12

The closer they get to a boundary which returns their own fire, the shorter their names get. The soldier in question goes by H, Had, Hadolaris, and Hadolaristan (this last when he's on leave). As he returns to the front, he faces a wall of firepower which crescendoes into light and heat and energy.

1
  • Not counting Pogo Possum? Commented Jun 26 at 15:59

1 Answer 1

19

This is "Traveller's Rest" (1965) by David I. Masson.

H is a soldier fighting an unknown and unseen enemy. Nobody on his side has ever seen the enemy, but as much as they fire weapons at the enemy, the enemy fires back just as hard.

At the front H can only see an east-west band about 100m wide in the north-south direction. Further north than that and the light (coming from a source in slower time) is redshifted into the infra-red. (They do have infra-red cameras that can see slightly further north.) To the south, light coming from a faster time is blue-shifted into the ultraviolet.

H is Relieved, and takes a maglev back from the front, a few minutes later and a few miles south, Had gets off. The time variation, he notes, is 1 minute here to 5 seconds at the front. He is Hadol at the next stop, and Hadolar at the following one where he is mustered out. Hadolaris spends a night at a guesthouse before moving on again. Hadolarisóndamo settles down in Oluluetang where he approximates 19 days to less than 2 seconds at the front.

It was first published in New Worlds SF, September 1965 and subsequently anthologized in 2 "year's best" collections and many others since. You can read it online at Lightspeed Magazine.

2
  • 4
    Note: cribbed from my own answer here; this question would be the ultimate dupe target.
    – DavidW
    Commented Jun 25 at 16:41
  • Right on! This was the info I was looking for. Much appreciated. :-) Commented Jun 28 at 3:48

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.