Leaning forward, Paul Harper kissed his
wife Deborah on the forehead and whispered, “I love you.”
“I love you too,” she whispered back with
a tired smile. Their three month old
Linda had finally fallen asleep in her mother’s arms.
Ever so gently, Paul placed his hand on
the back of his daughter’s head. Like
every time before, he smiled at the touch of her silky hair.
Sooner than he would have liked, Paul
glanced towards his study and frowned.
Deborah nodded and began to turn away, but he stopped her with a hand on
her shoulder and kissed her forehead again.
When Paul entered his study, he closed the
door as quietly as possible and sat at his desk. Closing his eyes, he rubbed his temples. He still had twenty-three essays to read and
correct before he could go to bed.
Fortunately, they were short.
Since next week marked the fortieth
anniversary of the Pentans making First Contact with humanity, he had his
students write about what they felt was the biggest consequence of that
event. He remembered his own teachers
giving a similar assignment for the twenty-fifth anniversary, but he couldn’t remember
what he had written. He didn’t have the
time or energy to look through his old files to see if he still had it, and
besides he suspected those files had probably been deleted long ago. But before he had his students write out a
long essay, he had them turn in a brief, one page version. This let him see where they were going so he
could advise them on any problems they might run into. It was a good plan, except for the part where
he had said he would return the essays tomorrow so his students could work on
the full versions over the weekend.
With a sigh, Paul got to work. David Lepper apparently had gone to the net
and just copied some college student’s paper.
Paul doubted any of his eighth grade class could discuss how
Wittgenstein’s theories could be used in an approach to the Pentan
language. Elba Madero’s one page outline
was a rambling three pages about how great it was for humans to learn we were
not alone in the universe. Almost in
contrast was Ann O’Rourke’s half page statement that Pentan technology and
experience cut considerable time off the construction of the Mbandaka Space
Elevator. And it was no surprise that
the school’s star goalie, Doug Rach, wrote about Sphere-Soccer and other such
sports made possible with Pentan gravity control.
Paul’s method was to read each essay
twice; the first time to get the general idea and the second to mark mistakes
or inconsistencies. But he had to read
Doug’s three times because his mind kept wandering. Kids looked at gravity manipulation and made
up new sports whereas adults looked at it and wondered how it could change the
oldest sport. Paul had once read that
for every variable-g gym there were two variable-g sex parlors for couples who
didn’t have the time or money to fly up to an orbital or lunar hotel for a
weekend of acrobatic sex. He had been
trying to talk Deborah into visiting one since before they were married, but it
wasn’t until she was six months pregnant that she reluctantly agreed to give it
a try, mainly because it would let her be light on her feet. But she ended up enjoying it so much they
went back three more times. Her parents
had promised to come over some weekend to watch Linda and give the new parents
a break and Paul had a good idea what they would do.
Saving his comments on Doug’s essay, Paul
shook his head to clear his thoughts and moved on to the essay by Jon
Suthers. Jon was a teacher’s nightmare;
an intelligent but lazy student, as well as a class-clown. His teachers never knew what they would get
Up on Paul’s screen came Jon’s essay,
“Unforeseen Benefits of Contact with Pentans.” The first sentence read: “One of
the greatest benefits of the Pentans making Contact with us – but one few
people will discuss openly – is it allowed for the humane disposal of Earth’s
Paul gave a low whistle. “This should be interesting.” He continued
The first group of riff-raff to leave Earth were the Technophiles. This group – incensed that the rest of the world did not share their desire to “improve” humanity with genetic and cybernetic enhancements – stole Unity I, the first Human-built vessel with tunnel capabilities, and went off into deep space never to return.
While the world was enraged over the theft of the ship, most people considered it a small price to pay for not having to deal with such people again.
Once tunnel capable vessels became common, more groups chose to follow the Technophiles – although these purchased their vessels.
One of the first groups to legally leave were the Marxists. These followers of Karl Marx – a Nineteenth Century philosopher – figured they could not fit into the Human Republic which requires Member Nations to have a democratic form of government as well as a capitalist economy. Of the three nations on Earth that are not members of the Human Republic – Switzerland, Vatican City, and the Ashgabat Caliphate – none hold to the Marxists ideals. So in 2063, a group of around a hundred Marxists led by Juan Dávila settled on the third moon of Thor – a Jovian planet orbiting the star Iota Horologii some 50 light-years from Earth. The colony – named Trier after the birthplace of Marx – has slowly grown through the emigration from Earth of others who share their views. While Trier is not a Member Nation, there is a treaty of non-interference between it and the Human Republic.
Through the door, Paul heard Linda begin
to wail. He went to stand up, but
stopped himself. I have to finish these he told himself. Taking a deep breath, he forced himself back
to Jon’s essay.
Similar arrangements – allowing for travel and trade – have been made with other colonies such as Nike, Five Pillars, and Here. But others have severed all ties to the Republic, for example, Freewinds, Zion, and Cana. The conditions – and in some cases even the location – of these “colonies” are unknown, but not that many people care. (Although, as in the example of Trier, it would be nice if similar people left on Earth had the opportunity to emigrate.)
The reason it is beneficial for all these colonists to part company with the rest of humanity is that most of these colonies are populated with political and religious fanatics; brethren to groups that have caused considerable turmoil on Earth for millennia. With them out of the picture, perhaps the rest of us can finally live in peace.
But are we truly better off without such people? Throughout history, various groups have decided that the world would be better off if certain other groups were no longer around. While the Human Republic cannot be charged with genocide in the “disappearance” of the Technophiles or minor religious groups like the Scientologists – is the result not the same? For how long have the wise been telling us that our differences make us stronger, not weaker? How much weaker is the choir of humanity because of the loss of so many voices?
Paul sat back in his chair and rubbed his
temples. “That was interesting, all
right,” he said to himself. Then to his
computer he said, “Insert comment,” and a small screen appeared at the bottom
of the essay and filled in as he spoke.
“There is a significant change in voice and tone between the beginning
and the end of your essay, Jon. Either
revise to have a constant voice throughout the whole, or if your intention is
as I suspect to emphasize the end by the change, then you need to work on the
beginning and make it more … satirical so the ending doesn’t come as a jolt.”
Pausing for a moment, Paul added, “Oh, and
ease up on the dashes.”
Linda had quieted, and Paul hoped Deborah
would be able to get some rest. He then
began rereading Jon’s essay to further critique the writing.
This story is part of my Human Republic
series, and this was to flesh a bit of that universe out. I’d submitted it to every place I could think
of, but nobody took it. So I
self-published it back in 2014, but that site didn’t last that long.
The reason I’m republishing it now, is that while some would cheer if certain political and religious groups left Earth for good, that’s a rather slippery slope. Our differences make us stronger, which mean we have to accept there will be some with shitty ideals. To be clear, it is perfectly fine for some to think left-handed people are the spawn of Satan, but if they ever start attacking left-handed people, then they belong in jail.