Thursday, November 03, 2011

a sample from my current draft


"What business," the man said haughtily, "brings you hither?"

Oh gods, thought Sabir.  Flowery speaker.  Oh well, better play along.  "I seek the wisdom of the Library of Sauji," said Sabir said, bowing low.  "I am a humble student; I seek knowledge."

"Knowledge or wisdom?" asked the fat man.  "They are not the same thing."

 Sabir thought for a moment.  Was this a real question, or was the gentleman just joking?  "Knowledge," Sabir said.  "Knowledge."

The fat man closed his eyes, and very deliberately twisted the end of his mustache.  "What knowledge do you seek?"

"My master, who lives in a distant land, suffers from the most hideous headaches," replied Sabir.  "He sleeps not through the night, and is wasting away from the pain."

"You are a physician then?"

"I am a magician," Sabir said.

"A magician that cures the sick," the man laughed.  "What a wonder this is!  Are you a magician, or a physician?" he chuckled and looked at his attendants, who smiled at his jest.  "It is one golden dinar per day to enter the library."

"It will take me several days to find what I seek."

"Then it will take several dinars, unless you can read very quickly!"

"That seems like a lot."

"We can't have the rabble in here reading.  They might give themselves airs.  They might get strange ideas in their heads."

"Such as?"

"The average lout," the fat man explained with some importance, "has no business reading.  He has no business worrying himself with ideas of philosophy or science.  Take the common laborer.  He knows his place.  He knows that The Maker of All Things has put him in his place to carry his load.  He learns that when he learns his prayers as a child.  What will we do if the laborer decides he is too good to carry his load?  Who will wash our robes?  Who will cook our dinners?  Knowledge is dangerous.  We can't have women or laborers knowing the business of the Elect, can we?"

"What will occupy their hours of ease and pleasure?"

It was clear that the fat man enjoyed the sound of his own voice; it was sonorous and smooth.  "For that?  The common rabble?  Let the laborer drink his cheap beer and wine and attend the vulgar plays.  Let him sing songs and listen to the singers of songs.  Let him attend the camel races.  Dancing girls and feats of strength.  Let these things occupy and distract their minds.

"As long as they don't go peering behind the curtains of the temple, or wonder where the dinars go from the treasury.  Let them eat their fatty baked foods so they feel satisfied and happy.  Thus it is one dinar to enter the library.  A poor man is harmless as long as he cannot think.  If he is a thinker or a dreamer, he is harmless so long as he cannot speak well.  If he can speak well, let him be surrounded by others who cannot think, so they will mock him or ignore him, so they will not wonder about their lot in life.  Let the thinking man's words fall on deaf ears.  And let his fellow laborers think him a heretic, so that they will bring him before the priests, so that he can be punished as an example to the rest."

Sabir wondered how the man could speak so freely in front of his servants.  "So the fee is to keep the commoners in their place?"

"The last thing the Sultan needs is an arrogant population.  Let the Elect learn the secrets of science and husbandry.  Let the Elect learn the arts of Divination and the darker Arts.  Let them learn the most powerful knowledge of all: politics.  Why should a common house slave know anything, except to keep her master well fed and satisfied in all things?"


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I am the author of 8 books: Android Down, Firewood for Cannibals, Brain Giblets, The Cubicles of Madness, Booze and News, Get Your Zen On, Zen Happens, and most recently, Robot Stories. I live and write in Michigan. My website is at danmanning.com

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