Sample M03 from James Blish, The Star Dwellers. New York: Avon Book Division, Hearst Corporation, 1961. Pp. 83-88. A part of the XML version of the Brown Corpus2,006 words 596 (29.7%) quotes 1 symbolM03

Used by permission of James Blish 0010-1730

James Blish, The Star Dwellers. New York: Avon Book Division, Hearst Corporation, 1961. Pp. 83-88.

Typographical Error: numenous [1150]

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This was not , for the Angel , just a matter of running through a logical or deductive chain , or deciding on some action from some already established premise . No doubt the Angels could do that kind of thing as fast as any computer .

What Gabriel was being asked to do now , however , was to re-examine all his basic assumptions , make value-judgments on them , and give them new and different powers in his mind to govern his motives . This is not wholly a reasoning process -- a computer cannot do it all -- and even in an Angel it takes time . ( Or , perhaps , especially in an Angel , whose assumptions had mostly been fixed millions of years ago .

Being reasonably sure of the reason for the long pause , however , did not make it seem any less long to Jack . He had already become used to Hesperus' snapping back answers to questions almost before Jack could get them asked .

There was nothing he could do but wait . The dice were cast .

At last Gabriel spoke .

`` We misjudged you '' , he said slowly . `` We had concluded that no race as ephemeral as yours could have had time to develop a sense of justice . Of course we have before us the example of the great races at the galactic center ; ; individually they are nearly as mortal as you -- the difference does not seem very marked to us , where it exists . But they have survived for long periods as races , whereas you are young . We shall recommend to them that they shorten your trial period by half .

`` For now , it is clear that we were in the wrong . You may reclaim your property , and the penalty on Hesperus is lifted . Hesperus , you may speak '' .

`` I did not perceive this essential distinction either , First-Born '' , Hesperus said at once , `` I was only practicing a concept that Jack taught me , called a deal '' .

`` Nevertheless , you were its agent . Jack , what is the nature of this concept '' ? ?

`` It's a kind of agreement in which each party gives something to the other '' , Jack said . `` We regard it as fair only when each party feels that what he has received is as valuable , or more valuable , than what he has given '' . His heart , he discovered , was pounding . `` For instance , Hesperus agreed to help me find my property , and I agreed to take him to Earth . Between individuals , this process is called bargaining . When it is done between races or nations , it is called making a treaty . And the major part of my mission to your nest is to make a treaty between your race and mine . Recovering the property was much less important '' .

`` Strange '' , Gabriel said . `` And apparently impossible . Though it might be that we would have much to give you , you have nothing to give us '' .

`` Hesperus and Lucifer '' , Jack said , `` show that we do '' .

Another pause ; ; but this one was not nearly as long .

`` Then it is a matter of pleasure ; ; of curiosity ; ; of a more alive time . Yes , those could be commodities under this concept . But you should understand , Jack , that Hesperus and Lucifer are not long out of the nursery . Visiting the Earth would not be an offering of worth to those of us who are older '' .

This explained a great deal . `` All the more reason , then '' , Jack said , `` why we must have a treaty . We will gladly entertain your young and give them proper living quarters , in return for their help in running our fusion reactors . But we must know if this is in accordance with your customs , and must have your agreement they will not misuse the power we put in their hands , to our hurt '' .

`` But this simply requires that they behave in accordance with the dictates of their own natures , and respect yours in turn . To this we of course agree '' .

Jack felt a wave of complete elation , but in a second it had vanished without a trace . What Gabriel was asking was that mankind forego all its parochial moral judgments , and contract to let the Angels serve on Earth as it is in Heaven regardless of the applicable Earth laws . The Angels in turn would exercise similar restraints in respect for the natural preferences and natures of the Earthmen -- but they had no faintest notion of man's perverse habit of passing and enforcing laws which were contrary to his own preferences and violations of his nature .

The simple treaty principle that Gabriel was asking him to ratify , in short , was nothing less than total trust .

