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If This Goes On: Healthcare “Reform”

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This is where things could go if they go very, very wrong for the American people — not quite the wrongest. The worst case, as usual, is

nuke

And, as a Cold War kid, that image and possible end is always with me. Yep, we could end up eating squirrels and burying half our kids before they turn five, just like the old days. Traveling in nomadic packs. Living the Mad Max life until the gasoline runs out, then just running around in silly overdone armor hammered out of crap dug out of junkyards because it’s a lot easier than trying to find iron ore and making new stuff now that civilization has dug up all the easy to find metal deposits.

(deep breath)

BUT THAT’S NOT WHAT I’M HERE TO TALK ABOUT, I said to myself.

I’m talking about, what if this health care reform deform sets a trend? This massive wealth distribution to the already very wealthy that slashes Medicaid to the bone and reinstalls lifetime and yearly coverage caps for care and calls for pre-existing condition rate hikes that will price cancer survivors and people with genetic conditions like cystic fibrosis and sickle cell anemia and, you know, old people right out of coverage altogether?

What if this “American Health Care Act (AHCA) is just the beginning? (By the way, GOP? I know you’re all on this “learning and education and expertise are bad” jag, but in American English “healthcare” is commonly ONE FREAKIN WORD SERIOUSLY YOU’RE THE ONES TELLING EVERYONE TO SPEAK ENGLISH? Learn to speak and write English, but not too well or everyone will think you’re one of those EVIL EDUCATED SMART PEOPLE AIEE OH GOD RUN BEFORE IT INFECTS YOU WITH LEARNING.)

But I digress. Again. Unfortunately I’m really good at that.

What if this AHCA passes, and sets a trend, and things just keep going that “if you wanted to be healthy you’d have had sense enough to pick wealthy parents” way for a few decades? How bad could it get?

Let’s imagine. Because that’s my business.

But let’s not imagine this healthcare deform will be alone. No, it will come with other things that are developing in our society. Let’s look.

So. Boom. It passes. Very wealthy people enjoy the windfall of anywhere from six hundred billion to a trillion dollars collectively. Sockaroonie, right into the hands of people who make more than a quarter million a year, but mostly into the hands of people who make a million or more a year. And more for billionaires than for you paltry millionaires.

They squirrel a bunch of it away into accounts in the Caymans and elsewhere (I hear Russia is enjoying a vogue in certain bad-hair-tiny-handed circles for some reason).

They open some new factories in China because First Lady Ivanka (is it Co-First Lady? First Lady of Daddy’s Heart? It’s so hard to keep track) has some there and she says it’s a great place to do business, not like that annoying USA where she’d rather drop dead than have a product made. And elsewhere, wherever the labor is cheap.

They invest some at home, though, too. Building some factories, but soon enough robots can build them, not people. So, mostly buying robots from overseas. But when they build a steel mill or an automobile factory or a social media farm to send out #MAGA tweets or whatever in the USA, rest assured they’ll need dozens of people to run a really enormous factory. Mostly fixing robots and tweaking their programs. It might take a little while to get the robot fixing robots on line, like an extra generation.

The robots aren’t quite there yet, in many professions. But we’re getting there fast.

When the people who are babies now go out to find jobs — and there may not be quite as many of them as we thought, the AHCA and its successors may well redistribute more wealth upward with bigger and better cuts and outright elimination of things like Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, EBT/Food Stamps, and so forth, which means higher infant mortality and more kids who die before adulthood — they may find robots doing them.

And not just the poor kids. The less poor kids, the scions of the dying middle class and the bottom of the upper class, the ones making only a paltry quarter million a year, may find their jobs being done by robots as well. It’s easy to imagine robots digging ditches and selling fries, but they can also order supplies and pay bills and manage expenses and plan advertising campaigns and handle routine legal cases and do surgery and repair cars and dispense prescribed medications.

