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38 pages, Kindle Edition
First published September 17, 2019
“Can’t start a revolution with the enemy shouting in your head, after all.”It’s a story told by that little nagging voice inside your head - the one that you can spend your whole life trying to get rid of. You know - one that is an amalgam of the small-minded, closed-off and judgmental influences that are everywhere; the crotchety old guy telling those kids to get off his lawn.
“We left because it would’ve cost too much to fix the world. Cheaper to build a new one.”Here that voice is an AI built into a head of a soldier - a slave - from a distant off-Earth colony that returns to the now certainly ravaged by the natural cataclysms and populated with devolved species planet in search of a precious cargo needed to keep the new world going. A long time ago the Founders left what they thought was a doomed planet - and surely without them, without the elite, the place *had* to go to hell, right?
“There were just too many people, and too many of those were unfit, infirm, too old, or too young. Even the physically ideal ones were slow thinkers, timid spirits. There was not enough collective innovation or strength of will between them to solve the problems Tellus faced, and so we did the only merciful thing we could: we left them behind.But once the soldier slave lands on Earth, the disconnect between what you are taught to believe is and should be true and the actual truth begins its subversive work.
Of course that was mercy. Do you think your ancestors wanted to leave billions of people to starve and suffocate and drown? It was simply that our new home could support only a few.”
”It is the guiding principle of our society. Rights belong only to those who earn them. When you complete this mission, for your bravery you will have proven yourself deserving of life, health, beauty, sex, privacy, bodily autonomy — every possible luxury. Only a few can have everything, don’t you see?”The point is simple: Once we start questioning the presumed truths, we learn to think. Once we actually think, we can be free.
“We realized it was impossible to protect any one place if the place next door was drowning or on fire. We realized the old boundaries weren’t meant to keep the undesirable out, but to hoard resources within. And the hoarders were the core of the problem.”No, the story is *not* subtle. Yes, it exaggerates - but does so cleverly and with a good dose of humor and slight absurdity. It’s much simpler than Jemisin’s usual fare - and yet still feels so well-done and effective and galvanizing.
“ For all these centuries, the Founders told us that the Earth died because of greed. That was true, but they lied about whose greed was to blame.”Clever. Quite clever. Loved it!
2020 Hugo Award Finalists
There were just too many people, and too many of those were unfit, infirm, too old, or too young. Even the physically ideal ones were slow thinkers, timid spirits. There was not enough collective innovation or strength of will between them to solve the problems Tellus faced, and so we did the only merciful thing we could: we left them behind.
If you complete this mission, you’ll be a hero. Why would we refuse you what you’re due?
The Founders were the geniuses, the makers who moved nations with a word. We left because it would’ve cost too much to fix the world. Cheaper to build a new one.
At home, we maintain only as many people as we can safely sustain: six thousand total, including servi and mercennarii.
Only a few can have everything, don’t you see?
"Not kings. Just selfish men."