The Lost One: Part Four

The scout ship was quite surprised when they saw where the portal the refugee ship took led to, seeing as it went to a neutral zone that existed between the Multipians and the Vallerians, one of the three allies who were signatories to the Treaty of Multi Prime for mutual defense. There was a friendly discussion between Lisbeth and the captain of the ship regarding the neutral zone and the systems that were found in it, which were often left alone and thus would likely be areas that smugglers would feel confident in. As it happened, though, there was a Multipian portal in the area and they decided to take that one and find a spot in the asteroid belt that was most likely to be in the system that the ship was headed to, as it was a system that the ship they were chasing would have to go through if they were going to go into Vallerian territory and had some planets that were capable of being settled with modest effort.

Lisbeth used the time to work on studying the diplomatic aspects of the system and what a neutral system meant, while also making sure to keep in touch with the Vallerians who had interests in the area. The Vallerians had much less settlement close by than the Multipians did, but it was no great problem to point out that a joint condominium of the area would be preferable to leaving it open to exploitation by smugglers that both empires viewed with considerable suspicion. It was by no means easy to see what sort of ship was being sent to the system in the first place. It was guessed that the ship would allow for human cargo as well as the plants and animals that would allow for a successful settlement, and that meant that there would have to be substantial cargo, but it was not known that Gorman 3 had a large amount of ready pioneers to engage in such a settlement effort, seeing as they were known largely as smugglers, and smugglers with a fairly low demographic expansion rate in the first place given the lack of interest that the population of the Gorman system had when it came to agriculture.

As it happened, though, the investigation that had taken place on Gorman 3 revealed that the ship was made up of refugees, and that they appeared to be refugees of the Amish kind. This made Hephizbah’s situation far more interesting, as she was able to comment on reports of what her own family had endured in the escape from old earth and in the difficulties that they had in handling their own shipping and in learning how to travel in space without violating their customs and ways. Lisbeth was fascinated by the stories of how it was that the Amish managed to find a great deal of success because the first emperor had taken their cause and provided them with a safe place to live their lives in peace and a generally high degree of prosperity. Still, that had still been complicated by the hostility that many people showed to the Amish as well as the exploitation that had been involved in their attempt to purchase a ship that they could run for themselves, which proved to be a hazard in deep space that endangered their lives. It was likely, Hephizbah thought, that the Amish in this situation were similarly vulnerable to exploitation, which is why they had been trafficked by the people of the Gorman system, no particularly honorable people in the reputation of the galaxy as a whole. Of course, such people people might not know what to do with a dinosaur, but they were unlikely to have been movers and shakers in smuggling a baby dinosaur with them in the first place.

Meanwhile, despite all of the conversations the people on the ship had, there was not much they had to do for the moment. Their job was a simple and a straightforward one, and that was to wait for the ship to come to them, in a place where it would be possible to board the vessel and ensure that the korinthidon was safe and sound. There were only a few possibilities here, and there were reasonable plans that the small group had when it came time to interact with the ship. Moreover, the Multipians figured that the cargo ship, such as it was, would likely be unaware of what they were about and what they were looking for. This surprise was viewed as being possibly a good thing but also possibly a dangerous thing. No one thought that the Amish themselves were likely to be aggressors against the Multipians, but the behavior of the Gorman shippers was a different matter entirely, and this was where the unpredictability happened, at least in the eyes of the Multipians.

What was of interest, but was more difficult to understand, was that there had been a new arrival, a baby boy dinosaur that was born to a breeding pair on the scout ship that had been born around the time that they left Multi Prime. Watching a young baby dinosaur in action in space was rather entertaining, and the parents did not seem to mind the observation of the human beings. It was usually thought that reptiles were not very loving or attentive as parents, but that was clearly not the case with korinthidons, who learned a great deal from parents as to how to behave and how to communicate. This gave Lisbeth and Hephizbah a certain degree of concern about what would happen to a baby dinosaur who was unable to learn from any other dinosaurs around. This was a situation they had never seen before, and they hoped that the lost one would not suffer too much for being alone for the first few months of life. But they would not know if that was the case or how much it was the case until they got in touch with the dinosaur. And no one knew exactly how long that would take, even as the ship continued to move towards where they were, although stopping seemingly at random along the way and not moving there very quickly at all.

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Book Review: Grow Your Own Tea

Grow Your Own Tea: The Complete Guide To Cultivating, Harvesting, And Preparing, by Christine Parks and Susan M. Walcott

One of the more intriguing trends of books in the contemporary age is the encouragement to people to cut out the middleman when it comes to the products and services that they would most appreciate. Now, although I have long enjoyed iced tea on a regular basis, I must admit that the thought of growing it and processing it for myself has never seemed particularly appealing to me. To be sure, I know that such a thing can be done. Moreover, this book makes it very plain that not only large amounts of tea can be grown but that it is being grown very close to where I live. This suggests that the growing of tea is more widespread than it is easy to figure out, and also that what is lacking is not so much the ability to raise tea but the interest in people putting forth a lot of effort to grow and process a plant which can be purchased for low prices at stores. Yet for the true locovore, long supply chains of indifferent qualities of tea bags going to Argentina or India or China when a plant can be grown for oneself is unacceptable, thus a book like this.

This book is about 200 pages long and it is divided into two parts and numerous smaller sections. The book begins with a preface and introduction and then the author discusses a world of tea. The author talks about a brief history of tea, before focusing North America and the British isles, and then discusses the tea plant. The rest of the book then focuses on a basic guide to growing and processing tea. This goes in order from planning and planting, caring for your tea plants, growing tea in pots, harvesting and processing tea, gardening with tea, and more fun with tea. This particular discussion is leavened with plenty of discussion of various tea plantations in the United States that do these things as an encouragement to the would-be tea gardener doing tea as an addition to their garden as a shrub or hedge or devoting more space to it as a major crop. After this the book ends with resources and references, acknowledgements, photo and illustration credits, and an index.

