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

Allergic to Tears

I know I sound bitter , but I always sound bitter when I tell people about my asthma . I came down with a severe atypical pneumonia years ago . My friends wanted me to go to the hospital , but I refused . Instead , when my trachea’s diameter felt like it decreased by half , I drank tons of coffee , since caffeine is a natural bronchodilator . The infection gradually resolved , but in the aftermath I developed asthma . Now , every time I run or get upset , it feels like my lungs are collapsing . Sometimes I can barely breathe . A shrink told me it was all anxiety – related , but my internal medicine doctor diagnosed me with asthma and prescribed me both a rescue inhaler and steroid inhaler . My running’s never been the same , but even worse than that is crying , which quickly triggers my asthma . Getting upset somehow makes my bronchioles fill up with inflammatory crud and collapse . It doesn’t happen every time I cry , but when it does , it’s awful . So awful , I try not to cry over anything . Before this hit me , I didn’t even know it was possible to be allergic to tears .

Manic Kingdom: A True Story of Breakdown and Breakthrough by Dr. Erin Stair

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

Paranoia vs Apathy

Suddenly , the pilot announces that we’ll be landing soon . Upon hearing the news , the fat man , the Asian woman , and I simultaneously squirm like mealworms and stretch in our seats . The fat man obnoxiously sneezes , landing a few sticky drops on the side of my neck . I cringe but don’t wipe them off right away . I’m distracted by the Asian woman who starts frantically digging in her oversized black purse , pulling out a handful of tissues and holding them up to cover her mouth and nostrils , as if allowing in another molecule of air will kill her instantly . Her eyes are wild and frightened . They bulge even further when the obese man sneezes again . I can’t help but snicker . If paranoia isn’t the opposite of apathy , I don’t know what is .

Manic Kingdom: A True Story of Breakdown and Breakthrough by Dr. Erin Stair

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

Black Market Hope

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I stood in front of her, hands folded. So, she said. She had a cigarette, and she put it between her lips and gripped it there while she lit it. Her lips were thin, held that way, with the small vertical lines around them you used to see in advertisements for lip cosmetics. The lighter was ivory-colored. The cigarettes must have come from the black market, I thought, and this gave me hope. Even now that there is no real money anymore, there’s still a black market. There’s always a black market, there’s always something that can be exchanged.

She then was a woman who might bend the rules. But what did I have, to trade?

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

What makes a warrior

“It sounds to me,” his father finally said, “that you returned with all the honor they would allow. You killed your enemy in battle and you fought your hardest for the fleet. That makes us all proud.” The elders nodded at that. Some of them ground their teeth to show appreciation for what the archon was saying. Boro felt relieved. “You know,” he continued, “we have all fought in battles that we lost. What makes a warrior and eventually a great leader is how we learn from losing.”

Doom Sayer by Thane Keller