Journeys of the Mind
|A secret plan, a secret evil throws the Searcher crew into a maelstrom of intrigue, deception and horror that threatens to destroy the relationships, even the minds of those who have become so close.|
My deepest thanks to those who made these pictures available.
Captain William Buck Rogers lay sprawled across his lounger, reading a book that Dr. Junius had given him before he left Earth this last time. The good doctor had correctly assumed that Buck would want it after putting all the information into New Chicago’s Central Historical Database. Buck had an insatiable desire to read anything from his century, especially historical materials. And they were so hard to find intact. This one had been falling apart, but the pages were all there and Dr. Junius had been able to have it rebound especially for him. The History of Mankind, by Hendrik Van Loon, the very first book to be awarded the Newbery medal. 1924. Buck vaguely remembered it from his childhood, mainly as something that he avoided like the plague, since it was historical, but now….
Buck remembered a friend of his who had
grown up in Tennessee, lived there all his life, but when he joined the
Air Force and was transferred to Houston he had brought with him a box
of hastily collected historical and anecdotal works about his home
state. Now Buck
understood why. He
brought his mind back to the pleasurable task at hand, the last chapter
of the original edition, written right after World War I, the war to end
all wars. Yeah, right!
“The Marquis de Condorcet was one of the noblest characters among the small group of honest enthusiasts who were responsible for the outbreak of the great French Revolution. He had devoted his life to the cause of the poor and the unfortunate,” Buck read.
“Nature has set no limits to our hopes,” (de Condorcet) wrote, “and the picture of the human race, now freed from its chains and marching with a firm tread on the road of truth and virtue and happiness, offers to the philosopher a spectacle which consoles him for the errors, for the crimes and the injustices which still pollute and afflict this earth.”
Buck snorted. So much for optimism, he thought.
Then he read Van Loon’s comments on the subject. “The world has just passed through an agony of pain compared to which the French Revolution was a mere incident.” Amen, thought Buck. And several more after that. “The shock has been so great that it has killed the last spark of hope in the breasts of millions of men. They were chanting a hymn of progress, and four years of slaughter followed their prayers for peace.” Buck paused and pondered for a moment. For a man who wrote a book mainly for kids, this was profound, he thought. “ ‘Is it worth while,’ so they ask, ‘to work and slave for the benefit of creatures who have not yet passed beyond the stage of the earliest cave men?’ ”
“There is but one answer. That answer is ‘Yes!’ ”
Buck laid the book down. He was glad that Junius had found this one. It held the very optimism to which he proscribed. Next he picked up the other book that Dr. Junius had given him. This one had been read in fits and starts, a little at a time. While Buck normally didn’t care to read about such distasteful historical figures, he felt a need to understand the psyche of one who seemed to reincarnate himself in every generation of time. Adolph Hitler by John Toland. He opened it and read a bit more about the man who felt the compulsion to exterminate those whom he had determined were inferior.
Buck thought of those who had killed Hawk’s people. Was that their motivation? Did they feel that the bird people were inferior to humans? Or was it the deep-rooted, millennia old, inherent racial hatred that Hawk claimed it was? Was there one or two misguided persons out there, or just the idea that spurred such hatred? Buck shook his head. And what about the lost tribes of Earth- did they all band together and stay segregated? After more than four hundred years, did all the human refugees keep to themselves or did they intermingle with those humanoid aliens that were close in genetic structure? Apparently they didn’t entirely keep to themselves, there were humans on Throm, there were humans on Orion, a human colony on Arcadis before it had been beset by forces beyond its control. And humans had intermingled with their alien neighbors on Orion, and most didn’t seem to care in the least. For that matter, how could you determine the difference, except with an electron microscope? Seems stupid to even try.
Somehow, Buck felt that had to be the case elsewhere, too. Look at how frantically Ardala kept pursuing him. It didn’t matter to her that they had slightly different genetic backgrounds. She had liked his looks and that was all that mattered to her, that and being able to inherit daddy’s throne. And then there was the Zantians; if it was male, take it in tow, sell it off, and mate with it, he remembered in wry amusement. So then who was really human out here in the far reaches of the galaxy? And what did it matter in the long run? Were they really going to find ‘lost tribes’ or simply evidence of where the refugees had found a home among non-humans, intermingled and become a new group of ‘near’ humans. Who was to say that wasn’t beneficial? And who in the world was inferior and what right did any one man have to determine that? Even Hitler had some of that so-called inferior blood in his veins.
Buck gazed at the old book in his hand and chuckled. Well, Chancellor, what would you classify as ‘human’? What would you think of all this cooperation among races? Somehow, he thought Adolph wouldn’t approve, but Buck held to the optimism of Van Loon. “Every generation must fight the good fight anew or perish.” He didn’t care what generation he was in, he would continue on fighting the good fight.