They’re close to that today. In a generation they’ll be able to do it. Once robots are popular enough, the economy of scale kicks in as it is right now with solar and wind power, and prices drop precipitously, and then everyone will want robot workers and nobody will want humans with their messy bathroom breaks and headaches and needing to attend funerals and weddings and wanting retirement funds and asking for raises because the kid needs braces.

So not only will the money be for the top 1%, but the jobs and the healthcare will be for the top 1%. If you’re really lucky. Maybe all those things will be for the top .1%.

And everyone else?

Well, the ones with the money and the jobs and the healthcare will have to figure out what to do with you.

Maybe human servants will come into vogue and we can all get jobs serving the very rich for room and board and maybe some basic medical care. But probably not for cancer or disability or chronic illness. Servants are cheap. When one goes bad, you throw it away and get another one.

Because now life is cheap, and all the gains of society are routed into the pockets of the megawealthy, and all the cool stuff the robots make goes to them as well.

And if you don’t like it? Robots can make more than cool stuff. They can make war as well. Without risking any precious rich skin. Even the military, traditional route out of poverty, can be handled by robots and very, very few humans indeed.

There are a few million more people who can do without healthcare — or at least, who will have to, to free up some more money to give away to the already very wealthy.

Remember, this is a worst case imagining. Things might turn out better than this. But for that to happen, we’re going to have to fight for it. Hopefully figuratively, with words and protests and votes and candidates who can imagine a better purpose for our society than slashing healthcare for half of the nation in order to put a trillion dollars into the pockets of billionaires.

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I Published A New Collection And I Liked It

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Fine, okay, there were some bits that are never fun. Like building an ebook table of contents or going through a bunch of stories written in standard manuscript format and deleting all the tabs so they won’t screw up the ebook.

But yeah, I liked it. There are 21 science fiction stories in there, arranged roughly from the nearest future to the most distant. From the most plausible to the most conjectural. From the least to the most alien-to-us-today vision of humanity.

There are self-driving cars and artificial intelligences in love and undersea civilizations and killer climate change and all sorts of other good stuff.

You can preorder it from Amazon right now. Or from Barnes & Noble, or Kobo, or Smashwords. Or Google Play Books. Or the iTunes bookstore. Or… there are others. How many others I cannot guess. The internet is big. 🙂

The release date is December 24th. Who doesn’t need something to read on Christmas Eve? I do. Ugh, the stress!

Primalist “Weekend BCE” Event Marred By Arrests: Science Fiction News Network 2259

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For over 50 years Primalists have been gathering for “Weekend BCE,” in which they attempt to emulate life as it was for rural hunters and gatherers over 2,000 years ago. They gather on Earth Day weekend, the last full weekend of April, for an extended contention, beginning on Thursday and conducting closing ceremonies at Monday noon.

For over 50 years Primalist gatherings have also been a subject of controversy, often accompanied by arrests and even violence, which organizers attribute to “radical elements” in Primalism. Critics believe that Primalism itself is a radical element without a place in civilized society.

“Much of the past was truly atrocious, and the farther back you go the worse society was,” Nile Pensington, President of the North America Primalism Association, said. “We consciously reject those elements and focus on the lifestyle of the individual person, leaving the stains of the past – racism, sexism, slavery, animal cruelty, war, genocide – in the past. Our purpose is to live closer to a natural existence, in tune with the ecosystem and the lives of the plants and animals.”

Despite these lofty ideals, Primalism is often identified with their controversial practice of eating non-cultured meat and disconnecting from Civil Augmented Reality during Primalist retreats – and often in their own homes or even when out in public.

“These practices skirt the intent of existing North American law, though they observe the technical letter,” North American Lower House Parliament candidate (Social Republic Party – New England) Marian Hao said in a stump speech at a SRP rally in Tabasco province on the 19th (translated from Spanish). “When I take my Lower House seat I will introduce a bill criminalizing disconnection from our shared augreal consensus. Division weakens us, shared reality unites. We will also fight to make any use of animals, living or dead, for meat, fur, or hide illegal. The only valid and humane way to treat animals is as valued companions, sources for cell sampling under local anaesthetic, or, best of all, left free in the wild.”

