The re-release this month is A Few Good Men. I briefly considered changing the name to Uprising, but since it was published first under A Few Good Men, well…
And no, the title isn’t Baen’s fault. It was the only title that came to me. Hey, I never claimed to be good with titles.
Anyway, Caitlin Walsh and I are planning (plotting) a comic book of a few good men. Well, a graphic novel, because I think it’s going to run to at least 100 pages to get even all the plot down. Might be 150. Hard cover, kickstartered. (Which means we’ll have to look up the prices, etc. to set the amount.) I think it fund and be fine. She is very talented, and I have started to get comic scripts. We’re going to do the first 20/30 pages, as soon as I get her a script.
For those who haven’t read my science fiction, this is the book of the USAian revolution at least in part of the Earth.
So, because today I’m torn between despair and hope more than usual, here is a sketch that Caitlin made, and a uh maybe a bit spoilerish but not too much for a book that’s been out ten years excerpt of AFGM.
My soi-disant father must have been very good at training servants, whatever else he might have been bad at. And perhaps that was not a big surprise, since after all he meant to make servants of every person under his rule.
What I mean is, they came in to clear the remains of dinner and didn’t seem even slightly discomfited that Nathaniel Remy appeared to have dissolved into thin air. Perhaps they thought I’d let him out without anyone noticing. At any rate, they were the least inquisitive people imaginable.
I’d lingered over fruit and coffee, thinking I’d just made the biggest mistake of my life, but unable to feel sorry for it. If I held out, I’d be holding out in the name of what? Not being a joiner? Being contrary to the end? There was nothing to gain by that, and so much to lose. I looked at the pile of gems on my desk, and thought that at the very least I owed it to all those dead people, those destroyed people, not to go without a fight.
I locked the gems away on my desk drawer, I called the servants to clear the table, and I went to bed.
And woke up with Nat Remy calling out, “Lucius? Are you decent?”
“What?” I was awake immediately, as I was whenever someone came into the room, but this seemed rather early for a moral enquiry. Goldie jumped on the bed, tried to lick my face and in the darkness, I patted him and pushed his hindquarters down.
“Are you dressed? Dressed enough to be seen by people?”
“Oh. Yes.” I was in shorts and a light shirt, and though no one would call it a formal outfit, I’d need to go to the most distant and strange parts of the Earth to be arrested for indecency.
“Good,” he said. And then “Light.” Lights came on.
He stood in front of the secret door, which was closed. Martha stood on his right, and Abigail, blushing, on his left. Why was she blushing, I wondered? She was very young, and maybe she’d never been in a male’s bedroom before. On the other hand, my bedroom was hardly indecent and I, sitting on the bed, patting the idiot dog, might be disheveled, but otherwise wasn’t even mildly titillating. Then again perhaps she’d taken in the implications of Nat’s secret passageway, in which case . . . it was none of my business. Surely she didn’t think it had been built in a week. Martha just smiled at me in a matter-of-fact way, then walked across the room and opened the door. Sam came in. By this time, I was feeling seriously alarmed.
“Is anything wrong?” I asked.
Sam shook his head, and it was he who spoke, “It was judged easier to have Abigail and I carry proxies for the other members of the twelve than to have all of us get together here, or have you flown elsewhere. Our intelligence gathering tells us there’s been a flurry of activity by Scrubbers. We’re not sure what they’re up to, and we are not about to take risks we don’t need.”
The other members of the twelve. The Sons of Liberty were all young hotheads. And Sam and his wife knew nothing of what their children were involved in. And I was innocent as a babe unborn. My house was not just filled with Usaians. It was filled with dangerous revolutionaries. And liars. And yet, I thought better of Sam for doing something about the injustices and crimes that crossed his desk every day, rather than sitting still and letting evil go on.
Sam had the grace to blush a little at my expression, then shrugged. “Sometimes, telling the truth will only endanger all those who depend on you, and to whom you swore to keep silent so they’d not be found out.”
I inclined my head and didn’t say anything. He cleared his throat. “Nat tells us . . . That is, he says you’re willing to admit to believing everyone should be assumed to have the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness as a fundamental right. And that the purpose of government is to protect it. Before he left the meeting, previously, he secured people’s vote that you be allowed to join our organization on probation, if you professed such beliefs.” Was his smile totally ironic? “Of course, I suspect two or three of them, at the time, thought it was more likely for them to get hit by a meteor that had lain in ambush in an alley, waiting for them to walk by. But we got them to agree to your full induction, and we’ll do it before they can retract that. That way you’ll be a full member. And we’ll avoid another internal battle.”
Nat cleared his throat and I thought he had suppressed laughter and it occurred to me that if any members of the council thought that they were too stupid to hold office and perhaps too stupid to live. Nat Remy was not a honeypot, and he might be the world’s worst missionary. But he had inherited from Sam a kind of bullish gentleness that would keep bringing a point up, ever so gently but so continuously that the subject of their efforts couldn’t help but surrender.
I didn’t doubt that I’d been steered to this point. I’d need to be an idiot to not have noticed. But I was sure of one thing: Sam hadn’t cooked those records. Contrary to popular belief, a complex narrative spanning centuries was hard to create without leaving huge holes. Heck, it was hard to create a simple lie spanning hours. Which was why most novels were enjoyed despite the holes in the narrative. And those records held. Which meant, whether he’d arranged for me to ask for them or not, the reasons I was doing this were real.
“So,” Sam drew himself up straighter. “Lucius Dante Maximilian Keeva, do you believe in Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness as individual rights?”
“Yeah,” I said and tried to avoid the three Remy siblings staring at me from my right side. They all looked rapt, as though they had no idea what came next.
“And have you read, and do you believe in, the Constitution of the United States of America, and believe, if followed, it would create a nation that would respect such rights?”
“Yeah,” I said. Because it was easier than to explain I thought it had terrible loopholes and flaws, but would create a state superior to anything else before or since—at least as far as my reading of history went—and infinitely superior to the stability we’d endured for three hundred years.
“Do you realize the Usaian religion is proscribed in most of the Earth and that, if revealed as a member, you could be summarily or publicly and lengthily executed?”
“Yeah,” I said, at which point it occurred to me that I was being asked life-changing questions, while I sat on the bed, with Goldie lying across my legs. It didn’t seem right. It seemed like it should take place in an elaborately decorated hall, with flags flying and bands playing.
“And are you ready, nonetheless, to become a member, and to work towards the reestablishment of a republic under that constitution, even if it should mean the loss of—”
I fished the answer from what I remembered of my reading. “My life, my fortune and my sacred honor.”
Someone sniffled. I thought it was Abigail. I hoped it was Abigail.
“And do you promise to keep secret and support your fellows in this fight to the limits of your ability, and not betray anything or anyone to the authorities no matter what persuasions are used?”
“Then Lucius Dante Maximilian Keeva, welcome to the brotherhood of free men.” And then, to my profound and stunned shock, Sam Remy stepped close and kissed me on the cheek. And I’ll be damned if his children didn’t repeat the performance.
“And now,” Sam said, “that you are one of us, do you agree to let us use the seacity as the basis for the start of our great work?”
I nodded. I had realized, sometime while reading those awful gems, that I wasn’t going to be the Good Man by the end of this. Not if it worked. I’d be lucky if I still had my life at the end of this, particularly if we won. And yet it was worth it. If I had my life it would be enough, anyway. I’d never wanted to be the Good Man.
“Then, ladies and gentlemen, it gives me great joy to proclaim the revolution.”