Song of the Sargasso up at Galaxy’s Edge

Song of the Sargasso is the first story in a new shared-world series from Galaxy’s Edge.

Hundreds of years in the future, we discover that the solar system is encased in a strange region of impassable space, known as the Sargasso Grid.  Those who enter never come back–it’s the Bermuda Triangle of space travel. In Song of the Sargasso, freelance miners attempt to scout out a dwarf planet orbiting just over the Sargasso boundary, but something unexpected threatens to end their operation.  The pilot, Victor Carvalho, grapples  with personal-demons made reality while trying to keep his crew from falling apart. Here’s an excerpt:

Aye, aye, m’lady,

There’s a dragon down below.

Aye, aye, m’lady,

Yet exploring we shall go.  

Don’t give your heart to the red-dusted man,

Don’t give your heart to the Sea.

Please stay steady-on by the dock,

And save your heart for me  

—Chorus. Last transmission from the Illico One.  

***

Victor Carvalho couldn’t hear Kira’s scream, but he sure as hell could see it.

It was plastered on her face, frozen there beneath her space helmet. The image would be forever seared into his memory.

He crouched down on the barren deck of the Illico and reached a shaking hand toward her supine form. She didn’t move—how could she, with her body twisted like that? We shouldn’t have come here. We shouldn’t have reached into God’s domain.

***

Nineteen Hours Before

“All right everyone, we’re about to cross into Sargasso space. If you feel the need to vomit, or strap yourself in tight, maybe say a few prayers, no one will hold it against you.” Victor made a slight course adjustment, then buckled himself into the nav chair.

His cat, a short-haired calico with ‘Starbuck’s limp,’ curled herself up on his lap. “Ready, Dinah?” he asked, running his fingers through her soft fur. “Hold onto your hairballs.”

Though he joked, he didn’t think anything was funny about the extra-solar Sargasso Sea—or the Sargasso Grid, as it was called by those who’d never dare travel out beyond the planets. He watched the computer count down as it estimated their position, and his heart beat faster with every light-second gained. Just remember the money, you can’t beat the money, he told himself.

A lot of hazard pay came with venturing into the Sea, and Victor ticked off all the things he could buy when he got back to Mars. An entire biodome all for himself. A sports-class racing ship. A million swimming pools’ worth of cat food.

… Diapers. Lots of diapers.

There were as many stories about the Sea as there once had been about the edge of the world. Here there be drag-ions, went the old astronaut’s joke. Mythical beasts, mythical particles, it didn’t matter—the region, forming a globe around the solar system starting at 1,260 AUs from the sun, was a very real borderland. Did something swallow the ships out this far, or shut them down? Did they fall into micro black holes, or drop out of existence altogether? No one really knew what happened out in the Sargasso. But one thing was for sure: no one who’d gone more than three light-hours in had ever come back.

You can find the rest here (free to read for the months of November and December): http://www.galaxysedge.com/n9.htm Other writers in the series include Hugo and Nebula nominee, Brad R. Torgersen, my fellow WotF vol. 29 alumni, Andrea G. Stewart and Tina Gower, and authors Lou J. Berger and Alex Shvartsman. Happy reading! ~Marina

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