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Piers Anthony, Jan. 1, 2011 Piers Anthony, Jan. 1, 2011. Photo by Jane McConnell.
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My children's short novel novel Pandora Park will be featured in Early Bird Books on 9/5/2018, downpriced to $1.99 on that day. That's the one where a boy discovers a trail in a mall park that leads to a magic land and meets a girl from China who followed a similar trail. It turns out she has a bit of magic; when he annoys her she slaps him, and his clothing falls off. Later she gets chased by a scaly monster; she turns and slaps it on the snout, and its scales fall off. You never can tell what you'll find in a mall park.

On 9/17/2018, three Xanth novels 38-40 will be downpriced to $3.99. If you missed this bargain the last time it ran, now's your chance to catch it. That's Board Stiff, Five Portraits, and Isis Orb, all good punny fantasies introducing characters who will become important subsequently, such as the five children from the future, one of whom will be the main character in her own novel when it gets published. There has been a clog in the pipe, but eventually you'll see the more recent novels. Meanwhile Board is about the young woman who asks a wishing well for adventure and romance but get changed into a board, and Portraits presents the special children, and Isis is the one worked out by a ten year old girl in Mundania.

I watched The Book of Life, a musical animated feature. The figures are impossibly exaggerated, but it is charming. The children waiting to enter the museum are a wild bunch, completely undisciplined. But a young woman handles them, taking them to the Land of the Forgotten. The inset story features a Mexican setting, with a wager between an evil god and a good goddess: which of two boys will eventually win the hand of Maria, the girl they both like? The people are self animated wooden and cloth puppets. Joaquin (pronounced wa-KEEN) gets a brooch that makes him bold and fearless. Manolo (man-O-lo) fights a bull in matador fashion, but he would rather play his guitar and sing. Maria must go to school far away, in Europe, causing a years long separation from the boys. When they grow up Manolo fights the bull brilliantly, but refuses to kill it. Maria applauds, but no one else does. Joaquin has won many medals, especially the Medal of Everlasting Life that makes him invulnerable, but has an attitude toward women that turns Maria off. When bandits attack the town, Joaquin readily dispatches them. The townspeople want her to marry Joaquin, so he will protect the town. Then a snake bites Maria and she sinks into near-death, but later Joaquin rouses her. Manolo goes into the land of death, not knowing she is alive after all. He struggles through, determined to save her. He has to fight a huge fiery bull, but rather than stab it with the sword he sings beautifully to it, pacifying it. Thus he wins back his life; the realm of Death releases him, and he is alive again. He and Joaquin work together to defeat the last of the evil, and Joaquin, having finally learned how to give, is now satisfied to let Manolo marry Maria. And I love Maria's impossibly voluminous hair.

I watched The Incredible Shrinking Woman, a comedy about Pat Kramer, a typical mother with three rambunctious children whose day is one harried hassle. Her husband works in an add agency promoting new products, some of which foul up in their home. In the midst of this she discovers that she is growing smaller. She was 5:7 tall; now she's 5:5, and shrinking. Which of the myriad products she uses is causing it? She becomes a reluctant public center of attention as she gets smaller than her children. She moves into the dollhouse. Her husband's agency wants to exploit t her for ads; she can be a living doll. Caged, she finds an ally in the friendly gorilla Sidney, evidently another experiment who knows sign language. The police come, like the Keystone Kops, and it devolves into mayhem. Pat finally shrinks into microscopic invisibility. She falls into a puddle of goo and gets restored to full size. But now she is growing... A fun farce.

I watched The Brass Bottle, which was the inspiration for the TV series I Dream of Jeannie. Harold buys an antique Arabian bottle at an auction, and discovers that it contains the three thousand year old genie Fakrash, who grants Harold his every wish. For example the genie arranges for the couple who were staying with Harold to win a lot of money so they can go live in Paris, amicably getting rid of them. But the shenanigans also get rid of his fiance Sylvia and her family. So Fakrash summons Tezra, daughter of a king of the Blue Jinn, to be his wife. When Fakrash tries to reason with Sylvia's father, he gets kicked out, so he changes the man into a mule. Harold catches on and tries to take the mule home so Fakrash can change him back, but the car has a will of its own. Fakrash agrees only on condition that they go into business together. Thus Fakrash & Ventimore Industries. But the authorities crack down and Harold is soon in a straight jacket. He finally agrees to let Fakrash prove he is a genie. Then it get wild indeed. He flies, then changes three senators to miniature size. They begin to believe. Finally Fakrash sets things back where they started and erases the memories. But at the end Fakrash and Tezra show up as business partners. A fun movie.

I watched The Green Inferno, a horror film about an effort to save the Amazon rain forest and its native tribes. Student activists plan to fly to Peru with cameras to make publicity for the cause. Justine joins them. They take a boat on the river, and change to jungle gear with yellow and green outfits and blue helmets. They don face masks and chain themselves in place. They are threatened with guns to the head, arrested and released, having made global headlines. They take their plan back—and it crashes in the jungle. They survive the crash, but then the natives ambush them, stun them with poisoned darts, and take them prisoner. They cage most of them, and sacrifice the leader and eat his flesh, chopping him into pieces, drinking his blood, beheading him. They carve the rest of him up and cook him. It's a feast. Then they take the girls and apparently take vaginal cuttings for their blood. Justine is marked for something. Samantha escapes. Another girl slices her own neck and commits suicide. Justine and Daniel escape while another man is being eaten. They make their way back to the crashed plane, where others have been crucified—and get recaptured. Daniel is tortured and given to biting ants. Justine is stripped and painted white. But a little boy she has befriended helps her to escape again. She finds a government patrol, and they take her out by helicopter. Then she lies to protect those same natives, saying they helped her survive. Or was it all just a horrible dream? The issue is left in doubt.

I read Subtle Motion Journal and Journey of a Cranial Osteopath by Jacob William Watters, D.O. The D.O. stands for Doctor of Osteopathy. Osteopathy is a therapeutic therapy originally based on the premise that manipulation of the muscles and bones to promote structural integrity could promote or preserve health. I am skeptical about that, but my wife's doctor is an Osteopath and he got her to quit smoking after 50 years, which I think is a significant reason why she is still alive today, so my skepticism is tempered. Actually Osteopathy now uses many of the techniques of conventional doctors so it can be hard to tell the difference. But I have to say that even if the basic theses were to be entirely wrong, that doesn't mean that there is no value in it. I am a total skeptic about astrology, but I studied it when I wrote Macroscope and gained respect. Its thesis is that just as the motions of the stars and planets in their apparent courses can be observed and predicted, and human events have their own unpredictable courses, if you can draw a parallel between them, you can use the stars to track human events. I liken it to trisecting a line: you construct a trisected line, then draw parallels between it and the line in question, thus trisecting it indirectly. Your invented line enables you to handle the existing one. Draw similar parallels from the stars to human events and you've got it. Where I differ from astrology is that I don't believe they have found the correct parallels. But I personally knew Marc Edmund Jones, a leading astrologer, when I was young; he gave me a compass, which in retrospect seems fitting because a compass enables folks to use parallels to the direction of the North Magnetic Pole to find their way locally. He also told me a naughty poem: “Mary had a pair of skates/ With which she loved to frisk;/ Now wasn't she a foolish girl/ Her little*” Don't get it? Sound out the word Asterisk: Her little ass ter risk. I told you it was naughty. Anyway, Marc Jones was no charlatan, and I'm sure he helped many people. I'm sure witch doctors help many people too, because of the personal attention they give, even though I am skeptical about their magic too. I like to link Astrology to Psychiatry: they may do a similar amount of good, for similar reason, though neither really understands human nature. So setting aside my skepticism about the original science, I have to say that today Osteopathy is just about as good as conventional medicine and may be better in some respects, because conventional medicine has its errors too. For example, I have a thumbnail judgment of a doctor, any doctor, that if he doesn't believe in Vitamin C, he is dealing at least in part in ignorance. Or a dentist: if he does believe in fluoridation, ditto. I can discourse for some time on those subjects; don't get me started. Well, Dr. Watters has an appendix covering nutrition and other health considerations, and he endorses Vitamin C and rejects fluoridation. He passes my spot test! Incidental note: this book was published by Xlibris, a self publisher I helped to survive in its early days twenty years ago because I wanted feasible self publishing to exist. I was at one time its major investor. It is in other hands now, and I can't say I approve all of what it has become, but I'm glad to see that it is still accomplishing the purpose. It led the way to the fulfillment of the dreams of myriad writers. Then Amazon came on the scene, further transforming the picture. It's a new world.

