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Savage Survival

January 2008

This newsletter may be copied and sent to both friends and enemies with the stipulation that the source www.darrellbain.com is noted and the copyright notice is noted and included as follows:
Darrell Bain Newsletter
Copyright © January 2008, by Darrell Bain
http://www.darrellbain.com

Responses to subjects brought up by this newsletter are welcome. I can be contacted by e-mailing me from my website.

Subjects this month:

Holidays, Savage Survival Review & Pricing, Love vs Lust (again), A Revolting Development, Movies from Books--Bleh!, Book Reviews, Male/Female Shopping Divide Story, New Theme for Science Fiction, Kindle and Ebooks, Laziness and Invention, Excerpt from Crazy Ships

Holidays
Another year has passed. I would like to thank all my readers for their correspondence and encouragement, both of which contribute to keeping this newsletter going. I enjoy writing it for you and put a lot of effort into it each month, trying to make it as interesting as possible. Suggestions and comments are always welcome.

The holidays are over (or will be in a day or two) once again. I sincerely hope you all have had enjoyable times with family and friends and didn't eat too much Christmas dinner! May your next year be happy and prosperous. I wish you all happy and pleasurable reading.

Savage Survival Review & Pricing
A few fans have noted that Amazon is charging $35.00 for this special limited edition hardcover of Savage Survival. Perhaps Amazon thinks the book deserves the full price. And perhaps it does, although I'm going to tell you three places where you can get it for much less. (And by the way, a paperback edition will be printed but I have no idea how long it will be until it comes out). First, though, before telling you where the less expensive copies are, I'd like you to read this review (and others have been just as good) and see if you don't think it might be worth whatever you pay if you like science fiction novels.

5 Talismans (Highest rating) From Tales of the Talisman, a Science Fiction Magazine.

I have been an avid reader for quite some time. I have read too many books to count over the years covering a variety of genres. Through my literary travels, the list of novels which have made me say, "Wow, that was something special", is relatively short. Frank Herbert's Dune, Terry Brooks' The Elfstones of Shannara, and George R.R. Martin's series A Song of Ice and Fire are all at the top of that list. After reading Darrell Bain's novel Savage Survival however, I think that list has grown a little longer.

When Earth is invaded by an unknown alien race, eleven year old Lyda Brightner finds herself swept up in the destructive wake. With her father dead and mother missing, Lyda awakens in a concentration camp somewhere in a desert in the southwest United States. Within hours, she is horribly abused by a man who then in turn tries to sell her into slavery.

After managing to escape, Lyda discovers an inner strength which helps her retake control of her life, and puts her on a path of self discovery. Deciding the only way to defeat those who would hurt her and those she comes to protect, is by meeting them head on, Lyda quickly finds herself the leader of several like minded survivors. The aliens however, have different plans. The human survivors are put through test after test so that only the humans with the strongest minds will make it through each trial. Along the way Lyda and the other human refugees learn they are changing.

There minds are sharper and their bodies are stronger. With each trial the changes become more evident. Lyda uses these "gifts" to protect the people who choose to follow her, and also to discover love as well as learn what true leadership is all about. Savage Survival is truly a masterful piece of science fiction writing. Darrell Bain uses an alien invasion of Earth as a backdrop to tell not only a coming of age story but also to spark deep thought concerning society as a whole. His character Lyda Brightner is as memorable of a character as you can get. I sincerely hope there are more tales of her exploits coming in the near future.

Darrell Bain's Savage Survival is definitely what is right about the science fiction genre. I believe this is as close to a must read as you can get. With an intricate plot, vivid imagination, and one of the most memorable characters I have run across in a long time, Savage Survival will leave readers with that same "wow" feeling I received.

-- Shawn Oetzel for Tales of the Talisman


Now, I promised to tell you where to get the book for less than $35.00 if you're not inclined to pay that much, even for a Special Edition.

