For those of my readers who are not yet in the know, my short story for Tom Kratman’s Carreraverse will appear in Terra Nova: The Wars of Liberation. Look for it on sale at Amazon and Baen.com on August 6th.
This is an exciting time for me. It is my first published fictional piece, and for it to be set in the Carreraverse is all the more epic. I really appreciate Tom giving me this opportunity and helping me smooth out the rough edges of my writing. And furthermore, I am grateful for Francis Porretto for reading a very early version and supplying me with some helpful pointers that led to a major plot point.
From this, I think I’ve gained the confidence and practice I needed to make my first attempt at a full-length original novel in the near future, using a story outline I’ve had in my head for years. Look for some snippets of that here on The Declination in the near future!
But on to the Carreraverse and why it interested me. Tom is, of course, an expert in war, although I’m not sure he would describe himself as such. And the fighting makes for highly entertaining reading, but there is something more buried in the pages of these books.
In Heinlein’s Starship Troopers, I was first introduced to the idea of military service as a thing that might be tied to voting rights. This is, of course, not necessarily a new concept historically speaking – military service and citizenship were almost one and the same for Spartans, and the Romans (and others) used the military as a citizenship path for some – but it’s one that doesn’t enter public political discourse all that often.
It goes back to a concept Nassim Nicholas Taleb discusses frequently. If you’re going to have responsibility for a thing, you should have skin in the game. If you have a stockbroker who makes money regardless of whether you win or lose in the market, why should you trust his advice? He has no skin in the game. He suffers no consequences for being wrong.
The characters in the Carrera books are strongly tied to their respective worlds. They have skin in the game. The titular character is wed to Balboa through marriage and through fire. The villains are similar, and in fact you can even feel somewhat sorry for one of the major ‘villains’, in that she does have a conscience of sorts, and is merely doing what she can with the hand she was dealt. She has skin in the game, too.
Tom isn’t an armchair general writing about some fanciful space laser blasters. He gives us a world that is very real, very relatable, and filled with believable tactics and strategy. I am not a military man myself. But most of the other men in my family are, as are many of my friends, and while I will likely never have the knowledge of these matters that they possess – for anything I learn is coming out of a book, and lacks a real perspective – I can appreciate the authenticity of it.
Most folks can relate to how flippant things like rank, tactics, supplies, etc… are treated in many science fiction worlds. Not so in the Carreraverse. This is a real world, for all the science fiction behind the scenes regarding Terra Nova’s settlement. The stories are real, the reactions are real.
No fanciful space blasters. But there are lasers. Just of a more real sort.
The philosophy behind the Carreraverse is just as interesting as the fighting, the conflicts, and the characters themselves. Tom has a message woven through these books, though he doesn’t beat the reader over the head with it. Again, it’s done believably. It’s more real.
The Wars of Liberation anthology rewinds the clock and shows us some small slices from when Terra Novan settlements were relatively young, and when the world Tom describes in the main books was first taking shape from the milieu of Old Earth cultures and polities. It is a mix of the high tech and the low tech.
As one line in my short goes, one which was Tom’s idea, it’s “stone knives and bearskins.” But with drones, explosives, and hacking into networks aboard orbiting spacecraft. And a Pringles can, for a bit of inside IT humor.
My story started with a proposition: what would happen to a pair of regular IT folks if they were dropped into the middle of all this? How would they survive? How would they make themselves useful? Or would everything they knew be functionally useless on a new planet about to experience some revolutionary upheaval?
Well, if you’re at all curious, you don’t have long to wait.
I encourage you to snag yourself a copy, and if you haven’t already, give Tom’s Carrera books a read. The first book in the series, A Desert Called Peace, is entirely free. You won’t be disappointed.
I want to try my hand at writing a novel I’ve had outlined for years. I don’t know that I am ready for it yet, but I wanted to share a snippet to see if it’s something that piques the interest of my readers. The following is the first scene of the novel.
