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“So you don’t trust sky maps for navigation, not by themselves,” the captain continued. “Shore maps can be good for a generation, and sea charts are good enough if you get them updated every year, but stars can change between one night and the next. And there’s no pattern to it; they can change by a lot, or by a little, which is worse. Memorize them, use them, but don’t rely on them unless you’ve got no choice.”

Questions, Inlesh thought, ask questions. He shuffled hurriedly through the bits of folk wisdom and tall tale and family history that had been most of his education. There hadn’t been much about stars, but after a moment he dredged up something his aunt Alchayr had said once. “Is it true that the sun is a kind of star?”

The captain gave him a disgusted look. “Of course not,” she said. “Don’t be stupid.”

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