And of course, there is that “radical element” which Primalists are unable or unwilling to purge from their membership.

With the exception of three arrests for misdemeanor improper trash disposal and one for felony dumping of biohazardous waste into a reservoir or reservoir headwater, the 112 arrests during Weekend BCE originated from that radical element. Drone-gathered evidence yielded charges of assault, rape, and animal cruelty, with the latter being the majority with 89 arrests.

Although the official North America website for Primalism states that an exception for the slaughter of animals allowing humane means (administration of surgical anasthetic by a licensed veteranarian) is not only an allowed anachronism but is absolutely mandated, radical Primalists seem to delight in using primitive means of slaughter, stringing chains or cords between the Achilles tendons and leg bones of live, suffering animals, hoisting them struggling into the air, and slitting their throats. The practice causes the animals to bleed out slowly, ending their lives with prolonged torture.

“The practices of Primalists are nothing short of barbarism,” Hao said. “If we do not outlaw their practices, outlaw Primalism altogether, their regressive ethics will reinfect society with ancient ills and nothing but ruin can come of it.”

100 Word Story: “Sunken Treasure”

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An hour downriver with the current, old Joseph alone in a two-person boat, a bouquet, and a tiny plastic flag. As the tributary broadened to delta, he checked: tanks, rebreather, fins, weight, light. All ready. Beyond the last reeds, open water.

He activated GPS: it knew where to go. The boat’s electric motor hummed and the distance slipped away. Drawing near, he gasped.

Patrol drones floated, alert. Long black guns tracked Joseph.

“Restricted area,” the nearest drone warned. “Retreat or be fired upon.”

Helpless, he turned back: three long hours upriver.

His grandfather resting under the risen sea went unvisited.

SciFi News Network 2291: Job Hunting

Pluto Icecap

SFNN> Classified> Off-Earth > Outer System> Kuiper> Pluto> Jobs> Technical> Supervisory

HYDROPONICS AND RECREATIONAL GENERALIST (HRG)

Salary Band 8(b)

This is a position with the Eurasian University Cooperative (EUC), Facilities Maintenance Division.

Successful applicants must pass a comprehensive full-record Onboard DNA-ROM Codex (ODNARC) examination. Felonies of any nature and offenses of any level of or related to plagiarism, intellectual property theft, academic/research honor code violation, or violence are disqualifying without appeal.

Primary operating languages:

English, Russian, Mandarin, Japanese, Hindi

Linguistic mastery of 2 or more Eurasian languages independent of translationware a plus

Successful applicant without onboard translationware will receive a discounted (66.67% discount) academic/professional grade global and dialectical translationware implant compatible with their current prefrontal bioprocessor OS. OS must be up to date with active and EUC-approved malware and spyware protection. Translationware purchased by this method will be billed in 50 weekly installments during first year of service at 0% interest. In event of early termination or resignation remaining balance will become due immediately with pending balances at 30% APR calculated on a weekly basis.

Qualifications:

Hydroponics tech certification (6-year instructional program), reduced gravity environment safety and competence certification (with residency). Recreational design certification (2-year instructional program) may be earned via VR learning during first two years of service. 3.25 GPA minimum to proceed; unsatisfactory progress is grounds for termination after 2 quarters academic probation.

1 year small team (2-20 individual) supervisory experience required, performance must be verifiable through 2 or more professional references.

Duty schedule, salary, benefits:

The HMG manages 2 subordinates at 5 days of 10 hours weekly and 0-5 educational or apprenticeship interns at 3 days of 5 hours weekly. The duty team includes 5 pre-AI android semiskilled laborers at 6 days of 15 hours weekly.

