Monday, November 23, 2020

Some Hopeful Signs

 No, not that Trump will prevail (I still hope, but am preparing like it's not gonna happen).

But, that The People are taking back control of their lives as a Free People.

What I wrote about seems to be happening in real time - namely, the distribution of the vaccines. With that in process, the Left will have to look for another excuse to keep us confined and helpless.

Consider dipping into your own pocket (use that money you've saved from cutting the cord) to help support the Dissident Press - blogs, podcasts, and video. We need to make it financially possible for them to continue getting news out there. The alternative is the status quo - a Chinese Bought & Paid For Media. It's not just the Big Media - it's the Soros Project of putting 'reporters' into local and regional papers/media.

Pay for a subscription, toss independents a PayPal donation (1-time, or ongoing), and be sure to buy the books of the Dissident Press.

Trump is still fighting for an American America - he's working on blacklisting the Government-connected Chinese companies.

Are you involved with Air BnB? Either as a customer/temporary landlord? You may want to back out of that service.

I enjoy Kurt Schlichter's feisty spirit. His Town Hall column today really perked me up.

We’re not going anywhere. We’re not retreating. We’re not hiding. We’re not pulling into our conservative shell like some right-wing tortoise. This is our country.

We built it. We feed it. We fuel it. We defend it. And we’re not giving away any of it or ceding a single inch to a bunch of corrupt incompetents with delusions of dictatorship.

Live Free and Die HARD! 

To Rule Or Ruin

     My attention this morning was drawn to two brief essays by Angelo Codevilla:

     Both essays make important points. The first of them dovetails with a conversation I had only yesterday, with longtime reader and friend Pascal. The meat of it was that what we call the Establishment / Political Elite is morphing steadily into an American aristocracy. Pascal cited an occurrence that should have had any decent American reaching for his musket—a deliberate act of deceit amounting to malfeasance by the Secretary of State of the State of Michigan, a Democrat colluding in the attempt to steal that state’s electoral college votes for Joe Biden—yet we have yet to hear any prominent Republican condemn it. Such Republicans are too narrowly focused on preserving their positions within the Establishment, even as members of a largely defanged minority.

     The second Codevilla essay addresses the use of the FBI as a suppressive force dedicated to quelling those it deems “dangerous.” In this fashion the FBI has become an enforcement apparatus for the protected privileges of the Political Elite. It takes little interest in anything non-political, and is absolutely opposed to investigations of misbehavior among Establishment figures. Thus the Federal Bureau of Investigation has become something akin to a secret police force whose ambit is the suppression of dissent from and opposition to the Elite’s agenda.

     I don’t think Codevilla has overstated the case. There are many bits of evidence that support his contentions. The next question, in Theodore Sturgeon’s terms, is what can be done about it–and by whom.

     The institutions we have trusted to maintain Constitutional order and the integrity of our legal and political processes have failed us. Their manner of failure indicates that they have sloughed any wholesome purpose. They no longer guard anything we would recognize as American.

     The appropriate conclusions are left to you to draw, Gentle Reader. For my part, I’m still waiting for a convenient planetoid.

Why Delay Concession?

 Because, as long as Trump delays, he can push through some actions that enhance the chances that that vaccine will be released ASAP (not when our New Overlords permit it). The minute he concedes, he gives the DS an excuse to slow-walk all orders.

  • He can get the vaccine out - in the hands of those who will be needed to distribute it (military, national guard, police, health personnel). Once out, whoever is in charge can no longer use that excuse to imprison people and cripple out economy.
  • He can continue de-classifying Deep State activities. Once the penalties for disclosing the are gone, the files will be fair game (and, should anyone want to do a 'data dump' into a flash drive, at least they won't be charged with a High Crime).
  • He can appoint Special Prosecutors for the Biden crimes, the Coup, and other activities that would otherwise be buried. Direct that the Senate have access to that information, and be the oversight choice. Make it an explicit part of the order that no person that is a target for investigation, nor connected to them, can have access to the investigation, or be permitted to slow-walk delivery of documents. Direct that the information in that investigation be presented to Congress, by June, 2022, in full. (Probably will be fought, in and out of court, but - give it a try).
  • Move as much of his assets (and those of his family) out of the reach of the US Government. Same with family members - get them out of the reach of a vindictive opposition. Lawyer up, and get his security team in place (I wouldn't trust the SS people THEY would assign me).
  • Make a book deal - in Ireland (or any other country that doesn't tax the money). Perhaps work with Indian publishers, who have a worldwide reach, and a relatively friendly government.
  • Set up the structure that would give his message access to Americans - probably a combination of Internet subscription/some free/cable deal/radio. Use the connections he's built to work from the local level up. Help purge the GOP of the RINO detritus that has clogged the apparatus.
  • Set some "information bombs" to go off at selected intervals throughout the next few years.
But, the ability to get the vaccine out there, and the mechanism for delivery in process, BEFORE the Biden-Harris administration takes over and does their best to dismantle it, is the most critical. I'm betting on Trump for this - he is experienced at moving big projects through ON TIME.

Sunday, November 22, 2020

The 4 Boxes

 I like John Wilder. He's often funny, always worth reading, and, this post - well, it's needed, at this time.

The Election Fraud cannot be ignored (except in the minds of Leftists - I REFUSE to call them either "Progressive" or "Democratic" anymore). Even Dems are agreeing - approximately 30% agree that there was substantial fraud in this election. The Saner/More Honest People (NLDs - Non-Leftist Dissidents) support the idea that the election was stolen by around 60% or MORE.

That's a huge number that, at least, QUESTION the results.

And, yet, for the Media - crickets.

Other than falling all over themselves to tout Biden/Harris as President-Elect and Official Backup. NO hesitation in crowning the pair Officially Next in Line.

They ridicule claims of fraud, refuse to actually commit journalism, and insist on claiming that Trump is acting like a tyrant, merely for refusing to concede.

The mobs are out for Trump's scalp. The collaborators at the state level are falling into line, proclaiming that they WILL certify Biden/Harris as the winner, without waiting for any court decision or public investigation.

We're fast approaching the time for the Fourth Box to be used.

Those who would be our All-But-Crowned Rulers seem to have forgotten the essential nature of Americans. We're not noted for hanging around, waiting to be given PERMISSION by our rulers.



Saturday, November 21, 2020

Concerning “Something New, Perhaps”

     One of the strange blessings of being effectively unable to write about politics and current events at the moment is the availability of extra time to speculate. That’s a writer’s fuel, and not to be skimped or sloughed even at the busiest times. So I’ve been doing a lot of daydreaming about “the next book,” and what sort of story it should tell.

     I like heroes and happy endings, as any Gentle Reader familiar with my fiction will already know. I also like substantial themes, so the reader can feel he got more out of the story than a few hours of entertainment. But I appreciate that the entertainment must come first and be unflagging – that the storyteller fails when he allows message to eclipse enjoyment.

     So the other day, when I set fingers to keys, I started from a premise that’s not perfectly original: the counter-colonization of a depopulated Earth. A similar idea was employed some years ago: specifically, in Keith Laumer and Rosel George Brown’s novel Earthblood. My backstory conception differs from theirs, in that I postulate that Earth had been depopulated by genocidal yet entirely human wars and their aftermaths.

     The Counter-Hegira from Cetia, Mankind’s sole colony world, is motivated by the steady intensification of the same sort of international, interracial, and inter-creedal animosities that gave rise to the wars that exterminated Man upon Terra. People are people, I reasoned, and the enmities they bear toward one another will go with them wherever they roam. Still, some Cetians are anxious to get away from the strife, even if it means an interstellar trek that will take eleven objective years (four months subjective at 99.95% of lightspeed).

     The first question is: What will the 30,000 Counter-Hegirans do when they get to Earth?

  • What sort of dispersion over the Earth’s surface will they elect?
  • What sort of societies will they build?
  • How high a technological level can they bring with them?
  • Over a substantial interval – say four centuries – how high will that level rise?
  • Will their offspring know any more peace than their forebears did on Cetia?

     My supposition is that the population of Cetia would be distributed into races, creeds, and philosophies roughly the same way as that of Earth today. If that distribution is reproduced among the Counter-Hegirans, the history of Earth Renewed would tend to resemble that of our era. However, the history of our time, and of course of the Cetian milieu they fled, would be known to the Counter-Hegirans. Would they learn anything from it, or would implacable economic, sociological, religious, and philosophical forces result in the same sort of tensions, strife, and internecine warfare that we suffer today?

