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4th Time's the Charm by Jennie Might

By Jennie Might

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Sample text

So though the Solar system and its bodies had been claimed for Allah by the faithful during the first few centuries of Nadha, the stars essentially remained beyond our grasp. Travel time to the stars must be measured in generations or, if speeded up, payload had to be reduced to very small automated probes. Still, our forefathers were persistent. A handful of tiny colonies planted with great difficulty on the very nearest of the habitable star systems painfully took root in isolation. And there matters stood for the next few centuries.

There were no laser cannon, of course, at the destination star, Epsilon Indi. ' At an appropriate braking distance from the target star, a much larger light sail was to be deployed and sep-arated from the ship. The original sail was to be reversed—a tricky proposition requiring jets of gas to keep it from folding up. It would then receive reflected laser light beamed from Phae-ton eleven point six light-years earlier, in time for the maneuver. The light would be upshifted to make up the deficit caused by Dopplering toward the less energetic red part of the spectrum because of the ship's high terminal velocity.

But time will fly for you. The time dilation effect won't be very noticeable for most of that initial year of boost, but by the time you get up to within about one millionth of one percent of the speed of light, it'll reach a factor of approximately seven hundred. So you'll do the entire middle part of the journey—covering some three and a quarter light-years of distance—in what will seem to you to be about a day and a half. Turnover will take place halfway through that day and a half, and I guarantee that the captain and crew will be very busy.

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