Letter From The Editor - Issue 55 - February 2017

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Issue 54
Stories
A Heart in the Hand
by Jeremy M. Gottwig
Yuletide Warrior
by Frances Silversmith
The Emperor's Gift
by Jonathan Edelstein
A Special Extra Christmas
by Eric James Stone
IGMS Audio
InterGalactic Medicine Show Interviews
Vintage Fiction
A Thing of Beauty
by Charles E. Gannon
Bonus Material
Caine's Mutiny
by Charles E. Gannon

Writing Fantasy

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A Special Extra Christmas
    by Eric James Stone


  Listen to the audio version


Drawn Sword of Allah exited the exploratory wormhole at 11:52 Universal Mecca Time on 9 Jumada Al-Thani 4494 AH. Intissar Majid entered this fact in her journal using longhand Arabic script. Khalid, the ship's artificial jinni, doubtless had already stored much more detailed information in his memory, but Intissar liked having a record of her own.

"I have pulsar-calculated our position," Khalid said. "The nearby star had a small Confederation-era colony, Summerfair, but there's been no recorded contact in over eight hundred years. I'm not picking up any broadcast traffic, so it could be another world that died after the wormhole network collapsed. We could claim it for the Caliphate."

"Or they have regressed," she said. In the five years of surveying she and Khalid had done since being mustered out at the end of the war, she had learned that regression was the more likely case. Without access to interstellar trade, a colony might lack the tech base to maintain its existing technology, but unless the planet was on the extremes of the habitable range, humans tended to find a way to survive. "In which case, we shall offer them the choice to accept or decline the protection of the Caliphate."

"I've found the planet," Khalid said. "Range twenty-seven million kilometers." A hologram shimmered into being: a blue and white world partially obscuring a brilliant white moon. "It seems you are right: there is a town with active illumination visible on optics." An inset picture of tiny dots of light in a somewhat grid-like pattern appeared, with lines tracing back to the source position on the night side of the planet. "I'm firing a probe to do a close-in pass for a better view. It should be in position by the time the town moves into daylight."

"Still no radio?" Intissar asked.

"No."

"Then we'll have to land to make contact," she said. "How long before we can do that?"

"Our relative velocity is too high to go directly, so we can do a flyby in a couple of days, before coming back to land. We can do it in five days--three if we max out the inertials, insha'Allah."

Intissar smiled at Khalid's desire to push himself to his limits. The decommissioned single-crewed fighter had been stripped of weapons after the last war, but still had military-grade engines. "No rush."

"Then I will set our course for the colony after dhuhr prayers. I am now pointing us toward Mecca."

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