     The story I think I’ll tell will be of one society on Earth Renewed that’s far more successful than the others, because of the insight and foresight of a lone genius. America had a gaggle of geniuses at her birth – a small but adequate gaggle – which resulted in a nation that bestrides the world. Could one man of sufficient brilliance, insight, and determination “pull off the trick” a second time? What would happen to the nation he founds over the centuries after his death?

     And what will our hero-to-be, four centuries after the death of the Founder, need to do to preserve “the blessings of liberty” against the forces that seek to destroy them? Will he resemble anyone we know of today?

     Stay tuned.

Friday, November 20, 2020

Election Shenanigans: a 2020 Mood

It has been a long time since I posted here. Actually, it's been some time since I posted anything at all, anywhere. 2020 has been a year for us all, and it has affected us all in different ways. For my personal life, 2020 saw the passing of my stepfather last week from complications following heart surgery a month prior. He was a good man, and only a month from retirement. That's this year for you, I suppose. Most of the year has seen me working many extra side jobs - this is the biggest reason for my disappearance from the web and much of social media - in case COVID-19 saw me lose my day job. That hasn't happened yet, and I certainly hope it does not. But having the extra money available in case it does is a good thing.

Enough about that, however.

So much has happened since election night began. The readers of Liberty's Torch are no doubt aware that there were huge ballot drops at roughly similar times across a number of battleground states - which took Trump from a >70% chance of victory according to the betting odds, to a seeming-defeat at the hands of Joe Biden.

Leftists and media talking heads assure us that an American election cannot be stolen - many of the same folks who assured us that 2016 was the doing of the Russians. In a year featuring a pandemic, mass political unrest, record turnout, and a shift to mail-in and early voting in numbers never seen previously, we are told nothing untoward happened, and everything was competent and above board.

America's political divisiveness is unprecedented since at least the 1960s, and possibly since the Civil War. But sure, nobody would cheat. Nobody would commit fraud.

Voter turnout reached unseen numbers in several states, and the change to mail-in and early voting due to COVID-19... well that could not result in issues either, right? This despite over 5,000 total missing votes (2,600, then 3000) being dug up in Georgia during an audit already. In a state that Biden was claimed to have won by less than 15,000 votes, this nonetheless must seal the state for Biden, right?

In Florida, we saw the state shift more red than it had in 2016. Yet we are to expect Georgia made a hard turn (+6) to the blue vs 2016? I mean, it's 2020, so anything is possible. But this certainly merits investigation.

Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania are even more bizarre. Sure, I did not actually expect Trump to carry Michigan again. What happened in 2016 was a Hail Mary pass unlike anything I've ever seen before. It was crazy. With the energy of Black Lives Matter, and the usual Democrat machine politics, I did not seriously expect a repeat in Michigan. Wisconsin and Pennsylvania are another matter entirely. 

In any event, all three saw the sudden leapfrog surge of vote dumps all once.


The explanation is that the urban precincts dumped most of their data at once, and the urban areas heavily favored Biden. But it is rather suspicious that in all cases, it was just barely enough to squeak Biden over the top. The New York Times heavily favored Trump to win Georgia, based on results in North Carolina and Florida, and return rates in Georgia early in the night, then quite suddenly shifted its favorability to Biden. This was explained by the NYT manually adjusting its data to reflect their own opinion as to what was going to happen.

Don't even get me started about the Sharpie debacle in Arizona. This is worse than the hanging chads in Florida. For once it is not my state leading the charge - something I chalk up to governor DeSantis, who fired Brenda Snipes, the Broward county election troll who had, since the Jeb Bush days, made Florida the laughing stock of the country every election cycle. Whether through incompetence or outright fraud, Broward had become famous for this.

DeSantis cleaned that mess up, and went to town on the bureaucracy in my state. When he fired the SFWMD cretins who had failed to clean up the Red Tide mess previously, he even won the attention of some Democrats. In any event, his very Trumpian "you're fired" treatment of the bureaucracy certainly made for a much smoother election in Florida - and, in my opinion, is probably why the state moved the needle another percent or so to the Red. There's your Democrat fraud/incompetence margin right there. Roundabout one percent.

And note that one percent would have given Trump this election. Still think it's clean?

Demographically, Trump made gains in various minorities - winning or coming near to it in many border counties in Texas that were historically very blue. In Florida, there was a Hispanic surge for Trump as well. Trump posted record numbers for a Republican among many minorities. The media say that he lost some ground among white voters, but I'm having a hard time with that one. Perhaps the technocrat crowd, but how many of those would have voted for Trump in 2016? Not many, I'd wager.

In any event, I can't point you to the legal remedies, or the specific evidence of fraud - and, in fact, one thing I am slightly irritated with the political Right about is the fact that they constantly post every new rumor about fraud as if it is the wedge with which we are going to move the courts and the media. That's not particularly helpful. We need solid evidence. Proof. We need something that will grant us the moral high ground - though I don't know precisely what that looks like.

Perhaps the courts can do something. The media never will. But if Trump somehow proves the fraud in court and the election is reversed, I expect there will be civil war. And surely this is on the mind of the judges who could decide such an issue. "Do I really want to rule in a such a way that will do this?"

In this sense, the political Left has a sort of Mafia-like blackmail operation going. You pay them for protection from their insanity... by giving them their candidate, whether or not he won the election legitimately. They told us this from the beginning. "A blowout Biden win means no violence in the streets!"

Yeah, okay.

Whenever gun rights folks march armed to some state building, they are called out as being violent. But they don't kill anybody with their guns. They don't burn down buildings, attack people, etc... They show up, they do their thing, and they leave. The Left on the other hand... well, things go much worse with them.

But only one is a threat to anybody, says the media.

In any event, between incompetence, the general mood of 2020, record turnout, angry political divisiveness that is unprecedented in my lifetime, a pandemic, a surge in mail-in voting, riots in the streets, gun battles in political protests, and a technocrat establishment that hasn't been this angry possibly ever.... Then add on top of all this a series of weird coincidences and irregularities, each that favored Joe Biden over Trump? And people want to tell me this election was great?

Pull the other one.

It's all bullshit.

The media:



I WAS Going to Post Links, But...

Sigh. Just go on over to Breitbart, and click on just about every story.

Voter Fraud.

C-Death Shutdowns - and, by 'C-Death', I mean relatively few ACTUAL deaths from a disease, but many from other associated problems - nursing home mistreatment of their vulnerable residents, suicides due to isolation, job losses, depression, and what you might call 'economic suicide' - states rushing into bankruptcy and complete collapse

Hard-Core Leftists doing what Leftists ALWAYS do - taking away the God-given rights of free people, picking sides and privileging SOME people, taking great pleasure in imposing controls on their captive population.

And, the media - going all-in on shoving Trump out of office, by hook or by crook. AND, with the help of RINOS (yes, I'm talking about YOU, Romney!) and corrupted/blackmailed/pressured former Not-Left Media - Tucker Carlson, for example. Tucker's been a great disappointment, but not a surprise. He was 'loved' (really tolerated) due to his bringing in the cash/viewship to the channel, but, he's evidently reached his sell-by date, and the PTB (Powers That Be) have turned up the coercion to fall in line with the Official Story - that the election hasn't been a put-up job since the beginning.

And, now, in Nantucket, the police have used an excuse - one that will likely be copied throughout the country that we formerly called the Land of the Free - to shut down Concealed Carry licenses.

If you haven't already gotten your gun, good luck from this point on. Same with ammo. It's already too late. The best you can hope for is that a friend/relative will agree to sell you one of their "OMG! My guns ALL got lost in that dread fishing boat accident!" guns.

An Odd Practice

     ...puzzling over which fits my odd 5:30 AM mood. It started with these observations by my secret sweetie Adrienne:

     It is with continued amazement that today people spew their guts in emails, post terrible stuff on Facecrap, and make videos where they threaten bodily harm - often to an elected official. Now we have the added fun of watching people incriminate themselves on live streamed goofy Zoom meetings, like the mook in the following clip.

     The clip Adrienne mentions is embedded in this tweet. (I have no idea how to copy a clip from Twitter for embedding in a piece here.) And yes, you really have to wonder just how stupid some people can be, yet still be allowed to leave the house without a minder.

     But it’s everywhere! People take photos and make recordings of themselves doing things beyond my imagination – and I’ve got a rather vivid imagination. Hunter Biden’s now-famous videos of himself smoking crack, having sex, and so forth, are only one example. You may recall that a few years ago we had the “scandal” of Jennifer Lawrence’s nude photos getting into circulation. By my lights, the true scandal was how an actress that talented, wealthy, and widely admired could possibly be that stupid.