On the night before the scheduled altercast to Madis, while most of his crew was out boozing and throwing money at strippers, an ancient priest came to visit Captain Kyle Rivera at his spartan apartment in Killeen’s outer sector.
As Kyle opened the door, the oppressive heat and lip-cracking dryness nearly overwhelmed him, and he motioned the old priest inside quickly. Even in Killeen’s spring season, the climate was near to intolerable. It would be a relief, he thought, to escape back into space for a few months.
Kyle sized up the priest. He was about the same height as Kyle’s own five foot eleven, though much thinner, without the burgeoning beer gut, and with hair so gray it was almost white. His eyes were green, generally a sign of Nova Roman ancestry, and were quite exotic compared to Kyle’s own far more common brown. Nova Romans rarely traveled to the fringe worlds unless they had no other choice in the matter.
“You said it was urgent in your comm, father.” Kyle slid a few empty beer bottles off the rarely used guest chair. “I apologize for the accommodations. I’m not exactly a man of higher means, you know?” Even on backwater Killeen, the only city worth the title on the planet of the same name, the sanctity of the collar was respected, even by a man who hadn’t seen the inside of a confessional in well over a decade. Kyle was quite genuinely embarrassed, but there had been no time to prepare for the priest’s arrival.
The priest shrugged, though there was a little hesitation as he sat in the proffered chair. “I won’t be long. You are the captain of the Santiago.” It wasn’t really a question.
Kyle nodded. “Yeah. But, I don’t see why the Church is interested in a standard gate build out on the galactic fringe worlds. Especially since it’s a corporate job. We do it all the time…”
The priest’s eyes narrowed slightly. “It’s not what you’re doing, it’s where. Are you familiar with the extra-galactic origin theory?”
“Vaguely. Being honest, father… I don’t pay much attention to that shit – pardon me. Somebody calls me, offers my outfit an altercasting job to build a gate in some dump, and if the money is good, I go. Not a whole lot of theorizing and such.” Kyle cracked open a beer and offered one to the priest, who politely declined.
Do priests even drink? Kyle wondered briefly, taking a sip. Their loss if they don’t.
“Humans aren’t native to this sector,” the priest gestured to the only window in the shoddy apartment. The lights of Killeen’s pitiful skyline dominated an otherwise dark, featureless desert void. “Nor are they native to Nova Roma – the very name suggests as much. Most think we arrived from elsewhere in our galaxy, and though the Church takes no official position on the subject, that is the position we… encourage.”
“I take it you’re not a believer,” Kyle said, his curiosity piqued despite himself.
“The Church’s records on the subject are extremely fragmentary,” the old man continued. “Forensic data archaeologists haven’t been able to piece together much from before the third century post-landing, and even that is quite scattered and messy. But, and this is why I’m here tonight, one of the oldest records we’ve been able to reconstruct mentions Madis, specifically. The coordinates, adjusted for a spatial drift, are a perfect match.”
“So?” Kyle mused, taking another pull from his beer. He frowned as, somehow, the beer was already half-gone. “The Church knew where it was for a long time. We know where a lot of empty planets are. I don’t get the significance.” Gate-building business had been slowing a little in recent years, Kyle reflected, but there were still plenty of known, unsettled worlds without gates. The trouble was justifying the enormous expense to build a gate, not any lack of known worlds to explore.
“Those of us who believe in the extra-galactic origin theory think it might be the first world visited by our ancestors, or at least the closest one we know of.” The priest pulled a tablet out of his bag and pointed to a flashing red indicator in Church Latin. “The ancestors also warned us not to return there in very emphatic terms.”
Kyle almost spit out his beer. “Look, and this is with all due respect, but if you’re here, telling me this shit, I’m guessing you took this to WorldCorp and they told you to go to… er… well, they said they’re doing it anyway. Right?”
A flash of annoyance crossed the priest’s features, and Kyle knew he had struck gold.