But let's clarify. Osteopathy concerns manipulation of the muscles and bones. The cranium is the bone of the head: the skull. How can manipulating the head ameliorate, for example, an upset stomach? Well, it's technical, but I will try to simplify it. A piezoelectric substance can transform vibrational energy to electromagnetic energy, and vice versa. In effect, squeeze it and it makes electricity; electrify it and it vibrates. The biological fascia are sheaves of connective tissue binding together bones, muscles and organs of the body, and they are piezoelectric. So stroke the bones of the head in the right way and they generate trace currents that affect other cells of the body. Thus a physical touch becomes a kind of electric chemistry. Thus subtle motion is a parallel line from touch to health. “Physics is the science of understanding the universe from without. Osteopathy is the science of understanding the universe from within.” It may be related to what in judo I learned as Ki or Qi, that special force that enhances proficiency. I am a skeptic there too, but many serious judokas believe in it.

This book is as it says also a journal, chronicling daily activities from June 2013 to June 2017. It is also a collection of thoughts along the way. So technical material alternates with philosophic and scientific material. It's an unusual combination. Dr. Watters has treated many patients with quite varied ailments, and has thought about the nature of the universe. One patient suffered severe low back pain. The treatment alleviated it. One had trouble breathing; treatment helped. One had cerebral palsy; treatment helped. Then thoughts: “Before the Big Bang there was Stillness. It is from this Stillness that all energy and life sprang. The Stillness cannot be measured and it is known only from what was the moment before and now is manifest.” There are thoughts on black holes and the way stardust becomes iron. On the way he sees colors of energy: blue, gold, green, white, red. “Science is the knowing of something. Art is the implementation of something.” “We are Mind, Body, and Spirit. Each is a window into the other two.” At one point he draws a naughty parallel: “If someone farts in a crowded mall, nobody cares. But one fart in a small car and suddenly everyone's upset.” Thus with mistakes and understanding. Also “Mind is the element of your self that is conscious...responsible for thought, thinking, knowing, learning. Spirit is the part of oneself that possesses the intangible qualities of love, desire, passion, emotion, connectedness.” We also learn along the way that the author suffered a serious accident in childhood that left him in chronic pain, so that at times he needs to treat himself. So he knows it works.

There is a lot more in this 500 page book, but I trust this gives the general nature of it. It is not light reading, but it has much to recommend it, even from this skeptic's perspective.

I watched The Space Between Us. Sixteen year old Gardner Elliot was raised on Mars. First a flashback to the sending of the mission: five men and one woman, Sarah Elliot. Who turns out, too late, to be pregnant. This could ruin the mission. The East Texas company authorities decide to keep it quiet and see how it plays out. So the baby is born on Mars. But she suffers postpartum pre-eclampsia and it kills her. Now what to do? They decide to keep it quiet, to save the company. Sixteen years later, young Gardner is restless. He communicates with a girl on Earth his age, Tulsa, not telling her where he really is. On Mars a woman, astronaut Kendra Wyndham, generally takes care of him. They bring him to Earth, keeping him in quarantine. He fears they will send him back to Mars, so he escapes and goes to join Tulsa, named for where she was adopted. At first she doesn't believe he's really from Mars. She turns out to be quite a girl, flying with him on an airplane she pilots, then stealing a car. They are on a search for his unknown father. But Gardner's heart is grossly enlarged; he can't survive long on Earth. They do finally locate his father, and struggle to save Gardner. The take him in an airplane and go into free fall, easing his condition. He returns to Mars. And Tulsa goes into training with Kendra to go to Mars herself. This is a marvelous romance.

I watched Hacksaw Ridge, based on a true story. Desmond Doss is a conscientious objector who doesn't carry a gun despite being in the front lines of the war in the Pacific. We see him first in childhood, then meeting the girl of his dreams, then in basic training where the sergeant mercilessly harasses the recruits. No one in the army understands his pacifism. The officers harass him, putting him on KP and guard duty. The men beat him up. They deny him leave so he can't meet his girl and get married. They court martial him. But his father gets a letter from a brigadier general he served with in WWI reminding them that his constitutional rights can't be waived on a technicality. That was evidently news to them; the military is not much into the Constitution. So the court martial is dropped; he has won his case. Which case should never have been brought against him, of course; I know from my own experience that the US Army is no bastion of human rights. So in due course he makes it to the ugly front, Hacksaw Ridge. Very few medics remain; the enemy targets them. The action is brutal, with rifles, bayonets, machine guns, grenades, mortars, flame throwers, bombs, and artillery strikes. Rats feast on the bodies. Desmond ropes wounded men and eases them down a cliff to safety, one by one. He saved 75 men that way, and won the Congressional Medal of Honor, the first conscientious objector ever to do so. A number of those who had ridiculed him were sav>ed by him at the end. This is one hard-hitting movie, physically and morally.

I watched Victoria and Abdul, a semi-historical story. Abdul, a clerk in India, is selected to present a Mohur, a special coin, to Queen Victoria because he is the tallest man available. Much pomp and circumstance. They rehearse the presentation, everything has to be done just so. Then the little old Queen appears. When the Queen finishes a dish, it is removed for everyone, regardless how much they have eaten. Then she falls asleep at the table. She is plainly bored with all this ceremony. Then Abdul has to present dessert, which is quivering jelly. He does, and also kisses the Queen's foot. The servitors are outraged, but the Queen is intrigued. She makes him her personal servant for the duration, and then her companion. He tells of of the art of carpets, where the threads are like lives, and the Taj Mahal. And of the taste of the mango. So she has a mango sent from India so she can taste it. He teaches her to speak and write Urdu. She likes his company and takes him traveling with her. She confesses to being horribly lonely. Then she learns he is married—so she insists that his wife join them in England. His wife arrives with her mother, completely shrouded. Then Victoria learns that the Muslims had killed many British soldiers and were conquered enemies, not friends. But she forgives Abdul, and sees to his pregnant wife. She sees him as a son, maybe better than her own son. Victoria's household threatens to resign. “Treason!” she exclaims, and calls their bluff. They back down. But Victoria is ill, and knows she will not live much longer. Indeed, she dies. Her jealous son becomes king, and immediately burns Abdul's papers and packs him and his wife back to India. Fortunately his private journals escaped destruction, so his story is now known.

