Notes from An Alien

~ Explorations In Writing { and reading and publishing } ~

Friday Story Bazaar ~ Tale Thirty-Nine

What’s the Value of Truth?

Alexander M Zoltai


The star system was in turmoil…

It’s history was certainly tempestuous enough, though it had begun on only one of the nine planets in the system.

All nine were habitable at the start; but, only one gave birth to intelligent life—Hethal.

That life grew and progressed as a unified multitude of people.

It was the subsequent travels to other planets; and, finally, settlements of certain of the Hethal people that led, eventually, to differences between the planets’ populations…

Some of the differences were slight, like that between brothers or sisters; some were radical like the differences between honesty and treachery.

Two of the planets, Hethal, itself, and Macres, were the strongest in terms of population stability and trade wealth; yet, of late, they were engaged in vile and vicious trade wars…

Hethal had spread its influence and could claim trade affiliation with three of the other planets.

Macres could count on trade from three of the remaining planets.

But, most important, was the planet Belonit—third in the ranking of wealth and number of people.

Hethal and Macres began a dangerous and potentially lethal contest of wooing the allegiance of Belonit.

Yet, Belonit was intent on its own concerns; and, it had enough of the trade with the other planets that it didn’t need to heed the advances of Hethal and Macres.

Still, Belonit was willing to play the wooing game and did many things that not only angered Hethal and Macres but also made them begin to threaten war against each other…

The Interplanetary Information Network began to bristle with acrimonious rants.

One day’s news had this: “Hethal has threatened to bomb the Welthrenal Holdings on Macres if they don’t decrease the costs of shipping.”

The next day revealed this: “Macres has decided to transfer ownership of  the Welthrenal Holdings to Belonit, greatly angering Hethal.”

The same day, this was written: “Belonit said, if it was given the Welthrenal Holdings it would, in turn, cede them to Hethal.”

None of this was based on truth or honest dealings—all was a childish game to try to gain influence with all the other worlds—showing off with hopes of scoring big in the general confusion…

And, the Interplanetary Information Network had its own ideas of what was permissible, often publishing rumors as if they were truth—rejoicing in the flood of new subscriptions to its service.

Needless to say, the craving for exorbitant wealth; and, the willingness to skirt around truth in order to incite intriguing plots geared toward announcing claims of supremacy left all the worlds wondering what the truth in any situation really was…

One thing that remained the truth in all minds (except those of the rulers of  Hethal, Macres, and Belonit) was that, if things didn’t change, total war would soon break out…

The Interplanetary Information Network woke up to the truth of the threat of war; but, it continued to wallow in the backwaters of rumor and hearsay, which added fuel to fiery imaginations and further confused the entire System’s situation.

There were incidents of isolated military strikes; but, again, it was nearly impossible to discern the truth in these civilian attacks…

What actually happened after all this, appallingly sad as it became, was not as critically important as what is now happening…

One of the smaller worlds, Evrensolita, is now the only inhabited world of the System—it’s very crowded with refugees from all the other planets; but, it has an abundance of hope for the future…

The other important thing is that there is a new law on Evrensolita: “Publishing an untruth will incur a year of social service aimed at moral re-education”

The law wasn’t instituted suddenly or whimsically—much thought and the opinions of as many  citizens as wished to comment were used to imagine various punishments for spreading untruths…

The one voted in by the population at large was moral re-education—seeming much less harmful than doing nothing.

When sixty-three billion people die from a lack of truth, the survivors must be supremely cautious…


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