About Valentine's Day on Iago Prime:
This is a science fictional Valentine's Day story of 2200 words or approx. 10 print pages.
Of course, on Iago Prime a year was only two hundred and sixty two days long. But for religious and traditional holidays, the colonists still adhered to the old Earth calendar, even if it meant that Valentine’s Day fell into the middle of summer — or at least what passed for summer here on Iago Prime.
Back on Earth, Maisie and Kai Jones — together for more than six years now and married for one and a half, mostly to fulfill the outdated requirements of the colony settlement board — had always celebrated Valentine’s Day by having a picnic on the beach.
Of course, February wasn’t the ideal time for a romantic picnic on the beach at all, not when the beach was in Wales rather than California. But it was the tradition that Maisie and Kai had established for themselves and they were determined to stick to it, even if it meant shivering together on a blanket in Aberystwyth, eating sandwiches and drinking champagne from plastic cups and hot tea from a thermos.
Kai and Maisie had met, when they were both students at the University of Cardiff, she of communication science and he in the engineering department. They shared a beer at the student union and bonded over their shared dream to go out into space one day, to become pioneers, the first humans to set foot onto a brand new world.
However, in those days, space had seemed very far away indeed, even if the university campus was plastered with recruitment posters for the colony settlement board, all of them showing intrepid pioneers posing in front of awe-inspiring alien landscapes, calling out to all those students who felt that Wales was so suffocating that they’d even board an interstellar spacecraft to escape.
And so for their first date — during the height of summer in the Northern hemisphere — Kai and Maisie drove to the seaside town of Aberystwyth instead. They took the vintage funicular railway up Constitution Hill, enjoyed the view and visited the equally vintage camera obscura, stunned that both the railway and the camera obscura were both lovingly maintained and still functional after almost three hundred years. They duly admired the vintage machinery and marvelled at the artistry of people who hadn’t even developed moving pictures yet, let alone lasers and holograms and flight and space travel. Afterwards, they had a picnic on the beach — with sandwiches and salad and a cheap bottle of wine. And finally, they’d enjoyed a night of hot and sweaty sex in one of the historical bed and breakfasts along the promenade.
It had been a truly magical day, so magical that Kai had decided to recreate it for their first Valentines Day together. Of course, neither the funicular railway nor the camera obscura were open in February — three hundred year old antiques apparently did not like winter, even if they were meticulously restored. So Kai and Maisie had simply settled for a picnic on the beach and a night spent at a bed and breakfast. And thus a tradition was born.
When Kai and Maisie got married shortly before disembarking for Iago Prime, they celebrated on Constitution Hill and had a big combined wedding and good-bye party for all their friends and family. They also had their photo taken in front of the funicular railway, Kai in a stiff black suit and Maisie in the traditional white gown with the traditional veil fluttering in the wind. The photo now sat in a silver frame on the nightstand of the rather utilitarian quarters they shared, a cheerful reminder of the world and the life they had left behind.
Iago Prime was one of the few places in the known universe that managed to be even more unpleasant than Aberystwyth in February. It was rocky all over without a single trace of vegetation. The oceans here were blubbering hellholes of liquid ammonia. The atmosphere was poisonous and even at the height of summer, the temperatures rarely cleared minus forty degrees Celsius, which made it officially colder than Wales in midwinter. In short, Iago Prime was not just the sort of world where only the really enthusiastic and/or desperate pioneers would go, it was also about the only spot in the known universe that was less suited to a Valentine’s Day picnic than Aberystwyth.