Perihelion SF – online magazine (emag review)

‘Perihelion SF’ is free to read on-line and contains a bit of non-fiction and some short stories as follows.

Top of the click list on the left side of the page is ‘A Breath Of Aphrodite’ by Rebecca Birch. Due to staffing shortages, Botany-tech Sarah Munroe is taken out of her cosy lab and thrust into field duties terraforming the planet Aphrodite. Her impatient boss is Sergeant Schelling, whose job is to keep her alive while she does hers, which isn’t easy as their shuttle is attacked by a fierce storm and a huge sky-snake in the dramatic opening scene. When they crash on the planet, two days walk from home base, keeping her alive gets more difficult but she turns out not to be dead weight. Dramatically told with solid characters and real science, too.

Farce next in ‘An Undiplomatic Incident’ by Paul R. Hardy. Mankind has colonised the solar system and sent a ship to Alpha Centauri. There were communication issues and now the Nakai, a powerful species that supervises our bit of the galaxy, is helping a trade delegation of humans meet the Biryuki, another alien race. It seems that the only thing we have to trade is cultural artefacts as our technology and resources aren’t worth much. This was a highly entertaining romp that took an unusual and original view of aliens.

‘Deus Ex Parasitis’ by Josh Pearce concerns Creek, a vice-president of chemical-smithing for Uman Chemicals Incorporated and their most valuable genius. Portland and Phillips, two agents for another outfit, approach a low level UCI employee called Dexter to help them get at the very well guarded Creek. They have already infiltrated his brain with worms by spraying a whole city block with them. By analysing the worms after they are excreted, the villains get some idea of Creek’s thoughts! This is a future in which pills and treatments can enlarge your sexual organs, make you photosynthesise like a plant and many other marvellous things, if you have the money. Bio-engineered tics suck in blood and turn it into other chemicals they can feed back to you. A good hard core Science Fiction story but it’s not a future I fancy much.

‘Dust To Dust’ by Richard Wren starts with Inspector Naomi Tyler taking the first breath in her newly printed body, one without hair, nipples, genitals or a digestive system as she won’t be using it long enough to need a meal. She steps out of the printer into the survey pod of Officer Charles Coney, who has reported an unusual phenomenon and requires an inspection. Her pattern has been sent to his printer via expensive radio link. His survey pod is orbiting a smooth, grey world that he thinks might be the ninth Enigma. After a thousand years of searching, the Survey Guild has still found no evidence of intelligent life beyond Earth except the Enigmas, which some contest are natural phenomena because they’re all different and some believe are evidence of an ancient powerful race. This is another solid piece of Science Fiction.

‘Space Horses’ opens with Doctor Nylah Tate trying to inoculate a frisky zebra and stabbing herself with the needle instead when it kicks her. While getting over this, she learns that Doctor Elgin Fitzroy is looking for an assistant. He put Dartmoor ponies on a transgalactic freighter and took them to Terrafour where they are thriving. Nylah decides to take the job and sets off on the freighter Longemeire with four dogs and a hard-nosed crew for company. There’s a surprise at the other end of the journey. I really liked this one. Author Diane Ryan is the director of a 501c3 animal rescue in Southwest Virginia, donating all proceeds from the sale of her writing to the organisation. She has written a paranormal romance novel ‘Talking To Luke’.

‘Mercy Park’ by Patrick Wiley is set in the Netherlands in 2024, where the right to die has been granted to patients suffering intolerably from anything that can’t be treated. It has also been extended to psychiatric disorders and if a doctor decides you are suffering intolerably from a mental health problem that can’t be cured then you too can volunteer to die. The means of disposal is a roller coaster ride called Mercy’s Chariot which is located in Mercy Park. Well told and I didn’t expect the ending.

Andrew Muff wrote ‘Patient, Creature’ which might be titled ‘An Alien In ER’. Short, sweet and medically accurate as far as it can be, as the author is a doctor. Aliens are even more of a nuisance than some human patients, it seems, but they’re also pretty tough.

‘Planiform’ by Timothy J. Gawne features a purple caped muscular male called Hyper-Being who rescues kids from a terrible fire and then gets interviewed by the TV news anchor. It turns out his cape is pretty interesting, too. Such good fun that I bought Gawne’s book, ‘The Chronicles Of Old Guy’ on kindle for 99p to read at a later date. It’s about a tank with personality.

The shorter shorts offer a chip that streams advertising continuously into your mind (coming soon, I expect), an artificial woman with a real baby and the contentious matter of admitting the Uglions to Galactic civilisation. In the non-fiction, Carol Keane and some guest writers wonder how the world will end and Eric M. Jones gives us ‘A Reason For Returning To The Moon.’ In his editorial, Sam Bellotto Jr. mourns the decay of his flesh and pines to be a cyborg. I know how he feels.

When I consider the quality of ‘Perihelion SF’, I’m astonished that it’s all free, though donations are gratefully received. If you’re a reader I recommend it for stories that echoes but do not copy the Golden Age of Science Fiction. If you’re a writer Sam Bellotto, Jr. pays one cent a word, not professional rates but fairly satisfying compensation for your efforts. ‘Perihelion SF’ is a great little mag that still evokes the sense of wonder and optimism and good clean fun we used to be about. It comes out on the 12th of each month so January 2017 will soon be available. Links to previous issues stay up for a while so you can still read this one despite the tardiness of my review.

Eamonn Murphy

January 2017

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One thought on “Perihelion SF – online magazine (emag review)

  • “When I consider the quality of ‘Perihelion SF’, I’m astonished that it’s all free, though donations are gratefully received”–me too, and what a great review, Mr. Murphy!


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