First, you can buy it right here on my web site, autographed, and no shipping charges, for only $26.95. Just click on "Book Sale" in the menu. You can pay by credit card or Paypal.

Second, you can order it from any bookstore, probably for about $24.00.

Third, you can order it from the publisher Twilight Times Books for $28.00.

Fourth, you can order it from Amazon, but order from the "new and used copies". These are actually all brand new copies, priced at $28.00.

However, if you want to, just go ahead and buy it from Amazon in the usual fashion and pay full price for this Special Limited hardcover editon.

Thank You.

Darrell

Free Books
The book giveaway has been temporarily suspended. I may revive it sometime during the year. For all those who got free copies of my books, thanks for reading and spreading the word.

Love vs Lust (again)
This little essay appeared in my newsletter over two years ago, but I wanted to bring it up again for a special reason. New Year's Eve is mine and Betty's anniversary date and this year saw our thirtieth year of marriage.

When I met Betty I was twice divorced and she had already lived one life, married at 18, raised three kids and become a widow. She was a few years older than me but I quickly found that it didn't matter at all. Two years ago I wrote this piece after reflecting (not for the first time, by far) on how I still loved Betty so much after all those years. It made me wonder what went into this marriage that hadn't been there in the other two. I figured it out and now I want to repeat it for my readers on our thirtieth anniversary.

Romance, Love and Marriage

What makes a good marriage? How do you know you're in love? What makes a marriage last? Here's my own opinion, and bear in mind this is written from a male viewpoint. I believe all relationships begin with falling in lust, not falling in love. Lust frequently gets mistaken for love at first, and if it lasts a while, also frequently leads to marriage. If it isn't true love, there's going to be some rocks and shoals ahead, perhaps divorce, perhaps divorce with bad feelings on both sides.

Lust will almost always fade, and settle into attraction. From there it can go two ways. It can continue to fade until there's not much sexual attraction, and thus not much basis for a continuing relationship. Ah, but if lust turns to love, it will still fade, but then reach a plateau. From there, if it's true love, the attraction will start building again and feelings for the other person deepen. Over time, the sexual attraction gets better and better, though it's unlikely to ever reach the lust stage again. It gets better because you discover that you really care about the other person. You want to make them happy, and you're happy yourself. You get to the point where it's hard to imagine life without your partner. Their happiness, and the contentment of living together becomes the primary focus of your life. In other words, you're in love and if you're in love, it only gets better with time. You don't mind the little idiosyncrasies of the other person. You love the closeness and you never lose the urge for sex with your partner. Love is funny. Looks may fade with the years, but the attraction only grows. Your partner's desires and wishes in life become as important as your own, if not more so. You want to share all the triumphs and good things that happen in life with him or her. You're always ready to commiserate and comfort when things don't go exactly right. Being in love is really and truly wonderful, and gets even more wonderful as you age. It took me a couple of bad marriages to realize all this. I mistook lust for love. I hope none of you readers ever do that, and I hope your current love life goes as well as mine has these last 28 years since I first saw Betty, then contrived to trap her under a mistletoe sprig and marry her a year later.

**I think I said it as well in this little segment of my newsletter as well as I'll ever be able to. At any rate, I can't think of a thing to add. True love is still wonderful. Thirty and counting!

A Revolting Development
The following is excerpted from a fan letter I received lately. Please pay particular attention to the second paragraph. What a revolting development!


I just thought I would drop you a quick note and see if you have
anything new coming out soon. I suppose you could say that I am having
withdrawal symptoms since I haven't read a new Bain book in a while.
Perhaps we should formalize this condition with a name, maybe Bainitis.
What do you think?

(Note: Bainitis is a term Betty uses for what she's getting when I've been hanging around her too much and not doing anything useful. DB )

I recently discovered something horrible. Did you know that modern
chemistry sets for kids DON'T come with any chemicals?? I can barely
remember my first set but I do remember that it came with a couple of
dozen chemical (including potassium ferrocyanide ... I remember the name
because it sounded very cool to a 7 year wannabe chemist LOL), test
tubes, glass tubing, an alcohol burner and really all kinds of neat
stuff. I saw a modern one recently and was stunned. It was basically
just a set of instructions for doing kitchen experiments!! You DO
realize that this is all the fault of the lawyers, right?