Is it worthwhile to grow your own tea? I am not sure that I am the ideal person to ask. At this stage in life I have yet to find my own acreage or set up my own property with a garden. The question would be, do I drink enough tea to make it worth my while to grow some of my own in the hope of getting more skills in such matters? Yes, yes I do enjoy tea well enough that it would be at least potentially worthwhile to make a tea plant part of my own edibles garden. I am not sure how high tea would rank, but it would rank high enough that even in a modest-sized garden a tea plant that was regularly harvested for tea to turn into sweet southern iced tea would be worth it along with other plants like basil or cabbage or carrots or broccoli or something else of that nature. And that is worthwhile enough. This book demonstrates that tea is grown successfully in the area just outside of Salem and that is certainly close enough that it would be feasible elsewhere in the valley with the right care. Whether or not I am skilled enough at gardening is one thing, this book is certainly designed to appeal to a certain audience.

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The Lost One: Part Three

By far, the easier assignment of the two squads of Multipians was the one that was sent to Gorman 3 in a heavily armed cruiser. This is not to say that the task was a pleasant one, but it was at least a straightforward one. The Gorman system was one that the Multipian empire had generally left alone, knowing its population to be unsavory and wanting to deal with it as little as possible. But since a korinthidon had gotten mixed up in its business, it was time for matters to be upped in importance from salutary neglect to a mission to remind the Gorman system that their freedom depended on not getting Multipia riled. And Multipia was at least highly concerned, which did not bode well for the well-being of the smugglers in the Gorman system in their long-term plans at increasing their profits and preserving their freedom.

The cruiser sailed from Multi Prime with an enthusiastic group of security forces that were happy to have an investigative and anti-smuggling remit related to the preservation of the rights of the korinthidons. Quite surprisingly, a few korinthidons decided to join the group as well, which everyone figured would terrify the people at Gorman. To no one’s surprise, it did. The cruiser made a call at Gorman station, after having gone through the portal to that system.

“This is Gorman station, please hail.”

“This is Commander ________ of the _____________, notifying you of our course to Gorman 3.”

“Why notifying? We are no system of yours that you can simply sail through,” the duty officer responded huffily.

“We are responding to a distress call from an infant Korinthidon who was on a ship leaving from Gorman 3. You might not be aware of it, but korinthidons are a charter member of the Multipian alliance, and any kidnapping or murdered korinthidons are a subject of internal police authority for the Multipian Empire,” the commande responded.

There was a bit of a pause at this.

“Is your notification of entry strictly limited to concerns about the well-being of Multipian korinthidons?” the duty officer replied.

“That is correct,” the commander replied. “Once that has been dealt with, we are under orders to return home.”

There was a bit of a pause at this.

“You have permission to investigate Gorman 3 and the matter of the korinthidon, but we will be watching to make sure that you do not exceed this,” the duty officer said.

“Understood,” the commander said, moving his ship on a course away from Gorman station and towards Gorman 3.

The commander and crew had no doubts that the government of Gorman 3, such as it was, would have been warned of their arrival and would no doubt be trying to find a way to either stonewall the investigation or, alternatively, to give them something that would make them want to leave as soon as possible. Either option was in play, and the Multipians were prepared. It did not take them too long, though, to arrive in a serene course to Gorman 3, where the cruiser once again interacted with a station providing notification.

“This is Commander ___________ of the ______________, and we are requesting information relating to a kidapped korinthidon who was tracked on a ship leaving this planet.”

“This is Gorman 3 station,” the duty officer replied. “And ships leave this planet all the time.”

“We are aware of that,” the commander stated. “The ship happened to leave for a portal near your system’s suns and went through that portal __ hours ago.”

There was a bit of a pause.

“We request to know how it is that you could track the ship,” the duty officer replied.

This time it was the commander’s turn to pause as he thought of a proper response. “It is possible for us to track the locations of korinthidons to fairly narrow coordinates,” the commander decided to say after some thought.

“The only ship that meets the timing and coordinates you stated was a ship that was taking refugees to a new home,” the duty officer said.

“Where were the refugees before they left on that ship?” the commander said. “We have reason to believe that while refugees are not the most likely population to engage in smuggling dinosaur eggs from far off systems, that your system has plenty of people who could engage in such business.”

The duty officer did not respond, silently cursing that this was true.

“We therefore request permission to investigate the area where the refugees left in hope of finding out where the korinthidon egg came from. Once we are satisfied with our investigation we will depart from here and return home.”

The duty officer gave them the coordinates for where the refugee camp used to be, and before too long the cruiser had landed in a meadow near the abandoned refugee camp, much to the surprise of the merchants in their stores who were still not finished taking down their stores to move their business to another location.

The merchants eyed each other nervously as the Multipian police officers and the royal korinthidons got out of the cruiser and moved towards them.

“Who are you and why are you threatening us?” an ad hoc spokesman said, coming towards them.

The commander was quick to the point. “We have reason to believe that one of you sold or gave a korintihdon egg that has since hatched to refugeees going on a ship that left from here.”

There was an angry chatter in the cant that was used by the merchants, with some angry accusations and denials about the fact that armed Multipians had suddenly showed up without warning with suspicion that they were involved in such a dangerous trade. The Multipian security forces looked at each other and smiled, while the korinthidons focused their attention on one merchant in particular, who had a guilty look about him.

“I don’t know you,” the merchant said to the staring korinthidons, who titled their head at him.

“But they know you, it seems,” the commander replied.

The merchants looked at him and chattered with him once more in their incomprehensible cant. As the combined glares of the dinosaurs and of his fellow merchants as well as the unpleasant nature of the discussion continued, eventually the merchant confessed to having given a girl a korinthidon egg that was about to hatch. First he said this in his own tongue, and then he said it in common to the Multipians.

“Where did you acquire this egg?” the commander asked him.

The merchant hemmed and hawed.

“Look, based on what you have already said, we can arrest you for trafficking in korinthidons, and let me assure you that the courts will not be happy about that. Our friends here might even get involved.

The dinosaurs looked at the guilty merchant hungrily.

“How did you guys figure out that it came from here anyway?” the merchant asked, to the general interest of his associates.

The security forces explained how it was that the baby korinthidon had cried out, exposing its location, and how it was that this had led them to check out the location here, thanks to some timely information from the authorities of the Gorman system and Gorman 3 in particular.

The merchants looked around at each other seriously. They had always been told that trade in anything involving korinthidons was a bad idea, once they had become aware of the species at all. Now they knew how unwise it was, that it was not just their own planetary authorities that could find them if they harmed a korinthidon, but that angry people and dinosaurs could chase them from halfway across the galaxy, guns blazing, wrecking them and all that they hold dear. All of the people there resolved not to have anything more to do with korinthidons and to tell their family and friends what could happen to them if they messed with such creatures. And that was precisely the point.