     (Digression: As many have asked, I will now answer: Yes. Jennifer Lawrence was, in an inverse way, the inspiration for Love in the Time of Cinema. I wanted to portray an actress with Lawrence’s assets of beauty and talent, but with good values and good sense. You may judge for yourselves whether I succeeded. Digression endeth here.)

     I blame it on television.

     These days, television is ubiquitous. People watch TV on their BLEEP!ing phones. They watch it while they’re driving, for the love of God. I know a fellow whose sister destroyed a brand new Corvette, given to her by her fiancĂ© only a week before, doing exactly that. To millions upon millions of people, television is reality.

     Many of those people have only a vague sense of self. They’re not distinguished by any remarkable asset or talent. Many of them aren’t good for much of anything at all. When they look at their respective screens, they see people who’ve got other people watching them. Why, those folks on the screen are undeniably real. And the doofi (plural of doofus; study your Latin) watching them, in some foggy, formless, semiconscious way, are led to think that “If only I were on a screen being watched by someone, I would be real, too!”

     So they video themselves. Doing what? Whatever comes to mind. Preferably something they’ve seen actors do on television. And these days, actors do some scandalous things with the cameras running.

     The consequences, as Adrienne has noted, are conspicuously before us. They extend to politics: the sayings and doings both of politicians and of those of lesser station. Didn’t the odious Joe Biden brag on video about blackmailing the nation of Ukraine with federal money to get a prosecutor off Hunter’s case? Hasn’t everyone in America seen that video?

     (You might think it takes significant smarts to win a seat in the United States Senate. You’d be wrong. Biden is only one counterexample.)

     It’s television, Gentle Reader. Television is reality to uncounted millions of Americans. Unless and until they see themselves on a screen, they cannot sincerely believe in their own existences. You may rest assured that a lot of people go into politics because it’s the quickest way to get themselves on television...and that observation points to a fertile but as yet unharrowed field for future scholars of the madness of politics in this Year of Our Lord 2020. I wonder if it will survive to reach them.

When Even That Many Democrats Think This Was Stolen...

 ...you've lost all credibility with the public.

The louder they whistle, the worse their hand (remember that episode from M.A.S.H., where the poker game is being dominated by newbie Col. Winchester, until Radar mentions his 'tell'?).

This report, about nursing homes, shows one of the problems with focusing on COVID, rather than looking at the whole picture. Of course, to SOME Leftists, like Dr. Emmanuel, the extra deaths among the aged are a bonus.

Now, I know this will be a surprise to you all - Biden voters are much less likely to be employed!

When they say they want you to disappear, they MEAN it!

What may stop the Trump challenges is mistakes and over-promising. They need to narrow the focus to provable evidence, not hype.

With cooperation like this from the media, Biden is winning the propaganda war. It's not just about who won; it's about the impression they make on the uncommitted citizens. Not everyone like feisty and combative; some just want a quiet life (not that such an outcome is likely at the moment).

Pearls of expression.

1984 was a bleak book. I’m not sure who I talked about it with, outside of writing the chicken scrawl of a report in schoolboy block letters and handing it to my really hot 7th grade English teacher. Since my reading scores were, well, advanced, she just let me read what I wanted to read while the rest of the class all read the same book. It felt nice being a special pretty pony.
"Fight Club: A Dystopia We Can Learn From?" By John Wilder, ZeroHedge, 11/19/20.

Thursday, November 19, 2020

Something New, Perhaps?

     [Writers write. Some of us have no choice about it. Just now, that’s how I feel: write, or die.

     The following just popped out of my fingers. It feels like the beginning of something, though I’m not yet sure what. Perhaps you’ll have some suggestions for me. --FWP]


     The Counter-Hegira was a long time in the planning. The planners needed to be certain that their provisions included everything the colonists would require to establish an endurable economic, social, and political order on the motherworld of Mankind. The preliminary probes had made it plain that the wars that depopulated Earth had rendered its prior economic-industrial base useless to a new populace. Nature had reclaimed the planet almost completely; the few recognizable structures that remained had deteriorated to uselessness. Whatever the colonists would need to recreate civilization on Earth, they must bring with them.
     The resulting list of required items was staggering. The volume the supplies would occupy caused the organizers great anguish, for they had thought the vessel for the journey to be already at hand. It was an asteroid twelve miles in diameter that mining operations had neatly hollowed out. It could easily be fitted with the engines, instrumentation, and environmental support required for the interstellar trek. But it was too small for the purpose.
     The volume of supplies needed wasn’t the only reason that seemingly convenient asteroid wouldn’t serve. The Counter-Hegira project had solicited volunteers for the enterprise from the whole of Cetia. The response had been as voluminous as the logistical requirements. Before the planners could close applications, they had acquired a list of over thirty thousand volunteers. The would-be migrants were of every nation, race, creed, and philosophy on Cetia. Their aggregate resources, all of which they committed to the trek, came to slightly over 300 billion floi: more than enough for the undertaking, as ambitious as it seemed. But they would need a bigger vessel, and not just because of their number.
     The planners selected a much larger asteroid, a nickel-iron body approximately thirty miles in diameter, and set crews to hollowing and preparing it. They partitioned the interior to separate inimical migrant groups from one another, and to guarantee the security of the supplies the settlers would need to create an adequate economic base. It developed that the ores carved out of the asteroid could be sold at a profit to several Cetian nations. That provided a useful increment to the expedition’s funding.
     Despite the unprecedented resources committed to the project, the engineering and logistical phases took over four years to complete. Strife on Cetia’s surface often threatened to derail the project entirely. The planners and the specialists who captained asteroid operations suffered frequent bouts of doubt that verged upon despair. Yet there came a day, four years and more from the inception of the enterprise, when all was finally ready and the migrants could board the ship.
     There was space enough for the migrants and their belongings.
     There were supplies enough for the journey and the colonization effort.
     The engines were fueled and ready to take the vessel to the edge of lightspeed.
     The chief of the project decreed that boarding and the assignment of berths could begin. Once the crew and migrants were aboard and settled, the asteroid-vessel could set forth. However, it needed a name. To plunge into the Deep Dark without first naming the vessel would surely bring bad luck, perhaps even disaster.
     Many names were suggested. The chief picked the winner:
     Homeward Bound.
     His partners concurred with his choice, but then, they’d concurred with virtually every decision he’d made. He was a visionary, an acknowledged genius of conception, planning, and management. His attainments were the stuff of legend. They had named him their premier without considering an alternate. Thereafter they trusted every decision of significance to him and him alone. He had not disappointed them.
     And so, on the twelfth day of the fifth month of Terrasynth year 5823, the 3617th anniversary of the First Landfall upon Cetia, Homeward Bound fired its engines. It accelerated steadily away from Tau Ceti, toward where they expected to find Sol eleven years hence. The project chief had the conn at the launch, for he was as brilliant a mathematician, engineer, and astrogator as he was a planner and manager.
     His name was Philip Lonsdale.
     The histories of Earth Renewed would style him Philip the Bold, the founder and first King of Neastra.

==<O>==

Copyright © 2020 Francis W. Porretto. All Rights Reserved Worldwide.

Too Much Truth Dept.

     My secret heartthrob Gina Carano tweeted this:

     ...and the Left is going apeshit over it.

     Spread it around!

Some Random Stuff - 11-19-2020

 Up a little early, very restless. I feel like a guy standing watch on a 'safe' base. No reason to worry, he's surrounded by lots of bang-bang stuff, buddies, and, well, it's not dangerous.

But, he's got an itch. He's wary and jumpy. Things just don't 'feel' right.

So. Watchful, and with that 'something's gonna happen soon' edge.

Bet like this guy - prepared to do whatever you have to on a moment's notice.



We've had some warnings that Tense Times are Coming Near. The Good Thing about the Lockdowns is that we had to spend some time at home, talking about how we might handle extended time away from 'civilized society', fending for ourselves in food/water/meds/fuel.

For most of us, this was a quick process, and left us shoring up some small deficits.

For some, it was OMG-Armaggedon. SUDDEN realization that their 3-5 days a week runs to the store were over, and they needed to reassess just how they handled buying/storing supplies.

It wasn't new to me. I'd long ago had the experience of living in a family that only shopped twice a month (and a mother who didn't drive). Outside of milk deliveries - which could be eliminated, if needed, that was it.

