Pratima has been trained as a scholar. She has been thrown together with William, the young library worker, to act in defense of the kingdom against strange weapons in the hands of dangerous people. Her choices will make or break a nation. Future India without technology is a wonderous land.
Published author of academic articles and book chapters and post-apocalyptic "woodpunk" fiction, S.A. Gibson turns his passions for learning, artificial intelligence, and human communication into accessible worlds of wonder and fascination. He is most proud of having been active in political actions for peace and justice. He lives with his beautiful wife and their beloved Dachshund-Chihuahua in Southern California, where he is currently producing an academic title on international ethnic conflict.
Darlana is threatened by those who would build a destructive weapon. She must join together with Pratima and the libraries to bring peace back to India.
Pratima's Forbidden Book
Darlana’s quiet evening relaxation ends suddenly. A crash raises her head from her knitting. She tilts her ear toward the sound at the rear of the house. She doesn't recognize the noises. But it doesn’t dawn on her to curse her blindness. “Please, what’s going on out there?” “People trampling through the garden. I’ll go see” Doctor Altal, her older employer, gets up from his chair. She listens to him moving, to the loud sounds from outside. The crashing continues. Like always, Darlana only glimpses flashes of light. “What do you see?” she calls, wanting to know. With her eyesight, it’s a phrase she needs to use often. “Nothing,” he responds. “Can't see a thing.” “Are you going out there?” She hears the door opening. “Be careful,” she warns. People rush into the room. Her ears follow them. She tries keeping track of Doctor Altal. Rising to her feet doesn't work, a moment later she’s slammed back into her chair. “Stay still,” a voice commands harshly. Darlana smells Sandalwood, vetiver. The hands press her arms against the chair for a moment then release her. She hears a grunt she thinks is from Altal. “Doctor Altal,” she calls out. “Are you all right?” “Shut-up, lady, he’s fine.” It’s a harsh voice that rings out. “Don't do anything stupid, or he won’t be.” Then, Darlana hears a woman giving commands to the others. It sounds like Raakhi Johri! From the eastern valley. “Raakhi?” But there’s no answer to that. “What are you doing to Doctor Altal?” Darlana blurts, again trying to rise. “We have a message. And you will take it to the Libraries. Delhi must stop interfering in our district,” the woman announces. “But—” Darlana’s confused, not even sure if she is facing the speaker. “Is Delhi interfering with you?” “The librarians pressure Delhi. Causes us problems,” she answers, and whoever she’s brought with her agrees with grunts. “I refuse librarians' restrictions!” At last, Altal’s voice comes into all this, demanding, “Do you think the libraries would enforce the rules against you?” Darlana wonders the same, if it is who she thinks or not. “They challenge my power. I know from personal experience. We all know what’s done to those who oppose them.” Yes, it must be Raakhi. “The library doesn't work that way,” Darlana counters with a sad shake of her head. “They do good work, surely, Raakhi, you know this.” “Whatever good use the libraries had doesn't exist anymore,” Raakhi bites out. What can I say to appease her? “Don't people say the libraries exist to prevent another Collapse?” Darlana tries. If only my sight worked better. Still hearing footsteps moving around the room. Keep everyone calm.