Book Promo And Vignettes by Luke, Mary Catelli and ‘Nother Mike

Book promo

If you wish to send us books for next week’s promo, please email to bookpimping at outlook dot com. If you feel a need to re-promo the same book do so no more than once every six months (unless you’re me or my relative. Deal.) One book per author per week. Amazon links only. Oh, yeah, by clicking through and buying (anything, actually) through one of the links below, you will at no cost to you be giving a portion of your purchase to support ATH through our associates number. A COMMISSION IS EARNED FROM EACH PURCHASE. That helps defray my time cost of about 2 hours a day on the blog, time probably better spent on fiction. ;)*

FROM ALMA BOYKIN: Familiar Paths: Familiar Tales Book Twenty

Arthur goes Hunting . . . and Kelly Boudreaux (and Stead) go on vacation.

Seven stories both Familiar and new. Arthur must deal with both family tension and the undead as Martha shelters the Lone Hunter from storms outside and in. Deborah learns more about her roots (and berries, and stems.) Kelly and Stead take a much needed break from chasing wild land firefighters while a coven sorts out the passing seasons. And a dead man’s legacy haunts Thomas Arthur Chan Lestrang.

Return to the world of Lelia Chan Lestrang and the Familiars, a world of adventure, humor, mystery, magic, and the occasional mundane mess.

FROM JAMES Y. BARTLETT: Glitter Girl: A Swamp Yankee Mystery

The smallest town in the smallest state has some BIG problems!

His Dad’s in jail, a local guy and his fishing boat disappeared at sea, the RI Attorney General has appointed a Special Master to oversee his department and he’s got a touch of PTSD. And then SHE walks in … the Glitter Girl: young, beautiful and involved in something right up to her gorgeous eyes!

Not to worry: Chief Gus Haddock is a Swamp Yankee. He’s got this.

This first novel in award-winning author James Y. Bartlett’s Swamp Yankee Mystery series, Glitter Girl will take you inside small town police work where who you know is often more important that what you know.

FROM TONY CARDEN: The Sorcerer’s Lackey.

How could Tony be so dumb as to choose a hopeless Hero for this story? I mean, really! Everyone knows that playing around with a dragon is playing with fire.
Hapless, an unsuitable Hero with not a shred of the usual qualities. Dragged – unwillingly, it must be said, by his foster mother – into being the sorcerer’s lackey, he is sent by his master to collect some unmentionable ingredients for his magical experiments.
His trip to “Here Be Dragons”, it does not quite go to plan.
The story is, they say, … is … well … complicated … confusing … chaotic … comic…
A hopeless hero…
A ruthless villain…
A rabble of helpers…
What could possibly go wrong?
What could there be not to laugh over?

FROM D. W. PATTERSON: Spin-Two: Complete: A Future Chron Collection.

The complete Robot Series of three novels:

Spin-Two: The increasing production of dark energy, found by robotic physicist Dag Mach, fit the model of the cyclic universe exactly. But the dark energy was causing problems in the current universe. Areas where dark energy density was greatest were experiencing a breakdown of space. The accompanying destruction and loss of life would only get worse as this cycle of the universe sped to an end. Dr. Mach discovered how to stop the cycle but had a choice to make. And the magnitude of that choice was overwhelming.

Change the natural order and destroy the cycling and all future universes but save lives in this one? Or do nothing and know all will die? Fellow physicist Ally Mekur called it “playing God”. And Dag didn’t want to play.

Robot Planet: Yes, robots dream of electric sheep. They also dream of freedom. But as Robot Planet is about to find out, it ain’t easy being free. Follow Em (emulated brain) based robot Dr. Dagmar Mach and his fellow robots, Sigmund, Walker, and Hanson as they fight proxy battles for humanity. Against deadly black-hole bombs and gravity-wave generators, they pit intelligence and courage.

But finally, they realize that buying their freedom is not the same as earning their freedom and the respect that comes with it. That’s when they face the biggest threat of all, annihilation.

The Lattice Of Space: Even with Robot Planet in ruins and the deaths of hundreds of their robotic compatriots the three robots Dag, Sigmund, Walker, and Hanson are working hard to save humanity from extinction. All they have to do is restart the Big Bang to prevent the destruction of spacetime. If they can.

Hard Science Fiction – Old School.