I later moved to several remote locations, and learned to live on what was in the fridge/pantry. Even before that, as a non-driver, with a husband who was more often working than not, and 3 preschool kids, heading out for a forgotten 'need' was not on the table.

I learned to adapt. And, bake my own bread, make meals from what was available, and do without.

C-Death was just no big deal for us. Sure, we made a few trips in the first week or so (like many people, we didn't store large quantities of TP and a few other bulky things). We needed to make sure we had extra meds/OTCs on hand. And, we took advantage of a few sales.

But, we were blessed by our foresight, and were not concerned. We had provisions, some seeds and garden supplies, a generator, sufficient tools, and, perhaps most importantly, baking powder/baking soda/3 large unopened containers of yeast. We were, in a world of scarcity, rich beyond our wildest dreams.

The other part of the prep was mental - learning, reading, unpacking old reference manuals. 

If you have not yet dumped the use of old-style ways of referring to The Opposition, please do so.

Not:

  • Democrat
  • Progressive
  • Liberal
  • Inclusive
  • Or, other outdated term
Instead, use the CORRECT term:

LEFTIST


Never Forget

The Chump Effect - I always thought of it as "The Jean Valjean Effect, but that's probably too long (and requiring some slight knowledge of French literature and history, which is beyond the Young and Poorly Educated - most of them).

I'd heard that History Repeats, and thought it hackneyed and untrue.

But, now, we have an upcoming election in GA, and damned if we aren't seeing the Bleeding Kansas scenario, shamelessly promoted by Democrats from far-distant CA.

Affidavits from people watching the audit clearly state that the process was designed to provide cover, 'officially' satisfy the audit, and not permit any major findings of fraud.

The Dems and other Leftists are complacent and dismissive - "Why don't those deluded fools just admit that they LOST the election and crown our new overlords?" Of course their go-to explanation - that we only resist because we're so racist - is the only one that occurs to them as a possibility.

They airily wave their hands, declare that the election CANNOT be rigged in their favor - voting 'errors' are ALWAYS innocent, the machines, by a company that famously rigged the Hugo Chavez election, are NOT CAPABLE of sending false votes, and we're Just Sore Losers - AND Racists.

The possibility that we're so passionate because it's just about the Last Chance to Avoid CW 2.0 never occurs to them. That the masks are, in many ways, OFF. That we clearly see that our legal efforts are useless, and our only other recourse - unthinkable for many generations - is violent resistance.

But, what about the Supreme Court?

What about it?

I don't look to the Supreme Court to save us - in the run-up to the Original Civil War, they tried that, remember? And the court decisions just fueled more fissures by the divisions between those saying "See, this will settle it!" and those saying, "Like Hell it Will!" Just as, later on, the court decisions that were to have settled the matter of Civil Rights didn't. Those who disagreed simply re-doubled their efforts.

And, with their mask mandates, calls to disarm us, and refusal to stop the indoctrination of our children, forced compliance with nonsensical rules, and acceptance of unGodly directives, is driving us to contemplate the unthinkable.

And, to prepare our homes for that possibility.

But, but, but...The ARC of History!

Don't we know that their takeover of EVERYTHING is inevitable?

Nah. You'ns know we're just Dumb Hicks. Too stupid to see that they ONLY have our best interests in mind.

The fact that they've rigged their vision of Utopia against those who look, believe, and think like us is simply a coincidence. And, a GOOD thing, for everyone, including us.

They even have recently re-colored Asians, who range from relatively light-skinned to quite dark, as White. Never mind actual circumstances of history of oppression, poverty, and bigotry. What counts is that they Officially have White Privilege.

Unlike Chelsea Clinton and her ilk, including Ivanka. Who is probably not a horrible person, but she exemplifies that Clueless Vibe. They both lecture us about Privilege, but never seems to think about the many others of the same coloration who are NOT privileged. The idea that hard work should receive a better reward than family connections or a thumb on the scale just never occurs to them.

BREAKING: I just saw this bit of news from the MI recount. I thought they would regret their vote, and that it was probably coerced (when they had that little off-the-record 'discussion'). So, it's ON again!

You can read their affidavits at the link.

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Disappointment, Part 2

     Over the past twelve hours I’ve received about two dozen emails in response to this piece. About half have expressed a wish that I continue to write fiction. The other half are divided between expressions of sympathy and variations on “well, so much for you, then.” The preponderance are, broadly speaking, supportive, but they leave me uncertain of my course.

     One particularly longwinded fellow told me that I should “ask yourself why you write.” (He followed that with “I'm not going to tell you I read your books -- because I haven't, and it doesn't matter.” It might not matter to him, but I’m somewhat differently positioned.) I’ve said it before: I’m a storyteller who seeks to express “eternal verities” (Tom Kratman) through my fiction. It’s my mission. If I were a priest, it would be called my charism. So let’s consider that “out of the way,” shall we?

     One correspondent who knows I’m well off asked, if the money isn’t important to me, why I charge a price for my novels. If he’s reading this, perhaps I can remind him of Robert A. Heinlein’s observation from Stranger in a Strange Land:

     “Matter of fact, running that whole Temple hasn’t cost what it costs you to keep up our home. Except for initial investment and replacing some props, coffee and cakes was all—we made our own fun. We needed so little that I used to wonder what to do with the money that came in.”
     “Then why did you take collections?”
     “Huh? Oh, you have to charge ’em, Jubal. The marks won’t pay attention if it’s free.”
     “I knew that, I wondered if you did.”
     “Oh, yes, I grok marks, Jubal. At first I did preach free. Didn’t work. We humans have to make considerable progress before we can accept a free gift, and value it. I never let them have anything free until Sixth Circle. By then they can accept . . . and accepting is much harder than giving.”
     “Hmm . . . son, maybe you should write a book on human psychology.”
     “I have. But it’s in Martian.”

     People almost unanimously value things according to what they cost. It’s the whole reason for vanity purchases and the majority of luxury goods – a category in which I include “trophy wives.” (“What we obtain too cheaply we esteem too lightly; it is dearness only that gives everything its value.” – Thomas Paine.)

     So: if you have enjoyed the fiction I produce and would like to see more of it, here’s the situation in its barest bones:

  • I have a very small readership: fewer than fifty readers per novel, as measured by Amazon sales;
  • Even the members of that readership seldom review my books – and reviews sell books;
  • The major promotional services have all rejected me, for reasons they decline to specify;
  • Giveaways have not produced a positive result. (Most books downloaded for free are discarded without being read.)

     What does that leave me?

WORD OF MOUTH.

     “But whose mouth?” I hear you cry.

YOURS.

     Assuming, that is, that you’re a reader of my fiction who would like me to produce more of it, and that you know other readers whose tastes aren’t too distant from yours.

     I don’t expect to become the next Stephen King. But I cannot persuade myself to undertake a year’s painstaking labor to reach at most fifty readers. (Yes, it takes me a year to produce a novel. Others do it more swiftly; I cannot.)

     I’ll keep looking into promotional methods. But so far they’ve all rejected me. I have little hope that that trend will be broken, but I’ll keep you posted.

     Verbum sat sapienti.

Reminders Can Be Useful

     Now and then another blogger launches a statement of such piercing, epigrammatic quality that I can only admire and applaud. Here’s today’s entrant in the immortality sweepstakes:

     I didn’t get into blogging to get rich, much like one doesn’t become a Trappist monk for the kinky sex and hard drugs.

     That’s one for the ages!

Alert!

     There’s been a lot of scare talk about vaccines for various diseases causing autism and other maladies. Most of it strikes me as unsoundly based, more hysterical than reasoned. But now and then there’s a good reason for concern about a vaccine – and it seems one has arisen:

     As the lady in the video says, do your own research. Don’t take anyone’s word for whether this concoction is “safe” -- or “effective” -- or ethical in its origins and developmental methods.

     Take five minutes out of your schedule to view the video above. You’ll thank me.

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Disappointment

     No, this isn’t about the election or anything related to it.

     My regular Gentle Readers will already be aware that I have a new book out: Antiquities, a short romance novel set in my “Onteora Canon” fictional America and timeline. As is usual with my novels, it’s not selling. Now, I’m not deluded about the breadth of enthusiasm out there for my sort of stuff. But I have...had hopes for this one: a romance with a musical backdrop and core motif. To say the least, those hopes have not yet been fulfilled.