Eventually the merchant broke down in the face of being arrested and told the security forces where he had gotten the egg from and who brought it, and they invited him to come with them to have a conversation with them personally. The merchant figured this was an invitation that it was not safe to refuse, and so he sighed and went on their ship freely while they traveled to a location in the nearest city, where the ship remained in the area and a small team landed and surprised the smuggler, bringing him on the ship for a conversation.

“What’s your problem,” the smuggler said.

“How did you acquire a korinthidon egg?”

“How do you think I got it? I stole it.”

“Where did you steal it from?” the commander asked.

“I stole it from Makron 5,” the smuggler said, and the security forces noted this as a place whose security needed to be upgraded, perhaps.

“Why did you do it?” the commander asked.

“My brother is still in slavery for smuggling, and I thought that by taking a korinthidon egg I could take something back,” the smuggler replied.

“Where did your brother smuggle and find himself in trouble,” the commander asked, somehow knowing the answer.

“Maddon Island” was the inevitable answer. “At least that’s what we were told,” the smuggler said.

“It would have been Maddon Island,” one of the officers stated, having been familiar with that situation. “With luck they will be free in a few years.”

“That is small consolation to me,” the smuggler said. “What do you plan on doing to me, though?”

The commander pondered what to do, and figured that it would be worth finding some more information, and so a relatively friendly interrogation happened on the ship, where the smuggler claimed that he had not harmed any adult korinthidons, he just happened to nice an egg that was unattended and quickly grabbed and egg and left, not sure what to do with it. By the time he got to Gorman 3 he was concerned that the egg might bring trouble, so he got rid of it by pretending that it could be a profit opportunity for another merchant he dealt with. He was concerned as well about how it was that he had been discovered, and this was explained to him as well, convincing him also that messing with korinthidons has a bad idea, an even worse idea than he had thought before.

Once the two merchants figured out that the dinosaurs were not going to eat them, they became a lot more cooperative as they recognized that Multipians were not monstrous but were in fact people with whom a deal could be made, even in adverse circumstances. And here, of course, they were looking to save their lives and their freedom. It was well within the rights of the Multipians to lock them up and throw away the key. Yet it did not appear that was going to happen. The commander was weighing the situation carefully. He clearly could, if he wanted to, drag away these merchants, but would that do any good? It did not appear that the baby dinosaur had come to any harm. It was now on a trip into space, to be sure, but if it had ben given to a girl who was anything like the usual sort it was being cared for properly, and hopefully would find out that it was not all alone after all. Yet at the same time not to punish smugglers at all would incentivize this sort of treatment and perhaps lead to great suffering for a great many people.

The commander thought about it and privately asked some of the security officers about what could be done, and one of them came up with a brilliant idea.

“Why don’t you let the authorities of Gorman 3 decide how to punish them?”

There was silence as everyone mulled over what that meant.

“I’m sure that there is at least some sort of legal and moral order here, however unusual it may appear to us,” the officer continued.

This was indeed an acceptable option. The commander went out and told the guilty merchants that he would take them before their own authorities and that he would not presume to punish them himself, seeing as he would be likely to err in one way or another, but that their own people would know better the right balance to strike given the sensitivity of the case. This, of course, proved to be quite a surprise to the authorities when they figured this out. And it was quite instructive for the Multipian observers as well, as the case was laid out along with all of the mitigating factors, including the fact that the little korinthidon appears not to have come to any harm, at least so far as was known. Yet the authorities of Gorman thought it was of particular trouble that the Multipians were there as well. Once they realized that the Multipians interest in Gorman was narrow, namely the protection of their own citizens, whether human or dinosaur or shipeater, for example, as well as the avoidance of anything that would reduce the standard of living among their people or their own tax revenues, the authorities of Gorman were quite willing to figure out a way where the punishment met the crime, and where the two smugglers would be forced to do public service announcements about the korinthidon and about the hazards of smuggling korinthidons or their eggs. The Multipian security forces were happy to play up, in dramatized form, the sort of unpleasantness that could result from having a negative experience with them or with their dinosaurs.

Truly this part of the mission had been a success. If there was not the sort of horrific punishment that an armed cruiser usually entailed, the mission did give the Multipians a better understanding of the Gorman system and its ways as well as the chance to scout the system and better understand its social system and justice system. This was information that could be very useful and it was well worth the cost of an armed cruiser traveling for a few weeks. Such benefits far outweighed the cost of a little bit of gunboat diplomacy, and everyone left Gorman 3 and returned to Multi Prime having sent out a wide variety of reports that would greatly expand the Multipian knowledge of the system and its people and also provide the opportunity for career advancement. If all journeys should be so successful.

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Book Review: Stuff Every Tea Lover Should Know

Stuff Every Tea Lover Should Know, by Candace Rose Rardon

In reading a book it is striking to see how exactly people read a book, and for whom a book like this is written. Before I read this book, someone I know took a look at the book and commented that this book had a lot of good information in it, which it does, but that the cover design was a bit lacking (It is rather simple) and that the book could have used some references that connected it to other books that had recipes in them. As a reader, this book struck me as more or less what someone would expect from a basic factbook about tea that does not demand heavy or serious reading and which can be read a little bit at a time if one does not have to return it to the library in a hurry, as was the case for me. This book lets us know that there are many tea lovers, and it does a good job at pitching material to different groups of tea lovers, giving information to educate and amuse a wide variety of tea lovers while also being rather ecumenical in terms of appreciating those who appreciate tea, which is something to appreciate. If tea is the sort of material that encourages snobbery, it is not a snobbery that looks down on other uses of tea, but rather is an common snobbery of a variety of tea lovers.

