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This entire chapter is one of exhilaration and reckless optimism, building on Kay and Cal’s incursion into the Aviary at the end of the previous. Here they make their boldest play yet, and get away with it. What they’re not ready for is a problem from their past, one which they’d unwisely forgotten about.

A reader commented on Holt after finishing the Arc 3 ebook: “As much as Holt’s mind may have been expanded by his recent travels, surely he’ll revert to type at the first opportunity.” Well, ‘Cancer’ is where Holt doesn’t fail to disappoint – he’s deliberately emblematic of a particular mindset and generation; one which refuses to reconsider, and which dismisses out of hand any evidence which counters their existing world view.

A Day of Faces is, ultimately, a work of optimism and humanism. Holt exists as a character to offer a counterpoint, and a vision of the realities we have to face when we try to act in a progressive, compassionate manner. He’s the voice of reactionary, hateful people. He represents all those who value themselves over others, and who fear anybody who doesn’t fit their ideal.

The end of this chapter is what happens when we stop paying attention, or when we take things for granted. When we live in a civil society, tolerance never comes free and it’s never easy. It has to be fought for, and guarded. No matter how much progress civilisation makes over the centuries, there will always be Holts, and we need to always be ready.

But that’s OK. Because there will always be Kays, too.

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