March 6, 2014

MARTIAN HOLIDAY 52: Aster of Opportunity

On a well-settled Mars, the five major city Council regimes struggle to meld into a stable, working government. Embracing an official Unified Faith In Humanity, the Councils are teetering on the verge of pogrom directed against Christians, Molesters , Jews, Rapists, Buddhists, Murderers, Muslims, Thieves, Hindu, Embezzlers and Artificial Humans – anyone who threatens the official Faith and the consolidating power of the Councils. It makes good sense, right – get rid of religion and Human divisiveness on a societal level will disappear? An instrument of such a pogrom might just be a Roman holiday...To see the rest of the chapters – and I’m sorry, but a number of them got deleted from the blog – go to SCIENCE FICTION: Martian Holiday on the right and scroll to the bottom for the first story. If you’d like to read it from beginning to end (36,000 words as of now), drop me a line and I’ll send you the unedited version.

He nodded, “And I think I’ve gotten myself an irreplaceable new fund-raising coordinator.” He paused, adding, “Depending on how well you pull this one off.”

Aster Theilen stared across her father’s dinner table. Abedne Halle-Theilen sighed and said, “The amount of money that goes into the decorations for the Mayor’s fund raiser...”

“Dad, Mayor Etaraxis may not be the best Human on Mars, but he has strong feelings about these kids. He felt the Orphan Fund was something that people should contribute to when it’s really an ugly issue. Humans meddling with the genome of other Humans to create Martians. We were left with a legacy of twisted Humans and we need to do something about it. He said that he thought that the undercity is beginning to look Post-Industrial England.”

“The Mayor of Opportunity reads Dickens?”
“He might do more things than we think he does. He also knows more than I realized he knows.”


She shook her head, “Forget it. Change of subject.” She stood up and picked up the plates and plasticware, taking them to the kitchenette. “As to the fund raiser, His Honor has pretty much given me carte blanche to take the whole thing in a new direction…”

“Are you ever going to call him by his first name? You are, after all, his wife.”

Aster stared at him, mouth open.  Finally she said, “I’m not…exactly…his wife...”

“What are you then? I understand that you’re a sort of icon, a sort of Queen of Opportunity, I suppose you could say.”

“My title now is Mayoral Consort.” He nodded and smiled a bit. Inexplicably, she was irritated and snapped, “What’s so funny?”

He held up both hands, as if surrendering. “There’s absolutely nothing funny here, daughter.”

“Then why are you laughing?”

He nodded slowly and reached for his Bible. Aster knew what it was, though it was disguised as a standard computer tablet. Which it was. But Dad kept it separated from the broadband connection, walled by heavily encrypted firewall. Even if an aggressive worm got onto his tablet, it wouldn’t be able to get into his illegal Bible. He held it up and said, “Your story bears a number of touch points with the story of Esther. Without giving you a concise synopsis, suffice it to say that if you read it, you’ll find that she had the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of her entire people, the Jews.”

“Dad!” Aster exclaimed. Mention of specific old Earth religions was specifically prohibited by law. While this was supposed to be sweeping, in practice people – even Artificial Humans like the Mayor’s secretary – could be fined for mentioning them. In practice however, mentioning any other of the old divisive religions other than Christianity or Judaism or Islam would result in mild rebuke. Mention one of the Gang of Three, and fines were typical; jail time likely. But no one had heard him. Aster leaned over and said, “I have to get back to work, Dad. If you think of any way to get people to donate to the Orphan Fund, let me know.”

He accepted the peck on the cheek with a smile and said, “I will, Sweetie.”
She headed out of the apartment, scowling. Why did his advice bother he so much? She wasn’t doing anything wrong – but she wasn’t on a crusade, either. She was so occupied, she didn’t notice someone following her several dozen meters behind her.

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