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Monday, September 19, 2016

If We Believe the Worst About the Candidates

In this most bizarre and unfortunate election year, it behooves us all to try for some perspective. Many of us have lost friends, whether online or in what I gather is now called “meat space,” due to someone’s indignant inability to accept disagreement about the major party candidates. The following is a mental exercise that may or may not shed some light on the problem.

Let us assume, for the sake of argument, that every claim and accusation made against both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton is true. And let me immediately make a caveat I will repeat at intervals: I am NOT saying that any or all of these claims and accusations are in fact true, and I do not personally believe all of them. (I have no intention of saying which I find credible to any extent.)

Another caveat: I’ll almost certainly miss items in one or both lists. Feel free to supplement them in the comments.

Also: I’m leaving out actual political positions, which are in themselves enough to inspire passion both for or against either candidate.

First, Donald Trump. Various sources assert the following (which, again, I am NOT stating to be fact):
--He is a racist as regards blacks, Hispanics, and (if we ignore that Muslims are not a race) Muslims.
--He is a sexist.
--He mocks the disabled.
--He insults military heroes.
--He has encouraged people to doubt that Barack Obama was born in the U.S., as opposed to Kenya.
--He has made creepy suggestions of incestuous yearnings toward at least one daughter.
--He has grossly exaggerated his wealth and his track record of business success.
--He has made a habit of cheating people with whom he has business dealings, ruining some of them financially.
--His Trump University was an expensive scam.
--He understands little or nothing about our constitutional system, the role of Congress, or the nature of judges’ jobs.
--He has an extremely short attention span, a volatile temper, and a minimal verbal filter.
--He compulsively counter-punches when he feels attacked.
--He is a pathological narcissist.
--He encourages his supporters to physically attack protesters.
--He has suggested that his supporters might want to assassinate Hillary Clinton.
--He is a demagogue who hopes to become a dictator.
--He changes his positions frequently on short notice, and cannot be counted on to cleave to any he has presented.

Next, Hillary Clinton. Again, various sources make the following claims (which, once again, I am NOT endorsing):
--She has serious health challenges that affect her stamina, her comprehension, and her memory, and have left her easily confused about important matters. She has recently directed her staff, or allowed her staff, to lie about the reason for her collapse at the 9-11 memorial.
--She used her position as Secretary of State to sell government access and favors to various foreign and domestic figures. One of those sales involved turning over a quarter of the US supply of uranium to the Russians. Others benefited Islamic regimes who are less than fully friendly to the U.S.
--She grossly misjudged the results of deposing Libyan President Qaddafi, among other events.
--For reasons of her own or for no reason, she reduced the security of the embassy and other US installations in Libya despite multiple pleas to strengthen them.
--She lied to the American public and to the grieving loved ones of those killed in Benghazi as a result of her decisions.
--In order to conceal the influence-peddling mentioned above, she defied multiple warnings and used a private and vulnerable email server for years. This use included the knowing transmittal of classified material. Her server was very likely hacked by foreign governments. The information thus exposed may have contributed to the deaths of one or more Americans and/or American intelligence assets.
--She lied repeatedly about various matters connected to her email server and emails.
--She destroyed thousands of emails and refused to turn over others to federal authorities. Some of these emails concerned State Department business, but she lied about their contents.
--A few years after her husband Bill Clinton’s presidency, she was complicit in former Clinton advisor Sandy Berger’s theft of unique original classified documents from a National Archives reading room, documents that were never recovered.
--During her run for the presidency in 2007 and 2008, she used various surrogates to spread rumors that Barack Obama was born in Kenya, and cast doubt about whether he was a Muslim rather than a Christian.
--She and Bill conspired to murder a series of people who posed some threat to them or stood in their way in some manner, including attorney Don Adams, former U.N. General Assembly President John Ashe, attorney Gandy Baugh, Admiral Jeremy Boorda, former DNC Chairman and Commerce Secretary Ron Brown, influential Texan James Bunch, informant Eric Butera, journalist Danny Casolaro, human rights activist Berta Caceres, retired Director of Central Intelligence William Colby, alleged lover (of Bill’s) Suzanne Coleman, reporter L.J. Davis, filmmaker David Drye, DNC fundraiser Daniel A. Dutko, attorney and fundraiser Hershell Friday, Deputy White House counsel Vince Foster, . . . The list goes on, with the most recent additions including Julian Assange’s attorney John Jones and attorney Shawn Lucas (representing Bernie Sanders’ supporters in a fraud action against the DNC).

