Aphelion Issue 295, Volume 28
June 2024 --
Long Fiction and Serials
Short Stories
Flash Fiction
Submission Guidelines
Contact Us
Flash Writing Challenge
Dan's Promo Page
P&E Top Ten

Hello again and welcome to the March 2016 issue of Aphelion!

Golden Age Flash

February has come and gone once again, and so has another AnachroCon convention in Atlanta. This year's theme was the Weird Wild West, so there were cowboys and cowgirls galore as well as time travelers and anachronauts from many a varied timeline. My two Flash costumes were a hit with several photgraphers, as well as most of the convention atendees. I wasn't the only Flash there by any means. There were at least four others, each different, each fantastic! A thousand people or more were gathered into a lovely hotel in Atlanta to throw one of the best parties ever known. Con programming was layered five and six deep throughout the convention, making it difficult to choose which panel or event to attend every hour of every day. I swear, if I had fifteen camera crews to station in every event room, the lobby, the huxters suite, and the con suite I still would need the ghost of Stanley Kubrick to mix it all down into a cohesive representation of the con. And still I know that I would miss hundreds of those tiny special, personal moments that go to make up every convention, no matter which one or where.

But that's the thing about conventions. I mean, no matter how big or small they are, the events are amazing but it is those small personal moments that make them such wonderful memories for every single person attending. Scoring a moment with your favorite artist or writer or actor in an autograph line or a panel discussion- or in an elevator, or the con suite, or even a chance encounter in the endless hallways. That intimate personal moment which means so much to you, and will be treasured for so long once the convention is over and you go back home. Such intimate moments lead to lasting memories, however they happen to occur.

I once struck up a short, but memorable conversation with Ben Bova as we both washed our hands after exiting our respective stalls in a men's room at one convention several years ago. We discussed two of his many novels, one well known and one which garnered less critical attention. He related one minor plot point of the lessor-known novel, and hinted at more to come in the series represented by the more well-known novel we chatted about. Both trivial points allowed me to see deeper into his work than I had been able before that restroom break. All from a casual "hi there, love your work," sort of conversation. And no, I'm not saying that restrooms are the best place to meet your favorite writers, or whatever. Just, mind your manners and seize the moment sort of deal.

So imagine my delight when I found myself sharing conversation time with several iconic steampunk celebs in the con suite as they waited for the line at the bar to thin out a tad, and garnered munchies from the buffet! One I had known for years through his work and reviewing a pair of how-to books he wrote, the others I had met on social media, but not in person before last weekend. They told such interesting stories, and politely listened to one or two of mine. The upshot is that now I have some new friends, and have gotten to know them for more than just their work.

There were many old friends, and now some more new ones, at the con. I managed to sit in on many an interesting discussion, even while missing out on several others, every hour of every day of the con. There was live music every day, in the lobby and elsewhere, fantastic costumes, arts and crafts demos, historical panels, much and many personal conversations and moments, and still I missed out on over half of the convention because ai can only be in one place at a time. Conventions occur all over the world. Some are big and some are small, but all offer some memorable happenings. You owe it to yourself to make the time to attend something near to where you live. You will have fun. You have a chance to learn more about something that others love to do, and you might even make a whole bunch of new friends. Give it a try, whenever you can. You'll soon find something you never knew about before, but after having found it you won't be able to imagine your life without it.

In real life I am very painfully shy, I suffer from a fear of crowds, I am socially awkward, and my jokes can be cryptic at best. I'm not rich, I'm not famous, I'm not pretty, and I'm not particularly well educated. What I am is willing to try new things, willing to try to have a good time, and willing to accept people I meet on their own terms. A little respect, a little open-minded acceptance, a willingness to have conversations, and the ability to look at the world as an adventure worth undertaking rather than a duty to be performed is all I have to offer. So far it has worked wonders!

Now, each of you are Aphelion readers and writers. That gives you a secret super power, one that you must use wisely, and one that must never be abused. You know hundreds and hundreds of writers who have appeared in Aphelion. Some of them have become big names in their own right. Some were already big names before they came to Aphelion. And some of them are going to become big names soon. What I want you to do is remember where we all came from, and how hard each of us has worked to get where we have gone so far. Recognize Aphelion writers and tell them how much you enjoyed their work here. Be proud to be Aphelion readers, but never brag. Be polite and respectful to any pro writers you may meet. Tell them which of their works you enjoyed. Fail to mention the works of theirs which you didn't like, unless you can be diplomatic about those. Not every story by our favorite writers appeals to us, personally. I adore Larry Niven's work, for instance, but he has written a few books that I didn't enjoy reading. I won't ever say "that book sucked," but I would say that "that one didn't appeal to me the way 'such & such' book did. I'll give it another read later on and see if I just needed to learn more to understand it better..." In other words, be diplomatic. After all, when I was 19 I thought Jane Austin novels were boring and dull, but when I was 35 I realized they were snarky and sarcastic and pretty cool. I just needed to learn more about life and people to see it. We each learn more stuff as we grow, the trick is to respect what we haven't grown enough to understand yet. Your super power is that what you think and say can have an influence on people you just met. Snark can harm. Negative opinions phrased politely can help someone learn something they needed to learn. This is our power. Use it wisely.

Now, I should shut up and let everyone get to reading!



Mare Inebrium Anthology


First off, if you do the Facebook thing, feel free to join us on the Aphelion page there. The link is Aphelion Webzine. As an aside, the Editorial Mafia and I have found Facebook to be very useful. Given our different locations and schedules, it's come in handy as a way to discuss production details of new issues. Sometimes there are several of us using Facebook at the same time, so it's almost like the old chat room days.

My first collection of Mare Inebrium spaceport bar short stories was published in February by Dark Oak Press. It is available in both Kindle an Nook e-book formats, paperback, and hardback. I also that thre albums of instrumenal music out throgh the Create Space self-publishing website. If you like, you can click on the photo or the link below to fin all the info you would need to purchase my book in your preferred format, or an e-book of Flash of Aphelion, buy a CD of my music, or listen to tracks off of the albums on my Bandcamp website. Enjoy!

Dan's Promo Page



A Dying Star Shrouded by a Blanket of Hailstones Forms the Bug Nebula (NGC 6302)

Photo Credit: NASA, ESA and A.Zijlstra (UMIST, Manchester, UK)