels! There are still eight of them that are in the mail, not yet delivered, but I'm enjoying the accomplishment of now having gotten all of them. Some, I've had a chance to read before now. So I rip through them as soon as the postman drops them off. I haven't spent a fortune to obtain them, but in total I have spent about a week's pay. Lindsey has been very supportive during my temporary fit of aquisitive madness. She thinks that it's lovely that I'm finally able to replace these novels that meant so much to me in my formative years. I'm just overjoyed to finally have not only replacements for the ones that I'd lost, but all the ones that I'd never gotten the chance to read before.

I'm a happy camper. Another dream has been fulfilled. I can concentrate on my next project while I wait on the final deliveries from my buying spree. What's next? Thanks for asking. It seems that my writer's block has finally relented. I'm 10,000+ words into a new story. I'm writing again, researching again, and deep into a new world that's being created as I type. It's a whole new genre for me. One that seems to actually have a market, in fact. Who knows? I might even be able to sell this one! But in any case, I'm having fun being creative again.

At the end of the day, enjoying yourself while doing something that you love... That's priceless! Reading or writing, it's the joy that counts.

But for now, I need to shut up and let you read the new issue,