Phew.

From this exhaustive list – which, I once again repeat, I do not claim to be true – we can draw the following conclusions:
--If more than a small fraction of either lists is in fact true, we are so screwed. Or, to cling to some ray of hope, it is time for the members of the Electoral College, once chosen in the November election, to step up and save the country by casting their votes for someone else, as they have the power to do (though whether those votes would count is unclear and may vary by state of origin). Any likely electors should be caucusing now to consider the possibilities.
--Your friends or former friends who support the candidate you oppose probably believe at least some of these claims about the candidate you support. The sources on which you rely have not convinced them otherwise, because they and you trust different sources.

--Finally, an assessment with which others may differ: if every one of these claims about both candidates were in fact true (which – one more time – I am not asserting), I would consider Hillary Clinton to be, by a fairly close margin, an even worse choice than Donald Trump. God help us all.

Tuesday, August 02, 2016

The Democratic Platform, Building on a Weaponized IRS, Poses a Grave Threat to Freedom of Speech and Enquiry

Once again, I take keyboard in hand for an essentially secondhand post. My brilliant husband Paul Hager is loath to post on his blog, The Hoosier Gadfly, without extensive collection of supporting material -- which means he hasn't posted in years. But his insights are very much worth spreading around, even without that level of detail.

Here is the epiphany which may lead him, despite immense reluctance, to vote (with many an accompanying expletive) for Donald Trump. Rather than paraphrase, as I sometimes have in the past, I'll simply pass along the summary I asked him to send me, with minor edits suggested afterward.

---------

As you know, I so loathe Trump and his thuggish authoritarianism that I’ve been planning on voting for the Libertarian ticket. Hillary was never acceptable, given her strategic incompetence, reckless criminality, and willingness to sell State Department favors to some of the most unsavory governments on the planet. But something changed today. Call it an epiphany. I was recalling a provision in the Democratic Platform promising to unleash the Justice Department on corporations that have refused to accept catastrophic predictions concerning climate change. I knew this was an attack on free speech when I first read it, but I didn’t really consider the full import until today.

For the first time, I realized that this attack won’t be limited to expanding the unconstitutional RICO law into matters of scientific dispute. After all, the courts should probably resist this, shouldn’t they? As I was contemplating this, I realized I was missing the big picture. It almost doesn’t matter if certain corporations are successfully prosecuted or not. The threat alone will have a chilling effect on corporate R&D that might deviate from official state dogma. But it’s much worse than that.

We know that the IRS has been successfully weaponized by the Obama administration. Under the new diktat, the IRS will go after 501(c)3 and 501(c)4 organizations like Cato, the Competitive Enterprise Institute, the Hoover Institution, and a host of other conservative and libertarian think tanks that have presented countervailing data and arguments to the Catastrophic Climate Change cabal. The inconvenient satellite data can be deep-sixed as well. Make it impossible for the University of Alabama at Hunstville to get funding while pressuring Remote Sensing Systems to adjust its data.

This would be the most significant attack on science in the history of the United States. If Hillary and the Democrats have their way, it turns the amalgam of neo-Malthusianism, neo-Luddism, and neo-Paganism known as Environmentalism – I prefer to call it eco-fascism – into an official state dogma. This would be much worse than the Soviet repudiation of Darwinian Evolution in favor of Lysenkoism because that dogma was largely limited to biology and agriculture. Eco-fascism is, at its core, fundamentally anti-human and covers a multitude of scientific disciplines. So-called "climate change" is just the wedge issue that will lead the way to full governmental control of science.

