, Science Fiction - General
, Fiction - Science Fiction
, Mars (Planet)
, Space colonies
, Twenty-first century
, Brian - Prose & Criticism
, Utopian fiction
Hawkwood leaned forward and asked her what sort of things she imagined we should learn.
She stood up again. 'Consciousness. Our faulty consciousness. How does it come about? Is it affected perhaps by magneto-gravitic forces? In the lighter gravity of Mars, will our consciousness improve, enlarge? I don't know.' She gave an apologetic laugh. 'You're the scientist, Dr. Hawkwood, not I.' She sat down, looking abashed at having spoken out.
'May I ask your name?' This from Hawkwood.
'Yes. My name is Kathi Skadmorr and I come from Hobart in Tasmania. I worked in Water Resources in Darwin for my community year.'
He nodded and gave me a significant look.
Assembled in the Hindenburg Hall were almost all the men, women, and children on the planet. Since there were insufficient chairs to seat everyone, boxes and benches were drawn up. When everyone was as comfortable as could be, the discussion proper began.
It was interrupted almost at once by a commotion from the rear door, and female cries for us to wait a minute.
In came three overalled women from Communications, bringing with them lights and video cameras.
The leader, Suung Saybin, showed herself to be a perceptive woman. She had thought of something that had not occurred to the rest of us. 'Allow us to set up our equipment,' she said. 'This may prove an historic occasion, which must be recorded for others to study.'
The scene was lit, she gave the sign, we began our discussion.
Almost immediately a group of six masked men charged the platform. Both Dreiser and I were roughly seized.
One of the masked men shouted, 'We don't need discussion. These men are criminals! This dome remains EUPACUS territory. They have no right to speak. We are in charge here until EUPACUS returns-'
But they were mistaken in naming EUPACUS so boldly. It had turned into a hated name, the name of failure, the label for those who had isolated us. Half the hall rose en masse and marched forward. Had any of the masked intruders been armed - but guns were forbidden on Mars - there would have been shooting at this point. Instead, a fight ensued, in which the intruders were easily overpowered and Dreiser and I released.
How were the masked men to be punished? All proved to be EUPACUS technicians in charge of landing operations, refuelling or repairs. They were not popular. I sent for six pairs of handcuffs, and had them cuffed around metal pillars for six hours, with their masks removed.
'Is that all their punishment?' asked one of my rescuers.
'Absolutely. They will not reoffend. They suddenly lost their authority. They are only disoriented by the new situation, as we are. Now everyone can have a look at them. That will be shame enough.'
One of my attackers shouted that I was a fascist.
'You are the fascist,' I said. 'You wanted to rule by force. I want to use persuasion - to bring about a just and decent society here, not a mob.'
He challenged me to define just and decent.
I told him I would not define what the words meant just then, particularly since I had never experienced a just and decent society. Nevertheless, I hoped that we would work together to form a society based on those principles. We all knew what just and decent meant in practice, even if we did not define them with precision. And I hoped that in a few months we would recognise them as prevailing in Mars City.
The man listened closely to this, pausing before he spoke.
'My name, sir, is Stephens, Beaumont Stephens, known as "Beau". I will assist your endeavours if you will free me from these handcuffs.'
I told him that he must serve his punishment. Then he would be welcome to help me.
Our forum found a powerful supporter in Mary Fangold, the woman who ran the Reception House. She was a neat, rather severe-looking woman in her late thirties, of Mediterranean cast, with dark hair cut short, and striking dark blue eyes. I had developed a strong liking for her through her kindness to Antonia in the latter's last