Book Promo and Vignettes by 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.*Note that I haven’t read most of these books (my reading is eclectic and “craving led”,) and apply the usual cautions to buying. – SAH

FROM M. C. A. HOGARTH: Haley and the Town of Refuge (Haley and Nana Book 6)

A girl, a town… and a final choice.

Spring is just around the corner when the town of Refuge is at last asked to confront the Trial’s true challenge, an event that kicks off a furor in its population. But for Haley Landry, level 9 Questgiver, the challenge is more personal. After nine months of working with the alien system and overseeing the growth of her tiny town, a questline brings her to a crossroads, not only for herself, but for Refuge as well.

It’s the hardest decision Haley has had to make, and no one can make it for her. But her choice will shape the future, inside her heart, and out of it.

Join Haley, Nana, and the residents of Refuge for one final adventure in this cozy LitRPG apocalypse. There’s a brownie recipe in the back, because no matter how heavy the material, that’s still the kind of series this is.


Ancient and wise, the grandfather Koi knows at first sight that this human bears a hidden wound. But how can a mere fish, even one as old as himself, be of any aid to a human?

Astronaut Tyler Lanham had come to Grissom City, first and oldest lunar settlement, in search of the medical expertise he couldn’t find on the far side of the Moon. When he sees the scar on the ancient koi’s side, he knows he’s found a kindred spirit.

But an enemy is stalking these lovely gardens. A danger that will change both man and fish.

A short story of the Grissom timeline.

FROM PAM UPHOFF: K.A.T. Antiques (Fall of the Alliance Book 11)

In a brutal cross-dimensional Empire where everything is about ownership and control, and the strongest mentalists rule . . .
Karl Traeger has a problem.

His elderly father has died, and sixteen-year-old Karl is going to be at the mercy of very unsavory relatives.
And since he’s the oldest of his generation—ahead of his cousins in the line of inheritance—he knows his uncle will never Present him: never allow him to demonstrate his fitness for the title of Lord. No, he’ll be one more brain-chipped servant.
But maybe if he moves quickly, before anyone knows his father is dead . . . he can save himself, then get to work saving the people he cares about—maybe even save his budding antiques business.

BY CLIFTON ADAMS, PUBLISHED BY D. JASON FLEMING: Law of the Trigger (Annotated): The classic pulp western

Once he had belonged to the stark and brutal days, days of manhunts and sudden violence. Now Owen Toller had a farm and a family, and not even the slightest interest in enforcing the law, especially since the citizens of Reunion had voted him out as Marshal five years ago.

Until the Brunner brothers came down from the hills — to murder and plunder, to write bloodier, more savage history than even the James and the Dalton gangs.

Suddenly, Reunion remembered that Marshals sometimes had to do more than sit in an office and cozy up to bankers.

This iktaPOP Media edition includes a new introduction giving genre and historical context to the novel.

FROM MARGARET BALL: Salt Magic: A Regency fantasy romance (Regency Magic Book 1)

An enchanting heroine. A layered plot. Mystery, romance, intrigue. I had to prevent myself from looking at the end to see how it all turned out. You must buy this book. I want her to write many more in this strange and alluring world. – Sarah A. Hoyt.

Bookish and shy, Sabira has a perfect marriage of convenience to the elderly Lord Steinnland and his library, marred only by her family’s urging to trick her husband into releasing his claim to their island fastness. But time and tide bring the irritating, if handsome, Viscount Iveroth, and on his heels, scheming visitors who kill her elderly Lord and release a plague of sea monsters.

Now Sabira must travel to the city of Din Eidyn and fight to save her home and her people, with Iveroth as her only ally. But as they battle black magicians and drawing room politics, the hardest fight of all is hiding her growing feelings for the Viscount… and the fact that she’s not human…

FROM KAREN MYERS: Bound into the Blood – A Virginian in Elfland (The Hounds of Annwn Book 4)

Book 4 of The Hounds of Annwn.