I watched The Terminal. I thought I saw it years ago, but didn't remember details. But I don't remember this movie at all, so it must have been another terminal encampment I saw. Viktor Navorski, a Bulgarian, arrives in New York, speaking little English, but his government has suffered a coup and no longer exists, so his status is in limbo. He has no country. He is restricted to the JFK airport terminal until they sort this out. Naturally he has problems, as he really can't communicate with others here. He loses his meal tickets and has to learn to scrounge. Airport cameras are watching him throughout, hoping he will depart illegally so he can arrested and deported or imprisoned, but he has been told to wait here, so he waits. They try to encourage him to leave. He meets Amelia Warren, who has just been jilted. She is intrigued that he doesn't try to grope her the way other men do. He gets to know the local workers, and gets a job with them. Then a Russian speaking man gets in trouble and they need a translator, and Viktor serves, and manages to find a way to solve the problem. The airport employees learn what he has done, and now all of them like him well. They help him learn more about Amelia. They help him intercept her, and they set up a nice romantic meal for them. And it due course he wins her love. She helps him get a one day visa so he can enter the city and get the last signature for his father's collection, which is why he came here. But the airport director insists that he immediately go back to his native country, and will take it out on the employees if he doesn't. So he agrees to go home. Then the employees learn why, and rally around him, and delay his flight for a day, so that he can get that signature after all. He gets it. Now he will go home.

I read Mr. Barsin's Toy Emporium, by Lois Wickstrom. I have known Lois from way back; she's the other Dvorak keyboard typist in the Fantasy genre. Seven year old Jake sees a mermaid in St. Augustine Bay; she wears an orange seashell top and a pearl necklace, and she waves to him as if she knows him. Naturally his parents don't see her; few parents perceive the realities of children. They take him to the Toy Emporium for his birthday, where he searches for and finally finds the mermaid he saw. She is Arrabella. She can talk, and swim in air, and she's for him if he commits to her. She is an imaginary playmate, and she costs nothing. But the proprietor, Mr. Barsim, makes clear that there is a cost. The nature of that cost slowly clarifies as the novel progresses. Imaginary playmates interest me; I understand that many children have them, but I didn't, though I could have used one. But I wrote about one in my novella Self Image, not yet published. Anyway, it is similar for three other children looking for their own imaginary playmates: Audrey, a girl who wants to slay a dragon, but winds up taking it home. Nick, who gets Yuri, a gnome. Wheelchair-bound Lily, who wants a sylph or two. Things gradually complicate as they discover that Mr. Barsim is not entirely benign. In fact he may be a dragon himself, or at least have a close affinity to one. If the children really want togetherness with their imaginary friends, they may have to become imaginary themselves. That way they can be forever happy children, with magic, but without their original human families. Mr. Barsim may be collecting real children in this devious manner. It becomes a contest of wills as the children struggle to have their imaginary friends without sacrificing their places in their own families. This is a children's novel with some serious considerations.

I watched Let the Right One In. This is a Swedish movie in English. Twelve year old Oskar is lonely and picked on by other kids, and dreams of a friend. Then Eli moves in next door, saying she is about the same age, but she says she can't be his friend. Meanwhile in the snowy woods a man knocks out another man, strings him up by the feet, and starts bleeding him into a jug. It's a weird neighborhood murder. Oskar lends Eli a Rubik Cube. Then someone who looks like her attacks and kills a man, vampire style. Someone else dumps the body into a river. Eli returns the cube solved, and shows him her proficiency with it. Bullies waylay Oskar on his way home from school. Eli says he has to fight back; then they'll stop. That she can help him. He gives her a candy, but it makes her sick. She asks if he likes her, and he says yes. Her father, or at least the man with her, caught extracting blood, pours acid on his own face, wounding it horribly, then commits suicide. Oskar asks Eli to go steady. Later when the bully comes after Oskar again, he hits him with a stick, defeating him. He is fighting back now. He wants to mix blood with Eli, but she tells him to get away from her. She's a vampire and doesn't want to kill him; his blood could make her do it. Meanwhile a woman who was attacked may be turning vampire herself. Then her cats viciously attack her. Eli tells Oskar she is a vampire. That yes she is twelve, and has been for a long time. The bitten woman has her husband open the blinds, and the bright light makes her burst into fire. Eli comes to visit him, without his parents' knowledge. Now Oskar helps her get live folk to feed on. A bully tries to drown Oskar, but Eli tears the bully apart, literally; pieces of him drop bloodily into the pool. They are a team, traveling elsewhere. The blurb says “A vampire movie like no other!” That may be true.

I watched Secrets of the Mountain. It starts with a man teaching a little girl how to imagine things like pirates burying treasure, making them come alive to her eyes. Then to the present day, when Dana's a lawyer tied up in a case when her ex is getting married, so they think she's late on purpose. There are stresses on her family. There's a memory of seeing a man run a car off the road so the driver dies. That was her Uncle Henry, and she thus inherited his mountain property. Then she gets an offer to buy it, so she and her three children Jake, Jade, and Maddie, go to check out that property. There's a house on it. And in it is Uncle Henry, who isn't dead after all. He says he was thrown from the car, and chose to disappear for a while. It was Nigel who forced him off. He says there are secrets inside the mountain, if they can just find the way in. Son and Daughter find words on a stone. Nigel shows up; he is the one buying the property. He threatens them. Jake and Jade find a map, and then the entrance cave. Dana and Maddie catch up—and they all get dumped into an underground river. Then they blunder into a chamber with ancient skeletons. The mountain is honeycombed with passages and gulfs and slowly moving stone doors. They manage to escape harrowing threats and survive. Now they will keep the mountain in the family estate

I continue to work on our Hilltop Farm project, having now completed the year 1942. It is depressing as the wonderful dreams descend and crash like a disabled airplane. But one incidental detail caught my attention. It was about me when I was eight years old. Well, let me quote that paragraph from my weekly letter to Jenny, my paralyzed correspondent. Jenny was twelve when it started, but is in her forties now, and still paralyzed. “I have been working on the Hilltop history project, much of it transcribing letters from the 1940's, and suddenly I encountered a discussion of my testicles, which it seems had not yet descended into my scrotum. This was news being circulated to other family members? It reminds me of the song: “The night of the marriage she lay on the bed/ Her breasts they were heaving, her legs they were spread./ She reached for his penis and found it was small;/ She felt for his balls, there were no balls at all!” Yes, my balls descended in due course, thank you so much for asking. You had wondered?”

