Perihelion Science Fiction

Sam Bellotto Jr.

Eric M. Jones
Contributing Editor


Mortality, Eternity
by Joseph Green

Absolute Pony
by Alisa Alering

Quisic Smith and the Russian Puzzle Doll
by Sean Monaghan

Clever Bubble
by Antha Ann Adkins

by Matthew Wuertz

To Walk the Earth
by Rebecca Birch

Five Stages of Future Grief
by Gary Cuba

Lost Planes, Lost River
by Michael Hodges

Funny Money
by Chet Gottfried

Insanity Machine
by Lawrence Buentello

Ten Minutes
by Eamonn Murphy


A Quantum Mind
by Eric M. Jones

What is Science?
by John McCormick




Shorter Stories

Comic Strips





In January, One Reflects

LIFE IS GOOD. I’M RETIRED. I HAVE a few investments socked away. My house is paid for. My car is paid for. I have way less than $1,000 cluttering up my credit card. I’m in excellent health except for a spot of arthritis here and there. You can’t beat the weather in upstate New York (except maybe in late July when it emulates the Amazon rain forests). I’m one of the few people who really enjoys winter, which we get a lot of, usually, around here. So I can kick back and spend all my time working on “Perihelion,” which I’d rather do more than anything else. I don’t have to worry about putting bread on the table, or Pedigree in the dog’s dish. The legacy wisdom of Franklin Delano Roosevelt and the Social Security Act of 1935 have taken care of that.

I’m finally where I have wanted to be my entire life. Which, as I recall, began a very long time ago. I was in grade school, facing a book report assignment. Do kids get book report assignments anymore? Do kids still read? After scouring the stacks at the local library for something of moderate interest, I spotted this intriguing cover of a large metal sphere coming apart in orbit over a planet. “Lost: A Moon” by Paul Capon promised an adventure story on Phobos, a robot satellite orbiting Mars.

That was my first taste of the science fiction genre. Like chocolate, one taste is never enough. I could be found scouring the stacks for more titles declaring wondrous tales of the future, jonsing on outer space adventures, robots, first contacts with aliens from other worlds. I was a pitiable sight. My teachers tried an intervention with Mark Twain, O. Henry, Louisa May Alcott (Louisa May Alcott? Really?), but it was all to no avail. I snorted Arthur C. Clarke, shot H.G. Wells directly into my veins. Got high on Heinlein.

Great moments in history are usually convergent instead of big bumps along an attenuated timeline. It was not only the awe-inspiring plots spun in science fiction that hooked me, but the science itself. In the late 1950s there was evidently the germ of a scientist buried within my psyche, and a grasp of critical thinking well beyond my years. To this day, I credit my parents for my development as a proud, card-carrying atheist. Thanks, Mom and Dad! It was unthinkable for Italian families not to have their offspring well indoctrinated into the Catholic faith. So they dutifully sent me, with my analytical mind and solid grounding in the physical sciences, off to face the League of Bearded Nuns and their magical thinking. I had already stopped believing in Santa Claus around six-years-old. I had always seen right through the Tooth Fairy. The impact—but I digress ...

When I couldn’t get enough fiction, I read the latest in popular science. Turns out that Arthur C. Clarke wrote that, too. As did Isaac Asimov. George Gamow was a personal favorite.

Here’s where we get another twist. Remember that ten-episode documentary television series for the BBC created, written and presented by science historian James Burke, “Connections?” It had nothing to do with my evolving into the editor of “Perihelion,” per se, but the core concept of the show reminds me much of my life.

When I was in grade school, there were no such things as computers. My aunt had a typewriter—a ponderous machine that would kill you instantly if it accidentally dropped on your head. Whenever we visited my aunteditorial, I would be drawn to the magical instrument like a sailor to a siren. Others wanted to go out and play with my aunt’s dog, or catch up on the latest gossip with friends and family we hadn’t seen in months (my aunt lived a good day’s drive distant). I wanted to lovingly roll a page of crisp white paper into the gleaming black monster, hit the keys, and watch my words be committed to real ink and font. Handwriting was ephemeral. This was for the ages.

Back then it didn’t matter much what I wrote. I could write anything. With the help of the typewriter, whatever I wrote I was an expert on, and my prose was on a par with Hemingway, or Steinbeck, or Melville, despite the fact that I had no idea who these people were. At the same time I would often create my little comic books which you could consider nascent magazines. I’d take a few pages of typewriter paper (today known as copy paper) fold them once over width-wise and have a 12 or 16 page folio. Into which I would draw science fiction comics, sometimes print stories.

High school dawned. I continued to go to church on Sundays, although my heart was never in it. The rituals were to be endured. Not until college was I finally able to make the break and put aside the mythology disguised as reality. Coincidentally, I embraced the reality disguised as mythology—science fiction—in a big way. All the diverse threads of my existence came together.

In high school I had a typewriter of my own. Older, I began to explore the form known as the short story. Back then there were lots of magazines that published short stories. They even paid for them. Reading was quite popular. It was not unusual to visit a park or a beach and notice lots of people sitting around with their noses in books or magazines instead of cheeseburgers. My favorites were the science fiction pulps—“Analog,” “Galaxy,” “The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction.” So I began to write science fiction stories. It wasn’t very long before I actually completed a story, and mailed it off to one of the magazines, self-addressed stamped envelope included, and got back my very first rejection slip! I was in the big time now. No doubt about it.

It would be years before I published anything for real. In the meantime I accumulated an impressive collection of rejections. I could sort them by sizes, colors, magazine logo. The cream of my collection were the handful of rejections personally annotated by the Editor. This meant that my work had gotten past the “slush pile” and was good enough to warrant a decision from the Editor. My high school friends may have prided themselves in completing an assigned essay from the teacher, but I could show them a fistful of proof that my work had been seen and deemed unworthy by the literati of the outside world. So there!

My idols were not, as you might have expected, Ray Bradbury or Lester Del Rey or Poul Anderson, but John W. Campbell and Ed Ferman and Judith Merril. (I know Ed Ferman; met with him several times back in the late ’60s; very nice guy.) Being the top banana on a magazine is infinitely better than writing for one. That’s my opinion; I’ve done both. Having the general public recognize your name, say, at a science fiction convention, and express how much they enjoy your work is satisfying. Having those same writers whose work is enjoyed by the general public recognize your magazine and express how happy they are to be published within its pages is even more satisfying.

So for my current cushy life, I’d like to thank the following: Paul Capon, my mother and father, the Bearded Nuns, George Gamow, Ed Ferman, my aunt, FDR, and the 80 pound descendant of the wolf who is right now snapping gently at my heels to tear me away from my 25-inch LED computer screen to urge me to go out and get some exercise so I don’t keel over while working on this issue of “Perihelion” that you are, hopefully, enjoyng immeasurably.

Sam Bellotto Jr.








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