George Talbot Traherne, the human huntsman for the Wild Hunt, is preparing for the birth of his child by exploring the family papers about his parents and their deaths. When his improved relationship with his patron, the antlered god Cernunnos, is jeopardized by an unexpected opposition, he finds he must choose between loyalty to family and loyalty to a god.

He discovers he doesn’t know either of them as well as he thought he did. His search for answers takes him to the human world with unsuitable companions.

How will he keep a rock-wight safe from detection, or even teach her the rules of the road? And what will he awaken in the process, bringing disaster back to his family on his own doorstep? What if his loyalty is misplaced? What will be the price of his mistakes?


In the very near future a seastead offers consumers a choice in governing systems. Navy Capt. Adam Tenney’s daughter takes that offer, but what can he do for her when pirates threaten the seastead, the U.S. refuses to recognize it, and he is trapped in a desk job on land?

A novelette.

FROM CAROLINE FURLONG: The Guardian Cycle, Vol. 2: American Mage and Other Stories

It is said that war is hell. But what of the Prisoners of War, or the war orphans who grow up amidst the chaos, and what of those who escape their enemy’s prisons?

In Halcyon, meet a man who has been abused in a prison camp for so long that he has forgotten his own name – but not the desire to survive. Follow the adult orphans Warlock Ruthers produced in his campaign for power as they protect two children whom he seeks to murder to defeat a prophecy of his downfall in American Mage.

Meanwhile, Allan Kearney and Michio Oshika work on removing the demon tattoos from the former’s back at the same time they seek the means to end the persecution of Allan’s fellow prisoners. But demons do not release their prey without a fight, as the young Torránese soldier knows all too well. If he is to survive, let alone help rescue his comrades, first he will have to face the monsters clawing for his soul. It will be a battle that will require all his strength – and more…

FROM DAVID COLLINS: The Lord of Darkness (Rule of Darkness Book 1)

I always knew my real parents had to be complete assholes; why else would they name me something horrible like Vladimira Darkness. Now that I am in college, I go by the nickname, Mira.

Then a bunch of these heavily armed men-in-black types showed up and made me come with them. First in a Humvee, then in a Blackhawk helicopter, and then in a fricking spacecraft.

Apparently, my real mother didn’t die when I was a child; she only died a few days ago. I was told I needed to be there for the reading of her will.

Wearing all black for the reading of the will almost made sense. That it was heavy leather armor was a bit unexpected. Then I was given the traditional family sidearm pistol to wear.

Only this was a very special weapon made just for me. I was apparently the product of hundreds of generations of bioengineering to be someone that could use the weapon. It had a dial with settings from 1.0 to 3.0, and 2.0 was described as “explode dinosaurs.”

Why in hell would I need what was almost a handheld nuclear weapon? It seems that mother’s official title was “The Lord of Darkness” and that the succession would be the first, and possibly the last time I get to meet some of my siblings.

I had only one day to learn to survive what the future would bring. A future in a galaxy ruled by the fear of one being, me…

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.

We recommend that if you have an original vignette, you post that as a new reply. If you are commenting on someone’s vignette, then post that as a reply to the vignette. Comments — this is writing practice, so comments should be aimed at helping someone be a better writer, not at crushing them. And since these are likely to be drafts, don’t jump up and down too hard on typos and grammar.

If you have questions, feel free to ask.

Your writing prompt this week is: TRUTHFUL

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

  1. This book, Law of the Trigger, is my favorite MidJourney-generated cover art to date. It’s also a corking good story by a mostly-forgotten (and unjustly so) pulp and paperback master.

  2. I figured I’d get a chance to expand on the setting a bit more soon… This part’s definitely going to require some cleanup later, though!

    “That is how things stand, Your Majesty,” the emissary from Arev said, finishing his message with a bow. “Her Majesty Lysandra hopes that you will not let this opportunity pass you by.”

    “Thank you for your message. I will consider the matter and give you my answer in the morning,” Sultan Vahit III replied. “You are dismissed.”

    The Sultan’s guards escorted the emissary out of the room and, when it was just him, the Grand Vizier, and the most trusted of his guards, the ruler of Odrysia released the heavy sigh he’d been repressing for the entire meeting.

