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This puzzle is a cryptic family reunion, but we've invited some close friends that are not actually family. The answer to this puzzle is a theme and a list of fourteen words or proper names or phrases; ten of them are related to the theme, the other four are close, but not actually on theme. Each of these is clued cryptically. Since the definition part of a cryptic clue would give away the theme, these cryptic clues use a family member (e.g., mom, sister), or non-family member (e.g. friend) as appropriate, to stand in for the definition part of the clue. So for example, if the theme of the puzzle were chemical elements, "Sister picking at nit" would clue "tin". Clues are sorted with answers in alphabetical order, and lengths of each answer are given with the clues. I hope you enjoy!

  1. Son's a pain in the butt, mixed up directions (8)
  2. Uncle and Turing embraced during opening, cheekily bare (9)
  3. Daughter's old computer programming language (5)
  4. Grandpa's fall: lacking rails and no top step (6)
  5. "Germany and America into Beetle production," cited Dad (10)
  6. Friend to preserve masterpiece (7)
  7. Westside Nebraska is home to Mom (5)
  8. Twist-off top removed, beer with supremely high alcohol content overwhelms uncle and nephew (9)
  9. Acquaintance of leftist leaders in capital (7)
  10. Buddy is in top half of earnings leaders for yielding one ninety (7)
  11. Set up train for grandson (5)
  12. Neighbor is Harry's black godfather (6)
  13. Grandma rotated gelatin mold to get top on the bottom (5)
  14. Aunt Virginia possessed endless self-regard (4)
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The theme is:

stars

More specifically, the theme is stars whose Western names derive from Arabic. Those that do not fit are Canopus, Procyon, Sirius (all Greek), and Polaris (Latin). Spica also has a Latin derivation, but the name meaning comes from Arabic.

Explanation:

1. ache + rear, with e->n substitution -- Achernar (clueing found by @Forgotten_User)
2. alan (turing) containing d(-uring) + bare* -- Aldebaran
3. double def'n -- Algol
4. (-f)al(-l) + (-s)tair -- Altair
5. beetle* containing GE + US -- Betelgeuse
6. can + opus -- Canopus
7. hidden: westsiDE NEBraska -- Deneb
8. off* -f + malt containing h(-igh) a(-lcohol) and u(ncle) -- Fomalhaut
9. Paris containing o_ l_ -- Polaris
10. proc(-eeds) + y_ o_ n_ -- Procyon
11. rig + el -- Rigel
12. double def'n - Sirius Black (Harry Potter godfather) -- Sirius
13. aspic, with first letter moved to last -- Spica
14. VA containing eg(-o) -- Vega

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  • $\begingroup$ Note: I had already solved eight clues before the first answer was posted, and posted my answer without looking at any of the other post's answers (other than to note that it was an incomplete answer). $\endgroup$ – Lanny Strack Jun 5 at 15:40
  • $\begingroup$ Almost all correct, except number 11. But please check the instructions for the variation here. Your category is too broad. $\endgroup$ – Jeremy Dover Jun 5 at 15:41
  • $\begingroup$ I got number 11, but am still not sure on the precise theme. $\endgroup$ – Lanny Strack Jun 5 at 16:16
  • $\begingroup$ I think you might want to look into this, with a link to the rot13(perrcl GJVAF va Gur Fuvavat) $\endgroup$ – Stiv Jun 5 at 16:43
  • $\begingroup$ @LannyStrack: I had the relation as the second one you mentioned, using rot13(uggcf://ra.jvxvcrqvn.bet/jvxv/Yvfg_bs_Nenovp_fgne_anzrf) as a reference. Do you have a contraindicator? I admit I worried about this when devising the puzzle. $\endgroup$ – Jeremy Dover Jun 5 at 17:30
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Partial Answer

These are all..

stars

However, I don't know what differentiates friends/etc and family.

Here are the clues I have solved so far:

Son's a pain in the butt, mixed up directions (8)

ACHER(E-N)AR (Achernar)

Uncle and Turing embraced during opening, cheekily bare (9)

D_+BARE in ALAN (Aldebaran)

Daughter's old computer programming language (5)

ddef for Algol

"Germany and America into Beetle production," cited Dad (10)

GE+US in BEETLE* (Betelgeuse)

Westside Nebraska is home to Mom (5)

westsiDENEBraska (thanks msh210 for reasoning)

Neighbor is Harry's black godfather (6)

ddef - Harry Potter's godfather is Sirius Black (Sirius)

Aunt Virginia possessed endless self-regard (4)

VA around EG_ (Vega)

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  • $\begingroup$ ah - makes sense, thanks! $\endgroup$ – Forgotten_User Jun 5 at 15:11

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