Sunday, April 18, 2021

The Payoff: Justice.

So here we are at week two of the big lead-up to the publication of The Payoff. Our target release date is Friday, April 30 -- less than two weeks from now. I do intend to put the book up for pre-order. I'll send out a newsletter as soon as it's available. (You say you're not on the list? I can fix that! Click here to sign up!) 

So what's this book about? Here you go:
Janis Fowler and Jan Marek grew up together, the only two students at the Institute, a research facility and school for children with paranormal abilities. Or so their parents were told. In reality, the Institute’s director, Dr. Denise Tandy, had her own plans for their talents – Janis can read a person’s past and Jan can see a person’s future – and when the kids resisted her, she was ruthless at getting them to comply.

At last, Janis and Jan escaped – and split up, knowing it was the only way to protect both themselves and each other. But they knew they would reunite someday, when they time was right. 

Forty years later, the time has come. Their old tormentor has turned up again. Her game is the same, but her newest ruse is more dangerous than ever. And she’s recruiting more victims.

Jan and Janis must use their powers to put an end to Dr. Tandy’s vile scheming – without risking each other. It’s a tall order for two people who have been hiding in plain sight for four decades. But with age comes wisdom. And they have waited long enough to see justice served.

As I said last week, justice is one of the three big themes of this book. The obvious association here is with punishment for criminal -- or at least unethical -- behavior. I don't want to venture into spoiler territory here, but Dr. Tandy deserves whatever Janis and Jan can dish up for her.

But it's not just punishment they're after. Janis's creed is that choices have consequences. She can read an individual's past. She knows the situations they have been in, and the choices they have made in those situations. For her and Jan, the future isn't predestined; rather, it's predictable, given the human propensity to do the same thing we did in a previous, similar situation, even if we didn't particularly like the result last time. Dr. Tandy has so far escaped any consequences for the way she treated Jan and Janis when they were children, and our heroes think it's high time she pay.

The usual symbol for justice is a set of scales, often held by a woman who also carries a sword. She is the Roman goddess Justitia, and her Greek antecedent is the goddess Themis. These days, Lady Justice also wears a blindfold, but that's a modern addition.

S. Hermann & F. Richter | Pixabay | CC0

In A Billion Gods and Goddesses, I talked about the pleasant fiction that the statue atop the U.S. Capitol represents freedom, when anyone with half a brain can see that she is Columbia, the goddess of the United States. It turns out Columbia isn't the only goddess in D.C.; Lady Justice is at home in the Supreme Court Building, and unlike Congress, the high court freely admits it. No fewer than three images of Lady Justice grace the place: as part of a statue at the entrance, on the base of a lamp post, and in a frieze in the courtroom itself.

Her scales represent balance, which was our theme last week; her sword shows she is ready to mete out punishment; and the blindfold indicates her intention to be fair. Rich or poor, weak or powerful, all are supposed to be equal before the law. The key there is "supposed to be"; fairness, like justice, is an ideal we strive for, and often we don't hit the mark. And sometimes justice is slow in coming. That's where our final theme -- patience -- comes in. I'll tackle that next week.


In the meantime, I'm set to receive my vaccine booster on Tuesday (go Team Moderna!). I got a sore arm from the first shot. From everything I've heard, the second dose packs more of a wallop -- but better that than a ventilator. Or a permanent dirt nap.


These moments of judicious blogginess have been brought to you, as a public service, by Lynne Cantwell, who will be masking up and maintaining social distancing, even after she's fully vaccinated. You too, okay?