FROM M.C.A.HOGARTH: Business for the Right-Brained: (A Guide for Artists, Writers, Musicians, Dancers, Crafters, And All the Other Dreamers)

A career as a freelance artist? Not possible, you say? The Three Jaguars beg to differ! In this cartoon and checklist-filled guide, Marketer, Business Manager, and Artist walk you through the challenges of starting and building a creative business. Topics include productizing your work; metrics and tracking; communication and networking strategies; Day Job wrangling; pricing; branding; and even how to market yourself without feeling (*shudder*) slimy! If you’ve been looking for a clear (and humorous!) guide to the philosophy and practicalities of being a professional artist… this is your book. Also, did I mention the cartoons?

FROM DALE COZORT: New Galveston Book 1: Operation Croatoan.

In February 1939, with World War II looming, the US Navy held a massive naval exercise in the Caribbean, involving almost fifty thousand sailors and marines. President Franklin Roosevelt personally attended.

In this alternate history novel, the US of 1939 disappears at the peak of the exercise, along with the rest of the New World. In its place is a New World still inhabited only by Indians.

While the US remnants try to make a new home for themselves, Nazis, Fascists and Japanese Imperialists scheme with Aztecs and other Indian powers to take over the resource-rich and now nearly defenseless New World. A mysterious “Operation Croatoan” is at the core of their schemes. Milo Gentry and a handful of other Americans race to figure out what the Axis powers are up to and stop them.


A pamphlet covering current events of the last month. The Freedom convoy, the leftist tyranny, the upcoming war with Russia, all of it’s in here on the A-side along with random thoughts on history or whatever comes to mind for the B-side.

In-between each essay are current news headlines and there’s a lot of those. The headlines are in chronological order, the essays are in chronological order but they do not merge. Unusually for my books, I continue the news headlines on the B-side so it’s as up-to-date as possible.


Ice is a powerful magician and trained warrior. His day job, however, is political analyst, and it is once again election year.

Hopefully with fewer explosions and snipers than the last one, but in the Empire of the One, what sounds like a boring desk job is anything but.

Especially when al old flame gets pissed enough to jump into the presidential race.

Between assassins on the loose, duels to the death, and a sense of something nasty coming his way, Ice is going to be busy.

FROM ANNA FERREIRA: A Summer in Scarborough: A Pride & Prejudice Sequel

Miss Anne de Bourgh was delighted to receive a letter from her cousin Georgiana, explaining that she would be spending the summer by the sea, and requesting the pleasure of her company. A glorious few months of balls, shopping, and walking by the sea awaits- a wonderfully diverting holiday for Anne, who has rarely left Rosings before.

But Anne is a de Bourgh, and life is never simple. Before long, she finds herself caught between the attentions of two very different men, and must choose if she will follow her heart or disoblige her family. One must be disappointed, and Anne has never been very practiced in the art of disobedience. Must she give up everything she has ever known, will she find the strength to search for happiness elsewhere?

FROM HOLLY LISLE: The Longview Chronicles: — The Giant Omnibus Edition — All Six Books in One Huge Volume!

It’s a fine interstellar line between recapture and freedom. Her one act of kindness will trigger an epic fight to restore cosmic justice.

Box set: Over 600 pages of massive intergalactic battles exposing the dark heart of a vicious, futuristic humanity.

In the deep reaches of space, escaped slave Melie longs to captain her own ship. And with a promotion on her current vessel, she’s in reach of the goal that will set her free from the rich and powerful’s brutality. But when her protégé commits treason, a failed attempt to help gets her demoted and delays her flight from the galaxy’s merciless gladiatorial system.

Dreading having her identity discovered, the jaded woman scrapes by seeking some way to improve her fate. So when a sensational public massacre stirs rebellion, Melie seizes the opportunity to enlist a misfit band of victims to spearhead the ultimate trap for the elite.

Can Melie rally her eternally persecuted peers to overthrow a ruthless regime?

The Longview Chronicles contains six books in the fast-paced The Longview Chronicles dystopian science fiction series, and doubles as the third book in the Cadence Drake series. If you like underdog heroes, sweeping galactic action, and darkly envisioned futures, then you’ll love Holly Lisle’s gripping suite of adventures.

Vignettes by Luke, Mary Catelli and ‘Nother Mike.