Trump has reversed himself on myriad issues but in recent years he’s been consistently hostile to radical environmentalism. His reasoning - or lack thereof - in arriving at his position is irrelevant. For once he’s on the right side and gives evidence that he’ll stay there.

The Democratic Party I used to belong to has become the enemy of scientific enquiry and free scientific debate. When those go, everything else goes. A Hillary win will be the beginning of a new Dark Age.

The Democratic Platform, Building on a Weaponized IRS, Poses a Grave Threat to Freedom of Speech and Enquiry

Once again, I take keyboard in hand for an essentially secondhand post. My brilliant husband Paul Hager is loath to post on his blog, The Hoosier Gadfly, without extensive collection of supporting material -- which means he hasn't posted in years. But his insights are very much worth spreading around, even without that level of detail.

Here is the epiphany which may lead him, despite immense reluctance, to vote (with many an accompanying expletive) for Donald Trump. Rather than paraphrase, as I sometimes have in the past, I'll simply pass along the summary I asked him to send me, with minor edits suggested afterward.

---------

As you know, I so loathe Trump and his thuggish authoritarianism that I’ve been planning on voting for the Libertarian ticket. Hillary was never acceptable, given her strategic incompetence, reckless criminality, and willingness to sell State Department favors to some of the most unsavory governments on the planet. But something changed today. Call it an epiphany. I was recalling a provision in the Democratic Platform promising to unleash the Justice Department on corporations that have refused to accept catastrophic predictions concerning climate change. I knew this was an attack on free speech when I first read it, but I didn’t really consider the full import until today.

For the first time, I realized that this attack won’t be limited to expanding the unconstitutional RICO law into matters of scientific dispute. After all, the courts should probably resist this, shouldn’t they? As I was contemplating this, I realized I was missing the big picture. It almost doesn’t matter if certain corporations are successfully prosecuted or not. The threat alone will have a chilling effect on corporate R&D that might deviate from official state dogma. But it’s much worse than that.

We know that the IRS has been successfully weaponized by the Obama administration. Under the new diktat, the IRS will go after 501(c)3 and 501(c)4 organizations like Cato, the Competitive Enterprise Institute, the Hoover Institution, and a host of other conservative and libertarian think tanks that have presented countervailing data and arguments to the Catastrophic Climate Change cabal. The inconvenient satellite data can be deep-sixed as well. Make it impossible for the University of Alabama at Hunstville to get funding while pressuring Remote Sensing Systems to adjust its data.

This would be the most significant attack on science in the history of the United States. If Hillary and the Democrats have their way, it turns the amalgam of neo-Malthusianism, neo-Luddism, and neo-Paganism known as Environmentalism – I prefer to call it eco-fascism – into an official state dogma. This would be much worse than the Soviet repudiation of Darwinian Evolution in favor of Lysenkoism because that dogma was largely limited to biology and agriculture. Eco-fascism is, at its core, fundamentally anti-human and covers a multitude of scientific disciplines. So-called "climate change" is just the wedge issue that will lead the way to full governmental control of science.

Trump has reversed himself on myriad issues but in recent years he’s been consistently hostile to radical environmentalism. His reasoning - or lack thereof - in arriving at his position is irrelevant. For once he’s on the right side and gives evidence that he’ll stay there.

The Democratic Party I used to belong to has become the enemy of scientific enquiry and free scientific debate. When those go, everything else goes. A Hillary win will be the beginning of a new Dark Age.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Links to my books on Apple's iBooks, plus how to make your own links

Years ago, I knew how to find my books on Apple's iBooks, and then I somehow couldn't find them from my PC any more. Now, hallelujah! Someone has posted the link to the page where one can generate links to any product in any of Apple's stores. Here's that link.