“If you’re trying to tell me to say no to two million credits then I’m going to have to decline your not-so-generous offer. And it won’t do you any good anyway, WorldCorp will just give the job to another crew. They want those mining rights pretty damned bad, father.”
“Two million, you said,” the priest asked, reaching into his bag again. He produced an e-paper certificate with the blockchain code flashing on the upper right. “I have a bond here drawn on the Church’s estates for five-hundred thousand credits. It’s yours if you call WorldCorp and cancel the contract right now.” Estate certificates drawn on the Church were better than gold in most places.
The mostly-empty beer bottle clattered to the floor. Five-hundred thousand credits, for doing nothing at all? Kyle was floored. Whatever he expected from the priest, it certainly wasn’t this.
“I… don’t understand. I mean, even if I said no, another altercasting crew will surely take the contract and then…”
“You’re the last one, Captain Rivera. WorldCorp will find there are no other crews willing to take the job.”
“You bought them all?” Kyle tried not to think of the enormous expense that represented. WorldCorp must really want the mining rights to that system, because surely the Church would have tried to bribe them directly before going to every altercasting crew in the Churchlands. Sure, it’s specialty work, but there are least a dozen other crews and… Well never mind that. Do I want five-hundred thousand credits for free, without months of my life getting flushed down the shitter? We can take another job, maybe that gig in Ravenna, and pocket the money as a bonus. Of course, if the Church is this desperate…
“One million.” Kyle demanded, trying not to betray his own anxiety.
“If you call WorldCorp right now, and cancel the contract with me as a witness, the Church will agree to one million.” He reached into his bag and produced a second certificate.
“Jesus… you’re serious. Okay, no problem…”
Mercifully, the priest declined to call him out on his casual blasphemy. Kyle stood and faced the wall comm, pinging the local WorldCorp headquarters. It was exceedingly late on board the orbital habitat, but if he knew his man…
Sure enough, Paul’s groggy, stubble-covered face filled the screen. His eyes were slanted in a fashion common in the Eastlands. The systems in the galactic east had been settled by a slightly different genetic mix than the galactic west. “Captain Kyle. This is unexpected. And… fuck. Not again.” He caught sight of the priest. “Whatever this man is telling you is bullshit.”
Kyle nodded his firm agreement. “Yes sir, it’s probably horseshit and then some. But his money is good. And I can exercise my opt-out clause.”
“You don’t want to do that. You do that, and you’ll never get a job from us again.” Paul frowned.
“Now who is full of shit? If every other altercasting crew in the Churchlands is out, then that means we were last on your list anyway. And you told me you called me first. Shame on you for lying.” He chuckled. Kyle had never believed that little lie. After that job on Cordova III, the whole crew had been on the WorldCorp shit list. Come to think of it, Kyle wondered, it was really suspicious that they’d even bother with us after all that. Maybe there’s something to this priest’s claims.
“What’s he offering you?” Paul sidestepped the question entirely.
“One million. And that’s for doing nothing at all. And me? I like doing nothing. Been wanting to do nothing for years, in fact. I got a whole lot of plans for doing nothing.”
“We’ll do four.” Paul said simply.
Well, he doesn’t waste time. Kyle smiled, this was going very well for him indeed. His crew would be elated, he could finally offer full-bonus for the first time in almost ten standard years. With that kind of money, he could retire if he really wanted to do it. But there was almost certainly more room on the table.
“Six million or I walk.”
“Don’t do this.” The priest’s strained voice came from behind him.
“Unless you can beat his offer, I’m definitely doing this.” The priest’s silence confirmed that he either could not, or would not.
On the viewer, Paul stroked his chin nervously. There was a dangerous look in his eyes. “Fine. Six million. I’ll have the papers drawn up in the morning. Don’t be late, this does not alter our timetable, understand?”
Kyle nodded, and Paul cut the transmission. He turned to the priest, wondering what he could even say. It was awkward enough having a man of the cloth in his apartment, and now…
“I’m sorry, father but… I’m a businessman. Still, I wouldn’t have been able to do that without your assistance. So, you want a cut, maybe? Maybe I could donate half a mill to the Church or something. Call it a tithe.”
