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 P&E Top Ten
May, Spring, yard work... Ugh.

OK, well you have the May issue of Aphelion to look forward to, now.  I have all the outdoor duties associated with the status of owning a tiny little piece of land and a the house that sits so fetchingly atop of it. I just a few minutes ago finished up a bit of chainsaw duty out in what was, a couple of years ago, our garden. I could have really used a tractor and logging chain, because the stumps of the unwanted plum trees that I was sawing down really needed to be pulled up--roots and all--but Mom's tractor has a flat tire at the moment and the family doesn't have the resources to deal with it right now. These things happen from time to time. What can't be cured must be endured, as the saying goes.

But there is some good news. To wit:

This is the second month that Steam-Powered Dream Engines  has been in print. The contributing writers to the anthology have been mailed  their complimentary copies. I'm hearing good things about the book. Now that I've had the chance to read all the other stories in the book I am even more impressed that I was allowed to be counted among them. This is a great set of stories! There isn't a clunker in the batch, as far as I can tell. Here's a repeat of the details from last month's editorial:

Steam-Powered Dream Engines, cover art by John David Rose
SBN: 9780244375102
Copyright: Rogue Planet Press (Standard Copyright License)
Edition" 1st
Publisher: Rogue Planet Press
Published: March 27, 2018
Language: English
Pages: 210
Binding: Perfect-bound Paperback
Interior Illustrations: Ink Black & White
Weight: 0.82 lbs.
Dimensions (inches): 5.83 wide x 8.26 tall
Product ID: 23578323
Price: $12.99

Published by Rogue Planet Press/Horrified Press on March 28th. Edited by Sergio Palumbo and Gavin Chappell, featuring short stories by myself, Robin Lipinski, Michele Dutcher, John David Rose, Sergio Palumbo and the late Ernesto Canepa, and many other writers, with cover art by John David Rose, and interior illustrations by comics designers Davide "Atog" Marescotti and his wife Sara Della Casa. It is, as the title suggests, an anthology of steampunk stories--adventures in the grand style, as it were.

Other things in the works: And as I previously reported, I have recently been asked to become the Literary Track Director for Atlanta's own alternate history convention, AnachroCon. AnachroCon started off as a steampunk convention, but has evolved into embracing all sorts of alternate history genres. My duties will involve putting together discussion panels with various writers and so forth as panelists, setting the schedule of those panels, making sure that the con's tech staff know about any special needs a panel may have, keeping track of how well attended the panels are, and general problem solving for the Literary Guests. I will not have any special powers to decide who gets what perks, however. That's up to the senior con staff. AnachroCon's website is up and running with various apps where one can apply for guest status here: AnachroCon. If you visit the site, you'll see that there are apps to apply as a panelist as well as a guest. Lyn and I have attended the first seven years of the con. February 15th-17th of 2019 will be the 10th anniversary. It has always been a lot of fun to attend. There are panels on every subject in the genre, a Tea Party, demonstrations of many wide-ranging subjects, fantastic costumes, pro writers, Makers, and all manner of amazing happenings. Ben Franklin and Thomas Jefferson have attended in the past, as well as alternate universe cosplayers of all sorts. The con staff are looking for a hotel at the moment, so that information isn't available yet. But if you are an alternate history writer or fan, look up their website and check into applying for Guest status, or get a regular membership as an attending pro or as a fan of the genre. And please be sure to let me know if you're a pro or an up and coming writer in the genre and you plan to attend, because I am still filling places for speakers on discussion panels. I'd love to see you there!

In other news, Jim Statton has asked for a "sticky topic" for a Forum post where you can all suggest ideas for future Flash Fiction Challenges. That's been set up and is available for your suggestions now. Put it to good use because the flash challenges have been getting better and better. Everyone participating deserves a load of appreciation. The more involvement we can get in everything, the more the readers and writers will enjoy it.

In yet still other news, Lester Curtis and John Powers prompted that Aphelion Staff to resurrect our OLD, OLD writing prompts pages, which leads me to close with this set of Narrative Hooks from our  Writer's Challenge II page, which will be a permanent live link soon:

