A. Bertram Chandler is the dean of Australia's science fiction writers and
returns to this magazine after far too long an absense with a puz-zle: How could a
planetary colony based on religious ideals have re-gressed to primitive squalor?
THE LONG FALL
A. BERTRAM CHANDLER
Illustrated by STEVE FABIAN
“YOU ARE getting the feel of the ship, Captain?" asked the Baroness.
Grimes, with a mouthful of tea, could not reply at once. He hastily swallowed the almost scalding fluid
and was embarrassed by the distinctly audible gurgle. He put the fragile cup down in its saucer with too
much of a clatter.
"Perhaps," he admitted cautiously, "the ship is getting the feel of me . . . He realised that she was
regarding him even more coldly than usual and hastily added, "Your Excellency."
"But surely, to a spaceman of your experience, a ship is only a ship," she said.
You know bloody well that this one isn't, he thought mutinously.
To begin with, a normal ship is not built of gold—even though that pre-cious metal, its molecular
structure rearranged by the Electran metallur-gists, is superior to any of the alloys usually utilised by naval
architects. And a normal ship is not automated to the extent that The Far Traveller was. A normal ship
does not possess a mind of her own—although many generations of spacemen, and of air-men and
seamen before them, have half believed that such is the case. A normal ship, come to that, does not have
a Master who is on the run from the long, punitive arm of the In-terstellar Federation's Survey Service as
ex-Commander Grimes, lately cap-tain of IFSS Discovery, most certainly was.
A normal ship does not boast an Owner's Suite decorated and fur-nished in a style appropriate to the
salon of a well-heeled titled lady in Eighteenth Century France ...
Michelle, Baroness d'Estang, was more than merely well-heeled. She was filthy rich; as a member of
the fi-nancial elite who had made their home on El, Dorado she could not possibly have been anything
else. Her spaceyacht, The Far Traveller