And here are the links to all my current books (novels plus short stories).

--Twin-Bred (Revised Edition)

--Reach: a Twin-Bred novel

--Leaders: a Twin-Bred novel

--The Twin-Bred series: Books 1-3

--Wander Home

--"The Library" (short story set in same afterlife as Wander Home)

--Division

--"The Baby" (maybe-it-is, maybe-it-isn't set in same time, etc. as Division)

Playback Effect

And finally, my nonfiction resource for authors, would-be authors, law students, and anyone else who'd like to understand the American legal system better: --Closest to the Fire: A Writer's Guide to Law and Lawyers Happy reading!

Saturday, June 11, 2016

A short narrative excerpt from my WIP

I'm currently editing/revising/adding to last November's rough draft of a novel. (So far, I always do my rough drafts during National Novel Writing Month, put the rough draft aside for a few weeks, and then edit like hell for months thereafter.) There's a narrative passage I may or may not get to keep, but I like it enough to air it here.

The passage follows the interruption of a nasty bit of hacking. That's all I'll say for now :-).

--------

In the ancient world, scientific and mathematical epiphanies often faded from public awareness. The Chinese (for example, and one of many) accurately described the structure of snowflakes around 135 B.C.E., a feat not replicated in the West until the 12th century C.E. By that time, the Chinese were extracting hormones from urine for medical purposes, an achievement at which Western medicine did not arrive until some hundreds of years later. In ancient Greece, Aristarchus of Samos posited the heliocentric solar system (placing the sun, not the Earth, at the center) in the 3rd century B.C.E., a discovery forgotten and then rediscovered — amid life-threatening controversy — many centuries later.

But in our modern world, knowledge rarely lies fallow for so long. Inventions, once they exist, refuse to remain secret. They are discovered, despite any efforts to the contrary; and they are used.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Very short excerpt from Chapter 3 of Leaders (with spoiler for previous book)

I enjoy creating antagonists with admirable qualities. That's enough introduction for this very short excerpt from Chapter 3 of Leaders: a Twin-Bred novel. It includes a spoiler for Reach, Book Two of the Twin-Bred series. It's not, in my view, a very important spoiler, but caveat lector.









[spoiler space]







[The POV is that of the Tofa Ton-lal-set, formerly Eminence of the Southern Region.]

Once again came the footsteps, and the key in the lock. The door slammed open and two guards entered. Always two, when he left his cell; even after all this time, they must fear he would intimidate one guard unaccompanied.

Time to live or to die.

The nearer guard unlocked the shackles and gathered up the slack of the chain in his lower hands. The small, almost odorless candle given to prisoners flickered feebly. As the guards tugged him along, Ton-lal-set resisted for a moment and blew as hard as he could at the candle, snuffing it out. Then he swaggered toward the door to meet his fate.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Guest Post by author Emlyn Chand -- belatedly posted with my apologies

[I'm terribly sorry that this failed to post back when I thought I'd posted it. I hope late is better than never.]

Let's face it - the publishing industry is changing. We can all pretty much agree on that, right?

What we've got on our hands is an oncoming era of enlightenment (I prefer that to the often-touted “revolution”). ‘T wasn’t long ago that being a self-published author was practically as shocking and horrific as being a witch in Salem, Massachusetts circa 1700.

“What damnation have you wrought upon yourself? Upon us all?” The traditional pub villagers would cry as they rushed for their pitch forks and torches. “Be gone with you, unnatural creatures!”

And those unkind words were enough to send us packing. They didn’t have to chase us out of the village, for we never had any real magic, we were never any real threat.

Until…

We opened our eyes. We saw the true powers we possessed, and we saw the villagers for what they lacked.

We are able to manipulate our circumstances. We have more control than any who’ve gone before us. Self-publishing truly is magic.