The HMG is on-call 24 hours with scheduled duty hours of 4 days at 10 hours plus 1 day at 5 hours weekly. Off duty/on-call days shall be contiguous except in EUC-valid extenuating circumstances and shall advance 1 calendar day per week to improve whole-community access to the HMG. Example: week 1 off-duty FRI-SAT becomes off-duty SAT-SUN in week 2. Likewise, regular scheduled duty hours shall advance 2 hours per schedule week. Example: Week 1 10-hour days of 0700-1500 become 0900-1700 in week 2.

The HMG is budgeted 260 hours of Paid Time Off (PTO) yearly accrued at 5 hours per calendar week of employment. No more than 90 hours shall be taken consecutively. PTO shall not accrue above 260 hours. Earned PTO not accrued due to accrual cap shall be paid at the end of each calendar week at a rate of 1.5x hourly pay as earned.

The HMG receives priority-personnel-beta (Band 2 of 5) for recreation (alpha priority (band 1 of 5) in the facility they manage), medical treatment and disaster relief.

EUC contribution to retirement fund is 7.5% of salary accrued weekly; HMG may choose to contribute a maximum of an additional 7.5%. Funds are limited to EUC-approved savings, bond, and securities instruments. Investment diversity is recommended.

Duties:

The HMG will maintain a hydroponics facility rated to serve a population of 10,000 individuals. The hydroponics ecosystem includes standard, drip, and mist components and includes composting, incinerating, and recycling human and animal waste and garbage.

Bacteria, fungus, plant, fish, amphibian, bird, and small mammal populations are part of the hydroponics ecosystem and must be managed and harvested for edible and otherwise useful biomass at optimal levels.

The hydroponics environment includes public-accessible parklands with maximum occupancy of 500. Parklands must be managed to optimize environmental support, recreational value, aesthetics, and agricultural performance.

The HMG is expected to optimize and improve the performance of the hydroponics facility on an ongoing basis through research, innovation, and implementation of upgrades, redesign opportunities, and integration of new discoveries in the fields of hydroponics and recreation.

The EUC utilizes the Global Blind Application System (GLOBAS) which strips demographics-revealing data from applications. If you believe your circumstances may confer priority status upon your application you may not state so to the EUC but must apply to GLOBAS for pre-GLOBAS prioritization. Making an assertion of priority status to the EUC regardless of veracity will result in disqualification.

The EUC has zero tolerance for harassment of any variety and utilizes an all-Artificial Intelligence 3rd party service for adjudication of internal incidents.

 

SciFi News Network 2241: Tuna Poaching Ringleaders Brought To Justice

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AP (UN Regional Headquarters 8, international waters, Central Pacific)

29 August 2241

 

UNBE (United Nations Bureau of Enforcement) officers arrested eight  individuals alleged to be the top coordinators of a tuna poaching, smuggling, and sale ring with operations spanning from the east coast of India to the western and eastern shores of the northern and equatorial Pacific Ocean.  In accordance with UN law, UNBE did not release the identities of the arrested or their professions or other personal information pending the notification or appointment of the arrested parties’ legal counsel and the formal declaration of charges, which much occur within thirty full calendar days.

 

Nearly all surviving species of tuna are classified as critically endangered and fishing or otherwise taking even a single tuna for any purpose is a felony under UN law as well as under most local subordinate codes of nation-states and corporate states. A UNBE official stated the numbers of tuna involved are “estimated in the thousands, perhaps even ten or twenty thousand.” Charges of criminal conspiracy and tax evasion are also expected to be levied against the accused.

 

Tuna poaching is an ongoing threat to the recovery of the animals’ populations, which have never recovered from the overfishing of the 20th and 21st centuries. Several species are believed extinct, and legal commercially available tuna is either farmed under strict oversight or laboratory cultivated.

