Book Promo And Vignettes by Luke, Mary Catelli and ‘Nother Mike With a BONUS PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT


This is a public service announcement: I’m so angry I’m shaking right now. No, not at anyone on this blog, or anyone who sent me links, and not my background anger at politicians.

Let me explain: A lot of you are enthusiastic and confused. A lot more have trouble reading directions. That’s fine. I have been there sometimes, and done the most bizarre things by way of asking for promotion or some other favor. No big.

HOWEVER this week, in the batch of requests for promo, I got a — not unusual — offer of free chapters, and a line to not-Amazon.

While I usually prefer to link for Amazon, because, yes, I earn a commission, I’ve been known to link to books not on Amazon, if I can figure out how. Though I first look to see if the book is on Amazon and link that if I can. (Hey, it’s money, and while I do this because I love you, I also do it for money if I can.)

This one seemed to be a small publisher, and the book was not on Amazon. So I set up to link to the publisher, but sent the writer back a message about “if you’re not on Amazon your publisher isn’t serving you right.”

However, as I continued putting up books, the name of the publisher kept bugging me. I was sure it was on a list of scams.

They are probably not scammy enough for the law, however they are DEFINITELY a vanity publisher. Which means the writer published through them is unlikely to see any money (the publisher makes the money from the writer.) AND they’re unlikely to see any royalties, since the house makes no effort at selling the book.

In this day and age of indie publishing, it is painful to me to see ANYONE giving money to be published, and getting nothing in return.

PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE: Always remember: MONEY FLOWS TO THE AUTHOR. If it isn’t flowing to the author and you’re paying a so-called “publishing company” to publish you, they have no reason to SELL your book. Their business model is to get paid by you, not by readers.

IF you don’t know how to publish your book indie and don’t want to spend time submitting to traditional publishers, ask in the comments. Yes, you can HIRE copyeditors, cover artists, etc, and bring the book out yourself, under your full control. No, it’s not the same as having a “publisher” ask you for money.

Please, I beg you with tears in my eyes: before giving money to a vanity publisher, contact me, or Cedar Sanderson, or TXRed, or a dozen other people. We can at least point you in some direction (even if my time availability is crazy right now.) And I can send you the names of copy editors and cover artists. (I can do a post with those, if people want.)

JUST don’t give away your hard work, and pay for it being buried out of sight of the buying public. You’re better than that.

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. ;)*


Odd Magics
This is a very strange collection of fairytales, recast for modern life. In it the prize isn’t always to the fairest, the
magic is rarely to the strongest.
But lonely introverts do find love, women who never gave it a thought find themselves at the center of romance.
Doing what’s right will see you to the happily ever after.
And sometimes you have to kiss an accountant to find your prince.

(And yes, I feel bad about the price for the hardback, but the production costs are high. Apparently.)

FROM STEPHEN PALMER: The Unlikely Candidate: A Novel of Politics, Religion, and the Media

After completing his second and final term as governor of Mississippi at age fifty, Jeff Ackerman is seeking direction for the next stage in his life. On a whim, Ackerman decides to run for president in the 2016 election against incumbent Democrat Upton Landers. Landers is a reasonably popular sitting president during a time of peace and a stable economy. The well-known Republican politicians elect to sit on the sidelines for the 2016 election, implicitly conceding re-election to Landers. This leaves the Republican field open to squishy moderates, has-beens, and never-have-beens such as Jeff Ackerman.

The Unlikely Candidate takes the reader on a thought-provoking and sometimes infuriating journey into the Oval Office, Air Force One, a New York City newsroom, the pulpit of an African-American church in Detroit, and the headquarters of an agribusiness conglomerate in Iowa. One part political commentary, one part media criticism, and one part Christian apologetic, this novel prioritizes ideas and ideals. Author Stephen Palmer weaves various threads into a compelling, fast-moving narrative that keeps the reader thinking while anxiously turning pages.

After a successful twenty-year legal career, Stephen Palmer retired from a major international law firm at age 46 in order to focus on writing and public speaking. He’s originally from Jackson, Mississippi and now lives in Marietta, Georgia with his wife Jennifer and their two daughters.

FROM MARK DOUGLAS ROBBINS: Killing Deep States: How to Spread Freedom

Thomas Paine said almost 250 years ago, “government even in its best state is but a necessary evil “. In ten pages KDS shows how a $10.99 political donation initiates feedback on government spending. This short pamphlet (1 hour), modeled on “Common Sense”, leans into unique processes implemented using technology, and existing proven systems, to give free people control of their governments.


23-year-old apprentice nurse Lily Barrett lives in a shattered time. Following its economic collapse, the US has devolved into a group of a few barely-functional smaller states, and vast swathes of barbarian badlands. Her sister has been missing for years, and her father, after earning the opprobrium of most of the world for running a state terror organization, presumed dead.

Two things keep her going: her live-in job at a small, Catholic orphanage in the city of Waxahachie, Republic of Texas, and Ai, her odd, but dear friend, whom she met online: a young woman who only shows herself to Lily as a rendered CG image.

Troubled by her past, haunted by her name, and facing an uncertain future, Lily seeks only a quiet, normal life. But, that past and her present conspire against her. A new Morning has come, and with it, delights and terrors, happiness and adversity.

FROM DALE COZORT: Snapshot42-Book2:Through The Texas Gate (Snapshot-42 Book 2)

Snapshot42: Through the Texas Gate is an alternate history novel. In early November 1942, with World War II hanging in the balance, an invisible wall cuts Europe, along with parts of the Middle East and North Africa, off from the rest of the world. With the Allies running out of vital raw materials from the rest of the world, they look for ways through the wall. They find two gates to other realities. One leads to a still-independent Republic of Texas that still uses black powder weapons and is barely holding off fierce nomad raiders, while another leads to a strange land without people but overrun by still-living dinosaurs.

Jim Bridger and Colonel Tillman need to buy oil and food to keep the allies in the war, but first they have to survive fierce new enemies in these new-found realities.


Andre runs into trouble, riding with Rachel, while he’s on leave. By the time he’s back on duty, Rachel has decided to join up with BSR. Her first job is a doozy, though. She has to keep the twins out of trouble. Slavers show up again, with hopes of getting the company out of the way. After the fleet explains the error in their ways, they head out to check on a new planet. A stowaway causes trouble for Topper, but it turns out for the best.