So what’s a vignette? You might know them as flash fiction, or even just sketches. We will provide a prompt each Sunday that you can use directly (including it in your work) or just as an inspiration. You, in turn, will write about 50 words (yes, we are going for short shorts! Not even a Drabble 100 words, just half that!). Then post it! For an additional challenge, you can aim to make it exactly 50 words, if you like.

So what’s a vignette? You might know them as flash fiction, or even just sketches. We will provide a prompt each Sunday that you can use directly (including it in your work) or just as an inspiration. You, in turn, will write about 50 words (yes, we are going for short shorts! Not even a Drabble 100 words, just half that!). Then post it! For an additional challenge, you can aim to make it exactly 50 words, if you like.

If you have questions, feel free to ask.

Your writing prompt this week is: ELITE.

48 thoughts on “Book Promo And Vignettes by Luke, Mary Catelli and ‘Nother Mike

  1. “There goes the last of those so-called Elite. Good Riddings!”

    “True, but now those Ultra-Powered would-be masters are gone you’ll have to work hard to repair your world.”

    “You aren’t staying?”

    “We promised that we’d leave after they were dealt with. A few will stay to assist you but our days of playing gods are over and we will not play that game again.”

  2. “If people simply mustn’t have these weapons, Tom,” Frances Dewey mused, “why not create an elite spy force with the sole mission of locating and destroying any facilities that might try to make them?”

    The President considered. “Interesting idea, darling…”

    Four months later, the International Corps of Saboteurs was born.

      1. Agreed. I’d probably try to write the whole book, if I had any real knack for alternate history. As it is… anyone else want the idea? A nuclear-missile factory in flames, and the single word “Saboteur” in big red letters: there’s a cover that would look awesome on one of these promos.

  3. For centuries, she drifted on the edge of sleep in the dim torchlight. Her dreams echoed singing through the air biting into flesh, the clash of battle. Awaiting the elite swordsman worthy of bearing her steel.

    The air stirred, a hand closed on her hilt. This was no man…

  4. “This is our political elite?”
    Cranston shook his head at the naked man passed out at the table, an empty narco-inhaler in one hand and a Geisha-droid remote in the other.
    The movements of the Geisha-droid were wearing a raw spot on his skin.
    “Don’t be surprised,” the valet droid stated. “Politicians have always been like this.”

  5. He had all the qualifications of an elite member of society except one – no money. His parents expected him to marry money. But he fell in love with a divorcee, married her, and adopted her four children. Their life was enriched with music, books, and long trips in the wilderness.

  6. Boswell: “Sam what with those fancy fellows mincing toward Trafalgar Square, servants aside with caviar and champagne harrumphing at the Irish navvies drinking their pay in beer?”

    Sam: “Why Bos, we’re witnessing a glorious moment, this will go down in history, remembered forever as the Charge Of The Elite Brigade!”

  7. That night, I lay awake on my futon for a very long time.

    Thirty men had invaded my village, and despite our numbers we were helpless before them. We had no weapons, and no one trained to use them if we did. We could only pray that someone else would protect us from them. If Marturoi had not been here, even if someone managed to escape, and run to beg the nearest samurai for help, and if they agreed, it would take days to get them here. Long after the marauders took what they wanted from us, and were gone.

    We are not free. We have never been free. So long as we remain illiterate, ignorant and disarmed we will be slaves in all but name.

    When the ruling elites have weapons and we do not, we exist by their indulgence alone. Our homes, our food, our lives, the very clothes on our backs can be taken from us at their whim. They need not even act against us directly; they can simply withhold their protection and let bandits ravage us until we are either destroyed, or go crawling on our bellies, begging our masters to put us back in chains.

    Such is the world as I have always known it. I had never imagined that there might be another way than rule by lords and samurai, with common folk like us living as best we can while ground under their heels. Oh, some of them are good men, but many are not, and there are no effective limits to prevent them from abusing their power.

    Those who ‘protect’ us consider themselves so far above us, they see us as no more than cattle. They keep the wolves out of the pasture, mostly, but what do they care for the cows? Some men will always seek absolute power over others, and will do anything to gain it. The power of the ruling classes must be kept in check, and how is that possible if they have all the weapons?

    Those men raised their rebellion against the ruling elites, and what was the first thing they did? They treated us exactly the way they did not want to be treated. Marturoi tried to explain ‘hypocrisy’ and ‘irony’ to me once, and now I understand.

      1. And any village with a good forge and a good smith likely could take it.

        Unfortunately (as the story hints), some of the longest steps are the ones you have to take inside your own head…

      2. …and no one trained to use them if we did.