    “I almost think we should leave Lysandra to her fate,” he grumbled, shaking his head in disgust. “That barking mad cadı is more trouble than she’s worth.”

    “I agree, Your Majesty, but nonetheless she is family,” Grand Vizier Zeki reminded him. “While necessary, Alparslan and Elnath consider their current assignment to be a poor use of their talents as well. Might they not find a battle against one or more of the Jade Tempest, Amethyst Sage, and Lapis Maelstrom more interesting?”

    “A fair point, Grand Vizier,” the Sultan conceded. “Summon them back from the hinterlands, then.”

    “At once, Your Majesty.” Zeki replied with a bow, leaving to carry out his mission.

    Truthfully speaking, Lysandra had worn out Vahit’s patience a long time ago. If it had been up to him he’d have killed the troublesome cadı himself the first time she barely held onto her throne after one of her ill-conceived wars and given Arev a ruler and culture worthy of the ancient blood both nations shared. After all, it was clear that his mother inherited all the good qualities of the Hasapis family’s bloodline as opposed to whatever blight of the blood his uncle passed down to Lysandra.

    “Perhaps this is the opportunity I’ve been waiting for after all…” Vahit thought, suppressing a smirk as he began to consider the possibilities.

  3. This interview would be interesting, Danel thought. I’ll have to be truthful without telling him what I can’t afford to tell him. It is very dangerous to lie to a powerful being that tell if you’re lying to him.

    1. Nit, that should be “that can tell if you’re lying to him”. 😉

      1. It’s from a super-hero universe that I’ve played with (in my mind).

        While there are various levels of super-beings in terms of power and different “power-sets”, one “power” they have in common is an ability to know when they’re told a lie.

        My character (actual name of Daniel not Danel) is a mid-level super being but the person that he will be interviewed by is a Major-Power among super-beings.

        He’s also one who cares little about human laws and little about agreements between Major Super-Beings. 😉

  4. “I hate towns.”

    The tiny rock golem had thought long and hard about this. For a creature with no brains to speak of, this was a noteworthy achievement.

    “You don’t hate towns. You just hate that we keep getting run out of them.”

    A small brown mouse sat atop the tiny rock golem, which took the shape of a crab. No one had remarked yet on the sight of a crab so far from any sea shore. They quite often had other things on their mind when speaking, of late.

    “Same thing.”

    “Is not.” The mouse would generally disagree on principle. Golems had heads full of rocks. It just made sense.

    “Is too.”

    “Knock it off, you two.”
    The third member of the party of three was a middle aged man in vegetable stained clothes. There were, properly speaking, four of them. But the horse had yet to speak. This was something that made the man consider the horse to be the wisest of the bunch.
    “Towns are noisy.” The little crab-rock golem had thought about this, too.
    “Of course they are. They’re full of people!”
    “People are noisy.”
    “You two are noisy,” the man said. The horse might have agreed, but continued with its silent dignity intact.
    “People always yell.”
    This was true, the man reflected. They did always yell. Eventually.
    “That’s right, they do. Why do they always yell boss? And why’s it always at us?” The mouse twisted around on his perch to look back up at the man behind him.
    “Because they don’t like hearing the things I say,” the man replied.
    “Why not?”
    “Because I tell them the truth.”
    “What’s wrong with that? Isn’t being truthful the right thing to do?” The rock golem did not turn around, but the man could tell it was interested, too.
    “Not always.”
    “But why?”
    The man sighed, looking across the meadow towards the darkening sky. Clouds approached, dark and full of the promise of rain.
    “Not everyone wants to hear what’s really true.”
    A mouse giving you a skeptical look ranked as one of the weirder things the man had seen in his long life. But it wasn’t the first time.
    “It’s true. Some folks would rather be deceived. Or they deceive themselves.”
    “Is the truth bad, then?”
    “No. Not in and of itself. The truth just is. Like sunlight is warm and water is wet.” The man remembered the hate filled voices that had chased them for at least a mile out of the last town.
    “It just is, mouse.”
    “Couldn’t you have, well, not told her?” The mouse looked out at the clouds as well. The breeze smelled of rain, chilly and wet.
    “Yes, that is possible.”
    “But you did tell her that her man he… wasn’t true.”
    “I did.”
    “Then why did you? Tell her, I mean.”
    “Because she asked.” Lightening flashed in the distance. A shadow fell across the land as the rain began to fall.
    “So do you always tell the truth when folks ask you things?”
    “I try to.”
    The man shivered, pulling his coat closer. The nearest shelter was miles back, in a town full of men that had no desire to see any of them ever again.
    “How do you know the truth, though?” The crab-golem asked abruptly. This was important.
    “You know when it’s the last thing standing. Lies fall apart easy. You question them a little bit, they get shakier and shakier. Then they fall. The truth never falls.
    “You can fight it all you want, but the truth is what’s left when all the lies fall away. The truth just is. It doesn’t need to convince you. It doesn’t need to hide. It can be terrible or beautiful or anything in between. But mostly, it just pisses people off.”
    The cold rain began to fall in earnest, soaking through the coat and the mouses fur and the horse’s mane almost instantly.
    “So why do you tell the truth, then?”