FROM KARL GALLAGHER: Captain Trader Helmsman Spy (Fall of the Censor Book 4)

Niko Landry needs to infiltrate the Censorate to find a weakness before it launches its next assault. The Censor bans maps of hyperspace, forcing freighters to find their way by word of mouth.
He and his crew will pretend to be ordinary traders while finding out all the secrets they can. Any mistake could leave them broke . . . or executed.

FROM TONY ANDARIAN: The Massacre of Lannamon: Dawn of Chaos 2 – Hell Gate, Part III (Sanctum of the Archmage Book 4)

A new constitution prepares Carlissa for an era of enlightenment. The harsh traditions of the past fade, and a promise of freedom stirs the air.
In the space of one terrifying day, that promise is shattered in a bloodbath of fire and magic.
Thousands of years ago, an epic battle was fought between good and evil. The demon lords had opened a door to the realms of hell itself, and their horde threatened to overrun the earth. But the Kalarans, led by the hero Calindra, destroyed their hellgate and drove them from the world.
The Great War has long since been lost to myth and legend. The Church struggles for relevance as the people forget their covenant with the gods. A renaissance of freedom and learning stirs the air in the modern age of Carlissa, led by the royal family, and the wisdom of the Archmage.
All of that comes to an end when a dome of shimmering magic appears in the capital city.
The people fight desperately to survive the chaos that follows, and wonder bitterly why the gods seem to have abandoned them. Their only hope lies with the magic of the Archmage — and his, with a young princess who never wanted to rule. She must find the strength to set aside her bard’s calling and take up a battle against impossible odds, or surrender her land and people to the Black Magus and his demons.
In The Massacre of Lannamon, the city’s refugees fight desperately for survival, but their prospects become ever more bleak in the face of the advancing demon horde.Sanctum of the Archmage, Volume One – Dawn of Chaos
Dawn of Chaos, Book 2: Hell Gate
Hell Gate, Part III – The Massacre of Lannamon
Note: An earlier version of this book appeared as part of the novel Dawn of Chaos, published briefly on Amazon in 2017. That book has now been re-written and expanded into a series of six novella-length installments.

FROM B. RENE SHEKMER: Restoring Order: A Detachment 3 Novel.

A young college student is kidnapped while on summer vacation. Her father, a U.S. diplomat, has the connections to involve the CIA and he does not hesitate to use them. Detachment 3 is given the assignment to find and retrieve the young woman. From Northern Virginia to the Mediterranean, the team follows the available clues in the search for Sofia and her kidnappers, who turn out to be more than mere criminals.

FROM DENTON SALLE: Not Snakes, Exactly: A Hall of Heroes Short Story

When Megan reached out to the Brotherhood over the odd old woman who came to her church, she wasn’t sure what to expect. Especially after the Greek Orthodox priest who gave her their contact info insisted she be blessed first. But the old woman was so adamant about needing them.

She never expected to find the monsters and creatures of Ukrainian and East European myth. Nor that the strangeness would invade her professional life. But that old woman warned of doom overhanging her West Texas city.

A story from the Hall of Heroes, where the legends of East Europe walk in Texas, and sometimes even cowgirls need to deal with them.

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.

If you have questions, feel free to ask.

Your writing prompt this week is: laborer

Drunk on Story

So, with the Junta in power acting like freaking lunatics and trying to bring on WWIII, my friends keep asking “Why are we antoganizing a nuclear-armed* power?” and “Why do both sides of the spectrum seem to be pushing us towards WWIII?”

And there’s only one answer: drinking their own ink. Both sides are drinking their own ink.

I’ll dispose of the right first: the “right” which in this case is mostly the military-industrial complex, the real one, the one that is composed of swamp creatures in our secret services**, in the military, and in the fossilized GOPe, the remnants of what used to be called “right wing progressives” in the beginning of the 20th century when “progressive” spanned both parties. It’s all about, gah, what in Rome amounted to old men talking about their upright ancestors, who ate acorns and lived in caves and were real men. (There are still Portuguese men talking about this, I swear.)
It’s all about this thing that since WWII defines strong American manhood as having fought in a war and proved themselves. And this will somehow make the country more conservative, if you understand “FDR” or at least Eisenhower as conservative (which he was, just not AMERICAN conservative.

Also, the right, in a more benign view of this whole insanity, at least those like me who grew up in the cold war “waiting for the hammer to fall” is weary of letting another country, much less Russia (which WILL swallow every country nearby one by one because Russian paranoia, and also because their economics are still highly flawed and can’t survive without parasitizing other countries. And once the swallow a tier, another tier is now near them, and them…. there’s no limit to this) have the upper hand over the US.

The answer to that is: Do you guys trust this lot to run a war? Do you trust their motives? Do you really want to give more power to the government? Do you think you’ll be in power forever?

Then there is the left side. And what you have to understand is that if the right side is drunk on story, the left side is drunk on story on steroids. They’ve been butt-chugging it, as well as drinking it.

Worse, they’re drunk on several, mutually contradictory stories at once.

Part of their motivation was a form of “thinking” the left indulges in which consists of “let’s do this because it worked in the past.” (To be fair the right tends to believe the left’s plans will work as they did in the past, so everyone is crazy.) Which is true, except what they know of the past omits how things have changed. And boy, have they changed.

So, you know, they often try to run the “rise of the USSR” scenario without realizing it does not/can not work with an armed populace. Then they realize it, try to confiscate/outlaw guns, fail, run in circles, try again.

In the same way, they’re trying to run the WWII module, (or WWI, for that matter) because it led to massive growth in government power, a compliant population and got them out of a depression before, right?????

Except none of that works that way. It’s so wrong it’s like an alien language.

The only reason Wilson or FDR got the powers they did and could run around like the whole beast and the triple six besides, trampling everything in their path was that they had FULL CONTROL of mass media and public opinion.

They don’t have that now. They already don’t have that. And they ain’t getting it back. They keep forgetting that they poured it on full force under Obama, and what they got was…. Trump. And then they did everything — everything, including the “pandemic” script and locking the population down…. and they still had to fraud at the last minute, in front of G-d and everyone, because people aren’t BUYING it.