But we can’t just walk around all blasé, showing off our green skin and harry warts while levitating our way through the park. That would be a mistake. We need to put on a little bit of concealer and keep our feet on the ground. We wouldn’t want to scare them away.

Similarly, a self-published or indie author needs to put on a bit of a show. We need to know when to conform to the “village” way of life and when to do our own damn thang. If we can get them to come in for a closer look, they might understand our allure. Then they’ll stop being so afraid.

Our make-up isn’t Maybelline to cover that green skin (I ♥ you, Elphaba). No. We apply our foundation by writing a truly fetching and well-edited manuscript. We dab on the blush when we take the time and expense needed to don an attractive book cover. Our lipstick is a professional, personal, and functional web presence.

Don’t we look pretty? We do, I tell you. And we’re all the more beautiful for knowing that we possess something so much deeper within: creativity, stick-to-it-ness, bravery, and of course – magic.

If you really examine the state of the publishing industry, it’s not the traditional house execs that populate the villages. Oh, they’re definitely the mayors, the cryers, and a few other choice townspeople. But if you want to see who lives in the village, go and knock on a few doors.

It’s the readers, bibliophiles, book addicts. They’re the ones who built this town. The mayor would have no village to govern if ‘tweren’t for them.

And thank God for it!

We arrived on their doorsteps – beaten, bloody, in need of a hot meal and a bit of rest. They may have been put off by our bedraggled appearance, but they ultimately let us in and showed us the true nature of their hospitality.

I kind of like this town; I think I’ll move in ;-)

 

Blog Tour Notes 

[edited due to belated posting]



THE BOOK:  Alex Kosmitoras may be blind, but he can still “see” things others can’t.  When his unwanted visions of the future begin to suggest that the girl he likes could be in danger, he has no choice but to take on destiny and demand it reconsider. Get your copy today by visiting Amazon.com’s Kindle store or the eBook retailer of your choice. The paperback edition will be available on November 24 (for the author’s birthday).

THE AUTHOR:  Emlyn Chand has always loved to hear and tell stories, having emerged from the womb with a fountain pen grasped firmly in her left hand (true story). When she’s not writing, she runs a large book club in Ann Arbor and is the president of author PR firm, Novel Publicity. Emlyn loves to connect with readers and is available throughout the social media interweb. Visit www.emlynchand.com for more info. Don’t forget to say “hi” to her sun conure Ducky!

MORE FUN: There's more fun below. Watch the live action Farsighted book trailer and take the quiz to find out which character is most like you!

 

 


Caroline Cooney and George Eliot

[I started this post in 2007 and never finished it, though I thought I had. I've tweaked the beginning and gone on from there.]

Some years ago, I discovered a writer for teens/young adults named Caroline Cooney. One of her better-known books, which my daughter picked up at a book sale, is The Face on the Milk Carton, about a girl who discovers she was abducted as a toddler and as a consequence, has to reexamine and reinterpret her life. I liked it enough to read the three sequels.

In that series, and even more explicitly in some of her other books, Cooney unflinchingly faces the terrifying fact that our actions can have irrevocable consequences. The only other author I can recall reading who does the same is George Eliot, the 19th century novelist most famous for Middlemarch. The novel featuring this theme most directly, however, is Adam Bede.

If you've read the work of either author, you might want to check out the other.

Wanted: pithy label for appeasers

(This is the first resurrected draft from the list of drafts I recently found on Blogger. I thought I'd published it in 2007.)

We need a pithy and evocative label for a sizable percentage of those in politics and the media. I mean the folks who preach and/or practice appeasement of those Muslims who insist on worldwide observance of Islamic prohibitions and preferences.

"Surrender monkeys" sounds too juvenile, and it's been used before. Besides, a single word would be best.

Ideas?

Release Day! for Book Three in the Twin-Bred series and the series boxed set

Today is Release Day times two: for a new book and a series collection!