The priest angrily collected his things and headed for the door. Just before he slammed it, the priest cursed loudly in an unpriestlike manner. “Fucking idiot redneck.”
For a moment, Kyle was consumed with the thought that he had just made a terrifying mistake. But six million credits was six million credits, right?
It was only then that he realized the priest had never even offered his name.
Kurt Schlichter wrote a fascinating what-if scenario positing Leftists of #TheResistance mobilizing a coup against President Trump, using Leftist-sympathizing military leadership. While somewhat far-fetched at the present moment, there is a disturbing amount of plausibility to the idea. What is going to happen if the Left fails to make gains in 2018? What if, instead, the wishy-washy GOP Establishment types face primary resistance? In other words, what will happen if the country shifts further away from Social Justice?
Read Part 1 and Part 2. You will find it both disturbing and realistic.
Make no mistake, Social Justice is exactly what they desire. Of course, it is neither social, in the sense that it avoids any kind of organic social consensus and instead forces the issue, nor is it justice, insofar as one may be punished for deeds one has not committed. Social Justice is, instead, a sort of tax on suckers. Bureaucrats are effectively middlemen in this. They take from the so-called privileged and give to the so-called oppressed, taking a lavish cut for themselves, naturally.
Even corporations are cashing in on the trend, with videos like the famous Pepsi commercial or the recent abomination from Proctor & Gamble. Fleecing suckers is definitely something the corporate world wants a slice of, too. The idea, of course, is to virtue signal agreement with the precepts of Social Justice in an effort to get their money. Patronize our business, not the businesses of those icky conservatives. It is a strategy employed by many companies, from Marvel Comics to Starbucks.
There is a reason, after all, that liberals worship the almighty Apple.
And so the Sucker Tax is inflicted upon us both by government, and by corporate cronies. It’s big money, this Sucker Tax. Imagine being able to virtue signal your love for people of color while outsourcing your manufacturing operations to some third world toilet where you actually oppress people. Then you can sell your goods to some sanctimonious white liberal who watched the Proctor & Gamble “The Talk” video and thinks she is now an expert on race relations.
What does this have to do with Kurt’s coup scenario? Quite a lot, actually. You see, us conservatives are accustomed to thinking of Social Justice as a political ideology, a bastardized form of Marxism hell-bent on reestablishing something reminiscent of the Soviet Union. And that’s not entirely incorrect, but neither is it entirely correct. You see, there is big money in Social Justice. You can charge people more for a cup of coffee if they believe they are fighting racism by buying that Starbucks vente mocha. You can tax people into oblivion if you frame it as reparations for racism, sexism, and homophobia. Social pressure and white guilt are cash cows. The rich can get cheap help from Mexico and make taxpayers foot the bill when the gardener trips on a rake and breaks his leg, necessitating a trip to the emergency room. They get the cheap labor, you get the bill. Oppose it? You racist! Even better, you see, if there is single payer. Then the taxpayers can foot even more of the bill.
It would be nice to eliminate all the guns, so government can proceed with their totalitarian desires without worrying about defending against an armed population (it’s cheaper to oppress the unarmed). Similarly, wouldn’t it be great if automobiles were demonized as sinful destroyers of the environment so the freeway could be cleared of plebeian traffic, set aside only for use by the rich? Also, imagine how much nicer and less icky airports would be without so many people in them.
Social Justice is the ideology the rich and powerful have created in order to stay rich and powerful. Any time the people might start to get a sniff of this, a new political issue is invented out of thin air as a distraction. Perhaps we need to talk about 0.01% of the population having some difficulty selecting their preferred bathrooms. Or maybe it’s time to talk about how there aren’t enough people of color in Dunkirk, a movie produced by liberal Hollywood. Maybe it’s time for a woman who does porn to cart around a mattress all over campus to protest a rape that never happened.