This book is a short one at about 150 short pages. The book begins with an introduction. After that comes a selection of material on tea basics, including what tea is, highlights from the history of tea, terms every tea lover should know, the anatomy of the tea leaf, how tea is made, caffeine content, tea tasting, loose leaf versus bagged tea, how to store tea, a note about water quality, tea accessories, types of teapots and how to use them, how to prepare tea, and recommended steep times and water temperatures. This is followed by a discussion of various tea families and common varieties, including black, green, white, yellow, oolong, dark teas, as well as tisanes. The next part is the one that is the most interesting part for me, namely the tea traditions around the world, including ceremonies in China, Japan, Korea, Tibet, Russia, Turkey, Iran, India, Pakistan, Morocco, Britain, New Zealand, the American South (my native tea tradition), South America, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Thailand, and Taiwan. I was surprised at how many of these traditions I knew. After that, the author talks about tea parties, including how to host high tea, a tea party for children, as well as providing a basic recipe for scones and tea cocktails, after which there are resources and acknowledgements.

It is worthwhile to ponder what it is that people should know about tea. Or rather, it is worthwhile to see what it is that authors believe that tea-drinkers need to know about tea in order to intelligently drink it. When people believe that a food product requires an education it is an interesting thing to see the elements of that education. And to be sure, tea does offer plenty of insight when it comes to education. Tea is not essential for life, but it is a product that many of us (myself included) have a great deal of fondness for and drink in large quantities in a wide variety of forms. Tea can be served hot or cold as well as with a wide variety of processing, and in the form of loose leaf as well as bagged, with various degrees of quality and with effects based on terrain. Tea requires drainage and tends to grow best in subtropical but also highland areas. And while tea came from China originally, it has since spread far and wide, and often is said to include various herbal tisanes as well. The complexity of tea makes it a fit area of study in a similar form to viniculture and other complex cultures.

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The Lost One: Part Two

Eva’s family had lived on Gorman 3 for a long time. They had not meant to. In the beginning, of course, it was simply supposed to be a way station between the horrors of old earth and the possibilities of life on a new earth. But things don’t always work out the way that they were supposed to. It proved to be easy, relatively speaking, to be smuggled from earth to Gorman 3. According to Eva’s family, the trip had taken a few years, a boring and stressful time in which there were fears among the population of simple folk that she was a part of that the forces on earth were chasing them. Perhaps that was what the people transporting them had said to increase the price of their journey. At any rate, Eva was born on Gorman 3, for what it was worth, in a refugee camp for people like her who had been smuggled away from earth and lured away by the promise of freedom and a better life.

Of course, as a refugee, it did not matter that Eva had been born on Gorman 3 while her parents had been born on old earth. She did not have political rights for having been born there. As a refugee, she was one of those stateless people who find themselves being exploited by whoever they happen to be around. And life in the refugee camp was fairly boring. There was not much in the way of schools there, although to be honest Gorman 3 did not appear to be a planet that was overburdened with education, at least to the extent that Eva knew about it. Of course, it must be freely admitted that Eva did not know much about the world outside of the refugee camp. And it was not really her fault. The refugee camp was in a fairly remote area, and the nearest of the cities of the local population were a few hours away by the means of transportation available to her. It seemed as if the purpose of siting refugee camps, at least as Eva could think it, was to keep the refugees away from the local population, unable to know local conditions or blend in with local society, as much as it would be possible for plain folk like her and her family to blend in.

There were other things that she noticed about her life in the refugee camp, now that she came to think about it. During the days, the refugee camps were nearly empty of men, leaving only young people, women, and the elderly around. It was frequently mentioned, every time that the refugees got their monthly rations of basic foods, that refugees were not allowed under any circumstances whatsoever to work in the local economy on Gorman 3. Yet all the same it seemed as if the able bodied men worked anyway. Whether or not they were legally allowed to do so, they were harvesting teak and mahogany trees in the remote river valleys where they lived, and as there were not teak and mahogany buildings or furniture to be found within the refugee camp, she assumed that the logs were going somewhere. They had to be, after all. Even a child like herself knew the value of good wood, since the elderly people in the camp were constantly talking about the times in their youth that they would carve beautiful tables and chairs and other items out of the woods on the old earth. She supposed that in their own planet, if they ever had one of their own, then such things could happen again, where they would be free, whatever that meant.

At any rate, she didn’t want to have to think about that any longer. She had been told that it was the last day they were going to be on the planet, and so it was her job to help get some of the last minute supplies that they needed. She went to the small and informal stores that could be found on the outskirts of the refugee camp. She went to her favorite store, where she managed to purchase some food for the trip with the last credits that she had available with her. At this point, the owner of the shop wanted to talk to her.

“Would you like to help me out, there?” the owner said.

“Sure,” Eva said, enjoying being helpful to adults.

“You’re going to have to keep this a secret from your folks,” the owner added.

This did not trouble her. Perhaps it should have, but she was used to having to keep things secret that she found out about life form her parents, for fear that they would get mad and try to keep her grounded in their cabins. “Sure, that’s no problem,” she said.

“Here’s an egg,” the owner said, handing it over to her. “I would keep it here but it might be a bit of trouble. It will be safer with you, especially in your new home.”

“What kind of egg is it?” she asked, curious.

“It is an egg to a baby dinosaur, and it will likely be a friendly guard to you if you treat it right,” the owner said. “Alas, the dinosaur would likely not find a friendly place here.”

Eva knew enough about life on Gorman 3 to agree that a dinosaur would not find a friendly life. There was a whole host of questions that she wanted to ask, but something told her that she would not get the truth, and would only make the person angry, if she asked about. Where did this egg come from? What kind of dinosaur was it? How had the dinosaur made it to Gorman 3 if it was not at home there, since she had never seen dinosaurs and only vaguely knew what they were? Where were this baby’s children? These and many other questions were inside her head, but she did not feel comfortable asking them, and she lacked confidence she would get an honest answer, so she decided she would find a place for the egg as a makeweight at the bottom of her items, and then include them among her personal effects when they traveled, so that it would not be obvious until she could find somewhere for the egg to be hidden when they arrived on the ship.

When she arrived back to her cabin, her family was getting ready for the shuttle trip to their ship that would take them away from this forsaken place that was filled with corrupt Englishmen. Lacking geography studies, Eva did not know where England was or why Englishmen were so corrupt and so sharp in making deals, but she knew that to be English was definitely a bad thing. At any rate, there was no time to ponder these things, as she had to quickly pack, give her folks the supplies that she had purchased, and then file along with the rest of the people of the refugee camp into various shuttles that were going into space. This was a new experience for her, but for most of the people there was the trudging movement of defeated people who did not have full hope even that this would lead to some sort of success or freedom where the problems of old earth would be left behind forever. These problems had dogged them for so many years that they did not believe that they would ever be free, or could ever be free. They had not even heard rumors of the freedom enjoyed by their brethren in Multipia, and had not even heard of that empire and its ways. All they knew were the people of Gorman 3 and their sharp dealing and tricky practices.