Movies from Books--Bleh!

Jumper, by Stephan Gould

Jumper is a great book. Here's a description of the movie made from it: A genetic anomaly allows a young man to teleport himself anywhere. He discovers this gift has existed for centuries and finds himself in a war that has been raging for thousands of years between "Jumpers" and those who have sworn to kill them.

This is nothing at all like the book!!! I hate it when a great book like Jumper is screwed up in a movie. Almost all books don't translate well into movies. The only two exceptions I've seen so far are Gone With The Wind and Lonesome Dove (and the latter had to be made into a series to work). I don't mind movies from so-so books messing with the plot and theme, but leave the great ones alone if you can't stay true to them!

Book Reviews
I mentioned John Ringo's A Hymn Before Battle last month. Gust Front by John Ringo is his second book in the Posleen War series, an invasion of earth by galactic bad guys and some (problematical) help from the good guys. The first two books of the series is so good I've already ordered the rest of them. If you want a really good series of connected books on alien invasion, galactic politics and military science fiction, and battles involving technology ranging from today's army to futuristic weapons, then read this series. The characters are realistic and enjoyable and the action very well described. I couldn't ask for any more. Note: since writing the above, I'm into the fifth book of the series and they're still good!

Last month I re-read Ensign's Hope, the first of David Feintuch's series of space adventure resembling 18th century naval organization. It was an immediate hit when these books came out and they're just as good or better re-reading.

Vince Flynn's Consent To Kill is the second one of his books I've read featuring the character Mitch Rapp, a CIA field operative. It is even better than the first I read and a longer novel. It gets into the politics in Washington at the highest level and into the nitty gritty dirty work of CIA agents in the field. When I read novels of this type I often wonder just how much of it is realistically portrayed. Vince Flynn does a very good job in this respect, including the proper kind of research, he uses his literary license to exaggerate for dramatic purposes well. I look forward to reading more books by this author. I recommend him highly if you like thrillers.

A Blind Eye by G.M. ford is a pretty good and unusual thriller in that the protagonist is a true crime writer who manages to insinuate himself into a police and FBI investigation and naturally almost becomes a victim himself.

Male/Female Shopping Divide Story
A perfect example of the great rift between men and women as exemplified by shopping took place when I was about twelve years old. I hadn't thought of it for decades but talking with Betty about shopping the other day brought the memory back. This was in the fifties, back when there were no malls (I know, it doesn't seem possible I could be that old or that there could be a world with out malls, but facts are facts--and I'm 68 years old!), and all the shopping was done at big department stores "downtown". And don't ask me why it wasn't called "uptown". I don't have a clue. It was always "downtown", at least in my neck of the woods.

Anyway, me and my next younger brother Gary were living with a preacher and his wife at the time (if you want that story, read my autobiography, Darrell Bain's World Of Books) and they had taken us to downtown Ft. Worth, Texas to shop. Also back then most large city downtowns had a few freelance photographers who took candid photographs of shoppers then notified the ones who had their pictures taken that they could buy a copy for, oh, a dollar so, I don't remember. Becky purchased a picture made of us. It showed me trailing behind her, holding a shopping bag, head bent, trudging along with a glum expression on my face, the utter epitome of a twelve year old boy who is tired, bored to tears and wants nothing more than to get the shopping trip over with. Becky, on the other hand, looked bright and fresh and ready to shop the rest of the day. I don't remember what my brother looked like nor whether Steve was in the picture or not, but I sure remember the way I looked. It exemplified the difference in the sexes when it comes to shopping as nothing I've read or seen since then did! I sure wish I had a copy of it now to show you, but I don't. Wherever the couple we lived with are now, if they're still alive, they probably still have it. Today it would win a prize!