What happens when these distractions fail? What happens if the American people wake up to the fact that the very same 1% the Left constantly criticizes basically is the Left? Hell, what happens if a mere 51% of America figures this out? It came very close with Donald Trump’s election. Close enough that Trump secured electoral victory.
Does anyone think these cretins are simply going to pack up and go away? “Oh, you caught us now, I guess we’ll be going.”
No. If such a thing came to pass, they would have to go all in, to give up the velvet-gloved tyranny they’ve been espousing since I was a kid and embrace the iron fist. They aren’t giving up the Sucker Tax, their entire livelihood depends upon it. And they’d need a coup to keep it, in such circumstances.
A coup that could play out very much like what Kurt has written.
If you’ve long felt the country coming apart at the seems, fracturing along its ideological breakpoints, you aren’t alone. Right or Left, it’s not hard to see it. The Internet is chock full of vitriol and hatred between the the camps. In meatspace, the peace was often maintained by deliberately looking the other way, or just keeping quiet.
But now, with the rise of Donald Trump, even meatspace is becoming hostile politically. I’ve lost many personal friends, and I’ll probably lose more. There are riots in streets, and graffiti right down the road from me that says “Kill Whitey – Black Lives Matter.” Hoax or true, who knows? But God knows you didn’t see things like that in my town even a year ago.
We’re heading to a dark place as a nation, presuming we even last much longer as a nation. I don’t know. When I read Kurt’s first book in this series, People’s Republic, I was instantly struck with how plausible and realistic the world he constructed felt.
In his new book, Indian Country, this world is taken up to the eleven. You see what it would actually be like to live in a time when the country wasn’t just splitting apart, but had already cut itself to pieces. Make no mistake, the world he describes is so very possible, even likely, that it’s actually something of a frightening read.
In some ways, his writing style reminds me of Tom Kratman, as it should given their broadly similar backgrounds. You can definitely tell that the author served. His description of tactics, the grasp of command, and what it means to fight ring true.
Some trolls on Twitter, usually of the Progressive variety, have taken to calling him a stupid “jagoff” on Memorial Day, but they only prove why Kurt’s world feels so realistic. The hatred and vitriol slung his way for just the mere act of writing and promoting this book shows the truth of it.
Kelly Turnbull, Kurt’s protagonist, is a fascinating character. At first read, you might think him a simplistic military man, without any real depth. But as you get into the book, you realize that Kelly is a sort of observer of humanity, almost as much a passenger in this story as the reader.
Oh, he’s not a helpless passenger. During the course of the story, he fights, and motivates his men (and yes, they are his men, despite being a motley collection of civilians, cops, and ex-military) to great feats. But the reader gets the sense that though this story takes place in a tiny part of southern Indiana, it’s part of a much wider world that’s slowly but surely going straight to Hell.
There are some memorable characters, and some amusing one-liners here and there, including an old stubborn redneck downing Pabst on the way to a firefight because damnit, the beer was just there, and plenty of jabs at politically correct social justice culture. It’s not Crusader company, damnit, it’s “Caring” company. I guess every tanker is just a caring transsexual overweight otherkin lesbian in disguise. It sounds like the sort of irritating intellectual refuse peddled by your average SJW. Kurt, it would seem, is well acquainted with them.
The villains aren’t cardboard cutouts either. One isn’t really a villain at all, despite his role as a major antagonist. Others, while being comically idiotic zampolits (is there any other kind?), manage to get in their own way more often than not.
Indian Country is a book I couldn’t put down. It was at times, entertaining, horrifying, real, and utterly insane. And it’s a thing that may come to pass sooner or later. Kurt intends this book to be a warning. Perhaps he, like some of my friends (Sarah, I’m looking at you), believe we can still avert the coming crisis.
Me? I’m a cynic and a pessimist. Not so different from Kurt’s protagonist, in this respect. When I read Indian Country, I feel like I’m reading a history of the near future.