        Do you have any idea how much time and effort is required to become proficient with medieval melee weapons? And to maintain that proficiency? A hyakusho (peasant) with a modified scythe is a trivial inconvenience to a trained fighter.

        If the hyakusho start making weapons, and training, they’ll get a most unpleasant visit from the local danshaku’s men.

  8. Very nice selection of promos, thanks! Re the prompt- Randy grumbled, “Elites…elite this, elite that, guess this whole elite sports thing is just a way to separate the wannabes from their money.” He looked down at the list in his hand. “Why in hell should I spend…ah, gotta be brand name and matching. Screw that. I’ll settle for being a common man.”

  9. I feel like one of the elite, with books being promoted with me raising one of my delicate fingers! Thank you, Sarah, and I hope you headache has dissipated. This fan has shopped, and is prepared to hunker down and write through anything that comes.

  10. FWIW, I *looooooved* the Longview books. The last couple of reveals fall a little flat unless you’re familiar with Lisle’s Cadence Drake books, but they’re still damn good thinky space adventure. “Born in Fire” is possibly my favorite of the batch, but they’re all worth the read.

  11. “And you will never be allowed into the gardens where those things grow,” said Nigel. “Not if you are a hundred and one. They want to avoid having a wizard of your power know the spells, even though a wizard of your power obviously cast them in the first place.”

  12. Where were the guards? thought Karlus. Given the high degree of all who attended, he would have thought the guards would have appeared in the doorways moments after that woman appeared.
    Unless the guards were suborned. He felt like ice. Those of high degree often had foes of high degree.

  13. The door stood before them, grand and towering. Only the greatest were allowed through it and not a side door.
    Bands whom the great wanted to perform a task were often treated much more grandly before the task than after, Rosine thought, but swept into the hall with their escort.

  14. “Children!” called old Otto. “Move! Your parents will be switching you if you aren’t picking the peaches when the church bells chime.”
    They ran off about her. Rosaleen stood and felt strange as a princess.
    “And you! Lady Gillaine looked for you!”
    Rosaleen sighed. More tales to tell them, after.

  15. They preen and preach the self selected
    From the real world protected
    their sneers and whispers quite perfected
    Smug and effete
    The commons are with wrong think infected
    Say the elite

    And to these base disaffected
    Shut your mouth you’re unprotected
    We always will be re-elected
    We’ll just cheat
    And ne’er from power ejected
    ‘Cause we’re elite

    But while the common’s rights neglected
    Their vital interests subjected
    Beneath their view unsuspected
    The ejection seat
    Waits with springs tightly collected
    To oust the elite

  16. Michael failed to duck as his boss Larry threw a crust in his direction, catching him on the side of the face.

    “Order up! C’mon!,” Larry yelled.

    Michael grabbed the pie and ran for his bike as the phone rang. “Elite Pizza Delivery,” Larry answered, cigarette dangling from his lips.

    50. I’ve no idea if this is the dea?

  17. “I don’t understand why these pages look so different from the first ones.”

    “This looks like an old-fashioned typewriter rather than a printer.’

    “Well, yeah. Thanks to the ice storm we were out of power for almost a week, and the assignment’s due when it’s due. Teacher said she didn’t want to hear any sob stories, just get it done and in her hands. Dad said he thought there were some old typewriters up in the attic, so I dug them out and got to work.”

    “OK, then did you use the same typewriter for everything?”

    “Couldn’t. First one broke about halfway through, so I switched to the other one and barely managed to finish before it started having trouble.”

    “There’s your answer. The first one is in Elite pitch, and the second is in Pica. It’s kinda like the difference between ten-point and twelve-point font, except it’s fixed for each machine.”

    1. Ah, memories!

      Mom’s typewriter was an Elite pitch secretarial model, with a long carriage to take the paper in Landscape orientation, while the antique Underwood I used was Pica (circa 1910–Mom sold it when I was in college. Saw a duplicate years later for $40, but I was cured of typewriters by then…)

      I still loathe the clacking sound for each key hit. (Had some software that replicated the sound. I killed that option with extreme prejudice. 🙂 )

  18. “There’s elite, then there’s elite,” Thomas chuckled, and Karen could hear the emphasis in his words when he said it. “Survey is an elite bunch already-half of them wash out of training, half of that turn in their star-and-sextant after their first shipboard tour. Casualty rate per survey mission runs about fifteen, twenty percent. And, you have to make it through three tours before they even consider you for a Contact Mission.”