 

Tuna poaching is a longstanding problem for law enforcement due to the profitability of black-market fish in general and tuna in particular. According to UNBE estimates and past convictions, an angler may receive as much as 1 Globo per gram of their catch; a single fish weighing 5 kilograms may match the median yearly income of semiskilled laborers in poorer nations or buy a two-seat personal automobile in richer ones.

 

At the table, this value is considerably enhanced. A single slice of sashimi, generally between 10 and 20 grams may cost a well-heeled black market diner 500 Globos.

Genre Is Small — inspired by the Star Wars Greeks of Travis Durden

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Some art that made me say, “cool!” and a few tweets led to some bigger thoughts on genre writing – which is a pretty normal thing, small ideas leading to larger ones, if you’ve done some writing or pretty much any art I can think of or serious thinking.

I found Travis Durden’s Star Wars Greek statuary through a tweet I saw a couple of hours ago (on the 27th — this post first appeared on my Patreon page  (would you like to support a not-quite-starving writer? Please do! Because every penny helps tear down the budget worries that often occupy my mind when I’d rather be writing) in the wee hours of the 28th) (tweet posted below). Durden’s art is seriously neat stuff.

 

Which lead to this tweet:

 

And this one:

And finally this one:

 

After I graduated from kiddie books so many years ago, I cut my reading teeth on science fiction. I tried reading the paperbacks my father brought home from used bookstores and quickly learned to look for the short story collections and anthologies — I’d recently learned to read, it was hard enough to work through all the words I didn’t recognize without trying to figure out what was going on in a whole novel. But the shorter short stories, in those early years, I could wrap my mind around those. And remember (well, you might not have known, so I’m telling you) this was in the mid-70s, when certainly many authors in science fiction and elsewhere may have been experimental in their writing, but the mainstream in short science fiction stories was heavy with straightforward plots, traditional story arcs, and mysteries resolved with a single final twist. There’s plenty of that now, to be sure. But either there was more then or those are what I remember because they’re the stories I understood as a child.

 

That’s a long way to go to say that science fiction seemed huge to me, but it did. It seemed huge and very distinct because it was my entire fictional world then. Nursery rhymes and the little stories found in early reader books — if you’ve had or been around small children just learning to read much, you’ll recall them — hardly counted.

 

And science fiction is distinct, or at least distinctive. The definition has been endlessly debated over, but most of us who read much of it recognize it when we see it. The same goes for the other genres I mentioned in that last tweet. Horror is distinct enough that we notice the difference, for example, when we read a Stephen King horror story as opposed to a Stephen King something else. Legends have a pretty distinct definition. Magical realism blurs the lines — sometimes it’s fantasy, sometimes it’s science ficiton, sometimes it’s literary, sometimes, sometimes, sometimes.

 

That’s the genre that really makes the point, with its blurryness.

 

They’re all blurry, really. Think of Star Wars: get a SW fan who calls it science fiction and a SW fan who calls it science fantasy in the same room and watch the genre boundary argument fur fly.

 

We love to dicker over what story counts as which genre and who’s that writer whose work is called X but really it’s more Y don’t you think?

 

To say they’re all fiction is too simplistic. But there’s that in pointing out that genres are small things that cannot really contain a story, not the large and well-defined things we’re tempted to think of them as, that we often reflexively think of them as after a scholastic lifetime of being taught the boundaries of genre.

 

They’re all stories. They’re all about human beings and what human beings do and think and feel and wonder. All of them, even the genres where there is debate as to whether or not they’re fiction or nonfiction: mythology, legend, religion.

 

They’re stronger when they wander, stories are. When we get it into our minds that we can’t write in X event because we’re writing science fiction or that Y character doesn’t make sense because we’re reading fantasy, we weaken the stories that we might otherwise love, whether we’re reading them, writing them, or representing them in other forms of art. For centuries fiction and poetry have derived inspiration and imagery from religion and mythology and legend (assuming you divide stories that faith has grown up around into those rather than lumping them together). Star Wars is beloved science fiction in part because it incorporates elements of fantasy and legend and even, at least in the beginning, of the Western movie.