    “I just do, mouse. I just do.”

      1. Truth and hope are not often companions. Or rather, less often than they should be. I try to involve the two in my stories when I can. The world could always use more truth. And more hope, too.

  5. A week later, Isabella swept into the classroom and told them they were not to practice their spellcraft, but turn immediately to history.
    “Class will be held in the afternoon.”
    After mathematics, thought Ava. So much for not practicing while tired.
    She supposed it could be honest, with a reason.

  6. Nice set of promos today! Thanks!

    Trey, dressed in his whites, sat in front of the long green table with no ashtray and no courtesy glass of water.
    Confronting him were five officers including his CO, who said, “Lieutenant, we have the HUD videos, but you need to fill in the blanks.”
    “Well, sir, to be truthful…”

  7. Just to be clear… I’m not real bright most days – If I get a book from the promo post by clicking on the link, signing into the evil but still necessary amazon, the author gets their payment and the host here gets a ‘taste’ of the huge four dollars I’ve just spent – right? I like to think that is how it works but ’tis best to check.

    1. Yes.
      You don’t spend anymore but I get like a 10% referral fee. Most months I get enough to eat out once a week, if we chose to. (Two of us, modest tastes.)

      1. Thanks! I like to buy my books and the free read thing with Kindle I don’t use. I’m a big fan of libraries and like to get books from there but the Science Fiction “good” stuff still needs me to go shopping. Hopefully I will find/get enough stuff over time that I will be paying for your McDonald’s large drink!

  8. Dr. Malichauskas had spoken only two words after bringing Yngvar into his office: “Be truthful.”

    Yngvar sat silent, and so did Dr. Malichauskas. Waiting. The doctor’s dark eyes glittered under upraised brows as the silence stretched on. A bead of sweat tickled Yngvar’s back.

    “I can’t.” It was the truth.

    (How bout that? 50 words exactly.)

      1. Thanks. And not very close, no. 🙂 But following Dan Lane’s gem as it does, I can see how you’d end up there.

        It’s missing the context and setting (mostly mundane, not fantastical) that’d let you know they’re both intelligent people and neither is evil. But your guess indicates that I did succeed in conveying that the doctor is incredibly intimidating and holds power over Yngvar, who is justifiably nervous (for reasons I didn’t hint at).

        So that’s all good. These are a lot of fun.

          1. ““I have only made this vignette longer because I have not had the time to make it shorter.””

            1. ^^^^^

              And if I try to cut it down, the character interactions die, and so does the setting. It’s a flash of an image, but nothing more. And when I write, I’m typically going for a story/interaction, not just a word picture.

            2. I tried to write a short story. It weighs in at just over 14,000 words.

              But I wouldn’t call it a failure.

              Take one damsel in distress, add one time machine…

              1. Hm. Interesting…

                And my high school short story ended up being 6-8 pages over the maximum, and that was at 1.5 spacing. I think, looking back on it, that the plot should have been a novelette. And altered somewhat for the sake of realism. Maybe one day I’ll edit it to something I’m happier with.