Last column I discussed my Agnosticism at some length. I have a thoughtful response from Dr. Ben A. Potter, an Anthropology professor at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. He points out that agnosticism and atheism relate to different things. Gnosticism and agnosticism relate to what a person knows or claims to know, while atheism and theism relate to what a person believes. Thus I am an agnostic atheist, not being able to prove or disprove God or gods, but not believing that any exist. The agnostic atheist says “I don't believe there is a God,” while the gnostic atheist says “I believe there is no God.” It may seem like a fine distinction, but it works for me. To put it more crudely, it is the distinction between saying “You are a shit,” and “I suspect you stink.” The one may be actionable; the other is not. Ben Potter concludes with a quote by Arthur C. Clarke: “One of the great tragedies of mankind is that morality has been hijacked by religion. So now people assume that religion and morality have a necessary connection. But the basis of morality is really very simple and doesn't require religion at all.” Indeed, I think that the ongoing revelations of child molestation by Catholic priests amply makes that point. They could greatly ameliorate that situation by allowing priests to have girlfriends or boyfriends, and to marry. Trying to suppress the sexual impulse is a loser's game. Which reminds me of my bemusement when I learned that there is a painting of Mary nursing Jesus that is covered over in the Vatican because it shows a breast. It would be okay if she bottle fed Jesus?

I don't mention the Science Fiction and Fantasy news magazine LOCUS much because, though I have subscribed to it from the first issue, it refuses to review any book of mine or to mention me with any favor. If you asked it why, I doubt you would get an answer, as an honest one would embarrass it. But I have to remark again on a column by Kameron Hurley, a novelist who tells it as it is. In the August 2018 issue she discusses the economics of writing, which are not pretty. This one is titled “So You Still Have a Day Job,” and says welcome to the club. The fact is the average writer can't earn a living from writing alone. Yes, I can and do, and I haven't had a day job since 1966, but I am one of the lucky one percent of one percent. And yes, it was luck more than skill that got me here, and you are unlikely to have similar luck. Yes, you can self publish now; I worked to help make that possible, but you do that for art and pride rather than for money. She remarks on luck: “'You should feel lucky' is something that a boss says to an employee about being employed. It often justifies inequalities and abuses. It covers up the fact that while there is a large component of luck in everything, our careers could be vastly improved by minimum rates...” She goes on to remark about the manipulation of our society to ensure we feel lucky with less and less, while they squeeze us more and more. She concludes “Demand more. Demand better. We deserve it. Luck be damned.” And I say, damn well told, Kameron.

Back in the 1980s I attended a science fiction genre conference in Kansas, taking my then twelve year old daughter Cheryl along for the experience. I sat beside Theodore Sturgeon, arguably the finest stylist the genre has seen, on a panel. His eyes were fixed on Cheryl in the audience, who was just coming into flower as a young woman, something Sturgeon appreciated more than most. Meanwhile one of my projects was Death or Dialysis, a nonfiction book on kidney disease I was collaborating on with a doctor. Then he pulled out, offering to turn his portion over to an associate, a nurse, but I felt the book would not be marketable without the doctor, so the project foundered, and I had to swallow a novel's worth of lost time. That nurse was Patricia Collom, Sturgeon's daughter, who passed away at age 77 in August. So I almost collaborated with Sturgeon's daughter. Thus Sturgeon interacted in his fashion with my daughter, and I interacted with his, in my devious fashion, in one of those odd incidental bypaths that happen in the tapestry that is the intricate obscure record of human existence.

For, oh, forty years or more I have had a little toy structure consisting of five metal balls suspended by strings. Lift one to the side, let it go, and it collides with the remaining four, and the ball on the other side swings out, the impulse transmitted through the middle three balls. I have found it a fascinating lesson in physics. You see, if I lift up two balls, then two balls rebound from the far side. Three, and it's three, or four for four, or five, in which case there is no collision, they just swing. It knows the count. If I lift one ball on each side and let them go simultaneously, then one ball rebounds on each side. If I take two on one side and one on the other side, it will send two and one. How does it know? How can the signal pass accurately through the center balls without canceling out? I see it as an analogy of quantum physics, where particles do weird things like being in two states at once. I know it's possible, because I see it happen with the swinging metal balls. Well, I finally learned the name of that structure, from an illustration in an article: it's called a Newton's Cradle. Now maybe my education is complete.

Letter in the newspaper by M Kunkel titled “Why I left the Republican party.” It says in part “My party had stood for rule of law, fair play and a conservative approach to spending money that our children would have to pay back.” Yes. I have been an independent voter since I got my citizenship and first signed up as a voter in 1957. There was a time when conservatism meant integrity, fiscal responsibility, and respect for tradition. Today it smells more like bigotry, greed, and the hell with tradition. I am liberal, which means roughly that I care about the welfare of folk at the bottom of the pile. In the interim I went from poverty to wealth, thanks to some writing talent and a lot of sheer luck, but my orientation hasn't changed. I hope a political upheaval comes to restore sanity before we destroy what's left of the world.

I saw a reference to the Silver Rule. As I understand it, the Golden Rule is do unto others as you would have them do unto you. The Silver rule is Do not unto others as you would have them do not unto you. The Brass rule is Do unto others before they do unto you. I'm not sure I have them correct, and wonder whether there are other similarly cogent rules.

AUTHORS GUILD has an interesting discussion in the form of a letter by Richard Russo. He addresses the problem of the downward pressure of e-book pricing, the relentless erosion of copyright protection, the scorched-earth capitalism of companies like Google and Amazon, the information wants to be free crowd that believe that art should be cheap or free and treated like a commodity, and by internet search engines that are happy to direct people to sites that sell pirated books. Author incomes are declining. Companies tend to see writers as mere hirelings. There is a massive transfer of wealth from the creative sector to the tech sector. The letter concludes with an appeal for writers to join the Guild. It's an impressive case. But there is another side, or sides. I recently sent a letter to the Guild detailing how early in my career it had not helped me when I needed it because they helped only hardcover writers, not paperback writers. That is, a publisher was sending me obviously faked statements of account that an audit would have exposed, but AG did not audit paperback royalties, only hardcover. That strikes me as unkind elitism; most working writers were limited to paper, as I was. The interest should be in helping writers and correcting publishing wrongs, not in whether publication is hard or soft. I received no answer. The writer who made a good living before did so in significant part because hardly one percent of writers ever got published at all. It's like winning a lottery: the winners love it, but what about the great majority of losers? Their dreams never had a chance. I have worked to help make it possible for anyone to get published, and that has the effect of evening things out, diminishing the haul of the winners. Sure the winners don't like that. But I feel writing should not be limited to elites; the grunts in the trenches should have their chance too. It reminds me of a man I once talked with who said he had been in the Army as an enlisted man and didn't like it. Later he returned as an officer, and then he discovered how great it could be. Sure it's more pleasant to be treading on faces that to be one of the faces. But is it right? So I remain uncertain just whom AG really serves.

Conservative comment in the newspaper on Chicago's violence, blaming it on liberalism. And “What's needed most is to get poor people to change their behavior. Chief among the modifications is reducing female-headed households.” Because they produce most of the losers. “The only people who can fix these problems are black people themselves.” Get it? Don't make better schools and jobs available for the poor, don't eliminate racism that keeps blacks out of the better positions, don't stop imprisoning blacks for drug offenses that whites get away with, don't make the police play fair, just leave it to the ghetto dwellers to somehow fix it themselves. Blame the victims; they must be guilty. As an old song refrain put it, Dig it with a shovel, spread it with a hoe; Put it on your garden, it will make your flowers grow.