 

Try picking out a few of your favorite stories that have won wide acclaim or are considered enduring classics. Give them a read with this in mind, and look for where the genres blur. You don’t need a story that glaringly throws seventeen genres together; one that’s mostly in one but draws in bits of others is just fine — even better, in fact.

 

Much like the ancient advice that a single stick alone is weak but a bundle of those same sticks is strong together, I think you’ll find that stories that gather together elements of different genres are the strongest.

 

And I also think that it’s more than worth the effort to seek them out as a reader, and to try to create them as a writer.

13 Word Story: After The End Of The World

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(This post appeared on my Patreon page on the 18th of this month — my patrons see posts 3 days early. When I publish a new ebook, they get a FREE copy THIRTY DAYS EARLY even if I charge for it everywhere else! Even a pledge of a single buck per month gets you those benefits — and you also get the pleasure of supporting a financially struggling self-published author whose wife, 3 kids, and self insist on extravagant luxuries like “food” and “electricity” and even — GASP WHAT FRIPPERY — a 20 year old minivan. We’re such softies.)

 

So, I’ve gotten in the habit of posting a substantial companion ramble/rant/essay/callitwhatyouwill with these 13 word stories. I couldn’t sleep last night, so I propped my chest up on my zafu (stiff meditation cushion, usually for butts & not writing in bed, for anyone who hasn’t run into that word before), nudged myself over perilously close to my restlessly sleeping 2 year old boy where the dim light of the nightlight was brightest, and proceeded to write about 700 words longhand. I’m sure that was wonderful for my eyes, probably aged them an extra year and I’m already in progressive-lens trifocals. Sign me up for a writers’ purple heart, I suppose.

 

After a bit of editing, as my edits usually go, the companion post ended up expanding to 805 words. Plus all these words I’m typing here. I’m a glutton for composition.

 

Without further ado, here’s the post:

 

We talk and think a lot about the end of the world. For my and my parents and grandparents’ generation (once that last passed through the Great Depression and World War II) the vision of the end of the world is tied up in Cold War visions of nuclear holocaust. I don’t know about you, but this Gen Xer has a copy of The Day After on DVD – the movie, which I saw in its original airing on television when I was 13 — was a distillation of all of the vague fears of death at the hands of Soviet ICBMs that occasionally haunted my nightmares and daymares. I’m sure I’m not the only one with those experiences.

Today that nuclear war specter is still around, a shade still fearful but overshadowed by younger, more vital terrors, banished to the edge of consciousness. We’ve become comfortable with our eternal wars waged against small nations lacking nuclear arms, and even with current events in the Middle East and the South China Sea and Crimea, few even bother to wonder if a third world war might be in the making, or to fear the potential for a mass detonation of thermonuclear weapons.

Pollution as a human-world-ender, too, has lost some of its former luster. Russia has survived the worst of messy Soviet industrialism and Chernobyl as well – few pay attention to what aftermath there might be. The same for Japan and its Fukushima, China’s current smogs and rare-earth-mine pollutant pits, the Flint, Michigans and flaming fracking faucets of the United States, the landlocked oil spills and leaky pipelines the petroleum multinationals have splotched major portions of several nations in Africa with. Even the once-vivid fears of bioengineered, weaponized anthrax and smallpox have faded.

These confidences that the old dangers no longer threaten hold their own danger – that if a danger does arise from those quarters, we’ll find it easy to overlook until it’s too late.

Today, we sublimate all those fears, along with our fear of civil unrest and mob rule, into zombie fiction, as far as I can tell. A nice, safe end of the world, one unrealistic enough yet barely plausible enough to allow suspension of disbelief and provide a nice, safe thrill, like a rollercoaster with a secure safety caged seat.

