Welcome to another crazy rollercoaster ride putting out a magazine, a publishing house, and a major fan convention in the Age of the Pandemic. But think about what it must have been like in the 1630s and before, when pandemics swept Europe and the Middle East with ferocious regularity—usually plague, and smallpox, and other diseases we have almost entirely conquered in our day. Think about what it was like for a great leader, a wealthy merchant, or a commoner, all to die with no way to save them. One of the most remarkable things the up-timers brought with them is the knowledge of how to defeat pandemics and the tools with which to do it.

In this issue, I’m going to reverse things. Usually I start from the first story and go to the end, but this time I’m going to start with the Universe Annex, where we have an imaginative story from Edward M. Lerner called “On the Shoals of Space-Time” in which a craft full of aliens must initiate first contact with a planet full of humans to get help to go home.

In Notes from the Buffer Zone, Kris Rusch talks about life in the time of pandemics, and the dangers of going down in an elevator with people not wearing masks.

Iver P. Cooper continues his non-fiction article, “Life at Sea.” This one is “Part Five.”

Mike Nagle gives us the first part of his well-thought-out article, “Flags of the World: the USE.” If you ever wondered what the USE flag looked like, Mike shows you, along with lots of others from the New Time Line.

Reaching the fiction, Mark Huston and David Carrico give us the second part of “The Aethers of Magdeburg.” Boy meets girl. Boy meets bad guy. Girl meets bad guy . . . oh well, you’ll see. And Michael Lockwood gives us Part Six of “A Puritan Voice.”

Sarah Hays has written a poignant story called “Before the Barbed Wire’s Strung,” about a young woman trying to live her life and be herself in Grantville.

“Proposal and Counterproposal” by Jack Carroll is about radio in Venice and shows that down-timers aren’t any less smart than up-timers.

Natalie Silk gives us another chapter in her story about a Jewish family whose father is sort of a ne’er-do-well, but whose wife is sharp as a knife. She presents “The Rooster and the Spoon.”

And at the top of the issue, Virginia DeMarce thinks “There Oughta Be a Law!”

There you have it. And we want to invite you to the Ring of Fire Con. RoFCon is celebrating the 20th Anniversary of the 1632Universe. We will be virtual from September 11th to the 13th with panels, guests, and even autographs!! Keep checking www.ringoffirepress.com.

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