    “That doesn’t explain…,” Karen was about to ask, and Thomas raised a hand.

    “Nobody likes people that deal in ‘stolen valor,'” Thomas answered. “That guy that claimed to be a Contact Mission veteran? He’s lucky to be alive, even if he’ll be in the tank for a month. If there was a real Contact Mission vet in the bar? We’d be dealing with a homicide, not assault.”

  19. The ventriloquist stormed backstage after his act. “I’ve had it with these elitist assholes! Making me wear a mask on stage is bad enough, but forcing me to put a mask on the DUMMY?

  20. “What good does “Elite Status” on this Airline do me if you can’t get me on this flight?” Spoken loudly while waiving an Amex Platinum card. A manager was called and a lesser soul had been bumped. Karl Johansen reflected on his words as he grasped the seat cushion which he was using as a flotation device.

  21. “You need to understand, Mr. President, that the Oval Office keyboard has three different ‘delete’ keystrokes. The ‘Basic’ delete removes White House records only, and has a minimal cost in political capital. The ‘Improved Military’ delete removes Pentagon records as well as those in the White House, and has a higher cost in political capital. Finally, there is the ‘Elite’ delete that has the highest cost and is traditionally reserved for grave emergencies only.”

    “And this ‘Elite delete’ keystroke removes just what?”

    “The Elite delete, Mr. President, removes White House records, Pentagon records, and records from the Washington Post and New York Times.

  22. Thank you for this book list. I just wanted to mention that there isn’t a link for Business for the Right Brain. What surprised me was Holly Lisle!!!! I haven’t seen her since I quit buying from the gatekeepers (except for a very few books). I’m happily surprised because I do like her writings.

  23. I looked at my wife, her face still streaked with now-dry tears. All I’d ever wanted to do was to provide for her and our infant daughter. We drove a semi together to do just that.

    “No mercy for you. Elite leader Trudeau says so.”

    We never felt the shots.

  24. So I promised myself a while ago that, the next time I got a comment on one of these vignettes, I would play Stuart Ashen’s Lucky 9 game with the last nine prompt words. (Why, you ask? Because I’m nuts, that’s why.) So you can blame Foxfier for this – but, anyway, here’s what came up on Wish at $5 or less (since I wasn’t actually buying the stuff, I didn’t include shipping) for:

    GROUCHY: A 2017-18 Upper Deck CHL hockey card, featuring Matthew Grouchy of the Charlottetown Islanders ($1.99). I didn’t even know hockey had cards – I thought it was just baseball – but I do like that this came up, not least because I, in my vignette for this one, also interpreted Grouchy as a French surname rather than as an English adjective.

    DAZZLING: I quote: “Dazzling Women’s Fashion 925 Sterling Silver Full Crystal Diamond Rhinestone Heart Earring Heart Ear Studs Accessories (boucledoreille)”. There are several things about that listing that make me think that its author doesn’t regard words the same way I do – not least, the fact that the sterling-silver-full-crystal-diamond item is being sold for $3.87. Then again, *my* dazzling item was a big cloud of nova dust, so what room do I have to talk? Anyway, moving on.

    SOPHISTICATED: A tiny copper-handled knife and matching lighter, billed as a “field emergency survival tool – sophisticated and practical”. The idea, I gather, is that, if you’re ever reduced to roasting mice over little twig fires in the woods, because Biden’s started a nuclear war or the ikol from my vignette have invaded Earth, now you can look classy while you’re doing it, and isn’t that worth $5? Answer: I don’t know, because I didn’t buy it and therefore can’t test the quality of the steel and the flint. Let’s continue.

    COURAGEOUS: A small gold necklace with a sort of jewel-type pendant at the end that is apparently intended to represent an eye. It’s meant either to give or ward off the evil eye; I can’t tell which, from the listing, nor can I tell you what would be courageous about it in either case. All I know is that it costs $3.66, and that the pendant part looks less like an eye than like the sort of marking the alien Emissary in my vignette might have on its skin. I need to move on to the next word now, because this is just creeping me out.

