“Jordan’s Waterhammer” — Joe Mastroianni

Joe Mastroianni’s short fiction has appeared in Realms of Fantasy and Tomorrow Speculative Fiction. He’s currently working on a novel that he describes as a psychic Antarctic love story. He’s done five deployments to Antarctica, and two to the south pole where he worked on instrumentation for climatic research. He’s been a Silicon Valley executive for twenty-five years and says he’s currently writing and building Tesla Coils.

Most of the worst atrocities in human history spring out of the dehumanization of particular groups.  Germany’s war crimes during World War II are some of the most horrifying examples, with over 11 million people put to death not as individual humans, but as faceless Jews and Gypsies and anti-establishment “criminals.” 

But genocide isn’t the only crime people commit when they strip the humanity from each other.  Apartheid came from the same ugly source.  Slavery, child labor, and even indentured servitude also depend upon devaluing a human being.  It’s sickening to imagine a society that encourages people to see a man merely as a tool, not even worthy of a name.

Our next story gives us just such a society.  The workers in this world fight to teach each other a man could be worth as much as the ore they work to mine, not because a man can be bought and sold for a particular price, but because a human being is valuable in and of himself.

Here is a world without the right to liberty, the pursuit of happiness, or even life itself.  After all, how can a tool be free?