Wishing this away is like wishing away guns.

Yes, they’re trying. That’s what mintrue is all about. But the woman is so stupid (Seriously, she’s friends with the dumber of our older adversaries in SF/F) that she’s become an instant joke. Also what she’s screaming “Saying Commie Lawhorish slept her way to the top is disinformation” is what the left has been screaming at us for YEARS. And it doesn’t work. In fact, I predict in a couple of months, we’ll know what’s true by what this chick denies.

The other way they drink their own ink is hilarious. They continuously do this thing where they make up something stupid and then BELIEVE IT THEMSELVES. No, seriously, this is a pattern of every socialist/communist going back to yep the USSR.

It would be like if I wrote something about the moon being made of cheese and then tried to start an expedition to harvest it.

They made up the story about Russia putting Trump in power, partly because they thought the RIGHT would fall for it. (“Because they’re so stupid, they hate Russians, ur ur”) …. and then they FORGOT they made it up and fell for it. So, they have a big mad on at Russians and want to beat them.

BUT they also still think the right (ur ur) being “stupid” fell for the story themselves, so it means we must love Russia, right? (No, just go with it. I know your brain just twisted. What can I say. Commies.)

So they fully expected us, the minute Ukraine was invaded to come out in full vocal support of Russia. (No. I know there’s half a dozen of you. Stop it. Just stop it. KGB trained dictator is not defender of anything, except himself.) And then they COULD STOMP US. Because war act, repress bad speech.

Only we didn’t act as they expected. As with guns, they don’t know what to do when people don’t follow their script. It always works in stories. (Mostly because the stories they write are predictable and stupid, and have no real humans.)

So now they’re trying to stampede us into war, because THEN IT MUST WORK. Somehow, Automagically. If they keep digging the shit, there will be a pony at the end.

What they’re actually doing is pissing off most of the country. I’ve never seen people so upset as at sending massive money to Ukraine while our border is essentially undefended. People wish Ukraine the best. And I understand how important this fight is to Europe. But we have our own sh*t to deal with.***

In the population at large, there seems to be almost no support for war against Russia. Which is good. Because we’re not in a state to fight this war, let alone win it. The only thing that can be said about us is that our potential enemies are worse off. And that’s not saying much.

My guess is the stampeding fails.

Now will the left still steal the election? Probably, but it will be REALLY obvious.

Will there be a violent uprising? I doubt it. Oh, some places, maybe. But the left would need to really eff it up to get a VIOLENT uprising.****

What we’ll have is what already dissolved the covidiocy bullsh*t in most of the country. Where I live now, I don’t even know if the signs are still up. I know for months we were walking past signs saying “Masks strictly required” and “Six foot distancing” into stores where everyone except a few mentally slow Karens (glaring at everyone) were ignoring the signs.

It is important not to attribute magical powers to the enemy. Their plans ALWAYS fall apart. As I tell people, if the USSR plan to take over the US worked, it would be the first of their plans to do so.

And their plans for us are already disintegrating. Remember the “new normal” and the “this is how life will be now?” No. Just no.

And if they steal the election again, this will just go into turbo mode, with bells on, until everyone is laughing in their faces.

I don’t mean to say it won’t be bad, or that Team Heads on Pikes Highway Beautification Program won’t happen, but that’s not what I see happening.

What I see happening is far more devastating to the left. We will not drink their ink. We will not buy their story.

The future is a human laughing in the collectivists’ faces.


*Ah, but are they, in any significant sense? For that matter, are you sure we are?
Look, yeah, the Russians “got the bomb”. Theoretically. Almost for sure. but we know at the height of the standoff, Krushev basically had “nothing” and was trying to hide it. They were driving long tubes around in trucks, so we thought they had more missiles than they did, and of course our secret services bought it, because they’re made of utter stupid.
Frankly, when May 9 passed with nary a mushroom cloud…. well, are they? Does any of their arsenal actually work? The things take more work and investment than I’d guess they’ve given it, ever, but particularly the last few decades. And for that matter, what’s the state of ours? Do you trust it? I mean, since we’re talking of swallowing narratives, it behooves us to at least quirk an eyebrow, okay?

**The ineffective if not treasonous bunch of them.

***Most of it in DC

****Not fully putting it past these geniuses, but keep in mind it’s demographics. We simply don’t have ENOUGH young males, proportionately to have an uprising.

Not in My Name by I. Ratel

Not in My Name by I. Ratel

Gather round, USAians, freedom lovers, and degenerates!  I come to you today with a short personal rant in response to a hysteric child apparently living in the body of an adult.  One of my news apps brought me this admittedly rather eloquent temper tantrum from Teen Vogue:  No Airline Mask Mandate Means Disabled People Like Me Are More Isolated Than Ever

Ok did you read that?  Holy shit.  This one hits a nerve for me, because I’m in the same category as the author.

I’m an organ transplant recipient with a severe autoimmune disorder.  I rely on a prosthetic device for daily life.  I’m missing some organs and necessary body parts and on 3 immunosuppressive drugs.  For my group my docs figure a case fatality rate with COVID between 5 and 10%, compared to the less than 1% for the population in general.

The writer of this op-ed writes quite capably, but she needs psychiatric treatment.  I’ve been an essential worker for the last 2 years, working in my office and commuting.  I have several kids attending school.  I attend school events, I’ve done the grocery shopping every week, because these kids eat a ton.  I’ve traveled by air and road, adopted dogs, visited family and friends, attended concerts, gone out for occasional date nights with my wife, and really made zero major life adjustments due to the pandemic.  I’ve lived almost 20 years severely immune compromised and have learned to live in a world that’s constantly trying to kill me.  During the pandemic I was hospitalized twice for infections, both times for cellutitis from small wounds incurred in my extracurricular activities.  That’s how easily pathogens get me, a little sliver of wood caught under the skin and 2 days later I’m in the hospital for 3 days of IV antibiotics.  Pneumonia has come damned close to killing me more than once in the last 2 decades. 

