So, today and most of late yesterday have been pretty hellacious on a personal level, but one slightly bright spot today: I got a message through to John Z. Upjohn, who may or may not have lost a book deal due to my interview with his publisher yesterday.
Mr. Upjohn was in better spirits than I would have expected, and seemed particularly reluctant to say a bad word about his boss/mentor, despite what some might see as an extreme setback. He seemed particularly flattered that I was interested in his book, and he sent along to me the first few pages for my perusal.
I prefer to leave the reviews to the professionals, so I won’t say much about it. Since it seems unlikely that The Freedom of Liberty will see the light of day anytime soon, he asked me if I would share it, so at least part of it might find an audience.
The Freedom of Liberty (Prologue)
Jon Prescott Johnson shouldered his rifle as he stood up. Kneeling, he peered through the rifle’s scope and surveyed the land all around him, carefully scouting as he reconnoitered.
He had a pair of military grade polyspectrum binocs in on his belt, but he preferred the honesty of the rifle.
While he swept the countryside with body’s eyes, his mind’s eye reflected on how he looked. Tall, six foot four, and built. He was not a vain man, but simple biology dictated that all women liked their men to be built, so built he was. Looking at him, you knew that he lifted. His face was stubbled so you could tell he took care of himself but he wasn’t fussy about it.
He wouldn’t brag about it, but there was definitely something in his face that made ladies swoon. Was it confidence, or was it arrogance? Trick question. It was both. At the same time something in his eyes said, “Gay guys, back off.” just so there wasn’t any confusion.
It was a fair warning, and the only warning they would get.
Jon P. Johnson was not a hateful man. There was no room for hate in heart, not with all the love of freedom crammed in there. But he was a man, all man, and he had the same natural reaction to homosexuals as every other man.
The comforting weight of the rifle in his hands was comforting to his hands. It was a custom made version of the latest model the finest weaponsmiths on Ceanndana could turn out: the Garand Turismo Mark III with the double extended clip and a polycarbonite stock with a gunmetal gray finish expertly covered over in stained walnut.
Not satisfied with the machine results, he had insisted on rifling the barrel by hand himself. He’d been shooting since before he could walk. What machine knew more about rifles than he did? His bold and unconventional and boldly unconventional choice had resulted in a weapon that was accurate to a range of approximately seven meters, but he was quite sure that no other weapon was quite as accurate at that range.
He wasn’t so vainglorious as to feel the need to put that hypothesis to the test, though. He believed results should speak for themselves.
The hills of the Ceanndanan countryside rolled out all around him. It was a harsh landscape. Ceanndana was a harsh planet. Humanity’s sons had touched their feet down on its dirt at the tail end of a deceptively mild period in its natural climate variation: the temperatures had been pleasant, precipitation mild but dependably regular, and the hills and plains covered in vegetation that housed a wide variety of animal life.
It had seemed like a paradise, a new Eden filled with inexhaustible resources. So the first colonists had begin clear-cutting forests to build factories, burning out grasslands to most efficiently provide farmlands for the new world. Rivers were dammed for power. Animals were hunted for sport. This new Eden had been provided for their benefit and no tyrannical pencil-pushing bureaucrats were going to stop them from using its bounty to the fullest degree possible.
But it hadn’t lasted. The greatest climate explainers Ceanndana recognized had theorized that the planet had a complex, long-term global season system. The colonists had touched down at the end of global spring. Now the planet was entering had enter moved into global summer. The atmosphere had grown hot and dry and poisonous, the rain sporadic and acidic. The remaining wildlands had turned barren. Once-plentiful animal life was now in short supply. The polar ice was melting. The seas were turning toxic and barren of life.
Maybe the United Nations had known about the cycle and tried to stick the rebellious upstarts with what they believed would be a deathtrap. If so, they would be disappointed. The Ceanndanans persevered and even took pride in their increasingly inhospitable adopted home. Their planet was untamable, just like them. Just as no man could impede the progress of the seasons, so no government could affect the progress of true men, free men.
Ceanndana. Literally: the Boar’s Head. The last bastion of true freedom in the galaxy.
As Jon thought about this, Jon reflected on the motto he followed. Stand tall. Dream big. Know your 20.
Jon stood tall. Six foot four, broadly muscled with a chiseled jaw and a far-off look in his eyes because he dreamed big. He knew his 20. He knew where he stood. This was what it was to be a man. This was what it was to be a Ceanndanan.
The familiar harsh environment today was tinged with unfamliarity. On the horizon there was a tinge of smoke, tinging upwards with a smoky coil. There were no factories out in that direction yet, he knew, and nothing there to burn. It would be worth checking out.
With practiced, easy gait, Jon stalked across the barren wilderness towards the hill from behind which the smoke emanated. Cresting the hill—he always kept the high ground when approaching unknown situations—he saw the wreckage of a small shuttlecraft. It was definitely not local, but he recognized the design. He stood tall, shouldering his rifle.
The United Nations had come to Ceanndana.