New Theme for Science Fiction
It's been said that it is dern near impossible to come up with a completely new idea in science fiction because every possible theme has already been thought of. The best a writer can do is develop new twists on old themes. The good writers do that well. The poor writers flub it. And some editors don't know the difference, if you ask me. As may be, I doubt that I've come up with anything completely new, but the novel excerpt in this month's newsletter is from Crazy Ships, by yours truly, of course. I wrote the novel around a new twist for faster than light travel. Basically, a scheme has been invented for instantaneous transportation, but for it to work, there must be an opposing and equal mass of some kind attached to the spaceship. In my novel I use moon rocks as the counter weight. When the drive is started, the ship goes one way and the opposing mass goes somewhere else--but no one knows where! Simple so far, huh? And what's so special about it? Ah, there's the rub. The space drive is indeterminate. Half the time the space ship goes where it's intended to but the other half of the time, the rock goes where the ship was supposed to and no one knows where the ship winds up. Naturally, it would be hard to find volunteers for space travel when half the time the rock goes where you wanted to go, and you go to a destination no one knows of because no one has ever returned that went the wrong way. So, criminals are sentenced to man the ships. Figure it out. A 50% chance of making it to the destination and then a 50% chance of making it back. That works out to only a one in four chance of making a round trip. Some of the planets discovered are so valuable that they are being colonized and goods from them shipped back, accepting the loss of three out of four ships (and the people in them) as the price of business. And also, some are colony ships, which means the colonists only go one way and have a 50% chance of arriving there. Some would volunteer for this, even at those odds, when earth is controlled by mega corporations, and they in turn control almost every aspect of the lives of citizens.

Got all that? Okay, now take a family with twin teenage son and daughter, corporate bosses who fight each other, convicts, extremely valuable giant spores from one particular planet, and trumped up criminal charges against the family. Guess what they get sentenced to? Yup, several trips as crew of a Crazy Ship! That's giving enough away. Read the three excerpts at the end of the newsletter then buy Crazy Ships from Amazon or as an e-book to see how it all plays out!

Kindle and E-Books
Speaking of e-books, Amazon's Kindle e-book reader just may be the reader of downloaded books that finally puts e-books over rather than them being popular so far with only a small segment of the reading public. The key is long battery life, instant downloading of books from any location and the new E-Ink technology that makes the screen print look as good or better than print books. No glare with e-ink! And finally, Amazon may be the 400 pound gorilla that can make e-books not only a household name but a routine part of a household. The first production run of the reader sold out in three hours! Now that's what I call a promising start! And best of all, you can download every single one of my book length works to the Kindle reader--so get busy and help me pay for Christmas if you have a Kindle. Shucks, go buy my books anyway, whether you have a Kindle or not. Royalties from the print editions spends just as easily as royalties from the e-books!

E-Book News Source
TeleRead.org is a great site for news of what's happening in the e-book industry. For example, check out "For e-book novices: Some leading stores for reading books in popular formats," an article by David Rothman.
www.TeleRead.org