At long last the answer to a centuries-long mystery, thanks to NEW SCIENTIST: it seems there is a novelty food called Dragon's Breath, made by coating cereal puffs with liquid nitrogen. When you put it in your mouth, the evaporating nitrogen makes it look as if you are breathing smoke. However, the nitrogen can damage your mouth with cold burns or skin injury and infection. “At least now we know why dragons hoard gold: it is to pay for all the dental bills.”

PIERS

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine

DS9 S4 #16: “Accession” A ship emerges from the Wormhole after 200 years, containing a famous poet, Akorem Laam. He becomes Emissary, as Sisko relinquishes it, not being comfortable with it, and plans to return Bajor to the old ways. But this may be mischief. Both Sisko and Kira are wary. D'jarras is the ancient law, that is contrary to Federal law and would cause the Federation to reject Bajor from membership. So they go into the Wormhole to see the Prophets—who return Akorem to his own time, and give Sisko back the office. That saves enormous complications, and now he is happy to honor its rituals, having seen the alternative.

DS9 S4 #17: “Rules of Engagement” Worf is on trial for firing on and destroying a Klingon transport ship. In the situation this was according to protocol, but the prosecutor means to prove that Worf did it for the love of battle and destruction. He makes quite a case. Then Sisko shows that the 441 civilians killed on that ship were faked by the prosecution; they were actually on a different ship. Worf had not really killed them. That was one hell of a defense.

DS9 S4 #18: “Hard Time” O'Brien wakes as an old man, imprisoned for 20 years, now released. But wasn't real; the memories were implanted. Only a few hours have passed. That is how the Argrathi punish their criminals. But it's real to him. He had inadvertently run afoul of the alien law, and was punished before his folk caught up. Now it's hard to adjust to an almost forgotten reality. The memories impact his current life. He snaps at his friends, even his daughter. He sees his alien prisoner companion, maybe. Then that prisoner Ee'Char talks to him, telling him he is a figment of O'Brien's imagination, there because O'Brien needs him. It seems he does. At the end of the imprisonment he quarrels with Ee'Char, fights with him, and kills him, really for nothing. O'Brien finally turns the corner, Ee'Char fades out, and he is mending. This is a telling episode.

DS9 S4 #19: “Shattered Mirror” Jake misses his Ferengi friend Nog. Then Jake's mother Jennifer returns, from the parallel universe; she's the same woman, but not Sisko's wife or Jake's mother in this universe. She takes him to her universe. Sisko follows—and is trapped there, at least until he does what they want. That's how they got him to come to help them. But even so it is complicated, because Jake is really taken with the woman who so closely resembles his mother. The regular cast of characters is here, but with wildly different roles and personalities. Sisko does enable them to win, but jealous alternate Kira shoots Jennifer and she dies in this universe as well as the other universe.

DS9 S4 #20: “The Muse” A passenger ship docks. One of the travelers is Lwaxana, crying because she is pregnant. Her husband Jeyal means to take the baby away the moment he is born, because men are supposed to raise sons. That's why she fled. The traveler Onaya meets Jake, appreciating that he is a writer. She likes artistic folk. He visits her so she can help him evoke his talent. She's good; soon he is writing his novel, letting the words flow. But her manner is seductive; what does she really want? Meanwhile Odo will marry Lwaxana, to enable her to keep her baby. Jake collapses and is put in the infirmary; his brain have been seriously overstimulated. Onaya appears and takes him over again. She's some sort of vampire spirit feeding on talent, and floats away when Sisko challenges her.

DS9 S4 #21: “For the Cause” The Federation is working to repair damage done by Klingon incursions into Cardesian territory. There may be a Maquis agent on the station: Kasidy Yates, Sisko's girlfriend. This is awkward for Sisko. He orders Worf to take the Defiant to follow her freighter and observe. Garak makes a date with Dukat's daughter Ziyal to experience a holosuite program. Evidence accrues implicating Kasidy. But it is a more subtle trap, to draw Sisko away from the station. Commander Eddington takes over, as a Maquis agent. Garak fears Ziyal means to kill him, but she satisfies him that she just wants his company as another outcast, so it works out. Kasidy loves Sisko, but had to accomplish her mission. Maybe that will work out too.

DS9 S4 #22: “To the Death” The Gem'Hadar attack the station, killing and wounding a number. Sisko, Kira, Dax, Worf, O'Brien, and Odo take the Defiant out on their trail. They rescue survivors of a crippled Jem'Hadar ship, among which is a Dominion leader, or a Vorta, who says that renegade Jem'Hadar attacked the station and his ship. The renegades are setting up a Gate that will enable them to put troops instantly on any planets without the use of spaceships, a critical advantage that wills enable them to conquer all others. Now the Federation and the Gem'Hadar must work together to handle the common threat. It's an uncomfortable juxtaposition. They make a surprise joint attack on the Gateway—which turns out to be no surprise, and their power weapons are nullified. So they use swords instead, and succeed. They part with the Gem'Hadar allies, who say the next time they meet they will be enemies. But they did work well together.

DS9 S4 #23: “The Quickening” Bashir and Dax encounter a planetary plague whose onset is called the quickening; their dark scars turn red and they soon die. They meet Ekoria, a pregnant local woman. Bashir sets out to find a cure, though the natives don't believe it is possible. He is making progress, when it goes awfully wrong and they all die. But he is determined to find a way. Then Ekoria quickens. Her concern is to birth her baby before she dies. She succeeds, and the baby is without the blight. Now Bashir can make an innoculant to protect all future babies. The present is lost, but the future of these people is secure.

DS9 S5 #1: “Apocalypse Rising” Sisko is sent to infiltrate the Klingon Empire and do whatever it takes to prove that Gowron is a changeling. Sisko, Odo, and O'Brien get made up as Klingon warriors, and join Worf to use Dukat's ship to travel. They have special little globes that will force a changeling to dematerialize. They are caught, but their captor suspects Gowron too, and lets them go. But it turns out that Gowron is not the changling, but one of his close advisers. When that is revealed, Gowron lets them go, knowing that peace is better than war when war benefits on the Dominion.

DS9 S5 #2: “The Ship” They are checking for a rich mining lode when a Gem'Hadar warship crashes nearby on the planet. No survivors. To salvage that would be the score of the decade. Then another enemy ship appears. The lady Vorta captain talks with Sisko: they want their ship back. Sisko says no. What do they really want? One Federation crewman, Quique, is wounded and needs to get back for medical attention. They find a changeling, who dies. That was what the others wanted.

DS9 S5 #3: “Looking for Par'mach In All The Wrong Places” Grilka, Quark's one time Klingon wife, visits. Worf is entranced. The war has been hard on her family, and it is in financial distress. Quark agrees to take a look at the records; he really helped her, before, and they are friends now. “Par'mach” means Klingon love. But it is clear that Worf has no chance with Grilka, because of the dishonor of his House. Meanwhile O'Brien massages Kira, who is carrying his baby. Keiko is fine with it, but it is awkward for him. In fact Keiko encourages them to be together, though both are wary of that. Worf helps Quark win Grilka. Dax expresses interest in Worf; they may become a couple. So who knows what may develop?

