Book Highlight: Expert Assistance

To get out of debt, spacer Jake Bonner takes on two odd jobs. The first, chauffeur pop star Evvie Martini on her tour; the second, helping Daniel and Clarissa Rosen overthrow their planet’s tyrannical ruler. Unfortunately for Jake, Evvie finds out about his second assignment and, hoping to advance her career, invites herself to the revolution.
The next day Evvie returned to the ship to start her new career as a revolutionary. Before taking them to Antioch Two, Jake had her sit down next to him on the couch. “I think you need to know why this revolution is important to those people,” he told her.
“Well, isn’t that obvious? They need to be free?”
“Yes, well, that’s true. There are more solid reasons for doing this. The situation is a little more complicated that just an evil ruler oppressing his people.”
Jake raised a hand. “I’ll explain it to you in terms you can understand, okay?”
“Great. Now, first of all, the planet is Maxis’ personal property.”
“Is that legal? I thought you couldn’t buy planets. I mean, I tried, once, but...”
Jake cleared his throat. “May I continue?”
“Oh, sorry.”
“Thank you. In point of fact, no, you can’t buy planets. At least not planets that have potential, like Antioch Two and its mineral wealth. You see, Evvie, Maxis’ grandfather lied to his employers about the value of the planet’s potential, and he proceeded to buy it at auction. Instead of owning some worthless rock, he bought one of the richest worlds in human space for almost nothing.”
“Sounds bad.”
“It was beyond bad. It was illegal. Now the world and its wealth belongs to one person, Sordius Maxis. What’s more, Maxis is paying bribes all over the galaxy to hide this fact, to hide how badly he treats the people working for him, and to hide some of his other schemes to fatten his bank accounts. On top of all that, the way he operates his planet isn’t as good as it should be.”
“Isn’t that obvious? He’s a dictator.”
“No, not in the way you’re thinking. His equipment is old, his refinery isn’t turning out as much as it should or could, and the way he keeps everyone in line is limiting how much everyone could be making from such a mineral-rich planet.”
“Oh. Still sounds like a bad man to me.”
“He is, Evvie. The point is he’s bad in more than just the usual ways.”
“Okay, well, that’s fine. What are we going to do about it?”
“We’re going to oust him from power.”
“How? I mean, are we gonna just blast him from space?”
“For one thing, we couldn’t pick him off like that. Not while he’s in the dome. Either we’d hurt people we don’t want to, or we’d miss and alert him that we were there. Besides, this isn’t about getting one man. There’s a system that we have to get rid of. That’s why this is a ‘revolution’ and not a ‘coup.’”
“So what do we do?”
“Well, we get the people to want Maxis out. We undermine his leadership, and tell the people under him what’s really going on.”
“Great. Just so long as it doesn’t involve boring stuff.”
Jake sighed. What have I gotten myself into, he wondered.
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About the Author:
I've had three SF novels published: "Monitor," "Lisa's Way," and "Expert Assistance." I've also had a coming of age novel published called "True Friends." I've had stories and articles appear in periodicals such as Marion Zimmer Bradley's Fantasy Magazine; Tales of the Talisman; Space Westerns; Sorcerous Signals; Wild West; and Model Railroader.

Book Highlight: Marley: The Other Christmas Carol

Marley’s soul was lost, doomed to wander among the ranks of humanity, generation after generation, without the powers to be humane. The curse of his chains was a heavy one, and there were many a time in which he found the weight of said chains to be unbearable. So this must be perfectly understood: Marley was without hope.
Marley’s lot was indeed a sad one. Misery was his meat, and despair was his drink. Nothing of the earth was his except for the cold fingers of the grave. And it was there that Marley would never retreat. The grave was death! Marley had no powers such as those given to other earth-bound spirits. He was a wraith – a wanderer. However, upon saving the soul of a dear friend, he was given a haunting. In this haunting, Marley’s powers could not be equaled. However, one foot off the haunting’s property, and his soul would find itself in endless damnation.
Marley found himself trapped, staring out a window, into an ever-changing world. A world he would never again become a part of. A world of love, laughter, sorrow, and pain, he would always be a stranger to.
Waiting and waiting. Hoping to prove himself worthy.
The house was infamous, and there were stories. God, were there stories.
One told of a bookkeeper said to be among one of the original owners, who had an experience with spirits that changed his life overnight. Another dealt with a crippled man, during the First World War, who constantly complained of rattling chains in his attic. In his ownership, he never once had a decent night’s sleep.
The house had a reputation, and it came as a shock that a family of Americans were about to move in. Americans!
Kathy Kringle loved an adventure. Not in her wildest dreams did she ever think that she would be moving to England.
She jumped from her seat, holding onto her Manny Mouse doll, leaving the moving van, and started heading off toward her new home. What an adventure! Not only was she moving into a new home, she was moving into a new country. Strange things met her at every turn. Different things. Things she couldn’t understand, such as why the English drove their cars on the wrong side of the road. She made a mental note storing it for later. Kathy thought it was her duty, when she found the time, to write a letter to the King of England, helping to correct that mistake. Cars belonged on the right side of the road, not the left.
Kathy looked down at her doll, which really never left her sight, and asked, "What do you think, Manny?"
Manny appeared to be completely indifferent to the whole affair.
"I know what you’re thinking," Kathy continued. "But Dad’s a good painter. After a few coats of paint, the house will look as good as new." She paused, smiling with relief. "We’re home."
And what a home it was.
Not at all like the studio apartment she knew back in Los Angeles, California.
This house was a castle. Two stories tall, with an attic. The house was huge. Dim oblong windows, wooden peaks, and heavy iron gates greeted her curious eyes with an empty stare.
"Jeez!" Kathy mused.
Two doors slammed shut behind Kathy.
"Kathy, don’t get dirty."
"Okay, Mom." Kathy tucked Manny under her arm and started to rush off toward her new home. Kathy rolled her eyes, thinking that her mother was too protective. "Mothers," She muttered.
Dan Kringle watched with fatherly pride as his daughter darted off through the knee-high snow, wishing to explore her new world. His daughter’s red scarf bobbed up and down, dragging between bright yellow snow boots, as she disappeared from sight.
"Sure beats Los Angeles," he said.
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About the Author:
Donald Allen Kirch lives in Kansas City, Missouri. He is an avid reader of history, Sherlock Holmes Mysteries, and the paranormal. He has a degree in Radio and Television Arts, and is listed in "Who’s Who in America." He is the author of a monthly article that appears in "Suspense Magazine" entitled "Stranger Than Fiction: True Stories of the Paranormal." After spending two weekends in the famous "Sallie House," a "haunted house" featured on the Fox TV-series Sightings, in Atchison, Kansas, he is one of the only authors of his genre who can claim to have been attacked by a ghost!