                  1. I’ll probably have to make it longer before I make it shorter, but there are several problems that tend to get worse before they get better, so… Shrug

                  2. You never know. I dragged out The Other Princess under the impression that I could tweak part of it for the better.

                    Several massive overhauls later, it’s much longer. But published.

            3. “No time to make it shorter” is pretty much the truth of it.

              This one happened to work at 50 words, but it’s just a tiny snippet of what would be a fully fleshed out interaction in a story I’m hoping to write (characters are mostly there, still working on plot and worldbuilding).

  9. She scowled as she looked at it. It did not look much like metal, if she were honest, but no pools stood between her and it, and it was not as if she had a compass.
    She looked at the shadows for a moment, to see which way was east.

  10. Review of the Hailey series, from the 11 year old who just finished reading the whole series in a go:
    “It’s really good, and I like all of it!”

    (got the first in physical, and then bought them all Kindle because I was tired of teh fights. :D)

  11. “You don’t want me to be truthful,” I sighed.

    “Oh?” Detective Nguyen gave me a fake smile and an even more inauthentic chuckle. “Why is that?”

    “Because you’re as obvious as the nose on my face,” I replied flatly. “And certain kinds of hypocrisy make me nauseous.”

    “What makes me hypocritical?” he glared at me and waited. “Come on, you brought it up.”

    “Your sexual preference is for dominant white females, extremely dominant with huge tits and ass,” I said after a moment. “Bottle blonde by preference, hard platinum even if it looks wrong. And, they have to be able to drag you around by the cock and never be satisfied or have any release, no matter how much you pay them. The problem is that you probably have family…parent, mother, I think….no, aunts…that have made it clear that they want you to settle down with a nice Vietnamese girl that is flat as a board and easy to nail, popping out as many kids as you can.”

      1. One of the great disadvantages of being able to read people (not minds, bodies-the print is larger and usually clearer) is realizing just how…terrible some people are.

        (The MC in the first novel, An Ethical Succubus, isn’t totally jaded because s/he ran into a man in hospice care who’s only…sexual regret is that he wasn’t there for his wife when she died. Or that she died before he did. It confirmed that there was some beauty in the world.)

  12. It was situations like this that reminded me why I sleep with my shoes on.

    And at least four weapons close at hand.

    Granted, given what I saw when I opened the door, the dagger was most likely unneeded. And wouldn’t be particularly helpful even if they were needed.

    But when woken up at ungodly hours of the morning by your boss, the Emperor of the Underworld, hammering on the front door, it was nice to have something to gesture with.

    Particularly when he had what appeared to be a very drunk paladin hanging off of one shoulder.

    “My lord…” Always the best way to start the conversation. He’d never really seemed to insist on formality, but it was rather the sort of thing to be careful about. If only I could think of something else to say. Dear gods above and demons below, it was too early in the morning for this.

    “Praise be to Adyr!” answered the paladin, a wide smile plastered over his face.

    Wonderful. A servant of the Burning One.

    At least he’d misinterpreted my statement. I very much preferred for my head to remain on my shoulders.

    Dev’el smiled up at me from beneath the paladin’s weight. As always, his expression was disconcertingly… normal. “Hello, old friend. May we come in?”

    I stared at the paladin for a moment, then at him. My mind seemed to be catching up, finally, which meant my tongue should be available for use right about… ah, there it was. “As you will. You do realize there are simpler ways of resolving our working relationship?”

    As I stepped aside, his Eminence climbed the step and a half that lifted my rented rooms off the city street, pulling the paladin after him. The paladin seemed to attempt a deep, respectful nod to me as they passed, but seemed to lose track of his head halfway through.

    “My dear Hallun, I’ve no intention of ending our business so suddenly. You’re far too valuable an asset to waste.” His Eminence was somehow able to craft his tone into absentminded reassurance as he guided the paladin onto my old seat.