DS9 S5 #4: “Nor the Battle to the Strong.” Bashir and Jake are doing emergency assistance of the wounded in a battle zone. It is a real education for Jake as he sees people suffer and die. They get caught in shelling, and Jake runs, then blames himself for being a coward. One of the patients has similar feelings. Then the Klingons come, killing the defenders. Jake hides, picks up a phaser, and shoots at the ceiling, so that rocks fall, sealing the entrance so the Klingons can't pursue further. That saves the others, and he is called a hero. Then the Defiant arrives, the Klingons go, and Jake is rescued. But he knows that the difference between being a hero and being a coward can be a fine line. He just did what it took to stay alive.

DS9 S5 #5: “The Assignment” O'Brien is in trouble, because he is responsible for accidentally killing Keiko's pet plants. Then she returns and is easy with it, but tells him she is not Keiko, but someone who has taken possession of her body and will kill her if he does not do whatever she tells him. She wants him to do some special re-calibration of some equipment. But that's only a test. When he is about to tell Sisko, Keiko stages a fall from a height that could readily have killed her: she's not bluffing, and knows him just as well as his wife does. He finds out that beams are being readied to focus on the wormhole that will kill certain “gods” and give power to certain banished wraiths. But he manages to fix it so that it takes her out instead, saving the gods and Keiko. Now he can explain everything. This is a tense episode.

DS9 S5 #6: “Trial and Tribble-Ations” The Defiant accidentally travels in time, and encounters The Enterprise. Someone means to change history, and our crew must stop it. So they get into archaic uniforms, including Dax in stunning red. They infiltrate, and encounter the tribbles. They see Captain Kirk and Spock in passing, and get involved in the famous barroom brawl. The time traveler Darvin plots to kill Kirk. They capture Darvin and work to nullify the plot so as to pre>serve history. There is a bomb in one of the tribbles, but which one? They are all over, and multiplying. But they find it and beam it into space, where it detonates. Sisko briefly talks with Kirk, then returns to the present. Meanwhile the tribbles have infested the station. What to do now? This episode was also packaged with the original series, beside the tribbles episode there.

DS9 S5 #7: “Let He Who Is Without Sin...” Worf and Dax have a thing, and get teased by others. They will visit Risa, a fabulous resort planet. Others invite themselves along: Quark, Bashier, Leeta. It turns out that Bashier and Leeta are having a rite of separation, celebrating their breakup. Worf and Dax have problems; he feels she isn't taking their relationship seriously enough. A change of pace episode.

DS9 S5 #8: “Things Past” Sisko, Odo, Dax, and Garak wake up on the promenade, having evidently been knocked out by a passing plasma field. They conjecture that they have been moved back about nine years in time. They may be in the bodies of three who were publicly executed. But things don't match the past perfectly. They make a break for it, but don't succeed. This is a reprise of an execution Odo arranged, where innocent people died. Was it the only one? Odo is not sure.

DS9 S5 #9: “The Ascent” Odo takes Quark to the authorities for some crime he refuses to identify. Jake goes to room with Nog. Odo and Quark gets stranded on an isolated planet. They don't get along. Neither do Nog and Jake. Odo and Quark have to climb a high cold mountain to get a transmitter high enough to send a distress signal. They finally do get rescued, still despising each other. And Nog and Jake work things out.

DS9 S5 #10: “Rapture” Sisko is trying to identify the location of a fabulous ancient Bajoran city, B'hala, and is making progress when he gets zapped by a Holosuite image. It gives him a vision of the real thing. Kasidy joins him, and propelled by the vision, he succeeds is locating the lost city that the Bajorans couldn't find in 10,000 years of searching. He gets headaches, and the visions continue. He needs surgery to survive, but that will take away the visions. One vision says Bajor must not join the Federation, lest it be destroyed. They do the surgery and he loses the visions. Was that the right thing?

DS9 S5 #11: “The Darkness and the Light” Someone is killing the people Kira used to associate with in her resistance cell. She gets a message saying “That's one.” Soon a second one dies. “That's Two.” And a third. A fourth and fifth. Kira zeroes in on a suspect, A Cardassian, but he catches her and is about to cut the baby from her body because it is innocent, when she kills him.

DS9 S5 #12: “The Begotten” Quark buys a container that holds a baby changeling and sells it to Odo. He means to tlain it and teach it to be a good shape shifter. Dr. Mora, who raised Odo, comes to help. Odo shows it the basic forms: sphere, cube, pyramid, etc. Meanwhile Kira is about to give birth to the O'Brien baby. The baby is born, but the changeling is dying. But then it merges with Odo, and he becomes a changeling again. Kira, back to her normal figure, says she never wanted to have a baby, but now she wishes she could hold it in her arms. Odo says he knows how she feels. They take a walk together. I regard this as a beautiful way to handle the pregnancy of the actress without writing her out of the script.

DS9 S5 #13: “For the Uniform” Sisko goes to the Badlands to see Eddington, a Federation traitor to the Maquis. Eddington says the Federation handed his people over to the Cardassians. Yes, they were offered resettlement, but they wanted to live where they were. Eddington says don't follow him, then beams out. But Sisko on the Defiant does pursue him. And the ship's computers get fried. They limp home, and Sisko is taken off the case. But his replacement gets outsmarted and nullified, so it's up to Sisko again. Sisko starts wiping out the planets that serve as the Maquis base. That gives him the victory, and Eddington surrenders.

DS9 S5 #14: “In Purgatory's Shadow” They intercept coded Cardassian messages, but they turn out to be old inconsequential documents. But Garak lied; it was a message that a leading resistance fighter is alive, and maybe others. Worf and Garak take a shuttle to follow up. They encounter a Dominion fleet. This is real mischief. They manage to send out a warning message to the station before being captured by the Gem'Hadar. Bashir is also there, and another Klingon. The station tries to shut down the Wormhole to stop the invasion, but is unsuccessful. The Dominion ships pour through.

DS9 S5 #15: “By Inferno's Light” So the station must fight the Dominion invasion. But it doesn't attack the station; it heads for Cardassia. And Dukat goes to join the Dominion; they have made a deal for Cardassia to join the Dominion. On the station, they don't know that Bashier has been replaced by a changeling. Worf must fight a Gem'Hadar bare-handed, and another. He wins five times. The prisoners labor to escape. Meanwhile Sisko is forging a renewal of the Federation alliance with the Klingons; together they have a chance against the Dominion. And a Romulan fleet appears, requesting to join their effort, amazingly. The fake Bashir sets out to trigger a supernova in the local sun. They manage to destroy his runabout first. The prisoners escape and rejoin the station with heartfelt reunions. But much remains to be resolved.

DS9 S5 #16: “Doctor Bashir, I Presume?” A researcher says he is here to make Bashier immortal. That is, Bashir is to be the template for a holographic doctor who can operate in places where life support is not feasible. But the interviews with his associates get complicated when his parents come. It seems there is a family secret that could ruin his prospects. He was genetically enhanced. If that becomes known, he will be barred from service and as a doctor. His father agrees to serve two years in prison for illegal genetic practice, and Bashir will carry on as usual. It is a workable compromise. And Rom finds true love with Leeta.