Leaders, Book Three in the Twin-Bred series, is now available in paperback and ebook formats. Here’s the cover, designed by David Leek.



The ebook is available on Amazon, Kobobooks, the Apple store, Google Play, the Nook Store, and Smashwords. You can pick up the paperback online from Amazon or from Barnes and Noble. Various buy links are available on my website. (The website doesn't have the Nook Store link yet, since it's brand new -- but here it is.)

It’s a bit tricky to announce the latest book in a series without spoilers for the earlier books. If you’ve read Twin-Bred and Reach, then head on over to one of the above-mentioned retailers for a description. Here’s one.

If you’re new to the series (and vice-versa), here’s an introduction.
-------

Can interspecies diplomacy begin in the womb? This is the question that launched the Twin-Bred series.

As the series begins, humans have lived on Tofarn, planet of creeks and rivers, for seventy years, but they still don't understand the Tofa. The Tofa are an enigma, from their featureless faces to the four arms that sometimes seem to be five. They take arbitrary umbrage at the simplest human activities, while annoying their human neighbors in seemingly pointless ways. The next infuriating, inexplicable incident may explode into war.

Scientist Mara Cadell's radical proposal: that host mothers carry fraternal twins, human and Tofa, in the hope that the bond between twins can bridge the gap between species. Mara knows about the bond between twins: her own twin, Levi, died in utero, but she has secretly kept him alive in her mind as companion and collaborator.

Mara succeeds in obtaining governmental backing for her project – but both the human and Tofa establishments have their own agendas. Mara must shepherd the Twin-Bred through dangers she anticipated and others that even the canny Levi could not foresee. Will the Twin-Bred bring peace, war, or something else entirely?

The saga continues in Reach, Book Two, and in the newly released Leaders, Book Three.

--------

I've also published two excerpts on this blog, both yesterday. They contain spoilers from the first two books -- but if you've read those, dive in!

To make it easier for people to start the series, I’ve put together a virtual “boxed set” of the three ebooks. I can’t get over this lovely cover! also by David Leek. (My very talented elder daughter Livali Wyle did the illustration.) 



This set is available on Amazon and Google Play, will be propagating elsewhere in the ebook marketplace over the next few days.


And now, a plea: if, in the past, you’ve read and reviewed Twin-Bred or Reach, please consider leaving that review, with or without tweaks, for the series collection as well. And of course, reviews for Leaders, on its page and/or the series page, will be greatly appreciated!

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Fourteen neglected drafts

As I pottered around this evening, tweaking the post I've scheduled for the morning, I stumbled upon a mysterious list on the left-hand margin. "Drafts"??

Somehow, I've apparently failed to publish fourteen posts over the years. Except for one duplication, all of them look like posts I intended to publish and thought I had published. Good grief!

I'll be revisiting these over the next few days, and will probably tweak and publish at least some of them. Stay tuned . . . and if you use Blogger, check the left margin. Who knows what you may have waiting?

Another excerpt from the new Twin-Bred book, again with spoilers for the earlier books

This is the second of two posts containing excerpts from the book I'm releasing tomorrow -- well, one of the books.

As I said in the previous post, Thursday, May 26th, is a dual release day: for Leaders, the third book in the Twin-Bred series, and for the series' virtual boxed set. I'd like bloggers to be able to include an excerpt from Leaders, but such an excerpt is almost guaranteed to include some spoilers for the first two books. Of course, if you've read those books, that's fine. So here's a short excerpt, a teaser of sorts, for those returning to the series. It comes at the end of Chapter 1.








[spoiler space]












Ton-lal-set, deposed Eminence of the Southern Region, leaned against the corner of his cell, draped in chains, and pondered his chances. He had survived many panel reviews, but had never been informed what considerations led the panel to keep him alive on any or all of those occasions. This might be the day his execution was finally decreed.