The shuttle trip was not very long, but to Eva it felt very lovely to feel the sense of weightlessness and to see the look of deep space when they docked into the ship, which looked to be some sort of modified cargo ship. The ship was pretty large, and it was divided mostly between the refugees and their herds and crops that would be used to help start out their new life wherever they were going. And she did not know where they were going. Even if she had been told the name of the system, she would not have known where that was or anything else, since no one had ever taught her about the stars or the map of the galaxy and the systems. Once they got to the ships it did not take too long to organize everything, and she was able to find a quiet place near the cows to put the egg where it was in no one’s way and where she could visit it frequently while she was just wandering about the ship as was her fashion.

It as at this point where she became clear that it was good to have a reputation that allowed one to engage in the private investigation of an egg. What sort of egg was it, and how would one take care of it? She did not think any of the people on the ship would have an idea of what to do, and she did not have access to any information on how to take care of dinosaur eggs, but she had found a warm place for the egg and it was soundproofed from people and she hoped for the best. In the meantime, she looked around to find places where she could see the stars. She loved to look at the stars and planets around, and the crew of the ship got used to seeing her be inquisitive and curious, something that marked her as being different from most of her other people, who were not reputed to be a curious people or interested in learning. And Eva found out, much to her surprise, that there were always things going on that needed to be done but that were not being done, and she ended up getting the responsibility for making sure that the animal cargo area where she had placed the egg was alright, and she wanted to make sure that it was alright so that she would not draw attention.

It did not take long until the egg, which was warm and comfortable, started to develop cracks. Eva watched it carefully and thought that it was time for the baby dinosaur to be born. It was. Before too long, under Eva’s curious care, the egg, which had been about the size of a coconut, more or less, was now broken completely, with a small reptile there in its stead. The reptile looked at Eva curiously and looked around, and seeing that it was all alone in the universe, so far as it knew, cried out. Verbally, at least, the cry was not all that big, but Eva could feel in her mind the torment of the baby, and she looked with great sorrow at the suffering little creature that she had unwittingly helped to midwife, before taking up the little dinosaur and holding the dinosaur close to her. She did not know how dinosaurs liked or wanted to take care of each other, but she had helped watch over other little children in the refugee camp, and she knew that a certain degree of warmth and affection was useful, and so it was here. Before too long, the dinosaur appeared to be relatively at peace, and Eva fed it with some food that the dinosaur seemed to happily eat up. And though the dinosaur certainly looked strange to Eva, it did not look at her without a certain spark of personality and friendliness that she recognized as being some sort of kindness.

There was much that Eva did not know. She knew that she did not know much, knew that there was more to life than she had experienced, and had some hope in the future being better for her. Somehow that hope had not drained from her yet. Now she was faced with having to hide the existence of a little dinosaur, one which she had the feeling would likely end up being somewhat large given the size of its egg relative to the eggs of smaller animals. And while she did not know what this dinosaur meant, she knew that it meant she had a friend of sorts in a universe that was rather thin on the ground with friends. And for the moment, it was enough to know that she had a little friend and that she had some sort of task to keep her busy during what promised to be somewhat of a long journey to a new home on a hopefully not settled planet that she and her fellow refugees would be able to settle and enjoy their freedom. It was a lot for a girl to take in.

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Book Review: Desert Shield To Desert Storm

Desert Shield to Desert Storm: The Second Gulf War, by Dilip Hiro

One of the more intriguing aspects of this book is the fact that the actual military conflict in Desert Storm takes up a surprisingly little amount of the contents of this boo. The Second Gulf War was admittedly a short war as far as wars go at between a month and a month-and-a-half or so of actual military conflict, and the author spends a great deal of time talking about the prelude to the war as well as the crisis itself, but only a little bit of time on the actual fighting in the Second Gulf War, which, as must be admitted, was a rather one-sided affair. And for all of the criticism of linking the Middle East crisis with the Kuwaiti crisis, this book does precisely that in exploring how it was that Saddam sought to divide his opponents in the coalition by playing to Arab hostility for Israel, which forced the United States to push for neutrality in the Gulf War by Israel while also seeking to provide for its safety and security by dealing with the Scuds. The result is a taut and intriguing picture of the contradictions and tensions inherent in the approach of both Saddam as well as the coalition and the importance of conspiracy and the lack of decisiveness that seems to be heavy in the warfare of the late 20th and early 21st century.

This book is about 450 pages long and is divided into three parts. The book begins with illustrations, abbreviations, maps, a preface, and an introduction. After that, the first two chapters talk about the historical background of the problems between Iraq and Kuwait (I), with a look at the question as to whether they are neighbors or part of one family (1), as well as the prelude to the crisis (2). This leads to the largest section of the book, which discusses the crisis involving the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait (II), with a lok at Saddam’s blitzkrieg and Bush’s line in the sand (3), the issue of diplomacy, build-ups, and hostages (4), Bush dealing with the American domestic front (5), the influence of a violent riot in Jerusalem (6) on the politics of the Middle East, the transition between desert shield and desert storm (7), and the countdown to war (8). The book then ends with a discussion of the military solution of the Gulf War (III), namely the air campaign (9), the ground war (10), the aftermath (11), and some conclusions by the author (12). This is followed by an epilogue, notes, four appendices that show a chronology (i), Armed forces of the various combatants (ii), and UN resolutions about Iraq (iii) and the Palestinian issue (iv), as well as a bibliography and index.

In many cases, what a writer gets out of a subject is what he puts into the subject, and this particular book is written by someone who clearly has an interest in the Cold War, which was in its waning stages in this book, as well as in the Middle East. These interests shine as the author talks about the effects of rioting and its quelling on the Temple Mount (where, it appears as usual, that the Palestinians were in the wrong for attacking peaceful Israelis and then whining when they got their deserved punishment) as well as the changing role of the Soviet Union and the nonaligned nations in seeking to carve a way in what was becoming a unipolar world. Also of interest is the author’s knowledge of late Ottoman politics and the way that the British Empire dealt with the states of the Persian Gulf area. The relationship between Iraq and Kuwait has long been a fraught one and this book does a good job in explaining why, something that will likely be of great interest for many readers, who may not know much about the historical context of the border disputes between Kuwait and Iraq.