DS9 S5 #17: “A Simple Investigation” Visitors are looking for something, and kill the man who didn't tell them where it is. Odo meets Arissa, who is says she is looking for her lost daughter, and was to meet the deceased here. She has found a crystal with vital information that the killers want too. Odo and Arissa are drawn together, and finally wind up in bed. It turns out that the crystal contains Arissa's real identity. She worked for Draim, a criminal leader, and is undercover to expose him. The crystal returns her real identity, and she knows now she is married and must go, but her alternate identity did love him. It is a sad parting.

DS9 S5 #18: “Business as Usual” Quark is broke and in debt, but his cousin hires him to do publicity for the business of selling arms that will make him rich. But Sisko says that if Quark violates any law at all, Sisko will nail him to the wall. Quark is in trouble. But he manages to put the opposing forces together, so that they pretty much destroy each other and he is mostly out of trouble.

DS9 S5 #19: “Ties of Blood and Water” Kira's Cardassian “father” Tekeny Ghemor visits; he's he main hope to oppose Dukat. But he has a terminal illness. He knows more about Cardassian politics than any other person alive, and now will share it with her. The information is invaluable. Meanwhile it turns out that his real daughter Iliana is still alive, in hiding. But Kira doesn't learn that. Complex emotions here. Will the two “Kiras” ever meet?

DS9 S5 #20: “Ferengi Love Songs” Quark, blacklisted, in financial trouble, is depressed. Rom will marry Leeta, but that doesn't cheer Quark. He goes to his mother Moogie—and learns that she and the Grand Nagus are dating. Maybe she can help him. Rom and Leeta break up, as do Moogie and the Nagus, to mutual chagrin. It is a plot by Brunt to take over as Grand Nagus,who knew that Moogue was advising the failing powers of the Nagus. So Quark works to set it right, foiling Brunt's plot, and all is well again, in Ferengi fashion.

DS9 S5 #21: “Soldiers of the Empire” The Klingon General Martok has been a prisoner of the Dominion for two years, is blind in one eye, and injured., but has been given a command to investigate the disappearance of a ship, the B'Moth. He asks Worf to join him as his friend and First Officer. Worf agrees. Dax joins him as Science Officer. The Rotarran War Bird has a poor crew with a bad record; the crew feels it is cursed. They find the B'Moth. But why was it left? Is it a trap? Worf challenges the captain, but lets down his guard, giving Martok the victory, and now the crew supports him and they win their first battle with the Gem'Hadar and rescue 35 survivors. Martok understands what Worf did, setting him up for full crew support, and welcomes him into the House of Martok when they return to the station.

DS9 S5 #22: “Children of Time” They take the Defiant to investigate an anomaly, and discover a planet, Gaia, with 8,000 people, who says that the Defiant crashed here two centuries ago and founded the colony, and they are the Defiant crew's descendants. It seems to be true. An Odo is there, surviving 200 years. Now he tells Kira he loves her. But Kira died on this planet, of a malady that modern technology could have saved her from. There is a dilemma: if they return to the station, saving Kira, 8,000 people will cease to exist. Do they do it? Kira doesn't want to. They decide to crash, preserving the settlement. But the ship veers away, saving them, sacrificing the 8,000. It was the other Odo, who changed the flight plan, to save Kira. Kira is horrified. “That makes it right?” she demands, appalled.

DS9 S5 #23: “Blaze Of Glory” They intercept a message that says cloaked missiles have been launched and will strike Cardassia soon. They must stop them lest the strike trigger a war that kills billions. They need help, so Sisko fetches Michael Eddington from prison. Edditton hates Sisko and the Federation for destroying the Maquis, and helps reluctantly, openly saying that after this is over, he means to kill Sisko. Meanwhile they must work together, fighting Gem'Hadar. They rescue a few surviving Maquis, but Eddington dies in the rear guard. So Sisko's emotions are mixed.

DS9 S5 #24: “Empok Nor” The station needs a Cardassian replacement part. So they go to the abandoned station Empok Nor to salvage one. But the station is likely to be booby trapped against non Cardassians. So they take Garak along on the runabout. There are indeed weird and dangerous things there. Their runabout is destroyed and they are stranded. They decide to generate a signal, but odd things continue to happen. People start getting killed. Garak says he found a psychotropic drug in the tissue of one of the reanimated defenders. But then the drug contaminates Garak, making him a paranoid killer. He faces down against O'Brien, who manages to defeat him. They get the needed part, and Garak is brought back to the station to recover.

DS9 S5 #25: “In the Cards” A derelict was found with a cargo of items, some of which might have value, Quark conducts an auction. Jake bids on an ancient baseball card, for Sisko. He borrows the money from Nog. But they are outbid. The winner is on a quest for immortality. He will trade he card for certain medical supplies. Meanwhile Vedik Winn is concerned for the future of Bajor. Sisko says she must stall for time, as the crisis is not yet here. And somehow Jake and Nog's quest for the card changes things on the station so that the gloom lifts and the personnel are happy again.

DS9 S5 #26: “Call to Arms” The Dominion seems to be massing ships for an attack on Bajor. Meanwhile Rom and Leeta plan their wedding. Sisko organizes the mining of the wormhole. Vorta ambassador Weyoun objects, saying the ships are to defend their ally Cardassia. The wedding occurs, and the siege of the station begins. The Dominion ships attack the station. It is a fair battle, and a number of ships are destroyed, but finally they must evacuate the station. Worf and Dax agree to marry if they survive. The Dominion takes over the station. This of course is not finished.

DS9 S6 #1: “A Time to Stand” The personnel have evacuated and Cardassians have taken the station. Worf remained behind. But he rejoins them, and he and Dax plan to marry. Kira, Quark, Jake and Odo remain at the station as it is restored to functioning. Sisko is reassigned to command a captured Jem'Hadar ship, his mission to destroy the enemy cache of white, the drug that controls the Jem'Hadar. Odo is promoted to be one of the three ruling councilors of the station. Kira doesn't trust this, or Dukat's attentions to her.

DS9 S6 #2: “Rocks and Shoals” They have bombed the White station, but two Gem'Hadar ships are headed their way; Sisko takes them into a nebula to hide. They crash on a barren shore. The Vorta Weyoun and the Gem'Hadar are there, trying to capture them. Weyoun is injured and needs a doctor. They trade prisoners, and Bashir operates on Weyoun, and learns that they are out of White. He gives Sisko the plan of attack, and the Gem'Hadar, refusing to yield, are destroyed. Weyoun is now a prisoner, out of the action. It's an ugly conclusion.

DS9 S6 #3: “Sons and Daughters” They get five recruits to the Klingon ship the Rotarran . One is Alexander, Worf's son, now grown. Dukat's daughter Ziyal returns to the station. Kira is pleased, and so is Dukat, but the personality war between Kira and Dukat continues. The crew members tease and harass Alexander, who is really not a warrior. But gradually the relationship between father and son clarifies. The ship sees some action and is victorious.

