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Cover Contest 2019: Planets Don't Drink Beer

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Cover in category: 'Fiction' > 'Science Fiction'

PDDB Cover 2.5
Well into the second century of human space exploration, nobody remembers being surprised that Mars turned out to be the best place in the solar system for growing the grains and herbs necessary to produce what just might be the best beers in the neighborhood—that is, the local neighborhood. Something like twelve light years.
If the so-called global government of Earth has anything to say about it, the glory and honor associated with that success will fall to the home planet, and not to the sometimes-unruly colonists that have managed to make a go of it on Mars. Ironically called Earth.gov, the terrestrial government never quite convinced everyone on the home planet to join up. To enforce all their oppressive regulations and taxes, they have contracted the operation of Mars Colony to a hateful corporation and a tyrant who sees Martian Red beer as his very own creation and the people of Mars as his personal servants.
It’s a regulatory state where all good things are taxed and all bad things are prohibited, unless it profits the government. It’s also a paranoid state, where early experiments in Artificial Intelligence have failed so mightily that any computer that takes on human characteristics is considered an enemy of the state. There are dissenters, often tolerated, but brutally silenced by the dreaded Red Card when deemed too aggressive.
In this turmoil, an unusual AI has somehow managed to emerge from the circuitry of an old appliance. In the hands of the Martian Beer Society, known as MBS and really a cover for rebel activity, the AI grows to understand what it will take to free Mars from both the corporation, known by the acronym MALT, and the yoke of political inertia that passes for Earth.gov. The heroes of the MBS, a computer expert and reluctant rebel, his ex-wife, an aging scientist and avowed anarchist, and a strikingly beautiful and unprincipled female activist, use the AI and ancient Martian script to find the keys to independence. But at great cost: The independence of human intelligence may be forever compromised, and the Martian lives lost can never be replaced. Or can they?

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