     A little earlier today I was over at Written Word Media, looking for a date on which to hold a giveaway of Antiquities, and noticed this:

     ...so I looked into it. The New In Books feature claims a Romance readership of over 600,000 readers. To have them pitch Antiquities to that subscriber list would cost me $499. Expensive!...but possibly worth it. So I did a little arithmetic.

     Antiquities is priced at $2.99, and I get approximately $2.00 for each Amazon sale. Therefore, 250 sales would cause the promotion to pay for itself – and 250 is only 0.04% of that subscriber list. Inasmuch as the book is inexpensive, and romance readers tend to read a lot of romances, I figured the odds would be with me. So I gritted my teeth, plunked down my $499 – via PayPal, of course – and sat back to await the day chosen for the promotion.

     It was not to be. I’ve just received the following email from NewInBooks:

Hi Francis,

Thank you for your recent NewInBooks Book Launch purchase for Antiquities to be promoted on 12/8.

Unfortunately, your book was not approved by our editorial team, and we are issuing you a full refund.

The primary determinant in these decisions is what we know about our readers and their habits, and the team felt that our current NewInBooks readers would not engage as actively with the book as we might hope for our authors. This is no way a judgment on the quality of your book.

Grant S
The Written Word Media Team

     Note this in particular: “your book was not approved by our editorial team.”

     The NewInBooks “editorial team” didn’t read Antiquities. They didn’t buy a copy, and I didn’t provide a copy to them gratis. They rejected it on the basis of a very brief description – less than 350 characters – much like the one at Amazon.

     I shan’t pretty it up for you. This is, if not the last straw, pretty damned close to it.


     A writer who has no readers, and has no way of attracting them, has no reason to continue. This is particularly the case for a writer of fiction. It’s a difficult, tiring, and frustration-filled undertaking. Why struggle on if no one is reading what I’m producing?

     Over the entirety of 2020, a year when eBooks and indie writers have logged phenomenal sales, I’ve sold a grand total of 143 books. That’s not even enough to cover what I’ve paid my cover artists. And I refuse to give my work away. I’ve done that several times, and I don’t even get a decent number of reviews out of it. Besides, the books are inexpensive already.

     Now that I’ve learned that I can’t even buy a paid promotion, I’m thinking of saying sayonara to the writing of fiction. The really painful part about that is the awareness that, should I do so, I won’t be missed.

Dailies

     A lot of them have cropped up these past few years. We now have:

     ...and there may be more! But this is America, where supply rises to meet demand. Therefore, there must be a demand. So let’s have another: something in the spirit of the mighty Babylon Bee, though perhaps not so...slavishly devoted to actual news:

The Daily Exfoliator
Scraping the Flakes from the Face of the Nation

     After all, someone needs to report on the stuff the others won’t, though given the variety of dailies cited above, any stories that go unreported today are probably too absurd or too grotesque to touch. But I sense that there are a lot of them, so let’s have at ‘em!

     This new daily will have a lot of positions to be filled. Naturally, they will all come with a title: Editor.

  • Editor-In-Chief;
  • Chief Editor;
  • Executive Editor;
  • Executions Editor;
  • News Editor;
  • History Editor;
  • Fantasy, Horror, and Science Fiction Editor;
  • Propaganda Editor;
  • Guest Editor;
  • Intruder Editor;
  • Copy Editor;
  • Paste Editor;
  • Photography Editor;
  • Music Editor;
  • Smell, Touch, and Taste Editor;
  • Religious and Cultural Affairs Editor;
  • Atheism and Bad Taste Editor;
  • Advertising Editor;
  • Denunciations, Denigrations, and Disparagements Editor;
  • Calumnies, Slanders, and Libels Editor;
  • Corrections Editor;
  • Apologies Editor;
  • Punishments Editor;
  • Public Flagellations Editor;
  • Solitary Confinements Editor;
  • Commutations, Paroles, and Supervised Releases Editor;
  • Editor who fetches coffee and doughnuts for the other editors.

     Filling those positions should cover the immediate needs. Are there any aspiring journalists out there who might care to apply?

     Now to figure out what should go in our first edition...

Gaolers

     The first freedom is not freedom of expression, but rather freedom of movement: to go where one pleases, when and how one pleases, limited only by the rights of others. The imperative necessity of that freedom is what has animated the inventors of the wheel, the saddle, the horse-drawn buggy, the automobile, the train, the boat, the airplane, the helicopter, and the spacecraft. If a man’s freedom to move can be taken from him – with emphasis on his freedom to elude those who wish to control him – he can be made a slave: helplessly dependent on those who have confined him.

     This is a large part of the reason why freedom has been steadily sliced away since the closing of the land frontier. How does one get away from the tyrants today? Unless you have an ocean-going vessel and considerable skills, it’s all but impossible. So – I’m tempted to say “needless to say” – the would-be tyrants have been working to impede our freedom of movement at least since the invention of the automobile.

     Now read this:

     In October 2020, NASA’s Planetary Science and Astrobiology Decadal Survey committee received a manifesto from its Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Working Group (EDIWG). Written by NASA Ames Research Center public-communications specialist Frank Tavares — along with a group of eleven co-authors including noted activists drawn from the fields of anthropology, ethics, philosophy, decolonial theory, and women’s studies — and supported by a list of 109 signatories, “Ethical Exploration and the Role of Planetary Protection in Disrupting Colonial Practices” lacks technical merit. It is, nevertheless of great clinical interest, as it brilliantly demonstrates how the ideologies responsible for the destruction of university liberal-arts education can be put to work to abort space exploration as well.

     With praiseworthy clarity as to their bias and intent, the EDIWG authors say that human space exploration must be stopped because it represents a continuation of the West’s tradition of resource development through free enterprise. “All of humanity is a stakeholder in how we, the planetary science and astrobiology community, engage with other worlds,” they say. “Violent colonial practices and structures — genocide, land appropriation, resource extraction, environmental devastation, and more — have governed exploration on Earth, and if not actively dismantled, will define the methodologies and mindsets we carry forward into space exploration....It is critical that ethics and anticolonial practices are a central consideration of planetary protection. We must actively work to prevent capitalist extraction on other worlds, respect and preserve their environmental systems, and acknowledge the sovereignty and interconnectivity of all life.”

     It can’t get any plainer than that, Gentle Reader. Please don’t dismiss it as a few cranks and crazies. These people have big resources behind them.

     Our would-be gaolers think their victory is in sight. Can’t let space travel actually mature to the point where people could flee this tyrant-infested ball of rock, should they choose. So they’ve mobilized one of their auxiliaries in an attempt to foreclose the option before it becomes practical – possibly to forestall the development of the technology that would make it practical.

     With that as the theme, allow me to present a segment of my novel Freedom’s Scion. It originally appeared as a short story, so you may have seen it already.


GAOLERS

     For fifteen months Liberty's Torch plodded onward at slightly over Michelson seven. The power from its fusion engine was insufficient to force swifter passage.
     Althea was near the limit of her endurance when the ship at last entered the cometary zone around her target star. She disengaged the permittivity drive, engaged the reaction drive, and activated the lidar scanners and broad-spectrum receivers.
     The receivers immediately caught a spread of multiply modulated signals in the microwave and higher frequencies. The lidar returns hinted at an artificial structure in orbit around the third planet of the system.
     Hope's first interstellar explorer had reached her intended destination. It appeared to be inhabited by a race as advanced as Man on Hope, if not more so. And she had no clear idea how to proceed.

* * *

     When Liberty’s Torch reached the outer margins of the K-class star’s system of planets, Althea slowed to 50 miles per second. The signals and lidar returns she had interpreted as evidence of habitation by intelligent life while in the cometary zone had grown far stronger. A large spherical mass with a visible-light reflectance of nearly 100% orbited the third planet from the primary. She corrected course minutely, slowed still further, and observed closely.
     The object was without detectable external features. Its orbit was coplanar with that of the third planet from the system’s primary. It appeared not to rotate around any axis. Its smoothness and spherical perfection spoke of high power sources and extreme craftsmanship flawlessly executed in zero gravity. It was all too obviously a space station.
     The station was emitting electromagnetic radiation in regularly spaced pulses, at a wavelength of 1215 angstroms. Liberty’s Torch’s receivers classified it as a probable attempt to communicate. Althea braked still further and activated the recorders, but made no immediate attempt to interpret the signal stream.
     Should I reciprocate? It might be no more intelligible to them.
     She activated the communications laser, set the modulation to unencrypted analog, and spliced in the voice output.
     “To the entity or entities aboard the space station,” she intoned, “This is Althea Morelon, mistress of interstellar vessel Liberty’s Torch. My people call our world Hope. Our system is about...” She paused for thought. “About as far from here as light will travel in eleven of your revolutions around your primary star. My intentions are peaceful. I wish to make contact, but I’m uncertain how to proceed. If you can interpret this message, please respond in kind with your rules for a visit to your system and for docking with your station. Liberty’s Torch will loiter here until I hear from you.” She disconnected the voice output and waited.
     Martin's exhortation to avoid what risks she could rose to her thoughts.
     If they can tight-beam Lyman-alpha radiation that I can detect from the cometary belt, they have to have one helluva power source aboard that station. I’d better play very, very nice.
     The answer arrived at once, in a musical alto voice.
     “Welcome to Loioc system, Mistress Morelon. We have awaited your arrival with much pleasure. Please brake to approximately 1/5 of your current velocity while we analyze your vessel’s hull and compose docking instructions.”
     Althea put a tight rein on her rising excitement and complied.

