The consequence of the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v Wade and their signaling that they will be paving the way for the fascists is having immediate consequences in my life. In a few months my life will be very different and possibly significantly worse. It might be ok, but I have an anxiety disorder, so I’ll be catastrophizing for a good while. I feel like everything is falling apart and there’s nothing I can d to stop it. Since I can’t do anything constructive, I’m listening to the audiobook versions of two books I’ve already read and reviewed – Kit Rocha’s Deal With the Devil and The Devil You Know. The third book in the Mercenary Librarians series is coming out next month. My review of that will go up soon. My brain is too busy screaming to give a coherent review of Dance With the Devil at this moment.
Survival is insufficient. – Seven (Star Trek Voyager) (and also Station Eleven)
So why have I chosen to spend my time listening to books set in a near future post-apocalypse Atlanta? Well, in 2086, I’ll be dead and all the bad things that are happening will have happened. Because Nina, Maya and Dani are people who were made into things, and they have reclaimed their personhood and are working to help other people stay people. Because when The Silver Devils (Knox, Grey, Rafe, and Conall) come stumbling into their lives, they redirect the super soldiers from mere survival to family, community building, and mutual aid. The Silver Devils were people who struggled to survive and were turned into expendable resources by the corporation that exploited the conditions that made it hard for them to survive. Nina is a clone, genetically altered to be super strong and fast. She and her cluster of sister clones were created and trained to be an elite fighting force. Maya, Dani, and the Devils have had their brains and bodies enhanced with implants to make them into effective tools for TechCorps – super soldiers, executive security, and a brain that remembers everything it hears – everything.
No. I’m, I’m simply saying that life, uh… finds a way. – Dr. Ian Malcolm (Jurassic Park)
Most of the Mercenary Librarian crew has super strength and other abilities because allowing TechCorps to tinker with their brains and bodies was their chance at survival. A lot of the enhancements were experimental and many who underwent the procedures did not survive. With no oversight from a government accountable to its citizens, effectively rules Atlanta. It limits access to resources making sure the population of Atlanta is so focused on basic survival that they are willing to become tools.
In Deal with the Devil, Nina, Maya and Dani show the former protectorate squad that there is life beyond selling your body and soul just to live another day. (To be clear, by selling your body, I mean allowing it to be experimented on and used as a tool of violence. There’s nothing shameful about sex work.) In The Devil You Know, the gang is making plans for a community health clinic and expanding access to books, seeds, and safe housing. Along the way, they collect more rescues and allies, including a young child, a clone like Nina, who at 7 or 8 knows battle tactics but not her own name.
Some people probably went into the Mercenary Librarians series expecting lots of action, gun fights, and battles. There are some of those things. Kit Rocha knows though that revolutions are more than violence meeting violence. While violence may be unavoidable, the real revolution is in creating systems so that people can live beyond mere survival and have choices about living the full spectrum of their humanity. In The Devil You Know, Maya stops living with the rules TechCorps imposed on her and reaches to embrace her full self. The rescued child is encouraged to name herself (and told she can change that name later if she would like). The former leader of the Protectorate squad is using his super soldier body to bake bread.
Right now the world is making me feel like the top of my head is about to blow off. I need escapism just to make it through the day. What Mercenary Librarians gives me is more than just the escapism of the future, more than the escapism of falling in love and sexy times. It also reminds me that choosing family, taking care of the people around me, and honoring the humanity of the people around me is a necessary act of revolution.
I’m going to keep trying. Even if it changes nothing. – Nina (Deal with the Devil)
The truth is, I will likely be fine on the housing front. But until I am certain my next home won’t be under a bridge, I will catastrophize. Another truth is, none of us are ok and for some of us, catastrophe will be next. The far right has no intention of stopping with a few states and localities, and reproductive rights aren’t the only item on their roll-back list. Now is the time to build community and to push back hard against people and institutions that want to turn us into things. Initially I linked to some news stories about further actions that will erode our rights and limit our humanity. But, that would be missing the point Kit Rocha wants us to take from their books. Fear and desperation are tools of oppression. We can’t stop all the bad things, but trying is worth it. Trying is important.
When this nation started, a majority of the country could not vote.
They can try to take us back there, but we already know there’s a path forward from not being able to vote. We’ve already done it. They can’t possibly win unless we let them.
— Courtney Milan 🦖 (@courtneymilan) July 7, 2022
Note: Kit Rocha, Courtney Milan, Alyssa Cole, and Tessa Dare are the authors behind Romancing the Vote, which raised $$ for voting rights. Buy their books. The only kickback I get is a sliver of hope that we won’t fall completely into fascism.