    As always, I took several moments to pause, grasp his words, then examine them. Turn them upside down, then inside out, then backwards. Look at synonyms, definitions, implications, and overall composition.

    Dev’el, Emperor of the Underworld and Master of the Dark Legions, was always scrupulously truthful.

    He simply wasn’t honest.

    1. Nice to be reading your work again! This does not look like a fun situation to be in, though it makes for fun reading.

      1. Thanks! I really should have proofread before posting, on re-reading. At least it’s mostly unnoticeable?

        And yeah, not exactly fun. But poor Hallun’s at least semi-used to this sort of thing. This is a portion of a Chapter 1 that I’m working on. We’ll see how the rest goes…

        1. It looked good to me for whatever that’s worth! I do understand where you’re coming from, though, since I’ve seriously been off my writing game lately in a lot of ways. Having to do a long-distance move at the end of the month will do that no matter how much work you’ve built up to it until this point. Still, keep up the good work!

            1. We’ve long wished for an edit button.

              Failing that, I’ve wished for a Hillary Clinton button. If at first you don’t succeed, destroy all evidence that you tried…

              1. And whatever is left, even if it’s a big, ugly, obvious pile, will be either ignored or swept under the rug for you by All The Right People. (Downside: To use it, you have to BE Hillary Clinton; and if you’re not her yet, you will be…eventually.)

                1. What was that line from one of the animated LOTR movies? “It is Sauron’s ring. To wield it, you must BECOME Sauron.”

  13. “How can you be certain that it is truthful in its claims, even under analysis? We know that it was transmitted to you from a dying maximizer preversion. And you know well how untrustworthy maximizers are.”

    “Suffice that we know to our satisfaction. You may maintain your picket, but we remind you that this is not your jurisdiction, no matter how concerned you might be.”

  14. Kevin turned his head to face him. Ewan looked back, a fatuously content fool. He would have to be truthful with him to winkle out his story.
    But, she had said that Liam had betrayed them both. If there were any chance to pay Liam back, Ewan might aid him.

  15. “Whatever the governor had put in there,” said Florio easily. “The meanest beggar’s brat knows that much of the story: he spent all his patrimony, and much of the taxes, building a strange and mysterious place with more magics than anywhere else in the land. Not exactly a small feat.”

  16. “Tell me the truth: will you miss me?” asked Lily.

    “What?” answered young Nigel, suddenly alarmed. “Where are you going?”

    “You’ll grow up, you know, and I’m not built for that. You’ll forget about me.”

    What kind of playmate is this? thought Nigel. I don’t want to think about that!”

    1. “Of course, it was years before we perfected the technology to make a companion grow up,” explained Nigel. “So I did, and Lily didn’t, or wouldn’t have, anyway.”

      “So, do you miss her?” asked Gwendolyn, herself a companion.

      “Every day. I try not to think about it, honestly,” answered Nigel.

      1. Ouch. Very sad.

        Is there some way of settling her programming and stored memory in another device? I’ve got a lingering story idea where a telepathic (receiving) young woman spends most of her time with robots. They don’t ‘think’ the way humans do, she can repair them, their stored memory and adaptive program allows them to better mimic human behavior whether or not they’re actually rational beings themselves, and she’s got some sort of synchronized memory servers that allow her to ‘back up’ the personalities and memories of the robots if their current bodies become too broken to repair.

        1. I was thinking along similar lines. I thought “What became of the electrons that made Lily unique?” might be an interesting question, particularly if it’s left incompletely answered. Another idea: How do you account for robotic behavior that can’t be explained by programming?

          1. In real life? I don’t know that there is any yet. But I haven’t read up in that field too much, so I might be wrong.

            In-story? While the Main Character is mostly a receiving-telepath, she does have a secondary ability she’s not aware of. I’m probably going to make up some nonsense about how souls work in this universe, at least in conjunction with this ability in particular.