* * *

     The Loioc were bipedal and humanoid. Unless the pair that awaited Althea in the station’s docking bay were non-representative, they stood somewhat shorter than Earth-derived Man. The more closely she focused on either one, the more apparent were the subtle deviations that marked their departures from Terrestrial humanity. Their proportions were slightly different, possibly owing to having adapted to a stronger or weaker gravity. The resting angles of their limbs diverged slightly as well. Their faces were exquisitely beautiful, as human as anyone could wish, with smiles as welcoming as any she had ever seen.
     She doffed her helmet and took her first breath of their air. It was rich with oxygen, and carried a subtle hint of sweetness.
     “Yes,” the one on the left said, “our respiratory needs are a good match for yours as well. Welcome to our home, Mistress Morelon. How may we make you comfortable?”
     “Well,” Althea said, “for starters, you could tell me how to address you.” And maybe fill me in about how you learned to speak English.
     The one on the left nodded. “I am called Efthis. My husband,” she said, turning to her left, “is named Vellis.” She took his hand, and he gazed at her in evident affection. “No doubt you are curious about my mastery of the English language.”
     Althea chuckled. “Well, yes.”
     “These past thirteen hundred years,” Efthis said, “Hope has emitted radio signals of sufficient variety for us to deduce virtually the whole of your tongue. Indeed, we have watched your race from well before your ancestors’ flight from Earth. We have long looked forward to meeting you.”
     “Is yours a spacefaring race,” Althea said, “apart from this station?”
     “It was once,” Efthis replied. “No longer. In fact, this is the only offworld presence our race maintains.”
     Althea frowned. “Why?”
     Efthis’s gentle smile acquired a hint of world-weariness. “Let us say we saw all that we wished to see, and somewhat more.” She glanced at her husband and nodded toward the interior, and he nodded in response. “Come, let us refresh ourselves together, and I shall tell you whatever you might wish to know.”
     They turned as one, and Althea followed them into the depths of the station.

* * *

     “I don’t believe it,” Althea said.
     Efthis cocked a hair-thin eyebrow. “Surely your people enjoy a warm bath after a day of exertion?” She swiftly divested herself of her coverall. Vellis followed suit, and the two climbed into what was plainly a large hot tub.
     “Well...yes.”
     But in company with a couple of aliens? All right, they seem to be very nice aliens...so far, anyway.
     Oh, what the hell.

     She unzipped her vacuum suit, stepped out of it, groped for her gunbelt and realized, to her displeasure, that in the excitement of first contact she’d forgotten to arm herself.
     Probably wouldn’t matter anyway. A race that could build this station and give it nearly a gee of gravity without spinning it would laugh at a Wolzman needler.
     She removed her coverall, tossed it aside, climbed carefully over the side of the tub, and took a seat facing her hosts.
     Vellis’s eyes immediately fixed upon her, wide in undisguised fascination. He looked pleadingly at his wife. She studied him for a moment, then turned to Althea with a faintly mysterious expression.
     “Vellis would like to touch you,” she said. “Would you permit it?”
     “Uh...” Oh, why not? They’re probably puzzled that I’m not just as curious about their bodies. “Sure, okay.”
     Efthis nodded to Vellis, who flowed across the water between him and Althea so swiftly that he was upon her before she realized it.
     “Upon her,” indeed. The Loioc male wrapped himself around Althea, arms and legs both. He squirmed against her in a powerfully erotic fashion. His erection probed for her vagina with no pretense to the contrary. The surprise of it paralyzed her.
     “Efthis,” she croaked, counter-squirming to keep Vellis’s phallus from finding the orifice it sought, “just what is Vellis doing?”
     Efthis frowned. “He’s trying to merge with you. I would have thought that was obvious. Are you offended?”
     “Uh, no, but...” Are you? “Why?” And why hasn’t he said a word since I arrived here?
     “You’re very beautiful,” Efthis said. “Wouldn’t a male of Hope want to merge with you? Or is it not permitted for some reason?”
     “Well, uh, yes, it’s...permitted,” Althea said. You think I’m beautiful? Vellis’s squirming was becoming frenzied. He had begun to whimper. “But this is...a bit sudden.”
     Efthis shrugged. “It’s up to you. Enjoy him as you wish, and for as long as you wish.” She smiled. “If you’d like to test whether he can impregnate you, I have no objection to it.”
     “Uh, not just now, but thanks for the...hospitality. Maybe later.” She forced her arms between her and the squirming Loioc male and thrust him forcibly away. Vellis shrieked at the separation. He wriggled frantically, lashing the water into little waves of anguish, in an attempt to re-establish the embrace. Althea held him at arm’s length with only modest effort.
     I’ve got to ask.
     “Efthis,” she said in a carefully controlled tone, “Vellis is mute, isn’t he?”
     Efthis frowned again. “Of course. Isn’t it obvious?”
     There’s too much obvious stuff going on here. I shouldn’t have relaxed.
     Althea nodded, holding the agitated male firmly away from her. “Is it by accident, or was he born that way?”
     The Loioc’s frown deepened further. “Born that way, of course.” She emitted a whistle of elaborate modulation. Vellis immediately ceased to struggle against Althea’s restraint. She relaxed her grip, and he returned to Efthis’s side reluctantly and with a look of frustration.
     “Well,” Althea said, “you must love him very much.”
     “Love?” Efthis said. “How does one love a nonsentient?”
     “What?”
     “Vellis is incapable of rational thought. He’s been conditioned to be loyal to me. He knows nothing of love, no more than an animal of the field.”
     “But...” Althea groped for words. “Your husband?
     The Loioc woman nodded. “Yes. He husbands me. He fertilizes my eggs, when and as I permit. He need not be sentient for that.” She leaned forward to peer more closely into Althea’s face. “All our males are nonsentient. Just as yours will be, in time.”