Had Jak-rad even known that his fate was being discussed, and his possible execution deferred, during his periods of imprisonment? Had he realized he was being evaluated, not simply interrogated? If only the panel had eliminated that mutated menace as they could and should have done, all the catastrophes that followed would have been prevented, and Ton-lal-set might by now be leading his own, purely Tofa expedition to the stars!

Ton-lal-set vaguely recalled, from his days as host mother at the Twin-Bred project, that the humans had quite a different penal system. When panels met periodically to consider the fate of a human prisoner, they were deciding whether to release the prisoner before a maximum sentence had expired. How typical of humans, with their vacillating and sentimentality! But where his own fate was concerned, he could wish that the human-loving Tofa now running things had adopted such a procedure.

What little gossip he had managed to hear suggested that executions had become less involved and less painful under the new regime. Rumor had it that one recently condemned prisoner, another former host mother, had been given a drug that put him to sleep as it killed him. Dying in one’s sleep! What sort of execution was that?


If Ton-lal-set did not follow his former colleague into slumber and death, was there in fact any purpose in continuing to live? Or were all the Tofa outside the prisons content to abandon their traditions and forego ambition, slurping up favors from the humans? Had the world changed so much?

An excerpt from Leaders, Book Three of the Twin-Bred series -- with spoilers

Caution! Here there be spoilers!

Thursday, May 26th, is a dual release day: for Leaders, the third book in the Twin-Bred series, and for the series' virtual boxed set. I'd like bloggers to be able to include an excerpt from Leaders, but such an excerpt is almost guaranteed to include some spoilers for the first two books. Of course, if you've read those books, that's fine. So here's a short excerpt, a teaser of sorts, for those returning to the series.








[spoiler space]











[In this scene, Mara and Fel-lar, on New Landing, are discussing the possibility of an expedition to Tofarn. (Why? That'd be a spoiler for this book.) Earlier in the discussion, Fel-lar has compared Mara to the biblical Moses, who led the Hebrews out of Egypt.)]

Fel-lar twitched away as if to start pacing again. Mara held his hand firmly, and he desisted. “Returning to Moses. He grew up a prince of Egypt. And in the end, his greatest victory was to run away, with all his people. They, unlike him, had been raised as slaves. But what if all of them had shared the same princely goals and expectations?” Fel-lar was humming now, with that uniquely Tofa ability to hum and speak at the same time. “How much pride could any of them take in leaving all those dreams behind—no matter how long or short their journey to some substitute promised land, some distant Canaan?” The humming grew louder, and she had to strain to understand his words. “Would he not wonder whether he should have stayed to fight? To strike at least one blow?”

Mara searched the cliff face and found uneven stone on which she could step. She climbed up, working to maintain her balance, and reached a cautious arm around Fel-lar’s neck. He stopped humming and grabbed her arm with an upper hand to steady her and draw her close. That left her other hand free to stroke his cheek. “So recent events have jarred all these feelings loose. And that’s why you’ve been—different lately. Less calm. Less patient.”

“Less patient, and easier to anger. Which is why you should allow me, after all, to apologize for directing that anger at you, when you were hurt.”

“All right, if it’ll make you feel better. Now enough of that. Fel-lar, are you really thinking of flying back across the galaxy because you’re spoiling for a fight?”

Fel-lar unwrapped Mara’s arm from around himself, grasped her carefully under the arms, and lifted her down from the ledge. Then he moved the picnic basket aside and picked up the blanket, folding it rapidly with all four hands. “I may not have mentioned that I have been studying military history and tactics from time to time.”

Mara reached for the blanket without looking Fel-lar in the face and put the blanket in the basket. “No, you didn’t.”


“I do not want a fight to be necessary. I would prefer that all this proves to be ‘much ado about nothing.’ But if anyone must fight to protect our friends on Tofarn: well, I am no longer too young, if I was then. I am a leader, by my people’s choice. And I am ready to do battle.”