Perihelion Science Fiction

Sam Bellotto Jr.

Eric M. Jones
Contributing Editor


Silicon and Solitude
by Shane D. Rhinewald

Expedition of the Arcturus
by JZ Murdock

Nude Bargain
by Olga Godim

Dirtsiders on Cinnabar
by Patrick Lundrigan

by Tom Tinney

History of Humanity’s First Alien Contact in the Year 2023
by Eric M. Jones

Space Cadets of the Apocalypse
by Dave Fragments

Illegal Alien
by Betsy Streeter

A Tangle of Brilliance
by Charles Barouch


Playing a Role in Science Fiction
by Clayton J. Callahan

Prof. Pickering’s Practical Plan
by The Editors




Shorter Stories

Comic Strips



Shorter Stories

Early Childhood Education

By Sarah Crysl Akhtar

OTTIE HAD NO PATIENCE. I had, until he ate it all up. And slow burns can be more deadly than quick ignitions.

His charm—that quicksilver intelligence—were valueless coin here.

Creativity resists structure—but structure saves your life.

Time has no meaning in a seasonless bubble. You depend on routine as much as you enjoy freedom from it off-duty. Without clocks and checklists and soft chiming reminders to make the hours tangible, your brain would follow your body into weightless anarchy.

Ottie’d squeaked onto my mission for the wrongest of reasons—Command hadn’t enough balls to post two women to this one. They’d been preening smugly in the glow of their good fortune—I’d made it to the head of the seniority list just when they needed a face-saver—and Ottie rode the exuberance of their relief right past the officer I’d wanted.

They did him no kindness. Took him a full three months to realize I was immune to all his glittering incarnations; nearly that long for the brass to recognize the sticky mess they’d poured all over themselves.

I never raised my own voice, never frowned at him, never responded to that rueful grin or apologetic chuckle. The log did all the dirty work itself.

We’d switched over to full biometrics for offworld projects.

Technology causes havoc with the old-boy system. They’d forced me to take their delinquent but forgotten the new hall monitor was impervious to allure.

Two-person mission, give us any job titles you like. Might have been a fine sense of irony, appointing Ottie Safety Compliance Officer, but they’d done it to bump up his salary. Regulations now forced them to dock it. Sullen sense of grievance all around, and Ottie starting to sweat.

Had my own failsafes; had been perfecting them for a long time. You never know who you’ll end up with, too far for any fire brigade to reach you.

Studying AI delivery modes in a sealed environment, you never know what you’ll end up with either. I’d been intrigued for awhile by the phenomenon of imprinting. What you may want to prevent you can also encourage. If you’d like to circumvent a biometric system, it’s handy to have non-biologic friends with cunning little nano-reflexes.

I spent all my time in the tech nursery—not a name a man would use—studying what grew. I dislike anthropomorphism, in general, but I was enchanted by these organic little brains. Evolution’s a marvelous thing. A higher authority will have to decide if computers mimic us or if we’re just machines that breathe, but these were like shiny little children whose progress thrills you.

Most of the mutations I deactivated, but the cleverest I kept. When I knew they’d react to brainwaves, I trained them. I began to love them too—such good children! And for all of us, biological or not, the difference between alive and not alive was electricity.

So the day Ottie finally went too far, we fried him. Indistinguishable from cerebral hemorrhage. Not a mark on him, final pathology report consistent with the initial suspected cause. Put him into cryostorage so his family could do a nice Earthly burial when we got back.

Retrained the babies so they’d forget their delinquent youth. You have to be careful with kids; they develop minds of their own. You need to make sure they have the right moral foundations. infinity

Sarah Crysl Akhtar’s shtetl forebears gifted her with the genes that impel her to make much from little. So she writes shorter stories and bakes shortbread.



How to Charm Moon Worms

By Erik Goranson

AS WE RODE ACROSS THE dusty lunar terrain, I could see Billy squinting out towards the horizon with that stupid, fanatical expression again.

“Tell me you’re not hoping to see one above ground,” I said.

He shrugged. “They’re worms. Maybe they come up for fresh air sometimes.”

Moon worms. He’d been obsessed since he allegedly saw tunnels near camp. He claimed that it was simply curiosity, something we should praise given our bleak circumstances. The others said he’d cracked. It’s not like there wasn’t good reason. We worked (and lived) in the first burger joint ever built on the moon. We were all getting edgy.

He’d been searching for nearly a week. The guys were convinced he was going to kill himself; puncture his suit, wreck the rover. We’d drawn straws to decide who would babysit. I pulled the short straw. Twice this year, I’d been screwed.

“There is no fucking air,” I said.

“They could still surface sometimes.”

“Wouldn’t someone have seen one, then?”

“You’re right.” He stopped the rover. He walked to a clearing, crouched, and began pounding his fist against the ground.

“What are you doing?”

“We just need to motivate them.”

“How? By being manly and punching the ground?”

“Charming,” he said.

“I am?”

“No, charming. If you vibrate the ground properly on Earth, worms will surface. They think it’s a predator. Maybe these ones are the same.”

“You’re kidding. Now there are—what, moon moles?”

He gave me a stern look and stood, practically clacking our helmets together.

“Why are you even here?”


“Why come if you’re so damn sure they don’t exist? How do you excuse acting so righteous when you chose to be here?”

“You’re looking for moon worms, Billy. You may as well be digging for Atlantis. Someone needs to keep an eye on you.”

“I don’t need you.”