* * *

     Vellis protested with a whimper that was nearly a howl, but Efthis spoke sharply and stamped one delicate foot, and the Loioc male became submissive. At his mistress’s direction, he went reluctantly into a room whose sole furnishings were a thin mattress, a hassock, and a large box filled with some crumbly substance, sat upon the hassock in a peculiarly canine fashion, and bowed his head. Efthis swung the room’s door, a grate of closely spaced metal bars, closed with a muted clang and twisted a knob that sent a deadbolt home. She turned back to Althea with an air of chagrin.
     “I must beg your pardon,” the Loioc said. “Despite all the study we have made of Hope and its people, I had momentarily forgotten that you allow your males to remain sentient. Indeed, that fact has caused no small amount of consternation among our people. We have awaited true, bidirectional intercourse with you with great eagerness for that reason among others.”
     We allow our males to remain sentient?
     “I had assumed,” she said, measuring out the words, “that this...condition was a consequence of some unfortunate cosmic phenomenon. Maybe a radiation field that swept over your home world, or something like that. You...engineered it? Genetically?”
     Efthis had led her to a rather conventional-looking kitchenette, complete with sink, faucet, counter, table, and chairs, and bade her to sit. The Loioc pulled open a large metal cabinet, extracted a pitcher and two glasses, and brought them to the table.
     “This is called kiara,” Efthis said. “It’s a fruit juice, moderately sweet, with a mildly acidic tang. You might enjoy it. Would you like to try it?”
     “Efthis...” Althea said, “I do appreciate your hospitality, but how do I know it’s not toxic to me? Just because we look alike?”
     Efthis smiled. “I had your body chemistry analyzed while you were in the bath with us. Our metabolisms are nearly perfectly identical. What would poison you would be equally lethal to me, if not more so.”
     “Why did you do that?”
     The Loioc gestured at the pitcher. “To know whether we could do this, for one thing.” She poured generous helpings of juice into both glasses and passed one to Althea. “For another, so that I could be certain that our body-maintenance devices can repair you, should you come to any harm while you are my guest.”
     Althea started to say got my own, thanks, and held her tongue.
     “So you’re completely self-sufficient here? Food, clothing, energy, medicine, diversions all taken care of?” She sniffed at the glass of kiara. Its aroma was as Efthis had described it: moderately sweet, with a citrus-like tang. Unsure of the proprieties but unwilling to proceed solely on Efthis’s assurances, she set the glass down and pushed it a little away.
     Efthis nodded. “Completely. It was a condition of the assignment. To be supplied with our necessities from groundside, with all the complexities and intrusions that would entail, would be entirely too troublesome for all concerned.”
     “But you could return to the planetary surface if you chose, couldn’t you?”
     “Oh yes,” Efthis said. “We have a one-way vehicle docked on the other side of the station.” She smiled. “Believe me, from time to time these past eight years, I’ve felt the urge to return. However, my relief won’t be ready to assume her duties for another two years, so it would be viewed with disfavor.”
     She and her...husband must have a lot of ways to keep occupied.
     “Concerning your earlier question,” the Loioc said, “yes, we quenched the sentience of our males by decision and design. What we learned from comparable races, to say nothing of our own experiences, made it imperative.
     “Before we did so, our world was riven by every kind of strife and madness. Loioc males were quite as aggressive and proprietary as yours, and we females could do little to mitigate their tendencies toward violence and destruction. The nations of our world were almost continuously at war.
     “Your ancestors on Earth provided a fertile field for study,” Efthis said. “Were you aware that over the two millennia that preceded your people’s departure from that system, your planet of origin had known peace—real peace, not merely a temporary lull in the slaughters—for a grand total of three days? That throughout the rest of that interval of history, Earth males had been killing and being killed, laying waste to whatever they could reach?
     “You, Althea, are the beneficiary of what progress your race could achieve despite the continuity of slaughter. Your achievements and those of your kindred began from the plateau of knowledge and technology build by those who preceded you—those who managed not to fall as the ordnance flew around them. By our measures, you of Hope have reached a technological level perhaps seventy-five percent as high as we Loioc have attained. At that, Hope has not progressed as far as the Earthly societies from which it was derived. I shall not denigrate it, even so. But have you ever contemplated how much higher your world would have risen—how much greater your own achievements would have been, Althea—had Earth known the blessings of peace?
     “About twenty-two hundred of your years ago, a great geneticist isolated the constellation of genes and alleles that give rise to a brain capable of sentience and rational thought. It was well that she was female and discreet. She immediately conceived of the application to the pacification of our race, and set about assembling a team that would construct a nanite that would unmake the sentience constellation in our male progeny. As soon as they were certain it was effective and safe, they flooded the waters of our world with the devices. Within fifty years, there was virtually no violence among us.”
     She glanced back at the door of Vellis’s cell. “My husband is typical of Loioc males. His brain masses to about sixty percent of mine. His ability to communicate is limited to what he can absorb through conditioning: simple sounds and simple gestures. He’s not the sort of companion with whom I could have a conversation such as this.” Efthis smiled. “But he essays no violence. He recognizes females—Loioc females, at least—as his superiors by inborn instinct, and submits to us without hesitation. Now that he’s been conditioned for personal loyalty, he does as I command him, and nothing more.
     “We had a few regrets, of course. Society was more dynamic, and more interesting, before we unmade our males’ minds. But the consensus was that a degree of social and economic stasis would be a small price to pay for the elimination of the horrors male aggression had brought us. At any rate, that door is closed forever. The nanites are self-replicating. The waters of our world are saturated with them, and they can never be seined out.”
     Althea suppressed her desire to shudder and did her best to smile.
     “If you had asked your men whether they would agree to be...pacified that way,” she said pleasantly, “do you think any great number of them would have said yes, do it?”
     Efthis shrugged. “Possibly not, but what does it matter? The moral imperative was too obvious to permit any resistance. We had learned all too well what develops when male aggression is permitted to operate unchecked.” She waved an elfin hand. “You would not find a Loioc anywhere below who’s unsatisfied with the arrangement.”
     Except the ones who can no longer say so.
     “I think the women of Hope would have a different opinion,” Althea said. “We love our men as they are. I can’t imagine perpetrating the sort of...adjustment on them that you’ve inflicted upon yours. In fact, among us what your great geneticist did would constitute an unimaginably vile crime, the rape of an entire species. She would be ostracized for life if she were even to suggest it.”
     Althea paused for a moment of reflection, and smiled. “Hope has never known war, or mass violence of any other sort. We left that sort of madness behind us when we set out from Earth. I doubt my sisters could bring themselves to think as yours do, no matter how eloquently you might argue it to them.”
     Efthis raised an eyebrow. “No war or mass violence, you say? Then why does nearly every denizen of your world go armed whenever he ventures beyond his home?”
     Althea shrugged. “Simple caution. Men—humans, both sexes, have free will and the capacity for evil. Besides, you never know what might come up.”
     “And from where might some threat that requires an armed response arise, Althea?” Efthis’s smile acquired a predatory edge. “Which of the two sexes are you being cautious about?”
     Althea’s temper strained against her leash. “We like our men as they are,” she grated. “They’re our partners in...” What did Martin call it? “...in the adventure of life. Not a threat we have to defend ourselves against at all costs.” She hardened her expression into lines of defiance. “You can keep those clever little nanites for yourselves.”
     Efthis smiled slyly. “Is that why you haven’t touched your kiara, Althea?”
     Despite her resolution to maintain her reserve, Althea felt a snarl form on her features.
     “What do you think, Mistress Efthis?”
     “I think you need not deprive yourself,” Efthis said. “You’ve been thoroughly infused with the nanites since a few seconds after you stepped into the bath. We are no more willing to allow your males than ours to pollute our galactic neighborhood with their violent ways. You will be the instrument of their gentling.”
     A tidal wave of fury surged within Althea Morelon. She reeled from her sudden, all but overpowering desire to smash, kill, and lay waste around her.
     “When I return to Hope,” Althea ground out, “the men of my world will very likely construct and commission an expeditionary fleet—a well armed fleet—and send it here. I can’t be certain what they’ll do when they get here, but I doubt you and your sisters groundside will find it pleasant.”
     The Loioc’s smile turned superior.
     “Then you will not be returning to Hope.”
     “Oh? Do you have a way to stop me?”
     Efthis rose from the table, turned toward a dim corridor into the station, and indicated with a negligent wave of her hand that Althea should follow.

* * *

     “The mechanism you see via this viewscreen,” Efthis said, “occupies most of the volume of this station. It generates a high-intensity muon flux that permeates the galactic disk for two hundred light-years around. It’s powered by our sun, it’s self-repairing, and it cannot be turned off. Alone of all the children of Earth, you have learned how to negate the effects of that flux and relax the so-called speed-of-light limitation. But since you passed within the cometary belt, the flux has been far too intense for your ship’s superluminal drive to countervail. Nor will it avail you to exit our system on your reaction drive alone, for the suppressor has already infiltrated and taken command of your drive. You will not achieve interstellar velocities again unless I permit it.”
     Althea gazed in silence at the huge, faintly humming machine that held her prisoner.
     I never thought I’d find a machine that’s an abomination, all by itself, just because of what it can do.
     She closed her eyes, set her viewpoint free of her body, and sped it into the vast machine.
     The thing was complex beyond Althea’s understanding. It possessed hundreds of interlinked subsystems, only a few of which resembled anything she knew. She thought she could identify radiation sources and targets, direct-and-deflect conduits, baffles for stray emissions and sinks for excess heat. But far more assemblages were completely opaque to her comprehension. Some of them, though they appeared to be as unitary as gemstones, possessed internal structures of bewildering intricacy. She could not even be certain where any component began and ended. The whole hinted at properties of space-time and modes of matter-energy interaction beyond her attainments.
     She tested her telekinesis against a handful of the smaller pieces. None of them moved detectably, even when she exerted her full power.
     It doesn’t matter. I can’t just wrench a few bits of this contraption loose telekinetically and call the job finished. Not as long as it might retain the ability to fix itself, or if the Loioc might discover the damage and repair it...and not as long as I don’t really know what I’m doing.
     The whole thing has to go.