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Book Review: Crusade: The Untold Story Of The Persian Gulf War

Crusade: The Untold Story Of The Persian Gulf War, by Rick Atkinson

One of the foremost aspects of contemporary historiography is the matter of untold stories. There seems to be an obsession among many who are historians or are interested in history that there are a lot of untold stories that need to be told. And yet in reading this ample-sized book, it is not as if the stories here have not, largely, been told. To give but a few examples of many, no one needs to be told that George H.W. Bush had the wimp strong about him, or that 93% of the bombs that were dropped on Iraq were dumb bombs and not smart bombs, or that the Iraqis did not seek to use hostages, including prisoners of war, as means of trying to secure the survival of buildings of military interest in the face of bombing. Nor is this book’s study of friendly fire anything that is particularly new or striking in light of the fact that friendly fire was responsible for a considerable portion of the deaths of the Gulf War, which were also not nearly as much as was expected. Nor even was the bristly attitude of Schwarzkopf particularly surprising. Indeed, as far as the desire of the author to distinguish himself from any number of books that were written in the early to mid 1990’s in the aftermath of the Gulf War, this book does not contain much in the way of new information that was not previously known.

This book begins in media res with a prologue and is then divided into three parts. The first part of the book covers the first week of the war, including chapters that deal with such matters as the dramatic bombing of the first night (1), the following day of conflict (2), the effect of the Scud missiles on Israel (3), the planning of the left hook against the Iraqi forces in Kuwait and southern Iraq (4), and the Delta force efforts to chase down and eliminate the Scud missile launching areas (5). After this the second part of the book discusses the middle month of the war, from the special forces units that were operating in what was labeled as Mesopotamia (6), the Iraqi assault on Khafji and its aftermath (7), the war in Riyadh (8), the thought of the desert as a sea (9), the attack on Al Firdos (10), the political misadventures among coalition military command (11), and the preparation for the ground war (12). The last part of the work then consists of the last week of the war (III), with the life of prisoners at the Biltmore (13), the start of the ground assault (14), the success of the coalition in quickly reaching the Euphrates (15), the march of the coalition forces upcountry (16), the liberation of Kuwait (17), and the closing of the gates to surround the retreating Iraqi forces (18), after which the book ends with an author’s note, acknowledgements, chronology, battle maps, notes, a bibliography, and an index.

What this book does, and does well, is tell a large amount of stories that have been gathered from a large amount of interviews. It is not so much the novelty of what has been told as much as the intimacy and the feeling that one is there listening to arguments taking place in the Allied camp or among journos upset at missing the big stories while the war is going on. What is perhaps most telling is that the interviews and thus the story are heavily slanted towards the side of the coalition forces, since there have not been the sorts of interviews with Saddam or the leaders of the Republican Guard divisions or the ordinary foot soldiers on the Iraqi side who faced the terror of being bombed to bits, buried under in their trenches if they did not surrender fast enough, and being strafed while they retreated. That would have been the sort of untold story of the Gulf War that was worth telling, the wide gulf between soldiers whose logistical systems worked and who could operate in basic safety from the threat of the opponent and the side which was so afraid of the lack of morale of its soldiers that there were rumors that soldiers were having their Achilles tendons cut to make it impossible for them to run away. That is an untold story that deserves to be told, indeed.

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Book Review: Second Front

Second Front: Censorship And Propaganda in The Gulf War, by John R. Macarthur

One of the oddest aspects of the Gulf War has been the extent to which journalists have complained about the treatment that they received from the government, and their belief that the restrictions against them were unprecedented even though they matched previous restrictions in conflicts like World War II, Korea, as well as smaller operations like Grenada and Panama. The press appears to have gotten used to the relative freedom it had in Vietnam and also wishes to deny its corrosive role in morale in that conflict, while the author simultaneously demonstrates a certain feeling of obligation in being opposed to the foreign policy behavior of Republican presidents when it came to foreign interventions. The blatant partisanship of this effort undercuts the author’s claims to demonstrate the nobility and ethics of the journalist profession by showing that journalists are by and large entitled hacks who lack a great deal of self-awareness. And when one is writing a book like this which the ire and frustration of the press, and with the author with the corporate interests of the press who were less than mighty in defense of press rights during the war, that lack of self-awareness is crippling for one’s arguments.

This book is between 200 and 250 pages long and consists of fairly long chapters that are made up mostly of whining about the Gulf War as it relates to the press. The book begins with a discussion of the deal that was cut between the media and press companies and between the United States and Saudi Arabia, for example, and the deal between Kuwait and lobbyists to defend their own interests in the American press (1). After that there is a discussion about the somewhat dishonest and shady way in which the U.S. government, Kuwaiti government-in-exile, and other organizations intentionally or unintentionally sold the image of the Iraqis as being brutal Nazi-like war criminals in occupied Kuwait, to inflame the hostility of the people even further against Iraq (2). This i followed by the design of the war and of the war effort in such a way that minimized the ability of the press to present a skewed anti-war perspective or to destroy the element of surprise by leaking American war plans (3). After this comes a chapter that discusses the author’s complaints about the way that the press has been blamed for the decline in morale in Vietnam (4), as well as the author’s rage at the effectiveness of the muzzling of the press (5). Finally, the book ends with a discussion of the cowardice of press companies in suing the government over restrictions (6) as well as notes, a brief appendix, and an index.

One of the foremost positions of the author is that the Bush administration treated the media like the enemy of the state. If there is one thing that the last few years have taught any American who has eyes to see and ears to hear, it is that the press is the enemy of the people and the enemy of any sound and right-thinking government. The author, while not wanting to admit that the press was really the enemy of the people, nonetheless is honest enough to note that the war was very popular with the people but not particularly popular with the press itself. And the author does not seem to find this to reflect badly on the press that the interests of the people and that of the press diverge to such a great degree as they did with regards to the popularity and the general justice of the cause of the United States during the Gulf War. Where this book is at its most damning is in the way that it points out how the press companies themselves failed to best reflect the interests of journalists while still failing to reflect the interests of the government as well as the people, and in showing how cowardly controlling editors were when it came to the restrictions that were placed on them.