Wherever you might stand on the future of our country, all I can say is, this book is powerful beyond my ability to describe it, and I give it the strongest possible endorsement.
Just a quick short story. Enjoy.
The old Waffle House wasn’t what it used to be, Jonathan reflected. Of course, that was true enough of any roadside eatery, these days. The eggs were runny and cold, the toast slightly burnt. But food was food, and you had to take what you could get.
He glanced outside the diner, where the usual protest was in full swing. That, too, had become a regular feature of his life. Every morning, the funding came to keep the agitators coming, to keep the signs fresh and the protesters numerous and at least somewhat clean.
Jonathan looked up as the door opened, and the old bell rang. He knew who it was without looking, of course, but some deep, primal instinct told him never to have his back to this man.
“Hi, Jon.” The man walked up to the counter and sat down crisply, his suit exquisitely tailored and pressed, his graying hair perfectly combed, without so much as a single misplaced strand. His tie was a deep and bright red, solid, and unadorned. He looked every bit of the corporate executive that he most assuredly wasn’t. For how could a Red be a corporatist?
There was nothing for Jon to say, for he didn’t even know the man’s name. So he merely nodded and averted his gaze slightly. He wondered briefly if he was the antelope, and the other man a predator, gazing through the grass at his quarry in one of those old Discovery channel shows. The man’s toothy grin did nothing to dissuade him from the comparison.
Snapping his fingers, the suited man summoned the waitress, an overweight tranny with unshaven stubble framing her face. But you weren’t supposed to notice things like that anymore, Jon chastised himself silently. All bodies were beautiful. He repeated the mantra in his mind until the wrongthink vanished into the mental ether.
“Give me a cup of coffee, and then I’ll have whatever he’s having,” the man’s smile broadened. “But do tell the cook to pay better attention to his work.”
Normally, such a demand would be met with disdain. Nobody wanted to serve white men anything. They were lucky if they even got the food they paid for. But, like Jon, the waitress seemed to sense something off about the man and nodded quickly.
“Good. Now that that’s handled, on to business, my friend.” The man slid a manila envelope across the counter. “The usual pay for our revolutionaries. You’ll find a little extra in there for yourself, too. You’ve done well this week.”
Jon forced a smile. “Thank you. I am sure it will help in the struggle.”
“No doubt.” The man’s smile slowly disappeared, and Jon felt a spike of fear. “We will need to do a little more this week, however.”
“More?” Jon wondered aloud.
“Yes, more. The fascists have been busy this week, as you know. There’s been a lot of incidents. The revolutionaries down in south beach got a little overzealous. Some kids were killed. The fascists gunned down some of our people in reprisal, and we can use that, of course…”
Jon nodded in understanding. “But the optics are still bad. It will look like they were justified. They’ll win the moral high ground.”
The man smiled again. “Exactly. So I need you to provoke the fascists into action this week. It needs to be brutal and bloody. We need some… sacrifices made for the Revolution.”
Jon knew what that meant, and he hesitated. He’d have to get the rabble-rousers to provoke a shooting, and some poor children of color would need to die. The bodies would prove the fascists to be murdering warmongers, and points would be scored in the media and on the Internet.
There were times he wondered if he was even on the right side of history anymore. Everything was about who could produce more dead children, who could goad the other side into delivering as much suffering as possible. He was no longer in the business of creating a world of equality and fairness, he was in the business of getting innocent people killed.
Nodding in understanding, the suited man’s expression turned both sympathetic and grave. “I know it’s hard, Jon. But that’s how it has to be. This is war, and if we don’t do it, the fascists will win.”
Jon said nothing. At least he understood why the man was paying him extra this week. He could drown out his conscience in drugs and sex. Party all night, riot all day, or sometimes the reverse, if the occasion called for it. It was a far cry from the dreams of a futurist progressive society he’d been sold in college.
