The Bloodless Coup
Cui Bono?: The Rise of The Great Dictator
"They keep you doped with religion, and sex and TV,
And you think you're so clever and classless and free.
But you're still fucking peasants as far as I can see."
--John Lennon, Working Class Hero
"They change you and brainwash you when you least expect
They feed you mass media - the Age is Electric."
--Gerome Ragni and James Rado,
"In the beginning was the Word, and it was written by a baboon."
--Robert Anton Wilson & Robert Shea,
The Eye In The Pyramid
The country was not, strictly speaking, a country.
It didn't have borders in the strict, legal sense. Its citizens
were not citizens in the way that we understand the concept. It
had a legal system, but no laws - and consequently no law
enforcement. It didn't have an army.
Above all else, that country which was not a country had the
best educational system on the planet. Yet it had no teachers. It
had the most comprehensive and fairest welfare state in the
world, but no state.
It called itself "The Network," and it was twenty years in the
making. Its origins lay in a drunken conversation.
"Dammit, Graham. Have you seen the fucking 'papers today?"
Graham looked across at General Wye. Calmly. The General, though
he looked less imposing out of uniform, still looked formidable
in the faded T-shirt-look he favoured for out-of-hours attire.
More importantly, his casual clothes fitted in well at the Black
Dragon, where the two enjoyed drinking after work.
Graham's pause lasted only moments before he answered, "Sure I
have, General. Any particular story?"
"Yes!...No!...The whole fucking thing! All of the damned
stories! What's happening out there?" Wye gestured, vaguely, out
of the window.
"Science, you mean?" Graham knew he'd hit the nail right on the
head - the two had been drinking once or twice every week since
they'd met five years before, and Graham had quickly become used
to the fact that the General was always talking about science and
technology. Indeed, after the fourth double, he usually talked
far too loudly on those very subjects.
"Of course I'm talking about science, man! Do you know what
they've done this time?"
'They,' as Graham knew from long experience, could be any one of
several groups, from the Science and Engineering Research Council
(SERC) through to 'Those Damned Earth Firsters.' So he just shook
"Well I'll tell you. Goddamn NASA..." The General spat the name
out as though he didn't even want it to contaminate his lips, and
Graham learned who the 'They' was this time, "They've lost
another fucking probe."
"Come, come, General. It's not always NASA's fault."
"'Course it's their fucking fault!" Wye shouted, drawing stares
from the other drinkers in the pub. He lowered his voice slightly
before going on, "The US Congress doesn't want to spend money on
research, okay? They really don't want to spend any money on
Space Research. So NASA is there to talk them into it. But do
they? Do they fuck! NASA takes whatever crumbs of funding they
can get, then spreads it as thinly as possible. Most of their
missions fail because they don't spend anything like enough money
on them, and what does Congress do? Spends even less money on
space research because 'it's obviously a waste of time and
money.' Not NASA's fault? Bullshit."
Graham allowed Wye to wind down a little before saying, calmly
enough, "And what do you think we can do about it? I mean, you're
only a General in the British Army - and I'm just a clerk. We
haven't got any money to spend on research of any kind. That kind
of work needs billions."
"I know. I know. It just pisses me off, is all."
Wye paused for a moment, thinking, then: "I mean. Britain and
the US have both been cutting our research budgets for the past
thirty years. At the same time, Japan, Taiwan, India and the rest
of Asia have all been spending more and more money on scientific
research. What's the result? We're going steadily downhill -
becoming poorer and ever poorer - while their standard of living
increases by leaps and bounds."
Graham interrupted, smoothly, having heard this before, "Yes, I
know - the standard of living in the US is already back to the
levels it had in the nineteen forties, Britain isn't doing much
better, while the Asian and South American countries overtook us
over a decade ago." He said the words as though learned by rote.
"I ask you - is all that just a coincidence? The West stops
doing research, and declines - the East starts, and expands like
Impressed by his own flowery language, Wye was momentarily lost
for words, giving Graham a chance to speak again. "And I ask you
again, General. What can we do about it?"
There was a long silence, while Wye looked down into his glass
for a moment, then lifted it to his lips. He drained the
remaining bourbon in one gulp, before answering, in a depressed
tone of voice, "Nothing, I suppose."
After a while, General Wye got unsteadily to his feet and left
the pub to go home to the 'damned bedsit' he'd been living in
since his divorce. As he left, he didn't see Graham staring after
him, a pensive look on his face.
A moment after Wye left, Graham rose from his seat. After taking
a moment to smooth down the trousers of his suit, he went across
to the nearby pay 'phone, inserted a single coin and dialled a
When Graham heard the receiver lifted at the other end, he said
just one word into the 'phone before replacing the receiver and
leaving the pub himself.
The word he said was: "Now."
The text of the articles is identical to the originals like they appeared in old ST NEWS issues. Please take into consideration that the author(s) was (were) a lot younger and less responsible back then. So bad jokes, bad English, youthful arrogance, insults, bravura, over-crediting and tastelessness should be taken with at least a grain of salt. Any contact and/or payment information, as well as deadlines/release dates of any kind should be regarded as outdated. Due to the fact that these pages are not actually contained in an Atari executable here, references to scroll texts, featured demo screens and hidden articles may also be irrelevant.