Yes, there’s a decent chance Covid will kill me, but there are hundreds of influenza variants floating around the globe, and millions of other pathogens that will do the same.  The writer here needs to get over her panic and live her life.  As disabled people we can’t expect the world to be built around us.  We have to figure out how to live in it.  Nobody but me is responsible for keeping me safe.  Despite the challenges inherent to my condition, I am responsible and cannot expect the world to conform to my specific needs and if I were making them, demands.

This was a very eloquent piece of emotional manipulation.  It’s no different from a toddler’s temper tantrum because the intent is the same.  The intent here is to overwhelm you with emotion and pity so you’ll cave in to the toddler’s unreasonable demands.  Nobody is stopping the writer from wearing a mask if she chooses to.  Nobody is stopping her from taking a solo road trip if she deems air travel too risky.  She needs to actually deal with her fear.  It’s called therapy, and most of us could benefit from some.

I’m disabled, at severe risk of death or major complications from Covid and this histrionic baby doesn’t represent me.  I’ll add even more emphatically that the “normal” people who are STILL bleating about us poor, vulnerable people DO NOT SPEAK FOR ME.  I am not their mascot to be pitied in order to excuse their fear, I do not acquiesce to being used as an emotionally loaded bludgeon against people trying to live their lives.  The world tries to kill me every day, and every day I say “fuck you” and go about my life.  I’m responsible for my safety and I do take what I have determined to be prudent measures for my own protection, and nobody’s free agency should be constrained by my unique circumstances.  The world doesn’t revolve around me, and it doesn’t revolve around Hannah Sullivan Facknitz, and she needs to get over that harsh little truth.

Don’t Jump Off That Ledge

I come from a small and very strange country. No, seriously.

It is a point of pride that the national poet for the ages — Luís de Camões for those who haven’t made an hobby of Portuguese history, and really, why would you — died as the Spaniards were taking over the throne of Portugal (during one of those bizarre disputes you can only understand if you view the royal families of Europe as a small and incredibly inbred tribe of people, swept off the streets of London in the seventeenth century, dropped into a holler in the Appalachia mountains, and they’ve never left since. Everyone marries their cousins, and everyone fights mightily over a limited number of chairs…. er …thrones.) Anyway, as the Spaniards took over and officially Portugal stopped existing, Camões is said to have declared, “The homeland dies, and I die with it.”

Ahem. Go look at a world map. I’ll wait. Okay. I presume your map is not from the 1600s. And yet, if you look, Portugal is in fact in it.

That is because the worst thing possible evah! occurred, and yet…. it wasn’t the end. Eventually (in about sixty years) the Spanish vice-roi was defenestrated, a bastard son of the last Portuguese king was called to the throne and with the help of England (he married Phillipa of Lancaster) Portugal was back, baby.

In fact, its biggest days were ahead. I was making some ridiculous joke about Portugal to my son and he said “mom. Portugal was one of two countries that divided the world in two. Kind of the original superpower. Mom. You can’t really make fun of that.”

Well, actually I can, because imagine what they could have done if everyone weren’t a squirrel with ADHD? But (ducks, bobs and weaves, avoiding the three Portuguese who read this blog regularly) the point is, the poet who wrote the verse-history of the country to that time, thought it was all over.

In fact, its golden days were yet to come.

We are, and no mistake, having to put up with a lot of nonsense. And it does remind me of the “Spanish Interregnum” in that they purposely set about to give away, destroy and despoil everything that made Portugal powerful.

But it didn’t work. Because invaders, whether foreign or internal, corrupted Marxists, don’t understand that which they’re trying to destroy.

Which means all of their efforts end up coming up …. thwarted.

Look guys, and I say this conscious of a long line of ancestors saying “That’s impossible” but these guys? They’re worse than the Spaniards. At least the Spaniards had enough competency to pick up the other half of the world.

These guys? they got nothing.

They are unable to understand anything that is not them. They keep trying to do the things they think we’re doing, and trying to attack us by taking out “leaders” on the assumption we are their mirror image.

They don’t understand us. And the sheer Americanness of us keeps sucker punching them, every time they turn around.

Can they still do a lot of damage? Sure. Of course they can. But in the end?

We might be beaten, have a bloody lip, and a black eye, but we’re going to win this.

Let the death cult of the left embrace death.


Our best days are ahead of us.

I bet you we’re going to the stars.

Refuse the Despair a blast from the past from November 2014

Yesterday I was looking at pictures of friends in France. They’re about my age and their kids are the age of mine.

Now, most of my pictures on line (though not all) are of conventions and fan events, because my facebook page is a professional page, not a personal one. (I would start a personal one, but most of my personal life is just my kids, and if they’re looking on FB for pictures, they’re ill. Now this might change as the kids move out/get a life/live in other states, but right now there’s no point.)

So, my pictures are different. But we also have family pictures. We used to do a thing every year where we took pictures of events throughout the year, and the things the kids participated in, then narrated it, put it together, and sent a CD to the grandparents.

We don’t do that anymore – mostly time issues – but we do still take pictures, now on the – increasingly rare – occasions when the four of us do something fun together, like go to a special event at a museum or take an overnight trip somewhere. (The last one I can remember, absent cons) is the Van Gogh exhibit in Denver which we took in last year on Black Friday.)

The thing is, in all these pictures, my kids are smiling, or goofing off, or even giving each other the stink eye.

Our family pictures involve stuff like mini-golfing together and posing around fiberglass animals. Or pretending to be swept out with the monumental dust-pan and broom outside the Denver Art Museum. Or Marshall looking very sophisticated (but not bored) in his leather blazer, looking at pictures.

Yesterday I read this at Ace of Spades, so I was primed to think how much people, consciously, try to make their lives look like “they should”.

And then I looked at pictures from France. I think all of us have watched at least one French movie, right?

Well, pictures from France, even pictures of people my kids’ age all transmit that “the world is a dingy place and we’re all hard eyed realists with incredibly complex sex lives” look of French movies.

Is it true?

Oh, heck no, no more than street cars mentioned by Ace are romantic or beautiful or anything like that. This is just the image sold in the movies. Most people in France, except for the issues brought on by socialism (break up of families, high unemployment, pervasive bureaucracy) live the same small, happy lives as anyone else. You know, someone to love, something to do, something to eat. Lives just comfortable enough they don’t struggle for more.

