Tuesday, February 08, 2011

The Disinherited 1 - Steve White

""We've been over this ground already, Arduin," Varien interrupted, his voice unwontedly gentle. "Many times, in fact. I put it to you: has the situation changed since our final decision was reached? Do you have any new information that invalidates the logic of that decision?"

"No," Arduin admitted.

"Then," Varien went on remorselessly, "our conclusions still stand. The Korvaash fleets are advancing at a rate limited only by their own caution—I imagine they still haven't fully grasped how feeble their opposition is." He raised a forestalling hand. "Forgive me, old friend, but the time for good manners is past. No one doubts the courage of your young men and women. They will go on till the end, trying to shelter Raehan behind a wall of their own corpses. But they are, quite simply, amateurs—products of a society for which war has been nothing more than the fading memory of an old nightmare. And they are fighting an enemy who sees himself as being permanently at war and organizes his society accordingly, and who commands resources that dwarf ours."

"But," Arduin argued stubbornly, "our technology is more sophisticated than theirs! Given your new drive . . ."

" . . . We could do far more damage to them than we otherwise would," Varien finished for him. "Maybe even provoke them into making exceptions to their usual guidelines for dealing with newly conquered planets—exceptions we wouldn't like. But we could not stop them. No technological advantage can win a war without a viable military force to take advantage of it. To give the drive to our government now would merely make it part of the spoils the Korvaasha will take when they occupy Raehan." He paused for breath, and then gazed somberly at the other two.

"I haven't used this argument until now, partly because"—a wintery smile—"it is so out of character that you both would have suspected I was up to something. But I ask you to consider this. We now know we are not the only intelligent race in the cosmos. So we are acting not only for ourselves, but for all that lives and thinks! To give the Korvaasha the secret of faster-than-light interstellar travel without recourse to displacement points—and, I repeat, that is precisely what turning it over to our government would amount to—would be to remove all limits to the militaristic expansion their ideology commands them to pursue. Their capabilities would become as unbounded as their aims. I will see Raehan go down into the dark rather than permit my work to be so perverted!"

He stopped, as astonished at his own vehemence as they doubtless were. Tarlann finally broke the silence.

"The Korvaasha will eventually discover it for themselves. You yourself have said it is a logical outgrowth of gravitics. In fact, you've admitted the concept wasn't original with you—you merely found a way to make it workable."

"Which is precisely why I have no intention of leaving them in peace to discover it," Varien replied, his normal asperity reasserting itself. "The entire purpose of our plans is to secure allies. Raehan cannot be saved—but it can be liberated."

"And what makes you so sure the Landaeniv will be able—or inclined—to do so? You've learned enough about them to know that their technology is laughable compared to ours or even the Korvaasha . . . .""

3.5 out of 5