Monday, September 28, 2009

103. Lawrencium


Lawrence of America

The archaeologist, scholar, author, and military genius E. T. Lawrence was assigned to Earth during the First Galactic War and charged with finding a way to stymie Axis forces which were using the planet as a staging area preparatory to the assault on Centaurus. There he conceived the unorthodox plan of undermining the Axis's Chinese allies by encouraging the tributary nations of North America to rise up in rebellion against their conquerors.

Lawrence in colorful native garb, his necktie flying over his shoulder as he leads the Americans into battle, is one of the most romantic images in all Galactic War One. His vision of a revived American nation (rather larger than the original, for it would encompass the entire continent), combined with his valor, endurance, and promises of extraplanetary gold, united the self-serving politicians for a time and led to the conquest of Toronto and New York, the sterilization of vast stretches of Asia, and ultimately to a triumphant, if somewhat bloody, drive on Mexico City itself.

Alas, with the conclusion of the war, Lawrence's American allies proved themselves unworthy of self-government and turned upon each other in savage factionalism. Disillusioned, this being of rare parts fell upon hard times. Refusing all honors, he had a full-body change and enlisted as a Denebian slitherer and served with distinction in the Mud Wars, but ultimately found no true satisfaction in the Semisolid Corps. A tragic accident while nova-surfing put an end to his unhappy life.

Earth is today administered by the Hegemony with the greatest respect for and altruism toward its native peoples. Despite what cynics say, our presence there has nothing whatsoever to do with the slave trade.

© 2002 by Michael Swanwick and SCIFI.COM.

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