    BABIES: Okay, I can’t even explain this one. As near as I can make out, what they’re trying to sell me for $2.84 is a combination pacifier and juicer. You’re supposed to put a tangerine slice or something into the nipple and close the little lid; then your baby sucks on it, and fresh fruit juice comes out the little holes in the nipple, so that your baby… is at less risk of scurvy, I guess? I don’t know, if any parent reads this who has actually used something like this, please let me know.

    WRETCHED: A Halloween mask of a generic undead-looking guy licking his top row of teeth ($2.48). I have to admit that this one lives up to its search term; if you expect me to say anything more about it, even for the sake of tying it into my vignette, you’re nuts. Moving on.

    PRODUCE: A “titanium microneedle dermaroller” ($3.83). I daresay that the Newport heiress in my vignette would know exactly what this is, and what it has to do with production. I, myself, have no idea. (Now might be a good time to mention that I randomly claimed, when accessing the site, to be in my early 20s and shopping for women, because they wouldn’t let me on unless I answered those two questions, and I figured one setting was as good as another for my purposes.)

    WORM: A 30-piece set of apparently identical fishing lures modeled after fly larvae ($2). Apparently they are good for catching carp, perch, and – I *think* this is what the listing is saying – wet trout. I don’t know where you would catch dry trout, unless perhaps God set some swimming in midair atop Croagh Patrick to guard the Shamir, but I’m not going to spend much time worrying about it, because we’re almost up to the $10-15 big-finale item. Drumroll, please…

    ELITE: Hmm. Given that buildup, an orthotic knee brace actually seems somewhat underwhelming. I’m sure it’s useful enough; if a Soviet soldier shot me in the knee as I was escaping from the nuclear facility I’d sabotaged, no doubt I’d be all too happy to spend $14 on such a thing. But it’s not quite what I had in mind, is all. Still, this was fun for me, and I hope you all enjoyed it too.

  25. “One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten, eleven, twelve! I knew it! This type matches the elite type of the ransom letter. See the wear pattern on the “E”? It is exactly the same. There is no doubt, the kidnappers used this old wheel printer discovered here.”

  26. “Mama, what’s an ellitty?”

    Marina Garibaldi kept most of her concentration on the cabbage she was chopping… old-timey Zen Buddhist meditative wisdom, and simple care with large sharp objects.

    “Don’t know what that is, Allie.”

    “Oh.” Then after a moment and much more brightly, “Wait, maybe it’s that ‘silent e’ thing from phonics. Okay, so what’s an ee-lite? Is it anything like an e-light?” she half asked, half wondered out loud, in her sometimes madly precocious way. She fumbled her e-light out of her pocket, the combination flashlight / distress beacon / door-key so many people her age carried, and considered it a moment. “No, can’t be anything like that ’cause it wouldn’t make any sense. Stupid crazy old comic book.” This time she was talking almost entirely for her own ears.

    Marina finished chopping up the latest big slice of the red-cabbage head and slid that into the pot. Slowly, even though she’d started learning French and English when she was ten and the Roman alphabet and its many vagaries and variations were by now almost as familiar as Cyrillic, she reconstructed what her daughter must have been after…

    “Oh, spelled e-l-i-t-e? Maybe with a funny mark over the first e?”

    “Yes, that one.”

    “It’s ee-leet, or ay-leet in French where it’s from. It basically means the best of the best people, the ones who are so good at something they are rare and hard to find.” She cut another thin wedge off the head and began chopping it crossways into shreds for the pot. But something else, small but bothersome, nagged at a corner of her mind…

    “Oh. Okay. That actually makes sense, now, Mama. So I guess a glow-ball elite would be the people who are best at glow-ball. But what’s that?”

    Marina felt her eyes widen, a little, at the phrase she hadn’t heard in years. As long as it had been since the Great Resettling in the time of her parents… it might as well have been “a sense of the collective” or some of the other old catchphrases from her grandparents’ Soviet days.

    “Where did you read that, Alessia?”

    “You and Papa have lots of good old comic books, the ones we actually get to read ’cause they’re repros or copyouts. But I get so tired of reading Tintin and Asterix and Valerian and Laureline and all the rest over and over, so I found this box of ’em in a corner. It had a little lock on it, but not the ‘danger’ sign, so I picked the lock and started reading. Am I in trouble?” As Marina looked over, Allie was now holding up a twisted bit of wire… which she could’ve learned to use by reading other of hers and Mario’s collection of printed and video mags.

    Elite: yes, she was. In ways they might all spend a lifetime discovering.

