Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Short story – “Worth Fighting For?”

“Worth Fighting For?”

In a flurry of giggles and smiling faces, the children gathered around the old man and cried, “Grandpa, grandpa, tell us again what you did in the war.”

The old man smiled and sat back.  “Are you sure?  You’ve all heard it before.”

This was met with cries of “Yes, yes,” and “Please, please.”

“Alright.  When I was about your age, there were these atheists and freethinkers who wanted to destroy Christmas by turning it into a non-holiday.  They won the first few battles, but then people like your old grandpa began fighting back.  Every time they filed a lawsuit, we filed two or three back at them.  If they put up some stupid freethinking tree, we’d plant a forest of God-fearing Christmas Trees.  They’d write books explaining their,” the old man sneered the word, “‘beliefs,’ and we wouldn’t read ‘em.  We would write our own books, mocking them and calling them names and we’d make millions.”

The old man had nearly risen out of his chair at the end of his tirade, but he sat back and looked at the glowing faces of the children.  “In the end, we beat their godless little butts through sheer numbers.  And it was all so you kids today can celebrate Christmas the way Jesus intended; by propping up foreign economies by buying tons of cheap, worthless crap.” The children exploded in cheers.

“Now, why don’t you kids waddle into the kitchen and get yourselves a nice handful of Madam Wong’s Special Christmas Cookies, and grab me a cup of MegaMart Brand Eggnog, and I’ll put on the obligatory Christmas album of the same tired old songs just sung by different people, volume 47.  Then we can all gather around the MegaMart Brand Christmas Tree, the best Christmas Trees in the land, and you can all open your 877 presents, all of which require no less than six C-sized batteries which you’ll burn through faster than the Christmas Blend Coffee at Gertrude’s passes through me, not that it really matters because you will only play with the thing for five minutes before you get bored and never touch it again.  In fact it may even get lost in the ton of wrapping paper we’ll be throwing away today and you’ll cry and cry and cry and we’ll have to buy you a new one at MegaMart, although you’ll lose interest in that one just as fast.”


I first wrote this story back in the heady “War on Christmas” days.  I was going through my stories recently, and I figured this one needed to see the light of day again.

My take is that there is confusion because there are three Christmases.  There is the religious holiday where people go to church and whatever, there is the secular holiday where families spend time together, and there is the three month orgy of consumerism.  I think that many of those who fight for Christmas don’t realize that they’ve already lost the war; not to the freethinkers, but to the corporations.

This story was previous published in December 2007 as part of my Weekly Stories.  I’ve edited it slightly, but the first version is still online and can be found here.

Monday, November 25, 2019

Grab three of my ebooks for free this week!

With the beginning of the holiday insanity, I figured I should offer up some of my ebooks for free.  These would be great for that long drive to the in-laws or while standing in line for some big Black Friday deal.  Or if you’re just looking for something to read.  So these three ebooks will be free from Tuesday November 26 through Saturday November 30.

Partway to a new colony world, board member Geoffrey Ames is woken from hibernation by the caretaking crew of the Lucian. They require him to look into the matter of their fellow crewman Morgan Heller. Morgan’s claims – such as being over 1500 years old – would normally land him in the psychiatric ward, except he can back up some of his other claims.

A Man of Few Words is a collection of fifty of my flash fiction stories. What would really happen if a “T-Rex on steroids” attacked a city? Why do science fiction writers make the best lovers? How does a company get to Second Base with VIPs? These questions and more are explored using less than 1000 words and in various genres from humor to horror and general fiction to science fiction.

The majority of the stories were previously published (most on my website) but all were revised for this collection. In addition, each piece is accompanied by some background information on the origin of the story or a funny tale about the writing of it to give a fuller experience.

As a science fiction writer, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about how technology will change the way we live.  I’ve come up with these ten short essays about science fictional elements that will – almost certainly – one day become science fact as a way for people to start coming to terms with them.  Because I’ve spent time thinking about clones and AIs, I feel that I’ll be okay when they do finally show up whereas most people will probably freak out.  I hope these essays will get people to start thinking about the future because, no matter what we do, the future is coming.

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Caffeine of the masses

There was a guy I knew from college who I had … disagreements with on Facebook a few years ago.  Most of these disagreements were because I’m not an asshole while he was some flavor of libertarian.  Like, he basically called everything he didn’t agree with socialism, and he gave the impression that if a Democrat politician said, “I propose ….” he’d immediately start screaming, “Tyranny!” I say some flavor of libertarian because I think there were times where I asked him what exactly he believed, and he replied with things like, “It’s not my job to educate you.” Eventually, he unfriended me because, I don’t know, I hurt his feelings, or something.  I do miss poking the bear, especially since I’ve recently had an interesting idea that I’d love to hear his response to.  Even though it would probably just be, “That’s deranged socialist thinking.”

I can’t remember what the issue was – possibly gun laws – and I can’t remember if it was my friend or someone from his libertarian circle jerk piling on, but I think they said something along the lines of “socialism makes people slaves to the state.” And even if I’m misremembering things, the statement is something negative about socialism, so they’d probably agree with it.

Anyway, the question I’d like to ask him was if he drank coffee in the morning.  His response would probably be something like, “IS THERE ANYTHING SOCIALISTS DON’T WANT TO DESTROY?” which I would take as a “Yes.” I would then have a hypothetical question and answer bit.  Why do you drink coffee in the morning?  I’m tired and it wakes me up.  Why are you tired?  I didn’t get enough sleep.  Why didn’t you get enough sleep?  I have to get up early and go to work.  Why don’t you just stay asleep until you are fully rested and go to work later?  BECAUSE THAT WOULD BE INEFFICIENT FOR OUR CORPORATE MASTERS.  I’d then point out that for some jobs – like in an office – there is some evidence that not having set start times leads to happier employees who are more productive.  But why do facts matter.

The point of this, is that if the state told everyone to take these pills that altered their brain chemistry to decrease violent tendencies and make them “better” citizens, my friend would be crying “TYRANNY!” And for once, he’d be right.  Meanwhile, it’s “normal” for people to self-medicate, altering their brain chemistries to be more efficient cogs in the corporate machine.  And just bringing this subject up means I’m a deranged socialist.