Laziness and Invention
I know practically everyone has heard the aphorism "necessity is the mother of invention". I'm sure that's true, but I believe laziness has a lot to do with inventions and innovations as well. Back when I was running the Christmas tree farm and being a house husband I had to learn to cook. I never got that good at it but I did invent one dish that's survived out of pure laziness. One Monday I didn't really feel like making a big meal but still had to fix supper for Betty when she got home from work. I looked in the fridge and spotted a couple of left over fried pork chops from Sunday's breakfast. Well, I knew Betty wouldn't appreciate cold leftover pork chops after a hard day's work, but I still didn't feel much like cooking. I thought for a bit and then grabbed the fried chops. I put them on a cutting board and chopped them into small pieces, including the breading and scraped them into a skillet, then added a handful of rice and dumped a can of chicken broth over the chops and rice. I salted and peppered and threw in a touch of garlic salt, covered the skillet and let it cook for a while. I took out a couple of frozen dinner rolls, and chopped up lettuce and tomato for a salad. I think I may have opened a can of corn or peas but I don't remember. Anyway, I served the supper and Betty said "Whatever it is, it's delicious!" She wasn't just trying to make me feel good because we've been having variations of that dish the last 15 years or so. Leftover fried chicken works well, too. Betty, being a much better cook than me, has added more variations to it, such as a wine flavoring, a touch of balsamic vinegar (I think) and so on. Anyway, we both like all the variations and for a two person household, it sure is a neat and easy way to use leftover fried food! (or just about any leftover meat). And it all came from me being lazy one day and not wanting to spend a lot of time cooking! Just a note, we hardly ever eat food fried in Crisco or cooking oil any more, we use olive oil. And we don't have deep fat fried foods any more either, dern it, except once in a great while when we can't bear it any more, Betty will fry a chicken or make some French fries. They are a real treat when you don't have them regularly, believe me!! And the dish described above works just fine for foods cooked in olive oil or leftover baked chicken, etc. I can't recall us trying it with fish, though. Somehow, leftover fish seems more like something to feed to Velcro the cat than to use a second day in a meal!

Except for the following excerpt from one of my books, that's all for this month. I sincerely hope you've enjoyed reading my newsletter. I am entirely open to suggestions for making it better. In fact, if someone gives me a good enough suggestion, I'll send them a free book.

Happy Reading.

Darrell Bain
Shepherd, Texas
January 2008

Excerpt from Crazy Ships

Prologue

 

        Old John Tremaine sat in his form fitted and form adapting office chair with his feet propped on his massive oak desk. He was clad in the silver tunic and gray pants of the all-powerful Tremaine clan. His crossed feet were enclosed in soft black leather boots with silver piping. Across the expanse of the deep live-carpeted office a beautiful young woman sat in the corner, leaning back in a similar, though smaller chair with her legs crossed. She was scantily but expensively clad in raiment which brightened every part of her exquisitely shaped body except her face. Tremaine stared at her for a moment then looked away. He couldn't stand to see the blankness behind her otherwise strikingly pretty eyes. He knew about the blankness, having seen it all his life in young female bondies and some male bonders as well. The only duty of the young woman in the office was to please him, in whatever way he asked. He wondered what his peers would think if they knew he had never used her for anything other than decoration--and to dissuade suspicions that he might be a closet liberal. It had been many years since he had commanded a woman to do anything having to do with sex and he could look back now and be ashamed of the times he had in his youth.

        Thinking back, he remembered that it was that very thing which had started him on the long road leading to the place where he was now, a place which, if his plans succeeded, would remove him and his family from the present political and social structure which ordered Earth's affairs. He chuckled to himself as he thought of the horror most of the executives on earth would feel if they knew of his scheme.

        "Sir?" The girl stood up, displaying her magnificent body. His chuckle hadn't been quite as silent as he thought.

        "Nothing. Go back to your room. Do something fun for yourself. The day is almost over."

        "Yes, sir. What should I do?"

        Tremaine waved a hand in irritation. That was the problem, all right. Bondies and Bonders didn't usually have choices and when they were offered one on rare occasions they didn't know what to do with it. Well, if everything worked out the way he sincerely hoped it would, that sort of thing would no longer be his problem. If his plans worked out. If he lived through them. That was still to be determined.

***

        John Tremaine had no way of knowing that several years previously the assembly line on the moon which built the Mass Displacement ships, run by bondees with little incentive to do good work, had overlooked a crucial failure along the line where suppressor circuits for the computers going into the mass displacement ships were assembled. One of the imperfect computers was passed before the line was halted. It was a very small flaw, nothing that would keep the ship that received it from operating efficiently. It wasn't even noticeable, nor would it be for years to come, but when it did become apparent, it would impact the old man's concerns in ways that he couldn't have anticipated.