But how much you enjoy how you live and what you perceive as “the good life” can definitely be influenced by what you see. And that in turn changes what you do and what you see around you, and therefore your mood.

It’s probably not a coincidence that France has one of the highest rates in the world for consumption of anti-depressives.

For some reason – and it has to do with taking a really weird turn at the romantics and then getting stuck with more socialist realism than should be possible outside the Soviet union – they internalized the idea that high art is vaguely boring and definitely pessimistic (here I think it’s a great deal too bad that most of their “art” is protected from competition with foreign art by various stupid laws, and is subsidized with stipends allocated by bureaucrats, for whom, of course, life is both boring and pessimistic, with shades of sadism.)

And so, even though they might have been able to get around the blight of socialism, in time, and even though they live in one of the most beautiful places on Earth, they’ve internalized self-hatred, unhappiness as a sort of chic accoutrement, and the meaninglessness of their own quotidian life. (Which, even without socialism would make their family lives a mess and taking daily pleasure in things difficult.)

So, what does this have to do with anything other than beating the French? (Admittedly always a good pastime, particularly since I’m writing stuff in Liberte seacity.)

Simple: a lot of our high culture is French. It is sometimes French by way of Germany, but it is French. Most of our glitterati love French culture and by that I don’t mean the good stuff like what Mr. Du Toit appreciates (I have some favorite French writers, myself.) No, most of them admire the more recent stuff, not even the French cinema, but the pictures they get from friends who go on vacation there. They admire the air of being unutterably bored and depressed and the way everyone there seems to accept the world is on a handbasket ride to h*ll. It’s so… sophisticated!

In their minds, most of our glitterati are hanging out in cafes, smoking thin little cigarettes and sneering at the world.

I mean, most of them aren’t even looking at France but at American movies that show France, but they think it’s all so unutterably romantic and so much better than our cowboy can-do attitude, and they want to think life means nothing and all is lost so they can be just like the French.

In fact, the insanity in SF/F now reminds me a lot of the French science fiction of the seventies. (It was excusable. It was after all the seventies.) Stranger and stranger sexual identities, tearing down of all taboos, life is a bitch. Humans are evil. And then you die. Check.

Look, yesterday a friend sent me a picture of what can only be called a cave-world in China. The first comment was “Now that it’s discovered, humans will destroy it.” And it was followed by upteen comments agreeing with this.

Now, the caves will almost surely be despoiled, because it’s a communist regime. (duh.) But not because it’s “humanity” and even if it were, why the heck SHOULDN’T they be despoiled? (Other than scientific investigation, natch.) I mean, what is their intrinsic value outside of humanity studying/admiring them? And yep, a dozen of the comments were “Humans should just die off, they ruin everything.” Uh… everything for whom? If there are not humans, who appreciates/gives aesthetic value to anything? If an elephant paints in the forest and no human sees it, did it really happen?

These people clearly did not believe in this – no, seriously – For one, they were all still alive. No one can go to life hating themselves that much and survive. But it was the pose to strike to appear intelligent, in comments, in novels, in drawings, in…

To be hopeful and happy is to be low brow. To show yourself intelligent you need to despair in the approved Socialist-realist way.

The problem with this is that this sort of thing seeps into the culture by forming the younger people. It forms their attitudes and their beliefs. They are too unsophisticated to know the adults don’t really mean it, so they mean it a little more.

After a few generations you’re stuck with people so depressed, they will accept overlords, even barbaric overlords who stone women and gays, if it will save them from their ennui and their depressive view of the world.

And therein lies the rub. The helplessness of modern “realism” is a gateway drug to being sheep in thrall of totalitarians.

You’re so tired of despair and sadness, and yet you know the world is terrible and you want to atone for any happiness you still feel. So you give in to petty tyrants like the people in SFWA who change the rules and tell you you’re bad because you used the word they just forbid. Or whatever. And you abase yourself and feel dirty and miserable.

Until a really big tyrant, like, oh, Mao or Stalin or the despicable Che, come along and free you from your guilt by more than likely killing you, and if not making you wish they had.

It doesn’t have to be like that. On comments, on books, on drawings, refuse to follow the blinkered “chic unhappiness” of the elites. Laugh at their poses of sadness and thoughtfulness. They’re like little kids trying to look serious so we’ll think they’re grown up.

Mock, contradict, ignore, replace.

In the end we win, they lose.

It has to be so, if humanity is to survive.

Refuse the easy rewards of the merchants of despair. Build your life on hard work and can-do.

Doom! Doom! Doom!

Doom! Gloom! The end is coming soon! Oh, woe is me! Lay down your weapons! Let’s surrender!

So, yesterday night, as I do when I remember which is about once a week, I let my fingers do the walking through pending and spammed and trashed comments.

It’s actually rather bizarre the number of you that WordPress has decided are spammers on….nothing much. Though sometimes I get it. I have some trigger words, that are the name of notorious trolls, or associated with them, which I can’t reveal since it would make them ineffective. And sometimes one of you uses them innocently. There is also, of course, the possibility that some idiot who is on the “approve every time” list will decide he’s BANNED and that this is a case for bringing a lawsuit against me or threaten me with physical harm. (Think about it “But your honor, she banned me from commenting on her blog! Surely I can get damages!” Laughed out of court doesn’t begin to cover it. “She caused harm to the reputation of my made-up internet handle” is maybe worse.)

So when I have time, and the brain is fried for useful work, I’ll let my fingers do the walking of spammed/pending/trashed. (Weirdly, though most pending show up in my side bar for approval, some require me to do a deep dive into the entrails of the blog to find it. WPDE, I guess.)

And something curious struck me.

Starting about with John Ringo’s guest post, there is a flock of doom-birds screaming “give up, give up. You can’t win. The battle is already lost.”

I didn’t approve them.

Look, I know that some of the regulars — and heaven help me, one or two times a year, me, myself — will fall into doomer mode at times.

Standing on the ramparts is tiring work, and not only are the slings and arrows painful, what hurts the most is the HOWLING incoherence of the opposition. For a certain type of odd, who seems to congregate here, to be honest, we prefer to be called bad names than to be screamed random slogans at. Because we don’t so much mind being hated, but we’d like it to MAKE SENSE.