DS9 S6 #4: “Behind the Lines” The Admiral has learned that the enemy has a massive observation station that enables it to know all the Federation ship movements, giving them a significant advantage. Sisko must eliminate it. On the station the Cardassians and Gem'Hadar are allies, but they hate each other, and brawls ensue. The lady leader of the Changelings comes to the station. She still wants Odo to join them. She knows about his love for Kira, a “solid.” He links with her, the two of them dissolving into fluid and merging. Kira is not pleased. Quark manages to get information from the Cardassian Damar: they are finding a way to deactivate the mines. The Resistance plans to mess that up, but Odo gets subverted and they don't succeed.

DS9 S6 #5: “Favor the Bold” They are fighting Dominion ships and retreating, not making progress, and morale is low. Then Sisko plans to retake Deep Space Nine. Meanwhile Odo has spent three days with the changeling lady, becoming intimate with her. She is really trying to win him over. And Kira is working to get Rom pardoned from his sentence of death for trying to implement her plan to stop the nullifying of the mines. Sisko's fleet approaches the station. The battle is about to begin.

DS9 S6 #6: “Sacrifice of Angels” Kira and other are arrested. Sisco's fleet attacks, but only the Defiant gets through. Meanwhile Quark and Ziyal rescue Kira and Rom. Odo helps them, saying the Link was paradise, but it seems he's not ready for paradise. The Defiant plunges into the wormhole and encounters the Dominion fleet. Sisko suffers a kind of hallucination where the enemy takes the form of his companions, but he refuses to capitulate—and somehow this makes the Dominion back off, and the station is recaptured. But Ziyal is killed, to Dukat's overwhelming grief.

DS9 S6 #7: “You are Cordially Invited” One week later and the celebration continues. DS9 is now HQ for the Ninth Fleet. General Martok has been promoted to commend the Ninth Fleet. Sirella is Martok's wife, and will review Dax to be sure she is suitable for Worf to marry. Is she worthy to join the House of Martok? She seems forbidding. Meanwhile the Bachelor Party is more like a trial of deprivation. Dax sets Sirella back by knowing the uglier details of her ancestry. The women have a party too. But Sirella cancels the wedding. They fight. Dax apologizes to Sirella, and wins her respect, and the wedding proceeds.

DS9 S6 #8: “Resurrection” Someone beams into the transporter room but they don't know who it could be. It turns out to be a man with a gun he aims at Kira, saying she must do exactly as he says. He turns out to the the alternate universe Vedic Bareil, whom Kira loved before he died. He is Antos, a professional thief. She is attracted to him, and soon sleeps with him. And Kira's self of the other universe turns out to be with him. He is here to steal the Orb, in cahoots with Alternate Kira, but he sheets Alternate and departs without the Orb. Our Kira obvious had an effect on him.

DS9 S6 #9: “Statistical Probabilities” A group of people who were genetically programmed to be smart are coming to see Dr. Bashir, hoping he can help them as he helped himself. They are super smart but also odd in other ways. One is Laurie, a sexy woman who figures she'll seduce him. One is Jack, hyperactive. Serina is a demure girl. Patrick is a plump older man whose feelings are easily hurt. Meanwhile the new Cardassian leader Damar claims to be on a mission of peace as he and the Vorta Weyoun visit the station. The mutants calculate the chances, and conclude that the Federation will have to surrender to the Dominion. Bashier opposes them, so they tie him up and head out to arrange a surrender of the Federation. But Bashir persuades Serina to untie him, and he foils them. They will return to the institution. They may be geniuses, but can overlook details.

DS9 S6 #10: “The Magnificent Ferengi” Quark's mother Moogie has been taken hostage by the Dominion, and the Grand Nagus wants Quark to rescue her. This is mischief. They recruit Leck as part of the rescue team. And ex-Liquidator Brunt joins them; he has a ship. They abduct the Vorta Weyoun for the prisoner exchange. It is of course a madcap adventure; naturally things go wrong. But they muddle through and rescue Moogie.

DS9 S6 #11: “Waltz” Sisko is aboard a Federation ship Honshu taking Gul Dukat for a war crimes hearing. Dukat recovers from his mental breakdown, triggered by the death of his daughter Ziyal. They talk. Then the ship is attacked and destroyed. Several shuttles survive. The Defiant will search. Sisko and Dukat are marooned on a planet, Sisko injured, Dukat taking care of him. But Dukat is suffering visions. Such as Kira viciusly taunting him. They fight, and Dukat takes the shuttle. Sisko finally is rescued, but Dukat escapes.

DS9 S6 #12: “Who Mourns for Morn?” Morn remains as a hologram taking his place at the bar while he is away. Then word comes that his ship was caught in a space storm and destroyed. He left everything to Quark, including a thousand bars of latinum. Except it seems he had a loan of that amount that thugs want repaid, or else. They learn of 1,000 bars Morn had, and decide to split it five ways, 250 bars each (funny math). But finding it triggers immediate mayhem, and the others will go to prison. Then Morn shows up, alive; he had faked his death. So things are back to normal.

DS9 S6 #13: “Far Beyond the Stars” Sisko starts seeing people that others don't. Then he finds himself in 20th century America. The other station personnel are there two, other roles, in civilian dress, working for a magazine, with its sexism and racism. It's painful to be reminded. Sisko writes a story about a black space station commander, but his boss won't print it unless he makes the captain white. After all, it has to be somewhat credible. He rephrases it as a dream to make it acceptable, but it still won't be published. He swears he created it and it is real to him. Then he wakes back at the station. And wonders if his present life is all an illusion. Are they all mere figments of illusion?

DS9 S6 #14: “One Little Ship” They take a runabout, the Rubicon, to investigate a rare space anomaly. It is small; they shrink to a fraction of normal size, shuttle and all. Dax, O'Brien, and Bashir are separated when the Defiant is attacked by the Gem'Hadar. They capture it and confine the human personnel. The Rubicon emerges from the anomaly, but by a different route, and they remain under an inch tall. The tiny ship enters the Defiant, traveling through its conduits, then enter the personnel section. So the tiny ship is flying around the people, not being spied. Sisko is in charge of repairing the drive; the Gem'Hadar will execute one human every fifteen minutes if he fails, starting with Kira. But with the help of the mini-ship they manage to resume control, and the minis return to their own size.

DS9 S6 #15: “Honor Among Thieves” O'Brien is in a bar, making contact with criminals. If they find out who he is, they'll kill him. During his absence, things are going wrong all over the station; it seems that only he can keep the Cardassian and Federation technologies working well together. O'Brien is trying to discover who in the Federation is the Syndicate contact. There's a Vorta involved, so it's the Dominion on the other side. They plan to kill Bilby, O'Brien's contact. So O'Brien tells Bilby, to try to save him, because Bilby trusted him. It's a difficult situation.

DS9 S6 #16: “Change of Heart” Worf and Dax are sent on a mission to the Badlands. They get information from a Cardassian, but have to help him defect to the federation. They land in a wilderness. Meanwhile O'Brien and Bashir play a high stakes game of Tongo against Quark, and lose. Worf and Dax make their way through the forest. They take out a couple of Gem'Hadar, but Dax is wounded. He has to leave her and go on. Then he returns and carries her. He had to save her, even at the cost of the mission. Sisko is not pleased, but understands. Dax is saved.

PIERS
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