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The Lost One: Part One

Dr. Lisbeth Zambrano awoke with a start in the night. Something was crying. Something small and scared and a long way away was sending a cry out into the ether, hoping that someone would hear it it and pay attention to it and respond to it.

Lisbeth intended to pay attention to it. She got up and went to her own private map room. Her dinosaur came along with her, having woken up with the same start in the night from the same cry. When they looked at the star charts and sought to locate where the cry was coming from, it seemed as if the location was moving. Whatever it is that gave this cry, and it was probably a baby dinosaur, it was on a ship somewhere a long, long way away.

Lisbeth rubbed her head and tried to send this little one, wherever it was, plenty of care and concern, and she knew that her dinosaur companion was sending plenty of the same care and concern with her. She hoped it would be enough, and she pondered what needed to be done. Was it something that needed to be done now or could it wait until the morning?

She thought to herself for a bit, and pondered the movement of the ship. Why would a baby korinthidon send a cry for help like that? So far as she could remember, she had never heard a cry in that fashion, and she had to admit that her network of korinthidons was probably larger than most thanks to her connections with others. She wondered where she would be able to get some help about this, and figured that she could do a lot worse than to try to patch in a connection with the pre-cognition team, since what happened seems like it would have been a crime of some kind, and the message that reached her would likely reach others as well who would connect there.

Her hunch proved to be correct, and before too long she and her dinosaur companion were in a remote chat with the pre-cognition team, who had a few other bleary-headed people there who likely had been woken up with the same call. One thing stood out when Dr. Zambrano saw them, and that was that all of the dinosaurs and people who were in the chat were female. There was not a single male to be found among those who had heard the call. Given her expertise, Dr. Zambrano very quickly took point.

“Good morning, ladies,” she said. “A few minutes ago I was woken up by a cry of deep suffering and abandonment from what I believe to be a small korinthidon who is a long way away from here on a ship of some kind. I think it may be inferred by the fact that all of us who are receiving this call are women, that the baby calling out is missing its mother.”

There was silence among the rest of the participants in the remote conversation as they all looked around at each other.

“I am not aware of abandonment being a phenomenon of korinthidon life,” Dr. Zambrano continued. “Therefore I think we can assume that this particular korinthidon was either smuggled away from its mother, or its mother is no longer living, and in either case we are dealing with some sort of crime. It is possible that both happened, but the matter needs to be investigated. From what I could gather when I looked at the starmap, it looked as if the ship was traveling in the Gorman system, and that is not a system that is mapped particularly well. She put a pin on the location in the system where the call came from, as well as the motion of the ship, which suggested that it was seeking to move towards a portal that was located not far from the planet’s sun, which suggested that the ship had probably taken off from the area of Gorman 3, but it was by no means obvious where the portal went after that, as this was a portal outside of Multipian space and in the hands of people other than those with whom the Multipians got along.

The head of the pre-cognition team looked rather seriously at what she was seeing. “This is not good,” she said aloud. “What we have here is a crime as well as an international incident. On the one hand, we have what appears to be an abandoned little korinthidon who has been born in foreign space among people with whom we have no particular diplomatic relations, and on the other we have a question as to where this korinthidon is going and whether our jurisdiction is going to be accepted.”

As she said this and as the situation became clear, there were movements of great mourning among the people and especially the korinthidons there.

Dr. Lisbeth paused for a beat and then asked, “Do you think we need to bring the palace in on this?”

There was slight hesitation, and then the head of the pre-cognition team breathed heavily and made a call to the palace to see if anyone was up. Much to her surprise, she saw an elegant woman towards the back end of middle age, with silver hair, answering the call. It took the people on the call a second to realize that they were looking at the Empress Consort of Multipia, and there was a bit of awkwardness among most of the participants until Dr. Zambrano decided it would be best for her to address the speaker.

“That is the same information I am seeing here, doctor,” the empress answered politely, and it could be seen that she too was in her own star chart room and had done the same thing that everyone else had been doing. “I too was awoken by the cry in the night, my dinosaur companion and myself, and I was able to get to my own chart room. I did not know who else the cry went to, but it appears that it went to every female who it was remotely connected to, and that is quite a bit of us, and perhaps many others who cannot connect remotely with us.”

“That seems to be a safe guess, your highness,” Lisbeth answered. “The question is more what we are going to be able to do about it.”

“What did you have in mind?” the empress asked.

“I think there are two things that could be done, and perhaps both of them need to be done,” Dr. Zambrano responded. “First, a combined police and diplomatic effort needs to be made at locating where it is that the ship left, which appears to be Gorman 3. The second thing that would need to be done is for a second police and diplomatic effort to be made at intercepting the ship, given that it appears to be going towards a portal whose destination we do not know, which means that we do not know where this particular ship is going, although we should be able to keep track of the korinthidon at least, since we are all connected to it at present.”

“I think that is a reasonable thing to do. I think we can send out two teams on two ships, one of them with a straightforward mission to Gorman 3, with whatever military support it needs, and the other being more of a scouting mission sent to locate the ship’s destination and, once its course can be gathered, intercept it to determine that the korinthidon is safe and sound,” the empress replied.

At this point the head of the pre-cognition team spoke up. “I think given this information that our department can come up with a plan. Perhaps we should break for now until the morning, and we can work out a plan and who can staff each option then.”

There was agreement that this was a good plan and with that everyone adjourned from their remote meeting and tried to snatch a few more hours of sleep until the morning. The little lost one, however far away it was, seemed to know that there was help on the way, and this made its cries less urgent, as it could feel the love and concern and the desire to reach out to it from far away, and it understood that it would not forever be alone. It too sought to get some sleep, at least as far as could be told from so far away.