Sometimes we all fall into doom.

But you have to realize, if you’ve read military history that when the enemy’s main tactic is yelling at you to shut up and give up, they’re losing.

They’re losing big.

To an extent the leftist/collectivist project always was losing. You can’t fight reality. She’s a stone cold b*tch.

But they controlled the mass media, and therefore their shouts made many people give up. Most people, really, including a lot of the “opposition” who became the loyal opposition in the hope of being killed last.

Well, Thank G-d Almighty that time is past.

Yes, the horizon is dark. Yes, the other side is fighting with everything they have, and sometimes they will hurt us. They will hurt everyone. In fact, they have reached the crazy level of spreading plague to the enemies, and their own people, indiscriminately because they’re that desperate.

They won’t win, but they can make us lose. Or at least hurt badly. We’re going to take damage, that’s unavoidable. We’ll have to rebuild and that’s annoying.

But this is not the end. It probably isn’t even the end of the beginning.

This is no time to get wobbly. And it certainly is no time time to list to their whispers and shouts.

Grin, show the middle finger and answer with “Okay, Doomer.”

And fight on.

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

(*Sorry about the disappearing post and the redo. For reasons known only to …. WordPress’s psychiatrists, it decided I didn’t want to publish the new promo post, but I wanted in fact to repeat last week’s. Not only that, but the new promo post was completely memory-holed, so it’s not even in drafts, which usually everything is. So, I erased it and am starting again from scratch with three hours down the hole. — Just figured out the problem might be related to our internet crashing due to a thunder storm HALFWAY through publishing the post. In any case: GRRR.* – SAH)

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. ;)*

OOPS, I DID IT AGAIN: FROM SARAH A. HOYT: Barbarella 9, now with dinosaurs.

What the heck is with the eyeballs. I don’t know. I mean Barbarella confronts the Oppressive Alien Gaze, but honestly comics covers seem fairly random to me. And in this case super-disturbing.

The penultimate issue for this current installment! Beauty meets beautiful (and highly defended) beast as Barbarella takes the fight right to The Lady’s doorstep. Doing so means tracking down The Lady’s hidden home world and doing that means fighting throuh the masses determined to keep it hidden! If it’s that hard to make planetfall, what the heck awaits our hero? And what is the incredible, tragic connection between The Lady and Taln?! All this, and cringy one-liners, too! (*And I will note this blurb is from my editor, the man who helps me come up with cringy one liners. Seriously? I mean that’s one of the best parts of doing these comics.* -SAH)

FROM JAMES Y. BARTLETT: Cold Secrets (The Swamp Yankee Mysteries Book 2)

Julius Haddock is mad as hell and he’s gonna do something about it!

In Glitter Girl, Book One of the Swamp Yankee mysteries, Julius Haddock, the former chief of police in Little Penwick, Rhode Island, was in jail, thanks to a corrupt District Attorney and a few bent judges. Now, after some good police work by his son Gus Haddock, the new chief of police, he’s out. And free.

Julius wants revenge, but he’s going to get it on his own schedule. In the meantime, armed with his new private investigator’s license, Julius decides to take another look at one of Little Penwick’s coldest cases: the thirty-year-old murder of Donna Dixon, a seventeen year old who was abducted and killed while riding her bike to work at her summer job.

But as he starts to look into what happened to Donna thirty years ago, Julius Haddock finds that everyone in town seems to have some secrets from that long-ago time. And he even finds a few secrets in Little Penwick that are fresh and brand new.

But nobody doubts that Julius Haddock can figure out what happened. He’s a Swamp Yankee, after all. Proud, determined and relentless.


The Forever Child is the story of Evangeline Fletcher. Born in 1630, the year 2019 finds her still alive and on the run. For all of her long life, she has been hunted, first by a family seeking vengeance and later by those hoping to find out the secret to her immortality and claim it for themselves.
For Evangeline, immortality has been wasted. She has no family, no friends and no possessions. There have been no great achievements, no heroic deeds, just an empty life of living alone and being ready to run at a moment’s notice whenever she is discovered. She must constantly change identities and move to new locations in an effort to avoid being found. More than anything else, Evangeline wishes she were normal.
Her pursuers are now a cabal of operatives who can draw on the vast resources of the government as they try, time and time again, to capture Evangeline. They are ruthless, tenacious and driven and will cross any boundary and break any law in their find her. If captured, she will be imprisoned, studied and eventually discarded. A lonely, unmarked grave will be her final end.


Malta. Alchemists, Saints and Heroes have all made their way to this place, defended its walls, and added to its ranks of ghosts and lore.

Besieged, battered, and bombed, this archipelago has seen every tide of war, turmoil, and more than a few bits of piracy. It’s also been the land of courage, resilience, and grace under fire.

Ten authors have set out to bring you tales of the ghosts of Malta past, present, and future. Open the pages and meet the ancient guardians, ghost cats and inter dimensional spies that will be your guide…

BY LEIGH BRACKET, WITH INTRODUCTION BY D. JASON FLEMING: Shadow Over Mars (Annotated): The Science Fiction Pulp Classic Planetary Romance

Out of the Roaring Turmoil of the Red Planet Emerges Resolute Rick Urquhart — Destined to Rule the Universe, and to Dare Destruction for the Sake of the Woman He Loves!

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

FROM R. H. SNOW: Transmutation Texas (Watcher of the Damned Book 1)

In a World gone Viral, a Hero shall Arise – join the Revolution with WATCHER of the DAMNED!

The Happening wreaked havoc as Humanity got a hard reset from a deadly gender-cidal Virus – and for TransMutated Survivors like The Watcher, life in Post-Apocalyptic Texas just got a whole lot bloodier and a whole lot lonelier. In a cyberpunk Wild West gone awry, The Watcher was a Rebel without a clue under the System: a brutal, high-tech Social Construct engineered to serve the Enlightened and oppress the Damned. But that’s all about to change, thanks to a cheeky chaos agent named Rose…

Now The Watcher must lead a Revolution to save Rose from the System He helped create, or Rose will die – and Humanity will die with her.

