#SampleSunday Off-Planet Introspection

SIDESHOW IN THE CENTER RING is what I call a comedy of bad manners. Connie Phelan, an insult-humor comedy star, won’t feel like she’s overcome her lower-class roots until she’s a leader of the most exclusive social group on Earth. When she accompanies the group to a planet where slavery is legal, she’s forced to face her ambition and evaluate her own character.

This scene is bit of down time she allows herself with the slave who has forced her to claim him in order to keep him away from the social group’s resident sociopath.

Off-Planet Introspection
by Marian Allen

sideshow180Tosun and I spent the afternoon poling a reed boat through a backwater. Tosun pointed out plants and critters and various items of nature, and I wondered why I never did this back home.

We tied up under a shade tree and Tosun played me to sleep on his clawharp.

When I woke up, the shadows were long, and there was a scent of spicy herbs in the air.

Tosun was chewing on something, a green stem sticking out of the side of his mouth.

“Peasants’ Pleasure,” he said, holding up a handful of stalks. “Can you smell it?”

“Yes. Smells good. I wonder if it’s safe for Terrans.”

“Sure. It isn’t a stimulant or anything. Want some?”

It tasted bright and rich, like raw gingersnap dough.

“Nice here,” Tosun said.

“Sure is. I can almost understand why people would want to live in the country.”

I dabbled my hand in the water and wished I could stay here, like this, for a long, long time. I was almost forty, I’d been fighting to get out of the Alley all my life, and I was tired of it. Maybe Jackie was right. Maybe fighting to get out was what was keeping me in.

So what was I going to do, give up? When I was this close? Darryl was being such a pain in the rear it was a wonder any of us could sit down, but other than that everything was going great. I was going to go home one of The Precious Few, the tenth member of the Inner Circle of the Good Society.

True, that would mean moving in the same circle as Darryl and Marissa, but that was a price I was willing to pay.

If that happened–and it would–maybe I wouldn’t sign up for another season of CLUB CALIBAN.

Maybe I’d get TerraNet to do it as a mini-series, instead, or a set of movie-length specials.

Maybe I’d retire altogether, join the leisure class, and run with the Society all year round.

Suddenly, I hurt so much inside I grunted.

“What’s wrong?” Tosun asked.

I spit out the herb I’d been chewing. “This stuff’s giving me gas. Let’s go back.”


SIDESHOW IN THE CENTER RING is now available in paperback, and also for Kindle.

A WRITING PROMPT FOR YOU: A character is surprised to find himself or herself repelled by the nearness of a goal.



I was born in Louisville, Kentucky, but now live in the woods in southern Indiana. Though I only write fiction, I love to read non-fiction. The more I learn about this world, the more fantastic I see it is.

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