Though it had been decades since he’d last seen the inside of a church, the voice of his town’s lone pastor echoed in his mind in that moment, almost against his will. The pastor often talked about Cain, and why the jealousy and murderous rage had grown within him. “Cain was blind to the flaws in his own character, and ascribed his woes to his innocent brother.” Was it possible he was doing the same? Blinding himself to the flaws of his own movement?
“The Devil,” the preacher told him, “he makes you think his desires are your desires. And so the Devil wanted Abel dead, and worked his will through Cain.”
But fascist wingnuts were still fascist wingnuts, he thought to himself. And if he was selling his soul, so were they.
The suited man seemed to know his thoughts, and grinned. He lit up a cigarette, which had been illegal indoors for decades now, and puffed on it gently, the haze of smoke obscuring his features. Nobody bothered to stop him.
“Do you believe in God, Jon?” The man asked.
“No,” Jon answered reflexively.
“I don’t like the idea that some all-powerful being controls my fate.” Jon replied.
“So what about the historical dialectic? The inevitable progression of economic and socio-political systems?” The man challenged. Outside, the protesters were growing louder and more angry.
“That’s different. That’s mankind making his own destiny. We evolve. We progress as a collective species. Nietzsche said it best. God is dead.”
The man’s grin broadened. “Ah, yes. Maybe so. But what about the Devil?”
“What about him?”
“Funny thing about the Devil, is he always seemed to know people better. God would say ‘do this’ or ‘don’t do that.’ And then he’d offer the choice of willing obedience. And he might tell you some reasons why the obedience was wise. But the Devil,” the man took in a long drag from the cigarette, “the Devil, he was smarter than that. His question was always ‘what do you want?’ He gained obedience through bargaining. ‘Do this,’ he’d say, ‘and I’ll give you what you desire.'”
“Okay, I’ll buy that,” Jon began. “But what does that have to do with us?”
The man smiled. The waitress set his plate down on the counter, ignoring the haze of cigarette smoke. The eggs were perfect and fluffy. The toast covered in generous amounts of butter.
“To get what you want,” the man said between forkfuls of eggs, “you need an exchange. The Capitalists got that part right, at least. They just got the medium wrong. You can’t just say ‘this is good, so we should do it.’ Now we Revolutionaries, we do the same thing, but not with money.” He gestured to the manila envelope. “Or, at least eventually it won’t be with money.”
“I don’t follow.” Jon said.
“The old saying ‘money is power’ is not quite true. Money is a form of power, but it is diluted. It is mixed up with notions of value. In the progressive world, we trade on power more directly. No middleman, as it were. We are all little Devils, asking the other ‘what do you want?’ We trade on desire.” He took a bite of the toast and savored it for a moment. “Well, some of us are little devils, anyway. Others are, perhaps, somewhat larger.”
“So what do you want, then?” Jon wondered aloud.
“What I want is more death, I want our blood in the streets, Jon. Brains leaking on the asphalt, body parts strewn everywhere. I want the cameras and phones out, showing it all in real-time, high def. I want the whole world to blame the fascists and say ‘look at those devils.’ I want them to feel it in their craws and despair. Christians are so easy to manipulate, sometimes. You make them look like devils, and they’ll wail and self-flagellate, and despair. In their despair, they will surrender to us, because they will believe God wants to punish them for the failure. They take our sins as their own.”
The man gulped down the last of his food, and smiled warmly again. Jon was unnerved at the casual description of a massacre.
“But don’t worry, Jon. You give me what I want, and I’ll give you what you want. That’s how it works, remember?” The man wiped his face with his napkin and patted Jon on the back. “We’ve all got a little devil in us.”
Jon stared into the man’s eyes for just a moment too long. He saw his reflection in them, the haunted, drug-addled revolutionary he had become. He didn’t like what he saw.
The man got up and nodded, still smiling, dropping a twenty on the counter. During their conversation, most of the other customers had vanished. The waitress was nowhere to be seen.