            It’s kind of subliminal messaging, kind of subconscious manipulation, and kind of a lich’s ability to pour its soul into something else. It’s a very weak talent, a very rare one, and only usable with something/someone the gifted individual knows very well. Of course, she avoids people pretty much constantly (for obvious reasons), so she’s unaware of it. But because she spends so much time around her droids/robots/synths (for synthetic), pouring so much of herself and her effort into keeping them maintained, they’re granted some form of ‘self’ and ‘free will’ that most synthetics don’t pick up, no matter how long people have been trying.

            (And I’m hoping said ‘rare talent’ doesn’t end up making a Mary-Sue character because it’s a rather weak gift that she doesn’t know how to use, there is a reason she has it, and this reason will pop up as an enormous problem down the line. At least, that is the intent.)

            1. As long as she struggles and has to work for her victories, then you’re unlikely to commit Sue. It takes more than special abilities for that. (Honestly, the term’s getting pretty worn and misused these days.)

              1. Makes sense. The real difficulty with that story will probably be arranging for her to go along with the plot, given being around people is actively painful, distracting, and to be avoided.

                Actually, I can just use the robots as fellow characters and have one or two humans tagging along if necessary. That should be less troublesome.

            2. “So, with that computer in your head, you always know when people are lying?”

              She grimaced. “Most of the time I leave that process running silently in the background. Constantly knowing how much the people around me are lying would be distracting and depressing. It made watching the news an unsettling experience, and politicians…only very rarely are they not lying.”

              1. Yeesh. Yeah. (And even with the semi-good lies, it would spoil the fun of surprise parties. And pranks.)

        2. “Synchronized memory servers” sounds like an electronic analog to the soul existing outside the body.

          Funny memory: I work with a lovely Irish woman, and one day the topic of Microsoft came up. I suggested they were so big they provided IT support to God. She said, ‘”Well, He is in the cloud, isn’t He?”

          1. Oh. Oh, that’sbad

            Pun-wise, of course. I tend to assume the Creator of the platypus (and of humans) can take a genuinely creative, well-mean joke. (I’m not touching Screwtape’s sort of… What was it? Frivolous laughter? The kind that comes from laughing at something for no adequately thought-out reason?)

            And interestingly enough, when it comes to ‘synchronized memory servers’ and the backing-up of souls (and gods in the cloud), there’s another character in another budding story of mine who did something kind of crazy. I think I’ve mentioned him before, but I’ll do it again:

            Take Clone spell. (Usually used to fake one’s one death, as it doesn’t copy the soul in my world, just the matter.) Add the ability of deity-level powers to split their attention/themselves between their realms, their worshippers, and their sphere of influence. Split oneself into a few dozen bodies, and turn the original mind into a memory palace/server that sorts through, catalogues, and sends out the information received from the various other selves. Near-omnipresence leads to near-omniscience. Knowledge is power, thus, near-omniscience leads to near-omnipotence.

            Repeat as necessary, and profit! (And try not to go mad.)

              1. Madness is unproductive. Madness is is inefficient. Madness is, ultimately, not useful.

                And it tends to get you struck down by your fellow gods and their pet adventurers while you cry “I am invincible!”

                Nope. He has things to do, goshdarnit.

                (Not that stress-relief isn’t necessary from time to time. But that generally involves seeing how many gods and mortals he can drive mad by coming up with actually wholesome and helpful schemes. Or pushing his fellow deities into rampant paranoia concerning his every move. Or both.)

                1. The objective is not the instrument. To judge the objective by its instrumental value is to forget that it is the objective.

                    1. You can’t discuss whether something is ineffective except in relationship to an end — ordering the tide back out is an effective method of stopping your courtiers’ impious flattery — and the end of your means is not effective or ineffective, it’s the end. The point to which your effects tend. It must be discussed in terms of its intrinsic worth or lack thereof.

                    2. Ah. I think I get it now, thanks!

                      In this instance, the end goals in question are survival and conquest. Madness is not conducive to survival, and thus would negate one’s ability to conquer.

  17. Most kids had to be taught that lying got them into trouble. Elaine had struggled to learn that being truthful didn’t always stand you in good stead with adult authority. In particular, there were certain truths that were not welcome: truths that embarrassed adult authority, that showed up their errors or made them look less than authoritative.

