Perihelion Science Fiction

Sam Bellotto Jr.

Eric M. Jones
Associate Editor


How to Build the Perfect Woman
by Timothy Mudie

Sound of Chartreuse
by Nancy S.M. Waldman

Finding New Roads
by Allen Demir

Smart Home Blues
by Mark Ayling

Drone Dreams
by Hayden Trenholm

Game Changer
by Iain Ishbel

Safe Bet to Appelane
by Derrick Boden

Aquilonia, My Zelky
by Barton Paul Levenson

Shorter Stories

Princess Zenla and the Encyclopedia on Mars
by George S. Walker

See No Evil
by K.S. O’Neill

QSFT7mk2.7853 Has a Name
by Kurt Hunt


God From the Machine
by KJ Hannah Greenberg

And Bugs on the Menu
by Carol Kean



Comic Strips




Princess Zenla and the

Encyclopedia on Mars

By George S. Walker

THROUGH THE THIN MARTIAN atmosphere, Princess Zenla heard the roar of the rocket descending. She leapt onto the balcony, her four hands gripping the railing as the long-finned cylinder lowered itself onto the palace grounds. Flames and smoke billowed beneath it, creating a sandstorm.

“Visitors from the third planet!” Her breath misted in the frigid air.

She dressed in her Red Robe of Command, assembled her guards, and went out to meet the spaceship. Her Woola followed on its six stubby legs.

After what seemed like an eternity, a hatch opened near the top and a ladder unfolded. A spacesuited figure emerged, climbing down clumsily. Two more followed. They promptly hammered a pole into the red sand, a cloth of red and white stripes and a blue rectangle dangling limply from it.

After saluting the cloth, the men turned toward the Princess and her guards. Amplified sounds squeaked from the leader’s helmet in the thin air. He gestured toward the Princess and the spires of the palace, then back at the cloth on the stick.

Princess Zenla, who’d learned English from broadcasts of “I Love Lucy” and “Gunsmoke,” couldn’t understand a word through the leader’s helmet.

Then the visitors began shoveling lichens and sand into a bin they’d hauled down the ladder.

“My garden,” muttered the Princess.

When her Woola approached the visitors, wagging both tails, they attempted to stuff it in the collection bin as well. With a shriek, she ordered her guards forward.

As they advanced on the visitors, the leader of the Earthlings dropped his shovel, pulled a revolver from his utility belt, and fired at her guards, killing four of them.

The guards rushed the visitors, prodding them with their spears. Their spacesuits promptly deflated. They collapsed, gasping within their bubble helmets.

The guards carried them to an unlit oxygen furnace. With the oxygen on full, the visitors gradually recovered and sat up.

After studying them warily through the small window, the Princess picked up the speaking tube and, in her best “I Love Lucy” English, demanded, “Why you digging up my garden?”

The leader fixed his gaze on her. “Name: Carter. Rank: captain. Serial number: US 53 310 761.” He glared his subordinates into submission.

His reply made no sense. Carefully mimicking Lucy's intonation, she repeated her question.

He gave the same bizarre answer. She resolved to consult the Imperial Lucy Scholars and try again the next day.

But in the morning, the Earthlings were dead.

Apparently, in spite of the word clearly stenciled on their air tanks, they didn’t thrive in pure oxygen.

With the Earthlings dead, the Princess and her advisors climbed the ladder and explored the cramped spaceship. Along with hammocks, food tubes and meteoroid repair kits, there was a tiny library booth. Behind free-fall restraint grills lay stacks of magazines with names like “Amazing” and “Astounding.” And a complete Encyclopedia Britannica.

The Princess’ scientists used information in volume A to upgrade the palace’s antenna. Television broadcasts from Earth still had snow, but the Princess no longer had to guess who was speaking. The scientists also rebuilt the palace telescope (volume T) so the Princess could study the third planet.

She considered ordering them to refuel the spaceship for a trip there, but that seemed like a lot of trouble. Besides, the Earthlings would surely visit again.

Each morning the Princess stepped out onto her balcony, regarded the tiny sun on the horizon, breathed deeply of the thin cold air, and stretched her arms and arms. Her Woola sat at her feet, wagging both tails. Life was good.

Then the invasion fleet arrived.

Descending on tails of flame, the rockets landed in rows on the broad passage leading to the palace. The Princess watched from her balcony. Her Woola at her feet gave a suspicious “whuf.”

Ramps slid from the spaceships. Men in spacesuits strained to unload battle tanks and howitzers onto the white surface.

Then with a loud crack, the first spaceship broke through the ice, sinking into the canal. Like dominoes, the others followed, along with all the military equipment. Spacesuited soldiers bobbed in the canal, struggling toward shore amongst the ice floes.

The Princess’ guards helped them out and marched them to the imperial oxygen furnaces. But they’d learned about Earth’s atmosphere (volume A). So the furnaces were pressurized to 14.7 psi with a nitrogen-oxygen mix.

“We can’t let them starve,” said the Princess.

So cranes (volume C) were erected to raise the spaceships from the canal. Guards recovered their food tubes and canisters of Tang and delivered them to the prisoners.

Dealing with Earth was another matter.

The President of the United States preempted “I Love Lucy” to deliver an address to his nation.

“Whatever the cost may be, we shall fight in the air, we shall fight in orbit, we shall fight on the sands of Mars, until every last tentacled Martian lies eviscerated and buried!”

“But we don’t have tentacles,” said the Princess’ advisors.

“Hmm. There are a lot of things they don’t know,” she said.

She began preparations immediately. All the spaceships and tanks and howitzers were recovered and painted Martian red and arrayed in front of the palace. A huge broadcast antenna was constructed. Then, when Mars and Earth were in alignment, the Princess strode before the Martian television cameras, Woola at her heels.

She pulled a pearl-handled revolver from her right holster, then one from her left holster. Then she pulled another from her right and another from her left. She raised all four revolvers in the air and, like the desperadoes on “Gunsmoke,” fired them all at once.

“We're a peaceable folk,” she announced in her best Gunsmoke English, “but you done pushed us too far.” Then she stepped aside for her scientists.

They set up their easels and began drawing diagrams with red chalk. They drew rocket ships (volume R) in flight toward Earth’s moon (volume M). They showed rockets dropping atomic bombs (volume A) on the moon, causing a slight change in its orbit (volume O). Calculating with their slide rules (volume S), they showed the resulting tides and tsunamis (volume T) and volcanoes (volume V). The final results were clouds of ash leading to a new ice age (volume I).

When the scientists finished, the Princess stepped back before the camera.

“Now, I don't rightly got to send my posse. That is, not if you reckon the universe is big enough for the both of us.” Then she reloaded her pistols on-camera, two at a time.

In the weeks that followed, there was no more saber rattling from Earth. The Princess sent the prisoners home in their spaceships. Each morning she stepped out on her balcony, her Woola at her feet, and watched the small sun rise.

Shortly thereafter, she received a radio-telegram from an Earthling named Walt Disney. He wanted to film an episode of “The Wonderful World of Disney” on Mars. In color.

The Princess pulled out volume D, opened it with her hands and hands, and began reading. END

George S. Walker is an engineer from Portland, OR. He has sold stories to “Electric Spec,” “Abyss & Apex,” “Stupefying Stories,” “Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine,” “Every Day Fiction,” “Ideomancer,” and several anthologies.


gawne 3/16


robin dunn comp