Jon followed him outside, where the protest was in full swing. His rabble-rousers and paid protesters looked at him beseechingly. The money would be needed tonight, he knew. The drugs, the booze, the sex… they would all need to forget. Jon nodded, raising his fist in to the air, and the energy of the crowd floated over him.
As the chanting began, Jon looked through the crowd for the suited man, but he was already gone, only a small cloud of cigarette smoke marking his passing.
Across the street, the counter-protesters were already mobilizing, and for a moment, Jon locked eyes with his opposite number on the other side, a man that looked for all the world to be just like him, world-weary and yet focused. There was murder in his gaze. A haze of cigarette smoke wafted into the breeze from the restaurant behind the fascist leader, and Jon pondered that.
He found himself wondering which one of them was supposed to be Cain, and who was supposed to be Abel. For, while his faith in God had long been broken by the worldly needs of the Revolution, he was pretty confident the Devil still walked among them.
This business with the X-Men billboard proves that the Sad Puppies are right. What does a comic book movie have to do with a movement in Science Fiction? Everything.
You see, when the billboard featured a villain choking another character, you are seeing an important feature of any story: characters must face challenges. I mean, imagine a story in which the hero showed up, said “I’m here now, you should just give up,” and presto, the hero wins, the villain is defeated and everyone lived happily ever after.
Pretty lame story, right?
Villain hurts woman. Isn’t that what villains do? What should he do instead? “I respect you as a woman, so I will let you kill me. Only the Feminists will survive.”
So when RadFems and SJWs (but I repeat myself) complain that a billboard features a villain attacking another character, I’m very confused. If women are to be the central characters in Feminist fiction, as the likes of Anita Sarkeesian and her ilk frequently demand, then they must face challenges, right? A woman character must fight, must be beaten down just as a male character might be, and rise to defeat her enemy.
Being a central part of the character’s journey, we would expect this to be a meaty part of the story right? Worthy of advertising it?
Except this is “violence against women.” Like the cover of a Batgirl comic which also triggered Feminist rage, wherein the Joker has clearly overpowered the titular character, any indication that the woman might lose, might suffer at the hands of the villain, cannot be allowed.
So what is allowed then? Must Batgirl walk up to the Joker and say “I’m a woman!” Joker then lays down, puts his hands behind his back, and the story ends. No struggle. No fight. The woman gets whatever she wants by virtue of being a woman.
The joker is doing bad things to the hero. Can’t have that, right?
This is what the Sad Puppies have been talking about for years, and why they are understandably worried about the blatant politicization of fiction. They want to read and write stories where the protagonist must complete a journey, must face challenges and villains. Where the protagonist must find friends and allies, where struggle and suffering are part of that journey.
This goes for both male and female protagonists.
How can you have a story where the protagonist cannot suffer injury? Where the hero can suffer no physical attack, no setback, no violence? Imagine James Bond as a woman (as feminists are demanding currently) in this sort of scenario. Where James Bond was tied to a chair and tortured via the clubbing of his genitals in Casino Royale, feminists would scream were a Jane Bond subjected to the same torture.
What should the villainous banker to the world’s terrorists do, then, to get the money from Bond? Shall he say “I respect you as a woman, and I would never do anything without your consent. So I didn’t tie you up, and I won’t torture you. I didn’t take your gun either, since that would be a violation of your body. But I would like to know the password to the bank account, if that is not asking too much of m’lady.”
Then Jane Bond shoots the banker in the face, and the story is over. Some story, right?
This is the sort of executive meddling on behalf of Social Justice that Sad Puppies rightly fear. They don’t want their stories hung up by some misguided notion that certain demographics can never suffer fictional injury, that they can never face challenges. How can you write an entertaining (much less believable) story, hamstrung like that?
If you want to get technical, the billboard did indeed feature “violence against women.” But in the real world, violence against women happens. And in the fictional world you create, it may also happen. Indeed, a central part of the story may be a woman overcoming such violence to kill her tormentor. How is any of that bad?
And more importantly, why is any of it worthy of de facto censorship?