Fight the System – Join the Revolution – with WATCHER of the DAMNED!


A few brave lizards, and a gecko, with the right stuff. Two boys growing up in Africa explore the possibilities of explosives, with their reptilian pals. AstroLizards tells the tale of the nascent Nigerian Spac… er, well, an attempt was made. Sapper Lizards tells of the brave enlisted lizards and the wonders of ammonium triiodide. Finally, the Major’s tale of epic battles against beetles and a nose round out this comedic book. You can color the story in yourself! Or you can read and laugh and read again.


A collection of current events and history essays over the last month, including news headlines just to keep track of what else was going on. Somebody’s got to cover the world on fire and try to figure out that plans of whoever’s making it happen. Is it the real thing or just a fake? Either way, they’re hitting us hard.

FROM LESLEE SHEU: Kumasagi, Part 2: Kandargiri

Kumasagi is a serialized fantasy saga told in seven parts. Part 2: Kandargiri contains Chapters 16 – 26.

Jayan follows Padir to Kandargiri, realm of the monstrous lopperbeaks, a giant bird species known to be savage and untamable. Determined to ride one of the winged brutes, Padir enlists the help of a young, troubled mystic named Shigaran—the only person in the world who can meet minds with a lopperbeak.

Along the way, an old friend detects Jayan’s troubling secret.

FROM MAX BRAND, WITH INSTRODUCTION BY D. JASON FLEMING: 3 Different Trails (annotated): A Pulp Adventure Omnibus

Three classic pulp novels by Max Brand, that go in three very different directions!

Wooden Guns

Big Jim Conover has a reputation back home as a very, very dangerous man, and one of the fastest draws ever to live. Folks don’t know he’s now partly-paralyzed on his right side, his gun no better than a wooden gun. So when he comes back to take charge of the family that adopted him as a boy, people expect trouble.

Doctor Clinton Aylard has dreams of restoring the proper social status to the once-great Aylard name in England, but finds himself out west, engaged to a girl named Jack, and accidentally in possession of a reputation as a quick draw with a dead aim. A reputation that only he knows he does not deserve.

Conover is on the wrong side of the law, with a sterling character despite his upbringing. Aylard is on the right side of the law, with a conniving, deceitful character, despite his “good breeding”. When these two men meet, even with both carrying “wooden guns”, bullets will fly!

Train’s Trust

Steve Train, gambler, adventurer, clever rogue, didn’t care much for work. But then he was offered a job with no work, but plenty of danger.

The job: track down outlaw Jim Nair — and hand him a pile of money!

The Smoking Land

When rancher Smoky Bill’s closest friend, scientist Cleveland Darrell, disappeared in that lab explosion, everybody figured Darrell had died, and his body vaporized. But when Bill finds out about a “fake” artifact that includes a fragment of Darrell’s writing, Bill knows he must follow his friend, and possibly rescue him. For that fragment of writing mentioned going north of Alaska, to “The Smoking Land”.

Now Bill is going to find The Smoking Land, and his friend Cleve Darrell, no matter how many lost civlizations, mysterious religious cults, or super-science weapons stand in his way!

This iktaPOP Media omnibus includes introductions to all three novels giving genre and historical context.

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.

If you have questions, feel free to ask.

Your writing prompt this week is: NEEDY

Conversations Over Breakfast

“I woke up this morning, and lady Valeria was standing at the gate to the garden, with her eyes wide and weird and her ears in disarray,” said Mr. Hoyt to his spouse over breakfast.

“She got out?” his spouse replied, with horror. “She has ruined her reputation. We are all to pieces.”

“No, no. Only the contained are, near the piano. Someone left the gate open.” Mr. Hoyt paused. “Also, no one saw her, and I could see that there was no young man with her. Her reputation isn’t ruined. But we must have a talk with her about her prospects and potential ruin.”

“And we definitely cannot have her go about with her ears in disarray,” Mrs. Hoyt concurred. “What will people think?”

“Indeed,” Mr. Hoyt said. “For everyone knows a young man in possession of a good lap must be in want of a cat.”

And this, gentle readers, is a taste of Hoyt-sanity. Yes, we’re…. peculiar. And that’s without counting younger son — basement son — popping up speaking a fake language at us for ten minutes….

I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

Defense in Depth, A Guest Post by Bill and Caitlin Walsh.

Defense in Depth, A Guest Post by Bill and Caitlin Walsh.

So, I recently asked a leftist a question:  “Two people cross the Mexican border. One is a 40 year old man, the other a fourteen year old girl. What should happen next?”

Seems like a pretty simple question, right?  “They should be interviewed by border patrol to find out the situation,” right?  I mean, I understand that there might be a couple of things to clarify in between here, but….

Well, the left has learned something from the Socratic method: Not to fall for it.  They have learned NEVER to respond to a question with a straight answer.  They know full well that their position is utterly indefensible if it can be fleshed out honestly, and they know that a conservative asking questions is likely attempting to force them to do exactly that.  That’s a losing game for them every time.  And the smart ones know it.

So we get the first dodge:  I need more information!  What people, where, how, under what conditions?  (This is predictable, but actually part of my plan.)

Me:  You don’t have it yet.  Are you saying the first thing that should happen is that they should be interdicted by border patrol and interviewed in order to get that “more information”? 

Second dodge: I don’t understand!  You’re asking what should happen if they get stopped by border patrol?

Me:  No ifs.  It was a simple question, do you think they should be stopped and interviewed?

Third dodge:  I think the border should be secure if that’s what you’re asking!  (This one is particularly tricky, because it *sounds* like he answered me, when he really didn’t).

Me:  So, you’re saying that they should be stopped by border patrol and questioned? 

And this is as far as it makes sense to go with this, because it has become clear that he’s simply NOT going to answer the question. If you find yourself in this situation you can play it from here as you wish, because *you’ve already won!*  You have demonstrated, to the impartial observer, that your conversational opponent is not having a discussion in good faith.

Should they have actually, accidentally *answered* at any point, here are some follow-up questions you can ask that they will also refuse to answer, things like “How will you determine whether they’re related?” and “Where will you house them while you wait for DNA tests to come back?” and “Given that 40% of the children crossing the southern border are being trafficked, do you think they should be housed together with their traffickers?” and “Do you think that it might be useful to have physical barriers to redirect them toward available interviewers?” We can keep this going, but you get the point. It’s not like they’re answering them.