***

        Janie shifted in her seat, causing it to maneuver to accommodate her new position. She didn't like the implications of the last statement. She squeezed Steve's hand tighter.

        "Why do you say that, Miss Pringle?"

        Miss Pringle leaned forward, pointing a finger at both of them. "It should be obvious to you from what we've been studying lately. What has always happened in history when the disparity between rich and poor grows as great as it is now? Also, when there are no anti-monopoly laws in the present society, how do business function?"

        Steve had the answer to that one. "The big corporations gobble up the littler ones. Wages go down and prices go up. Finally, the have-nots will revolt against the haves." He knew this to be a truism intellectually, but it really didn't seem applicable to him personally, but rather a learned formula to be quoted in response to the Miss Pringle teaching program. He couldn't imagine either himself or Janie wearing drab corporate coveralls and laboring at menial jobs for little more than bare subsistence, or even worse, serving as indentured playthings for corporate executives. Stories were rife among their contemporaries of what went on within the confines of corporate walls. He didn't know how true they were, but he had noticed that there was a dearth of attractive young men and women shown or seen performing menial jobs, suggesting that they were occupied elsewhere. Surely all bonders couldn't be as sad looking as those he saw on Miss Pringle's projections, or that he saw in person when he and Janie were out touring the city. He had a momentary image of Janie being stripped naked and ordered to submit to a bloated corporate executive, unable to resist. Better a berth on the Crazy Ships if it ever came to that, not that it ever would. He shook off the image like a dog shedding water after a swim.

        "Correct, the have-nots will rebel," Miss Pringle said. "However, I believe that revolution will not occur for some time yet." She paused, adjusted her wire frame glasses and waited for comment.

        Janie spoke up. "Why not? I don't see how conditions could get much worse for bonders and bondies. I'm just glad Mom and Dad were able to get their own company started."

        "A rarity in this day and age," Miss Pringle said. "But let me show you another aspect of the bonding system. I'm sure that you are both aware of how the big corporations, most notably the Tremaine group, now control the justice system?"

        "Sort of," Steve said. "It started with privately run prisons, then eventually the government began contracting the court system to the corporations."

        "Correct." Miss Pringle agreed. The previous images dissolved in a swirl of color and were replaced by a panorama all across the room, broken up into separate scenes. One showed a disorganized line of mostly dark skinned men and women being shoved forward into a courtroom, manacled hands evident as they were forced into seated position on long benches. Corporation lawyers, evidenced by meticulously tailored, brightly colored tunics of their corporations stood waiting near the judge, who seemed singularly uninterested in the whole process. As Steve and Janie watched, the proceedings took on more of the aspects of a slave auction than a trial. The lawyers bid for the miscreants in subdued voices, those not being sentenced to swamp taming in Georgia or even worse, to the African work camps. These were almost all young indebted first offenders who had tried to make it outside the corporate bonds and failed, though there were others there for petty thievery or for dealing in goods which were corporate monopolies. These had been offered a choice and had accepted corporate contracts at the very bottom of the ladder rather than the much worse alternatives. Once a bid was settled, the manacled subject was led away. Only once was the routine disturbed. A young couple, faces set in grim determination, balked while the bidding was taking place. The young man spoke for the both of them.

        "Judge, we'll take the Crazy Ships instead of bonding, if you'll let us."

        The judge blinked and waved away the corporate lawyers in order to speak directly to the couple. "Fine, fine. More young people should volunteer to go out on the mass displacement colony ships. You'll still have to accept a contract with the Tremaine corporation, though. Let's see what they have to say. Mr. Borland?"

        "Yes, your honor. I've already reviewed their records. Both are above average in intelligence and are literate besides. The colony can use them if they make it. However, considering that their offense was against corporate regulations, under pricing of foodstuffs consigned to them for sale, we think some punishment is deserved. This might best be accomplished if they signed on as crew rather than one way colonists. We're prepared to offer a contract to both of them, only three jumps on a mass displacement ship. If they survive, status as free colonists and a clean slate on Sporeworld. How they manage then is up to them."

