Be Careful What You Preach For

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She doesn’t make speeches anymore. She has become speechless. She stays in her home, but it doesn’t seem to agree with her. How furious she must be, now that she’s been taken at her word.

She’s looking at the tulips. Her cane is beside her, on the grass. Her profile is towards me, I can see that in the quick sideways look I take at her as I go past. It wouldn’t do to stare. It’s no longer a flawless cut-paper profile, her face is sinking in upon itself, and I think of those towns built on underground rivers, where houses and whole streets disappear overnight, into sudden quagmires, or coal towns collapsing into the mines beneath them. Something like this must have happened to her, once she saw the true shape of things to come.

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

Surprised When War Comes Home

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They all cried. People can certainly carry on, he thought, holding her fat hand because she had asked him to, and feeling sure she was going to drop dead any minute. These were the people who let a war start, then they act surprised when their own son is killed. Mavole was a good enough kid. He certainly was a funny kid and with a sensational disposition but, what the hell, twenty thousand were dead out there so far on the American panel, plus the U.N. guys, and maybe sixty, eighty thousand more all shot up, and this fat broad seemed to think that Mavole was the only one who got it.

-The Manchurian Candidate by Richard Condon

Stories are Survival

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They showed me a picture of her, standing outside on a lawn, her face a closed oval. Her light hair was pulled back tight behind her head. Holding her hand was a woman I didn’t know. She was only as tall as the woman’s elbow.

You’ve killed her, I said. She looked like an angel, solemn, compact, made of air. She was wearing a dress I’d never seen, white and down to the ground.   I would like to believe this is a story I’m telling. I need to believe it. I must believe it. Those who can believe that such stories are only stories have a better chance. If it’s a story I’m telling, then I have control over the ending. Then there will be an ending, to the story, and real life will come after it. I can pick up where I left off. It isn’t a story I’m telling.

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

Might Makes Right

He had a point. The Galactic Order wasn’t necessarily fair; it was about establishing rules that benefited the major members of the order. That’s why they didn’t interfere with the slavery on Charoth, and it was probably why they have allowed Despona to be exploited by the Jarks and others. Tamara herself could empathize. After all, she was employed by the mercenary Red before being captured and enslaved. “I supposed might makes right,” she agreed, pausing to think. “But is war the only option?”

He grunted again. “It doesn’t have to be war, but without a strong military and without a powerful financial industry, you are left looking up to the rich rather than staring them in the eyes.”

Doom Sayer by Thane Keller

Girls Know

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They were not pre-chosen to be married to the very best men—to the Sons of Jacob and the other Commanders or their sons—not like us; although they might get to be chosen once they were older if they were pretty enough. Nobody said that. You were not supposed to preen yourself on your good looks, it was not modest, or take any notice of the good looks of other people. Though we girls knew the truth: that it was better to be pretty than ugly. Even the Aunts paid more attention to the pretty ones. But if you were already pre-chosen, pretty didn’t matter so much.

The Testaments by Margaret Atwood

Manipulating Fanaticism

“Is everything ready for us inside the city?” Tamara asked, fighting to keep up.

“A team is already there and has secured the home of a zealot named Jaki’el.” He responded, exhaustion far from his voice. “He belongs to a sect of the people who believe a man from beyond the grave is coming to usher in a new era of Jark prosperity.” Canis cut a look at Tamara and scowled. “They are lunatics,” he growled. “But they will serve our purpose and provide the backbone for your proclamations.”

“What do you believe?” Tamara asked, catching a face full of dust and smoke.

He grunted. “I believe in a good death and that neither I nor Brokk has had that opportunity yet.”

Doom Sayer by Thane Keller

Wealth Depends on Slaves

I thought for a long time before speaking again. “So these children are slaves,” I said. “They aren’t paid, and they have no other choice.”

“Well, you don’t have to put it like that,” Can said, with a clear scoff in her voice. “Nobody hurts them. Nobody fucks them. They’re safe and they’re taken care of. What more is there to childhood, anyway?”

I couldn’t answer her then, and I cannot now. In my travels, I have learned the same lesson again and again; every city as rich as Shy has that same flaw at its heart.

The life I live now is beautiful, but no one on Bambritch is entitled to the labor or the body of another. That is our one unshakable rule.

The Book of Flora (The Road to Nowhere 3) by Meg Elison

Forced Hypnosis

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“I am sure that all of you have heard that old wives’ tale,” Yen stated, “which is concerned with the belief that no hypnotized subject may be forced to do that which is repellent to his moral nature, whatever that is, or to his own best interests. That is nonsense, of course.

You note-takers might set down a reminder to consult Brenmen’s paper, ‘Experiments in the Hypnotic Production of Antisocial and Self-injurious injurious Behavior,’ or Wells’ 1941 paper which was titled, I believe, ‘Experiments in the Hypnotic Production of Crime,’ or Andrew Salter’s remarkable book, Conditioned Reflex Therapy, to name only three.

Or, if it offends you to think that only the West is studying how to manufacture more crime and better criminals against modern shortages, I suggest Krasnogorski’s Primary Violence Motivation or Serov’s The Unilateral Suggestion to Self-Destruction. For any of you who are interested in massive negative conditioning there is Frederic Wertham’s The Seduction of the Innocent, which demonstrates how thousands have been brought to antisocial actions through children’s cartoon books.

However, enough of that. You won’t read them anyway. The point I am making is that those who speak of the need for hypnotic suggestion to fit a subject’s moral code should revise their concepts. The conception of people acting against their own best interests should not startle us. We see it occasionally in sleepwalking and in politics, every day.”

-The Manchurian Candidate by Richard Condon