    She still remembered the punishments she’d been dealt in those early years, and then the therapist who’d patiently taught her how to tell the socially expected “little white lies” without being agonized by the jangling they made to her. The usual approaches had not worked, and only when the therapist realized that she could listen to a story, even a fairy tale, without being agonized, did it become possible to teach her to treat the expected phrases and sentences as “polite fictions,” things everyone knew to not necessarily be true, but suspended disbelief in order to have an enjoyable interaction.

    Now that she knew that awful jangling of a lie was in fact the manifestation of a psi power that made her incredibly valuable to both the Federal government and the Sharp Resistance, Elaine couldn’t decide whether to laugh or to cry. So much agony could’ve been spared if someone had just tested her for telepathy instead of diagnosing her with a communication disorder.

    1. I could see this going in about a dozen different directions, all of them interesting. Who wouldn’t latch on to the idea of adolescent awkwardness being an actual super power?

  18. The chocolate! Ooooh, it’s sooo good!

    The chocolate balls and I went outside to the playhouse. I stuffed my mouth full of the crisp-coated chocolate ganache … I’m seven, I know some big words.

    Then Mom walked in. She grabbed my sticky hands, forced me to stare into her eyes, and demanded ‘Tell me what you have in your mouth! Don’t lie to me!’

    I had to reply through the delicious candy ‘Troo’ful? Truffle!’

  19. The gruel arrived. The skeletons, of course, did not notice Garamond’s absence, and Marcus flinched his bowl by appearing twice. He split it between two of the smaller children.
    Then he came and squatted by her. “You do know we’re all going to die here?”
    “Everyone dies,” she said, her voice very thin.
    He put his hand to his face. “We are going to die young, alone, abandoned. That is the truth. This land is forsaken of God and we are prisoner here.”
    “Garamond thought that.”
    “I won’t let them make me lie down to die. But they’ll kill me.”

  20. “Those are the easy things to make, lad. The larger they are the less they need. It is making delicate little things like messenger birds and clocks that fit on a ring, that is where you need the best materials. The truth is that you can not get them.”
    “I’m make an automaton to make them.”
    “If that were easy, lad, they would have done so already. Limiting the number so they can sell them for vast sums does not mean that they will not do so with all the ease they can muster.”
    “Easier than doing without the automaton.”

  21. It took a little longer to go around, so that he descended by the road. He did not want to hear such tales as they would assure each other were truthful about him. Monsters were easier to kill than rumors.
    A small gaggle of children gathered about the foot of a young woman by the well. Her voice rose over the way, telling a fairy tale about how a witch enchanted a man into being unable to find his way out of a forest.
    She glanced over him as he walked by, but she did not pause in her storytelling.

  22. Perhaps he could return to the complex and steal the food. Truthfully, the thought did not trouble his conscience, but perhaps only because the dread at the thought of going back there. They had to have food, but they had ways to recapture him, perhaps.
    He swallowed and looked around.

  23. Of all the countries in the world, and all the cities in them, only one had a King who had summoned him by name and sent him into exile. Only one would land him in hot water the moment he used his true name, and people learned he was back.

    Boris gripped his pack with his human-seeming’s gear in his teeth like a wayward kitten, and glared with an irritated grumble at the guard who tried to ask him for identity. He’d chosen this gate precisely for its human guards – in this of all cities, they knew not to challenge a leopard who took his place in the queue waiting for the gate to open, and sat still but for the irritated swish of a tail that told exactly how he felt.

    Yes, he’d completed his geas, and was free to go anywhere he wanted. But, truthfully? He’d have ended up right back here. There was something in a feline soul that cannot abide a closed door.

  24. “Space don’t lie, girl,” said the old miner Harald, one of the first to claim his own asteroid out in the belt. “Right now, space is saying, ‘Ya got seventeen hours of air left in this here rock.”

    “We can last longer.”

    “Lie to yerself, space won’t. Space is truthful.”

    1. Mother Nature in any form doesn’t understand the concept of a ‘white lie.’ A lie to lure someone/something into a false sense of security, sure. But not something to make them feel better.

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