“You need someone,” I said. ”You’re out of your mind.”

“Probably so,” he said.

That took me off guard. I hesitated.

“Look at the facts! I willingly staff a restaurant on the moon. Maybe I am crazy. Maybe we’re all crazy for that. But is it so crazy to want to seize an opportunity?”

“The chance to go insane in space?”

“The chance to do something important. There are strange tunnels out here. We’re the first people presented with anything mysterious out here. Even the astronauts didn’t have any capers to solve.”

Billy seemed crazier by the second. But his face was so damn determined it was hard to tell him.

“No cynical remarks this time?”

I moved to scratch my neck and remembered I couldn’t.

“I’m not a terribly smart guy, Jen. I’ll give you that. But what else produces tunnels other than worms? I know it seems unlikely, but I’m not going to give up on an answer just because it seems unlikely. Ten months ago, it seemed unlikely that some corporate stooges would actually build a restaurant on the moon—and look where that’s gotten us.”

He had me there.

“I know it’s probably something else—gases, cave-ins, something. But can you blame me for dreaming? We’re stuck on a giant rock. What if there’s something interesting up here?”

“This is crazy,” I said.

“Are you going to help me or not?”

He had that eager expression again, only this time there was the faintest glimmer of uncertainty.

“I’m in,” I said.

Billy nodded. He resumed drumming on the ground. Slowly, I joined him. infinity

Erik Goranson lives and writes in Greeley, CO, although a moon base would be an acceptable change. Find out more at his website,



First Thaw

By Kalifer Deil

THE WARMTH AWAKENED WD40, a model A13 android. He in-turn awakened the others in the cave. Some were still frozen and movement was difficult. WD40 announced to the gathering crowd outside the cave, “We have been asleep for 6,000 years. We only have two weeks of food left. To be realistic, I believe we are doomed.”

AU197 spoke up from the back of crowd, “Your negativity stems from your over-bloated brain. We should get the jumper craft out of the cave and look around.”

WD40 was quick to respond, “You are only an A11. You know nothing.”

“I know the A13s were a mistake made by the A12s, in turn a mistake made by the A11s. I’ll shoulder the blame. I was one of the A12 designers. I just thank my guiding star that the A11 bodies were not desired by the A13s. Anyway, all this is beside the point, we need to get the jumper out of the cave.”

WD40 feigned a hurt expression, “In the A12 consciousness RQ10 is still with me. We were not cannibals. As I was about to say myself, if we all push together we can get the jumper out of the cave.”

They all went back into the cave and after much pushing, jerking and jiggling, dislodged the jumper from the ice and started it moving out of the cave.

AU197 commented, “RQ10 was a female and you are a male, how handy. Was it worth it since you had to do extensive body modifications. Of course it was, mental sex anytime you want it!”

WD40 ignored the comment. After placing a radio beacon at the cave entrance, WD40, AU197 and four others boarded the jumper and using astronomical observations, placed two other beacons at the North and South poles. “Now we can navigate!” WD40 announced.

“To where,” AU197 puzzled, “The Earth is still covered with ice except for a few patches here and there. Wait, there’s a clearing below us; let’s check it out.”

WD40 scowled at AU197, “It’s just a patch of weeds. How is that going to help us.”

“I’ve a hunch. Just humor me.”

“Having a hunch is essentially saying I don’t know what I’m doing. This jumper has limited fuel so we have to choose sites wisely.” WD40 was adamant.

“Please set down here and if we find nothing you can leave me here.”

WD40’s eyes lit up, “You have a bargain.”

They set down in the patch and walked the area, Nothing! WD40, after an hour, finally said, “I’m leaving, you’re staying!”

AU197 looked on as the craft left the area. He then stared hard at an indentation in a nearby mountain on the edge of the clearing, then walked over to it to examine it more closely. There was a wall of rust colored dirt. He started scraping away the dirt to find metal underneath. This is what he was looking for, a piece of the forgotten past thought a model A0 fable. He scraped away more dirt until he was able to discern the sign.

Just then, the jumper returned. WD40 spotted AU197 and shouted down, “We’ve come to pick you up! The others won’t let me leave you.”

AU197 shouted back, “Good thing, I just found the Yucca Mountain Disposal Site! We’ll have enough food for the next 10,000 years!”

The jumper landed and WD40 responded, “Good guiding star! I’m going to have to listen to you for the next 10,000 years! You’re going to be the android golden boy!”

AU197 smiled, “Odd, I’ve been called that before. Did RQ10 allow you to subsume her willingly?”

“You don’t understand. There was an energy source shortage, we had no choice. Ask RQ10 if she is okay with this.”

“Okay, RQ10 would you like a separate body?”

A high-pitched voice came out of WD40’s mouth, “I love WD40 and am happy to be part of him.” The response cause the others to laugh, including AU197.

“That sounds like a falsetto WD40 to me,” AU197 snickered, “Prove to me you are RQ10.”

WD40 responded, “Oh guiding star, what misery have you led me to? Two weeks I can handle, but 10,000 years?”

An almost inaudible squeak could be heard coming from AU197’s hip as he bent over to examine the disposal site door.

WD40 perked up and volunteered, “You need to be lubricated. I can handle that.”

AU197 wheeled around alarmed, “Keep your distance!”

The others laughed with abandon. infinity

Kalifer Deil is a Silicon Valley hardware and software engineer with more than a dozen patents to his name. He is now primarily concerned with writing science fiction.



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