     “What’s the price for my freedom?” she said at last.
     Efthis turned toward her, a glittering metallic torque in one hand.
     “You must agree to wear this. It contains an advanced artificial intelligence, equipped with a full suite of environmental sensors, that will sense any attempt to violate the ethical constraints programmed into it. It also contains a generator capable of shocking you into unconsciousness, which will activate at any attempt, even a dubious one, to commit a violation or to remove it from your body.”
     Althea peered at the gleaming thing. “You have artificial intelligences that can read a person’s body language and forestall undesirable actions?”
     “Not entirely body language, Althea,” Efthis said. “Look at the inner surface of the torque.”
     Althea leaned in for a close inspection. At close range, a great many filaments, each one finer than a hair, became visible. “Neural probes?”
     Efthis nodded. “Quite sensitive ones. They give the onboard intelligence a way to anticipate the wearer’s actions, as well as react to his current ones. It’s how we restrain our few remaining lawbreakers without having to incarcerate them.” She smiled.
     Althea had seen that smile before. It was that of a woman who knows, beyond all possibility of contradiction, that she holds all the trumps. Her blood rose. She answered the Loioc’s smile with one of her own.
     “How clever,” Althea said. “I suppose I’ve no choice. But may I ask a question first?”
     Efthis cocked an eyebrow.
     “How do your sisters travel the galaxy?”
     The Loioc frowned. “We don’t. The suppressor’s speed-of-light restriction binds us as firmly as any other world within the machine’s radius of effect.”
     Althea widened her eyes. “But a race as advanced as yours must be working on some alternative, surely?”
     Darkness touched Efthis’s features. “Of course. We’ve been researching teleportation for centuries, but so far it’s remained out of reach. Entropic effects arising from the energies required fatally disorder anything we try to teleport.”
     “I see,” Althea said. “Has it ever occurred to you that those effects might be due to an even more advanced race’s suppression of your desire to wander the stars?” She gestured at the viewscreen. “Just as you’ve used that machine in there to confine the peoples around you?”
     Efthis’s mouth dropped open. She glanced at the huge machine, Althea moved with sudden, violent speed, and the Loioc fell to the floor unconscious.
     “Bitch,” Althea muttered as she hoisted the smaller woman into a fireman’s carry. “Never tell a Morelon there’s something he can’t do. Now just where do you keep your stash of rope?”

* * *

     It took a while to locate the reentry vehicle Efthis had mentioned and secure the unconscious Loioc female in one of its seats. It took still longer to persuade the badly frightened Vellis that Althea meant him no harm, that it was safe to leave his cell and go where she directed him. Eventually she had the two properly strapped into their anti-acceleration chairs and ready for launch.
     One more thing to see to.
     She returned to Liberty’s Torch, powered up her voice recorder, and dictated a brief message.
     “This is Althea Morelon, mistress of interstellar vessel Liberty’s Torch from Hope, approximately eleven light-years out toward the galactic rim. I’ll be returning to Hope in just a little while, to tell my compatriots all about your society. I expect my reports will make them very angry. I expect that they’ll decide to do something about you...and that the time you’ll have to brace yourselves for our next visit will be a lot shorter than you’d like.
     “As you can see, I’ve returned your sentinels—excuse me, your gaolers to your loving arms. Don’t treat them too harshly. They did their best. They just didn’t reckon with having to face a Morelon. Anyway, try to smile about it all. I’m leaving you a present. Before I depart your system, you’ll have the same interstellar potential I’ve contrived for us of Hope. Think you’ll be able to make use of it without the help of your menfolk?
     “That’s all for now. Althea Morelon signing out.”
     She transferred the recording to a memory cartridge, returned to the reentry craft, and tucked it into a pocket of Efthis’s coverall. As she made to leave, Vellis looked up at her and whimpered.
     “Sorry, fella,” she murmured. “I can’t do a thing for you. Maybe we’ll be back to help your kids, some day.”
     She stepped out of the hatch and closed it behind her.

* * *

     When Liberty’s Torch’s sensors showed the reentry craft to be safely beyond Efthis’s station, Althea seated herself at the command console and strove to compose herself for her next moves. She checked the ship’s tanks of reaction mass, did a swift mental calculation, reached for the reaction drive igniter, and took a deep breath.
     It had to be Loioc men who built this abomination. The women would never have dared. The dangers of large-scale construction in space are far too great. They probably used collars like the one Efthis threatened me with to compel them to comply.
     But were they derationalized creatures like Vellis, or were they intact men? If the former, how could they have coped with the complexities? If the latter, what did the women promise them for their cooperation? A homeland of their own, where they could live as they pleased to their dying days? Or a privileged status of some sort among their derationalized brethren?

     Her thoughts veered toward an even less pleasant subject.
     An isolated group of genes responsible for sentience? Just one group that can be removed without damaging the rest of the genetic code? Not bloody likely. I should have probed for more details. What did the excision of the sentience constellation do to the rest of the male physiognomy? Was their strength reduced? Their dexterity? Their endurance? Their lifespan? What sort of process did the “great geneticist” go through in deciding that the tradeoff would be worthwhile?
     She tried to imagine Martin reaved of his intellect and reduced to a well-conditioned slave. To a mindless, soulless thing, good only for what his sinews could do and his heart and lungs could endure. The thought was enough to revive her fury. It burned white hot at the center of her soul—a soul whose reality she could no longer doubt, a soul uniquely and indissolubly hers beyond any possibility of separation.
     Only a part of her in direct contact with the moral laws of the universe could have flamed into such righteous rage.
     What right did they have? How on Hope—strike that; how in the galaxy did they convince themselves that this was their prerogative?
     Women have been civilizing the men of Hope for thirteen centuries. We’ve never needed to geld them. They’ve fought no wars. They’ve taken no slaves. They’ve erected no States, which is where all the other horrible ideas always came from. Maybe doing it our way, with love and devotion and lives filled with family and enterprise and riches, just seemed to the Loioc women like too much work.
     The more fools they.

     Another unpleasant possibility rose to bedevil her.
     Will the menfolk of Hope burn as fiercely as I do over this obscenity, or will it fall to Clan Morelon to arrange vengeance and salvation for their cousins on the world below?
     Will it fall to me?
     It doesn’t matter. If no one else will lead the expedition, I’ll do it myself. Strike that: I’ll do it, period. I’ll craft the warships, invent the weapons, and build the armada. I’ll train the leadership cadre and inspire the troops. I’ll bring the hammer of vengeance down on these arrogant bitches. And I’ll make a thorough job of it.

     She engaged the reaction drive, opened the exhaust baffles wide, sent power to the attitude jets, and slowly circumnavigated the station.
     She bathed the Loioc space station from end to end in the fusion plume. The station was tough; it had to be to accept, contain, and direct the energies required for its duties. But it wasn’t nearly tough enough to resist temperatures kindled in the heart of a star. Within minutes, the shell of the station had softened and turned to slag. The shell and all its contents were no more than plasma shortly thereafter.
     It never occurred to you that a mere female might have a little violence in her soul, did it, Efthis? Enough to deal with you and turn the door of your jail cell into a cloud of incandescent gas? Enough to return with a fleet of ships and weapons sufficient to deliver your menfolk from bondage and treat you and your sisters to the fate you’ve earned?
     In time, bitch. In time. I have a little more physics to do, and a lot more planning. But I’ll be back. With a fleet and a gaggle of angry companions...some of them women.

     When she could see that the destruction was complete, Althea nodded in satisfaction, damped the main drive, constricted the exhaust baffles, pulsed the attitude thrusters to reorient the ship for system exit, and headed for the cometary belt to top off the ship’s reaction mass tanks.
     When Liberty’s Torch had ingested enough cometary ice to bring her reaction-mass reserves to maximum, she went to high thrust and swiftly left the last objects in the outer system well behind. A few hours later, the densitometers declared that the vacuum was thin enough to go superluminal. She disengaged the reaction drive and briefly contemplated the return journey.
     An elaborate procedure was required to prepare the ship for an automated return to Hope system. She’d allowed for the possibility that it might be needed and had designed the necessary control linkages and software to make it possible, but of course had never tried it out.
     No help for it. As soon as I’m under superluminal drive and properly headed up, I’m getting into the medipod. With luck, it will find the nanites and strain them out of me. Without...God, be with me.
     She had to be certain she’d been thoroughly purged of them before she would allow herself to return to the surface of Hope.

==<O>==

Copyright © 2013 Francis W. Porretto. All Rights Reserved Worldwide.