        The judge addressed the couple. "Is that satisfactory?"

        There was a hurried consultation between the man and woman. "Yes, judge. We accept. Anything is better than being bonded."

        "Order. You will not denigrate corporate law in this courtroom. Application approved. Mr. Borland, remove them. Submit the proper forms if or when the applicants complete their indenture. Next case."

        Janie was horrified. "Miss Pringle! Are those people insane? Three jumps on the crazy ships gives them only one chance in eight of making it! What can they be thinking?"

        Miss Pringle removed her glasses and pierced the twins with bright green eyes set beneath a frown. "It's worse than they think. Even should they survive three jumps on a mass displacement ship, or crazy ship in the common vernacular, they will still arrive at the colony with no assets and little prospects of earning an independent living, or so it is said. Unless they are very lucky, they will shortly be in the very same position they are now. The Tremaine corporation controls the colony government of Sporeworld and it has very little sympathy with unemployed colonists."

        "Why not?" Steve asked. "That's all you see in the games any more, brave colonists battling against the odds, et cetra."

        "And the games always show the loners coming back to the corporate viewpoint. The Tremaine family has held power now for many years through their control of imports from Sporeworld." She paused for a moment as if in thought. "That may be coming to an end, though. The financial markets show an increasing instability in firms dealing with Sporeworld products. Imports are down and too many ships aren't making it back." She displayed a chart depicting the trends.

        Janie squeezed Steve's hand. She wasn't thinking of financial conditions on earth or how many crazy ships went the wrong way. Stories and rumors were all over the map about conditions on Sporeworld of the Antairian system, the only true earthlike world so far discovered. The one good thing that could be said about it was that it was far better than on a few other newly discovered planets where survival beyond a few years was problematical.

        The Tremaine corporation held the monopoly on the priceless biotics shipped back from Sporeworld, the giant spores which all flora and fauna on the colony planet propagated from. The most valuable was a life extending product for the elderly, those too old to have had the genes programmed into them as Steve and Janie had.

        "Can't the government do anything? Find out why the ships are being lost so often? Or improve conditions for the bonders so they'll work harder?" Steve asked. It was a rhetorical question, designed to give him a little time to think. Was the bonding process really so bad that some people would take their chances with the Crazy Ships rather than submit to it?

        "The corporations are the government, for all practical purposes." Miss Pringle displayed another scene. It was voting day in a Houston district, but very few voters were apparent. The ones who came shambling into the shabby old former school building looked either resigned or furtive; most of them were old, their wrinkles showing plainly that they were outside the boundaries of the AARP corporation. Once upon a time the Association of Retired People had been a real force in politics, but it had since degenerated to a power clique of a relatively few wealthy, who no longer looked old but had been around so long they controlled the giant corporation. They could afford the fantastically expensive rejuvenation processes from Sporeworld, and held onto that affordability with the relentless determination of soldiers facing a ravening enemy invading their homeland.

        "Here you see the remnants of democracy. A few old people whose social security pensions have been reduced year after year, until most of them have given up on trying to change the system. The majority of voters are bonders, and they vote the way they are told to vote by the corporations. Ostensibly, their ballots are secret, but you know, or should know, that corporate executives have had long, long lives to subvert the computer voting programs. It would take a brave bonder to vote against their meal ticket, especially when voting day is about the only time they ever get a few extra amenities."

        Now Steve was almost certain that what they were hearing was a bootlegged addition to the teaching program that the senior Joplins had somehow inserted into their computer. He wondered how they had managed that trick

        "Those people look so old," Janie said. "Are they going to die soon?"

        "All humans die eventually, as you well know," Miss Pringle said. "However, in the present circumstances, some die much sooner than others. You, for instance, may well live to be several hundred years old, given that the means remain available to you.

      

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