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White Odyssey
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ISBN-10: 1-55404-331-X
ISBN-13: 
Genre: Science Fiction/Fantasy/SF
eBook Length: 140 Pages
Published: March 2006
OUT OF PRINT

From inside the flap

In the future, whites have become a minority and are treated as second-class citizens by the colored majority. Whites are discriminated against, relegated to shantytowns and allowed to do only menial labor under segregation laws that are beginning to amount to little more than slavery. As conditions grow worse, white volunteers are worked to death in mine pits and the tar sands, where conditions are so brutal that serving as test subjects on alien planets begins to sound better than anything on earth, no matter what the danger.

Reviews and Awards

EPPIE WINNER -2007- Children and Young Adult

A letter from a reader...

I just finished White O, in Reader format, and with a more linear read than the first time...read it all last night, in fact. Man, I honestly think, from a pure writing standpoint, that this is your best work! The subject isn't as exciting, to me, as Sex Gates or Space Pets or certainly not the Willards, but your technique, dialogue, development, everything... is amazing in this story. I felt like I was reading some of the best 50’s sci-fi, somehow....more technically accurate, but it had that same gritty feel as Doc Smith or someone similar. In a way, your story has usually carried the tale, for me, and made any flaws irrelevant...in this case, the story wasn?t all that fascinating to me- or maybe it was just too uncomfortable, probably that- but the excellent way you portrayed it and introduced the characters has made me read it twice already...and I?ll be reading it a few more times at least.

Jamie Jones
March 2006

    

White Odyssey (Excerpt)


CHAPTER ONE

"We?re in for it now," I heard Dad say.

He had just sat down, and his newspaper must have updated right about then. He didn?t know I was listening and I wasn?t trying to eavesdrop, but I remember it plainly, even though I was young at the time. It was the start of all the changes in our lives.

"What do you think will happen?" Mom asked.

Her voice was strained. I remember that too, a harbinger of what was to come later.

"Nothing good," Dad replied.

And he was right. That’s when it all began, so far as I was concerned, though the situation had been building for years; centuries, if you want to go back that far. I did that later on, but right then I was more interested in finishing my schoolwork so I could tap into the history site and get back to my guise as a Mountain Man way back when North America was being explored. It was one of the interactive learning roles Dad approved of for extra credit at school. He said it hadn?t been distorted as much as a lot of history had. I asked him about that.

"Dad, if something isn?t true, why do they say it is?"

He took his time about answering. "The winners usually rewrite history to suit themselves. The losers aren?t in much of a position to do anything about it."

I thought about it, but it didn?t make much sense to me. I let it go. I liked the history site too much to get into accuracy questions. After I got a little older he started letting me watch more of a variety, but he always took me through the sales blurb and told me which parts to take seriously and which were, in his words, ?A bunch of nonsense?.

But that was later. In the meantime, the new laws passed me by making less of an impression on my happy 10-year-old mind than a liaison by a female holostar would have. I went on playing with boys my age during morning recess and making rude remarks to the girls on the way home at noon when school let out. The new colonization and anti-fraternization laws weren?t even in my universe until I got interested in space somewhere around my eleventh birthday. That’s when I noticed for the first time that space explorers on the holo were always colored. I never saw any white faces like mine. I asked Dad about it. He never minded me asking questions. This time he looked troubled, though.

"There’s white explorers now. It’s just not being publicized."

"Gosh, why not?"

"Because the colonization service is using whites for the extended testing, the kind that tells whether a planet is compatible for humans in the long term or not."

"Why don?t they use colored people?"

"Because too many were dying."

I still didn?t get it. "Well, don?t white people die, too?"

Dad nodded. "Lots of them. If it’s a bad planet, sometimes all of them die."

"Then why do they do it? Couldn?t they use robots?"

"They do, but robots can only tell you so much. People have to actually go down and live on a planet for a while before they know for sure."

"Will we have to go?"

"Not unless we volunteer, son."

What Dad didn?t tell me was that the ?volunteers? came from the oil shale pits and tar sand fields. He hadn?t told me about those either, but I knew something about them anyway. Tales were bandied about; tales of whites dying like flies from work so hard it was designed to kill them. I didn?t believe them, at least not the worst ones. Then the colored kids started chanting a litany through the new fences at school separating whites and coloreds.

Whitey, whitey,

Not so mighty.

On the ramp and off to camp!

The ramp was what the mass transit carriers were called. I had never been on one, because I walked to school and Mom and Dad earned enough money so that when we went somewhere as a family they could afford a railbus for us. They even bought seats, until they stopped letting whites on the railbuses at all.

It was then that I began noticing we hardly went out any more. I wasn?t told why, but from the way Dad used words he wouldn?t allow me to say while he was watching a program on the old holovid, I figured it out. He muttered those words under his breath when he saw scenes of white families trudging into ramp cars, carrying bags and suitcases, while trying to keep their kids close so they wouldn?t get lost in the crowds. They didn?t look any happier than Dad did. Mom looked scared when she watched. It made me wonder what the shale mines or tar sands were like, but neither Mom nor Dad would talk about them. I guessed conditions must be pretty bad.

A few months later Mom lost her job as a security guard when a new law made it illegal for whites to carry weapons under any circumstances, and Dad said we couldn?t afford the holovid any more except one night a week. He even cut that out, until Mom finally found a job at a nursing home caring for rich old colored folks. Mom hated that job. She didn?t even try to keep me from knowing.

"John, they treat me like dirt," she complained, one evening at the dinner table. "It’s bad enough having to clean up the messes they make, but they act like I?m some kind of?of animal. Like I?m not even human."

Dad fingered his little mustache and stroked his chin, like he did when he was worried. He had been doing it a lot lately.

"Martha, I?m sorry it’s come to this, but there’s nothing we can do about it. Europeans and North Americans were on top for a long, long time. It had to end sometime."

"What had to end?" Risa piped up, from her side of the table.

For a little sister still young enough to be in pigtails she wasn?t too bad, except for a tendency to get me in trouble by telling the kids at school how smart I was.

"A cycle of history," Dad said, as if that explained everything.

"What’s that?"

"Something you?ll study in school later."

Risa caught my eye and I knew I?d have to do a quick search and make sure I had my facts straight, because she would be asking me about it later, while we were supposed to be doing our school assignments. Sometimes I learned more from answering her questions than I did at school. The school Risa and I went to wasn?t very good, but it was all Dad and Mom could afford. Lots of white kids, and even a few colored ones, never got to go to school at all because they couldn?t afford the connection fee or the contribution for teachers? salaries.

Dinner wasn?t that great. Mom and Dad were working long hours and Mom didn?t have a lot of time to cook. We weren?t eating all the good things we had been while Mom was a security guard, either. We didn?t have money for them now. Mom was trying to teach Risa and me to cook when she had time, but it hadn?t progressed very far yet. Risa didn?t complain about the quality any more. I told her not to, because I knew Mom was trying hard with what we could afford. We only had fresh fruit or vegetables on Saturdays; the rest of the week it was corn and soy concentrate. Mom flavored and cooked it different ways to make it look and taste better.

Historical cycles. Also see Cycles of History. A systematic, chronologically related series of natural and sociological phenomena on a large scale. Western Dictionary of Phrases, 12th edition, 2186.