But unlike we older folks (though many of us are catching on) the Millennials and – have we decided on a name for those following them yet? The Trans-Millennials being born now, like my littlest sons – have a world-ending specter as vivid and potent as any child of the Cold War ever had: climate change.

It’s easy for some of us olders (and a few youngers too) to downplay or ignore climate change – though I’m given to understand that the United States is among those nations of the world in which the sport of ignoring scientific consensus is most popular. Some even like to chalk up the very concepts of climate change and global warming and rising carbon dioxide levels to a shadowy cabal of academics thirsty to line their pockets with grant money. As if that were actually lucrative – a local district manager for a snack food distributor stands to better that “fortune” by exceeding sales quotas. Some even go farther and more wildly afield into theories about Illuminati – but we’ve pretty much always had those. Before the internet the Illuminati or similar “explained” Cold War threats as the fruits of conspiracy as well. Those theorists and their imaginings come and go like the dew, appearing to explain what’s “really behind” each new dawn.

But climate change, like nuclear weapons, will not be going away. And nuclear war, except in its most extreme Cold War incarnations, is not a threat on the same enduring and growing levels.

If climate change is the existential threat the Millennials will grow up with – and it is – so will their great-grandchildren and those great-grandchildrens’ great-grandchildrens’ great-grandchildren.

Climate change may or may not develop into a truly existential threat in itself. But if it heads into Venus-greenhouse territory, or even becomes enough to shift the wheat belts to the poles and drive the subtropical and tropical rice bowls into trans-tropical heat and weather pattern, whatever those might be, the worldwide struggle to adapt and survive may well add nuclear war and disregard for pollution in favor of short-term industrial advantage and wars fought with engineered plagues.

And if the end of humanity does come at the hands of a climate-change driven complex of disaster, by simple extinction or reduction to the stone age or pre-intelligence as a species, perhaps in time another species will evolve to occupy the intelligent builder niche we humans failed to hold. Squirrels are as good a candidate as any – I welcome Earth’s new squirrel overlords, assuming we do screw things up badly enough.

SciFi News Network 2272: 3 Select and 44 Slaves Killed in Mine Collapse

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The Sparrow’s Fall

August 17, YOOL 2272

Weekly Newsletter of the Hampton Roads Archipelago

Province of Tidewater, Kingdom of Eastern Virginia

Isaac Childofgod A.P.

     Less than an hour before the end of the workday on Satursday August 10th, Selectmen Citizens Aaron Israel, Seraph Churchbell, Jerusalem Lordly, and Noah Prayerful were finishing work deep under the landfill mine of Trashmore in the borough of Virginia Beach, satisfied with their week’s work excavating a rich vein of Ancients’ electronic devices and plastics. They and their slaves were looking forward to a restful Sabbathday.

     Little did they know that above them, an older abandoned tunnel’s timbers had become waterlogged and rotten (according to Royal Architect Samson Redsea, who investigated the scene). The collapse of the tunnel above caused the ceiling to in turn collapse upon the toiling Select and slaves. Debris as large as Ancients’ laundry machines rained down upon the hapless laborers. Only Noah, who reacted immediately upon hearing the commotion above, and five of his slave coffle survived the collapse.

     “I shouted an alarm to the others even as merciful Jesus sped my retreat to freedom,” Noah said, “but they only looked on in confusion. I lost two-thirds of my coffle, an awful blow to the finances of our family. His mercy be praised that He did not see fit to call me home as he called my fellow Select and all of their chattel. I do not know His purpose, but I have pledged Pilgrimage to the Holy Land to discover why I was spared. My son Isaiah will take up the mining trade in my stead during the years that the travel will take.”

     Work has already begun to re-excavate the collapsed mine section, as the vein of Ancients’ materials was a rich one and Royal Architect Redsea believes that more wealth remains in that single vein than has already been extracted in half a year’s labor.

Six Word Story, Climate Change Edition

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The beaches of his youth drowned.