    “No, you’re not, though you probably shouldn’t start picking locks just because they’re in your way.” (Dear Lord, imagine what other people will say if she gets started doing that! — but Marina’s thought was more in pride than exasperation.) She looked carefully across the electric stove and the cabbage (its pot’s coil not yet ‘live’), and took a deep breath, and said… “Allie, let’s go sit by the window and look out over the valley.” It was mildly more dangerous to be there than most of the rest of the house, with only a single inch of modified polycarbonate between you and the 1%-pressure outside… but Valles Marineris was, well, stunning.


    And only a couple of minutes later, they were through the pressure door and on the velvety-padded bench of the window seat, the thin but warm sunlight falling richly on them both.

    “So, you know those comic books in that box aren’t like regular comic books, right? Or graphic novels or bandes dessines, or anything, right?”

    “Yes, Mama, they’re… weird. Sorta bad weird. A lot of the manga you and Papa have is weird, too, but it’s good-weird. This is just creepy.”

    “Allie, those comic books were all made, a long time ago, by governments and people who… wanted other people to believe strange things, bad things, mostly half-true or even wrong things. Do you understand that?”

    “Yes. It’s like they’re… trying to pull you into their own weird and twisted little world. It’s like when Bobby Papanicolau at school kept trying to tell us his father’s company was going to buy our whole colony and put us out in suits and make us walk a hundred miles just to get our next tanks of air. If we could. It was scary!”

    Yes, thought Marina with a pang of pain and pride. And Alessia had been one of three children, out of the dozen, to think to record all that.

    The memory of Bobby pantomiming their gasping, as if they suffocated on the empty desert floor… still made her want to wring his little neck.

    “Yes.” And she breathed the cool air of the half-dome bubble, letting the words come to her as her grandmother had said once, “gifts of the light and the air.” And then she looked again at Alessia.

    “I can tell you what that ‘global elite’ stuff was all about, if you want me to… but it’ll be as scary as what Bobby said.”

    “That’s okay. The teachers and you and Papa explained about who really owns the colony and how nobody would be allowed to do that, and if these ‘governments’ had done all that bad stuff to people then… we probably couldn’t be here now, could we, Mama?”

    “Most likely not, Allie. And even if we were it wouldn’t be… like this.”

    Marina Dubrovskaya Garibaldi looked at the moon — Phobos running its mad slow dash backward across the sky — and tried even a bit harder to find the words, the very most right ones.

    “A ‘global elite’ means the best people, at something, in the whole world; and remember, this was way back before anyone lived higher than low orbit around Earth. But sometimes it also meant… a very few people, spread out all across the whole world, who figured they were all so much better at knowing what everyone should do, that everyone else should just listen to them and do what they said. Simply because they said they were the ‘global elite’ — just because they said they were smarter, or knew more.”

    “Bobby Papanicolaus! You and Papa know better because… even when I don’t want you to be, you’re almost always right. Whether I like it or not, but most of the time I do.” And Allie smiled that sunny little smile of hers, that made Marina feel 99.9% like the best mother in all the world, and a faint 0.1% like a really, really well-beloved cat.

    “Well, Allie, they wanted to convince everyone else to just sit back and let them run everything, because they knew better, because they were all supposed to be so smart and all. But when people didn’t believe them, and did what they decided themselves instead… they just tried harder and louder. And one of the ways they tried, is with things like those comic books. They tried to get people to believe what they said, by not just saying it straight out, but slipping it into… entertainment, and into sports, and into school, and into… everything they could.”

    Alessia had been watching Phobos drift west to east. “But, Mama, if it’s crazy then it’s crazy. Nobody much can be fooled by that, can they?”

    “Some people did believe it, Allie. Some young ones went off to college, and came back without much good sense.” She stopped, and tried to remember mostly the not-so-bad, of which there’d been much.

    “That was what the Great Resettling was about. Not much what the ‘global elites’ wanted, really more like the opposite. But it… gave a lot of people, all over the world, a really bad time for a while.”

    Alessia rolled her eyes. “I don’t want to go run history class on the computer, Mama, or even with you live. Can we just sit here before I go work on programming the metal-printer? There’s this fractal pattern for a brooch I want to fiddle with before you get dinner cooked.”

    “But no more sneaking comics from the Propaganda Box, okay? And no more picking locks unless I or your father are there to watch… right?”

    “Right, Mama. I really like sitting here with you.”

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