When morning came, Dr. Zambrano received a call from the head of the pre-cognition team, asking if she and Hephizbah would be able to work things out as being the people in charge of the intercept group. It was thought that people who were known for being gentle and mothering would be the best to deal with the task of making contact with the lost dinosaur directly, while another team heavier in investigators and muscle would go to Gorman 3 and deal with the scene there, to figure out how it was that a korinthidon ended up in such a hostile place in the first place. This was easy enough to agree too, and Lisbeth made it a point talk with Hephizbah, who had stayed in touch with the precognition team even though she had returned to her home community, serving the local Amish as a korinthidon whisperer, even though it was hard to stay in touch without the technology that the others took for granted. It did not take long, though, for the two to meet face to face and share their thoughts on old times.

“Somehow we seem to have a knack for lost or missing dinosaurs,” Hephizbah and her companion laughed when they met together.

“Yes, that does appear to be the case,” Lisbeth replied.

“Do you think our background has anything to do with it, with being chosen?” Hephizbah said politely.

Lisbeth pondered about that for a minute.

“It is easy to see how my own background, and that of my companion, would relate to the loss and abandonment that the dinosaur may be feeling,” Lisbeth agreed.

“Right, so at least that part makes sense,” Hephizbath said. “What would relate to my own experience?”

“I’m not sure, Lisbeth said. She wondered where she had heard about Gorman 3, and she looked up the planet on her personal communications device, where admittedly not much information could be found about it, just rather generic information about its suitability for life, as well as the fact that the planet was a known smuggler’s den.

“It’s hard to find out much about places that are known for smuggling,” Lisbeth said after looking for a while.

“What kind of smuggling do they do?” Hephizbah asked.

“Well, it says here that the planet is known as a base for the smuggling of supplies to other bases where people came from Old Earth who were not religious refugees like we were,” Lisbeth said.

“Do you think that a korinthidon would be on a ship that was smuggling random and ordinary goods across the galaxy?” Hephizbah asked.

“Not as likely as if they were smuggling people,” Lisbeth said.

The two of them looked at each other, and their dinosaur companions looked at each other, and it was thought by all, though not said, that it was not likely by chance that these two people were going to be looking for a lost dinosaur. For whatever reason, the smuggling angle seemed to be an obvious hook for the two of them to work together again. It did not take long for them to fill out their paperwork and forms and make their way to the Imperial Spacesport to board a light scout ship that was going to help them track and follow the trail of the dinosaur. As might be expected, Lisbeth had a discussion with the scout ship’s captain, as this would be a ship with fairly minimal crew, all the better for speed.

“Have you ever been off-planet?” the captain asked when the two women and their dinosaurs boarded the shuttle that would take them to the orbital base where the scout ship was docked.

“We have not,” Lisbeth replied. “Obviously, our grandparent’s generation or so settled here, or maybe great-grandparent’s at this point, but no, we have not been off-planet.”

“I wanted to talk to you before we got on the ship so that we had an idea of how you wanted to intercept the dinosaur,” the captain said.

“Alright, I’m not sure how much help I can be, but I’ll be glad to help you out as much as I can,” Lisbeth responded.

“How accurate of a track can you get of the korinthidon on the starchart that will be on our vessel?” the captain asked.

“It’s pretty accurate, although obviously it is less so if it’s a moving target. Still, it’s a narrow enough range that once you get to where the signal seems to be coming from you would be able to communicate directly with the korinthidon and probably get visual of the ship without any trouble, unless it was hiding, and even there you should know pretty precisely where they were hiding.

“When we get to the ship, I want to see where the korinthidon is located on the start chart, and we will decide there how to tail it. As far as I can see, we will have to do one of two things. We can either try to race after the korinthidon and travel to Gorman and then through the portal that they were heading towards, or we can see where the portal ends up and then seek to find a way towards where they might be going.”

“Alright, that sounds good to me,” Lisbeth said. “By this point they should be close to arriving at the portal, so it would probably be too late to try to chase them directly. When we get to the ship we’ll look at where the korinthidon is and then try to figure out how to get to where the ship is going, and hopefully find some answers as to how the korinthidon got to be on that ship in the first place and what sort of business it had.”

“That sounds good to me,” Lisbeth said, and that was that, as they moved up through the atmosphere and towards points unknown.

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Book Review: Greek Warriors

Greek Warriors: Hoplites and Heroes, by Carolyn Willekes

This book was not what I expected at all. The book’s title promises a strong interest in hoplite warfare, but the end result of the book is more a narrative history of three eras of Greek history that talks a bit about hoplites but not nearly to the extent one would want. And the book is so short that its discussion of military warfare is far more superficial than one would hope for. Still, the reason why this book is superficial is because it is short, and it is not such a bad thing for a book not to overstay its welcome even if one would want more than one gets from this author. There are at least two ways that the book could have given the reader a lot more. One of those would have been to focus a lot more attention on the arms and armor that were involved in hoplite warfare along with a discussion of the changes in the equipment of Greek fighting over the course of centuries and even some discussion of the tactics of Greek warfare and how this changed with more detail and more visuals than is the case here. The other way would have been to provide more textual detail about the history of Greek hoplite warfare. Either of those choices would have made the book longer, but also more complete.

This book is a bit more than 150 fairly small pages long, and it is divided into three chapters. The book begins with an introduction and a timeline that sets the scope of the work in its discussion of Greek history. After that the book’s three chapters each cover three ages within the classical Greek period, not surprisingly in which there was a notable amount of warfare. The first chapter covers the Persian Wars, and discusses the warfare that occurred, mostly in the Persian invasions of Greece during the reigns of Darius and Xerxes. After that, the second chapter is focused on the conflict between Athens and Sparta, giving a fair summary of the long war between the two, even if it skips over quite a lot because it is of course a short account. The third chapter then looks at the rise of Macedonia and the conquest of Persia by Alexander the Great, after which the book ends with sources, acknowledgements, and an index.

Still, if you are looking for a basic work that give you a basic look at how it is that hoplite warriors fought, and some nature of the high amount of warfare that went on in the period between the Persian Wars and the conquest of Persia by Alexander. Considering that this book is as small as it is, this is not going to be the book that the reader will expect or demand much from. Modest expectations are definitely what would be appropriate here, though. At its best, this is the sort of book that you read and that encourages you to read more serious references that are more complete if you find material in Greek history that you happen to find of interest. It would appear that this book was written for that very purpose, and it’s hard to fault a book for meeting its goal of being an introductory book to a subject of interest about which much is written. Perhaps the book lacks the sort of ambition that an reader would prefer, but it aims at a modest target and it succeeds at it.

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