Once again there is human overreach. Earth’s galactic empire extends its reach deep into the galaxy and out to the Periphery, where a truce with the border rival KwanDellan BrotherWorlds has been in effect for a hundred years.
A Peripheral Affair (1973) centers around a Terran scout ship on a routine patrol through the Periphery and then suddenly disappears. A battle-hungry admiral prepares to renew the border war while the younger commander is eager to succeed. After a while we see the scripts flip and author George R.R. Martin gives readers the quandary of who is right in this battle for might?
Want another GRRM something to read? Try one of these other stories I have transcribed.
- The Stone City– a have-not surviving while stranded on a corporate planet. Practically a GRRM autobiography in itself.
- Slide Show– a story of putting the stars before the children.
- Only Kids are Afraid of the Dark– rubies, fire, blood sacrifice, and Saagael- oh my!
- A Night at the Tarn House– a magical game of life and death played at an inn at a crossroads.
- Men of Greywater Station– Is it the trees, the fungus, or is the real danger humans?
- The Computer Cried Charge!– what are we fighting for and is it worth it?
- The Needle Men– the fiery hand wields itself again, only, why are we looking for men?
- Black and White and Red All Over– a partial take on a partial story.
- Fire & Blood excerpt; Alysanne in the north– not a full story, but transcribed and noted section of the book FIre & Blood, volume 1.
Now, let’s get to it…
A Peripheral Affair by George R.R. Martin
The web had been spun in the uneasy armed peace that came in the wake of that war. Amid a chaotic jumble of Alliance worlds and independent colonies and the home planets of a dozen alien species, the starspiders wove a complex network to catch KwanDellan flies.
The web spinners were the scouts, the swift, lightly armed three-man scouts. They were the smallest starships of all. But they were not small. Each was a quarter-mile long, its decks crammed with sophisticated sensing equipment. In the early days, more than 200 of them prowled the Periphery.
The spiders were the heavier ships, the cruisers and the battlewagons and the dreadnoughts. They were far fewer in number, but they carried the sting. Should a KwanDellan warship venture into the starweb, it would be they who caught and slew it.
But, for fifty years, there had been no warships to slay.
The hostile peace had lasted only a decade. There are many directions in space, and the region called the Periphery was just one frontier. Both Alliance and BrotherWorlds found easier expansion elsewhere.
Trade began as hostility waned. Human and KwanDellan discovered that they had a lot in common and that each had things the other wanted. A profitable business relationship ripened into friendship.
And meanwhile, in other sectors, new wars diverted Earth’s attention.
The KwanDellans abandoned their own patrol web as soon as it was no longer needed. But human institutions are not so easily dismantled. The Periphery Defense Force remained. But it decayed.
Some ships were transferred away to fight in newer wars. Others were decommissioned and never replaced. Only a trickle of new ships were sent out to the Periphery to aid the aging starspiders.
The Periphery became a backwater. It remained a turbulent border region where a dozen species met and mingled and fleets of merchantmen plied their trade. But no longer was it the front lines. The explorers and the adventurers had moved on to greener planets and blacker skies.
And then one day a light flashed red at Alliance Sector Headquarters on New Victory. Somewhere out between the stars one of the strands in the web had broken.
Or so it seemed.
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Thank you for reading the jambles and jumbles of the Fattest Leech of Ice and Fire, by Gumbo!