Narrative Hooks for Writing Challenges:
  1. Hell opened up and spat out a hero.
  2. The world was a ball a million miles in diameter- with an artificial sun at it's center - populated inside and out. Foamed metallic walls, one thousand miles thick, were perforated with connecting shafts at major population centers. A thin surface crust layered both the inside and outside surfaces of the ball.
  3. "There was five of us," said the old man, "when we found that old wrecked alien ship out in the asteroid belt. I'm the only one left alive."
  4. The typical K-trill native is a hive mind, consisting of flocks of up to one hundred bird-like creatures averaging a meter in height, each of which looks as if a lonely peacock had gotten romantically and genetically intertwined with a squid. The mind itself can manifest itself in any or all of the individual flock members.
  5. In the back of every mind, a monster lurks- chained in the mind's dark recesses, kept away from the light of day for all eternity... but chains can break.
  6. Once you've been shot at your perspective on life changes.
  7. She was the greatest beauty to grace the age. He was the painter who gave her immortality. Together they toppled an empire.
  8. I hate to kill a man for bad manners, so I was glad when he took a shot at me.
  9. The doorway irised open and a whole new world lay open before me.
  10. Frequently, the biggest trouble with time travel is keeping your mouth shut.
  11. Its difficult to invent a new way to screw up, but somehow I managed it.
  12. You haven't lived until you've had to outwit something that's decided that you'd make a nice snack.
  13. Its not enough to succeed, you have to survive and get home again too.
  14. Unfortunately, no telescope in the world was pointed in the right direction to see the asteroid that was destined to destroy Europe.
  15. After the fourth corpse showed up in the case, I began to wish that life would cease to imitate art.
  16. Over and over again in my mind, I watched the creature slay my friends one by one, then turn and stalk me...
  17. At the sound of gunfire, I dived for cover under the nearest car. It seems that I wasn't the only one with that idea. Under the same car was a man with the biggest pistol that I'd seen in my life, breathing heavy and bleeding slightly from a graze on his arm.
  18. Beauty may be only skin deep, but evil goes all the way to the bone.
  19. Most people never notice the weirdness all around them.
  20. Thunder spat from the enemies' guns. We fired in return, but I fear to little effect.
  21. The worst thing about being a city boy lost in the desert was that to me one cactus looked pretty much like the rest.
  22. Any time that you find yourself close enough to actually be looking at a wall of water a hundred feet tall and moving towards where you are standing, you know you're pretty well screwed- baring a miracle.
  23. It was the Marie Celeste all over again...
  24. Most folks never notice how easy it is to wander from one timeline to another. Some of them though, they wind up in some very strange realities.
  25. I looked out at the coming dawn and thought upon the life of the man I was about to have to kill...
  26. Never underestimate the stupidity of the ruling classes. Although, come to think about it, they defend themselves rather well...
  27. Lightning crashed, striking a nearby tree and arcing to my attacker's upraised sword. His armored body exploded with a violence such to send me flying.
  28. Being a wizard was boring, for the most part. Centuries of waiting, interspersed with brief moments of sheer terror.
  29. Cackling with glee, my assailant raised his meat cleaver on high- and gave me the chance to finally get the small pistol out of my borrowed shoulder holster and shoot him in the kneecaps.
  30. "Mr. Gates, just who was it that wrote the program that let the Internet develop self-awareness and decide it was the only being fit to rule the world?" asked the Senator from Cuba.
  31. After a fourteen year flight, our ship finally touched down upon the soil of an alien world.
  32. "Please excuse me," said the android calmly- as smoke began to pour from it's ears and flame began to erupt from it's clothing.
  33. I'd set out to make peaceful contact with the natives, and suddenly I was gaining new insight into the mindset of General Custer at the Little Big Horn...
  34. Brak of Calmore was the best thief in the thirty kingdoms, so how did he wind up in the dungeons of Saigathe? Easy, it was all part of his master plan...
  35. Explosive decompression is a nasty way to die, and I had about twenty seconds until the mutineers opened the outer airlock door.
  36. Weaponless, I faced down the slathering carnivore that had jumped into the light of my campfire.
  37. With a hearty "See you later," the man in the trench coat jumped off of the roller coaster and vanished in a soundless flash of light- two hundred feet above the ground. No one was going to believe this one.
  38. With a growing feeling of unreality, I watched the Tin Man pour tea for the Mad Hatter.
  39. "For it is written in the holy book of Windows 2010 for Dummies that 'the geek shall inherit the universe and all others shall perish by one another's hand-' and so we see the world about us today," said the ceramic priest in plastic robes.
  40. The barbarian chieftain filled the door of the crude, woven reed hut. After three days without food or drink, I could hardly lift my head to look.
  41. "Of all the demons that try men's souls, drink runs a poor second to women," sighed my sergeant. "Try and forget her, lad- dwelling on what's gone could get you killed." In the distance, cannons began to fire as battle was joined.
  42. My enemy's enemy is my ally... Whether he likes it or not.

All right, it's about time I shut up and let y'all get to reading the fifth issue of Aphelion of 2018! Enjoy!



This is a little something I made early last year. It's a little advert for Aphelion. I wrote the music and added a slide show of past cover art. It's short, and showcases a lot of the changes we've made over the past two decades. Feel free to share it around.

Feel free to share this on Facebook, G+, blog posts, and other webpages. But only with the permission of the page or group owners! Be polite and considerate, always. You'll have to look up the embed code for the ad on You Tube, sorry about that, but the code won't display correctly here. But the Share Code for Facebook and G+ is:


Mare Inebrium Collection

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 back in the 1990s.

My first collection of Mare Inebrium spaceport bar short stories was published in February of 2015 by Dark Oak Press. It is available in both Kindle an Nook e-book formats, paperback, and hardback. The above mentioned steampunk anthology is another project I have been proud to be a part of, too. I also have three albums of instrumental music out through the Create Space self-publishing website. If you like, you can click on the photo or the link below to find 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

I'm also happy to announce that unless the world ends soon, I should be able to retire from the factory in 4 and a fraction more years. I ran the numbers through a spreadsheet that I wrote up to calculate exactly when I could afford to walk out of that factory for the final time. Barring unforeseen disasters--or last-minute adjustments, my final day of gainful employment should be February 7th of 2023. After that, I'll be a pensioner, on a fixed income, and my hated alarm clock will only ever be needed for special occasions forever afterwards. I'm literally counting down the days. 1267 workdays left as of Friday March 30th of 2018! Yes, I actually have a calculator written to do the countdown for me, LOL! It's true that the first year of my retirement will require some careful budgeting, but during the second year all of my retirement funding will kick in and things will become much easier.



Title: The hidden fires of the Flame Nebula

Photo Credit: ESO/J. Emerson/VISTA.
Acknowledgment: Cambridge Astronomical Survey Unit