So we’ve got some basic “arguing on Facebook” methodology. But it actually has a lot wider applicability than that. See, every leftist politician has said something like “I support secure borders”…  But what does it MEAN when they say that?  They don’t support physical barriers, they don’t support funding CBP, they don’t support deporting people when caught, they don’t support funding detention facilities, the don’t support appointing more immigration judges… in short, they support NO ELEMENT of secure borders.  So, when they say “I support secure borders”, they mean exactly what Benjen Stark pointed out; Anything before the word “But” is bullshit.

They thrive on glittering generalities that don’t—CAN’T—peg to anything specific. You want to get past that, you need specifics. And ANY specific WILL destroy them.

So, here’s what I have learned about illegal immigration, in particular in the past few years. I am going to focus solely on southern border crossers here, (Because visa overstays, northern border crossers, cruise ships, etcetera, also happen.) I know some of you are more knowledgeable than me, so please give me more specifics in the comments.

It begins at the beginning: you’re a Honduran uneducated laborer, you want to go to America for a better life.

You know the chances are MUCH better for you if you have a child with you.  So, you go get one.  The kid isn’t related to you, it’s just some neighborhood kid that you kidnapped to help you get past ICE; it’s not like anyone is investigating a missing Honduran kid! (at least, not after Obama declared the 2009 constitutional crisis a “coup.”)

Unfortunately, on your way across Mexico, the kid gets stolen from you by sex traffickers. (Google “Tenancingo”, seriously.) Oh well, no problem, it wasn’t your kid anyway. There are kids that rent themselves out to assist border crossers.  You pony up the thousand dollars and pay one of them.

Then, in Juarez, you make contact with Juan the coyote.  Juan is a cartel affiliated smuggler (read: serial-raping, mass-murdering, mass-grave filling psychopath).  Sometimes he smuggles fentanyl, sometimes he smuggles people.  Some of those people pay him, others are property.  But you prepared well, and you meet his price.

He prepares you for the crossing, and tells you what to do if you get intercepted. Just say “Asylum”.  That’s all.

Unfortunately, you DO get intercepted.  When you meet ICE, they see that you have a child with you.  Most of the time, that means they just wave you on, because they haven’t got room at the child detention facility (can’t have kids in cages, don’t you know).  But you get unlucky again.  They take the kid to child detention.  Everyone at the ICE office knows him by name, so maybe it wasn’t a good investment.  Fortunately, Juan told you to say “asylum”, so ICE takes you to a place where  they finger-print you, ask you some questions, and then give you a court date 5 years out.  Then they release you.  Cool!

So, you call up Juan again, and he directs you to a Western Union office and a bus station.

You go where he tells you,  and spend the next 5 years working in the “shadow economy”.  Some days, you get work as a day laborer, others, you steal someone’s identity and work in other menial jobs.  Sometimes, you send money home.  It’s life.

Then your court date comes up.  You know good and well that you have no legitimate claim to asylum, so you don’t go.  The court issues a deportation order. But they don’t have any idea where in the country you are, so nothing happens.

You spend the next 10 years the same way you spent the first 5. Working as you can.

Now, you hit it unlucky again.  ICE catches you in a random sweep of the day laborers location.  They process you, see that you’ve been in the US for 15 years, and now you have a child here. (Didn’t spend ALL your time at work.) Well, they’re not *heartless*; they ignore the deportation order, and release you.

That is the reality of the southern border at this time.  It’s one of the more spectacular examples of two things.  One is “sabotage”, and the other is “defense in depth”.  “Sabotage” is when one deliberately makes a system not work, and “defense in depth” is when one creates a series of barriers that one must cross to accomplish a goal.  So, here’s what I mean by that.  The Democrats have obfuscated and complicated the process at literally every step, to such a degree as to make the entirety completely nonfunctional.  At every level.  Why are illegal immigrants not caught more often?  Because Democrats won’t hire more agents, and won’t agree to building physical barriers.  Why are those caught not detained?  Because Democrats will not build more detention facilities.  Why are more illegal immigrants not simply returned?  Because democrats have created a complicated asylum process.  Why does it take 5 years to process an asylum request?  Because Democrats stonewall immigration judge appointments.  Why do so few illegal immigrants get picked up by internal ICE?  Because Democrats refuse to respect the rule of law.  Why are they, even AFTER being issued deportation orders and caught by ICE not deported?  Because Democrats don’t want to “separate families”. 

At every level, in every way, the Democrats in Congress have aided human traffickers, sex slavers, and mass murderers, over decent humans.  This situation is irredeemable.

This is a particular example, and it’s stark.  But it goes this way with EVERY issue.  Ask a leftist the very most basic question you can, and you will never get an answer.  Try “What imbues a human life with value?”, and you’ll get a pile of hard luck pregnancy cases, and some very impolite descriptions of your character.  Ask “What characteristics define a woman?”, and you’ll get called a transphobe. (Matt Walsh has made much of his career out of this.) Ask “To what standard should we keep those that simply decline to work?” and you’ll get called heartless.

This isn’t an accident.  They KNOW that they can’t actually defend ANY of their positions, so they deflect from actual discussion OF those positions. 

And here is where OUR failure begins, and where Donald Trump has shown us the way.  We need to stop letting them get away with it!  We need to start pointing out that their policies have led to tens of thousands of child sex slaves being brought across their unmonitored border, that the minimum wage leads ONLY to generational poverty, and benefits virtually no one.  We need to keep asking the questions, and ignoring the obfuscation.  We need to STOP pretending that they have “good intentions”, because anyone that is willing to lie to bring about their goals CANNOT mean well.

When you lie to someone, it’s always done for a single reason.  When you lie, it’s always because you know that, if you told the truth, they wouldn’t do what you want them to do.  Lying is ALWAYS an attempt to steal the choices of the person you’re talking to.

They think they’re wiser, of course, the right person to be making these choices over the benighted and misinformed. But if it were that… why can they never answer simple questions?

Keep asking them. The obfuscation is all the response you need.