After reading one of his posts, a word from long ago resurfaced, and the phrase got stuck in my head: “Ken wants his stroon”.
Those of you who know the writings of Cordwainer Smith will recognize the reference.
Even Manhome—Mother Earth herself, whom no money could buy—was bribed by the drug of life. An ounce of the santaclara drug, reduced, crystallized, and called “stroon,” could give forty to sixty years of life. Stroon entered the rest of the Earths by ounces and pounds, but it was refined back on North Australia by the ton. With treasure like this, the Norstrilians owned an unimaginable world whose resources overreached all conceivable limits of money.
And this made me think of Smith’s classic story Mother Hitton’s Littul Kittons, which I was pleased to find is available online. I re-read it after many years and it was as good as I remembered.
The moon spun. The woman watched. Twenty-one facets had been polished at the moon’s equator. Her function was to arm it. She was Mother Hitton, the weapons mistress of Old North Australia.
She was a ruddy-faced, cheerful blonde of indeterminate age. Her eyes were blue, her bosom heavy, her arms strong. She looked like a mother, but the only child she had ever had died many generations ago. Now she acted as mother to a planet, not to a person; the Norstrilians slept well because they knew she was watching. The weapons slept their long, sick sleep.
The Norstrillians have Homeland Security like Tom Ridge can only dream about.