Nothing less would serve . And it might be , considering the uncomfortable custom the Angels had of thinking of everything in terms of absolutes , that the proposal of anything less might well amount instead to something like a declaration of war .

Furthermore , even the highly trained law clerk who was a part of Jack's total make-up could not understand how the principle could ever be codified . Almost the whole experience of mankind pointed toward suspicion , not trust , as the safest and sanest attitude toward all outsiders .

Yet there was some precedent for it . The history of disarmament agreements , for instance , had been unreassuringly dismal ; ; but the United States and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics nevertheless did eventually agree on an atomic bomb test ban , and a sort of provisional acceptance of each other's good intentions on this limited question . Out of that agreement , though not by any easy road , eventually emerged the present world hegemony of the United Nations ; ; suspicion between member states still existed , but it was of about the same low order of virulence as the twentieth-century rivalry between Arizona and California over water supplies .

Besides , agreements `` in principle '' , with the petty details to be thrashed out later , were commonplace in diplomatic history . The trouble with them was that they almost never worked , and in fact an agreement `` in principle '' historically turned out to be a sure sign that neither party really wanted the quarrel settled .

Suppose that this one were to work ? ? There was no question in Jack's mind of the good faith on one side , at least . If mankind could be convinced of that

It was worth trying . In fact , it had to be tried . It would be at once the most tentative and most final treaty that Earth had ever signed . Secretary Hart had taught Jack , at least partially , to be content with small beginnings in all diplomatic matters ; ; but there was no small way to handle this one .

He turned back to the screens , the crucial , conclusive phrase on his lips . But he was too late . He had lost his audience .

For a moment he could make no sense at all of what he saw . It seemed to be only a riot of color , light and meaningless activity . Gradually , he realized that the pentagon of Angel elders had vanished , and that the ritual learning dance of the nursery had been broken up . The Angels in the nursery were zigzagging wildly in all directions , seemingly at random .

`` Hesperus ! ! What's going on here ? ? What's happened '' ? ?

`` Your brothers have been found . They are on their way here '' .

`` Where ? ? I don't see them . The instruments don't show them '' .

`` You can't see them yet , Jack . They'll be in range in a short while '' .

Jack scanned the skies , the boards , and the skies again . Nothing . No -- there was a tiny pip on the radar ; ; and it was getting bigger rapidly . If that was the skiff , it was making unprecedented speed .

Then the skiff hove into sight , just a dot of light at first against the roiling blackness and crimson streaks of the Coal Sack . Through the telescope , Jack could see that both spacesuits were still attached to it . The sail was still unfurled , though there were a good many holes in it , as Langer had predicted would be the case by now .

It was a startling , almost numenous sight ; ; but even more awesome was the fact that it was trailing an enormous comet's-tail of Angels .

The skiff was not heading for the nursery , however . It seemed unlikely that her crew , if either of them were alive , could even see the Ariadne , for they were passing her at a distance of nearly a light-year . And there would be no chance of signaling them -- without the Nernst generator Jack could not send a call powerful enough to get through all the static , and by the time he could rebuild his fusion power the skiff would be gone .

Fuming , helpless , he watched them pass him . The sail , ragged though it was , still had enough surface to catch some of the ocean of power being poured out from the nursery stars . He would never have believed , without seeing it , that the bizarre little vessel could go so fast .

But where was it going ? ? And why was it causing so much agitation among the Angels , and being followed by so many of them ? ?

There was only one possible answer , but Jack's horrified mind refused to believe it until he had fed the radar plots of the skiff's course into the computer . The curve on the card the computer spat back at him couldn't be argued with , however .

The skiff was headed for the very center of the nebula -- toward that place which , Jack knew now , could hold nothing less important than the very core of the Angel's life and religion .

It was clear that Langer had at last found a way to attract the Angel's attention .

It was equally clear that as of this moment , the treaty was off .

Stern chase 10 Langer would have to be headed off , whether he knew where he was going or not . Almost surely he did ; ; after all , he had had the same set of facts as Jack had had to work from , and he was an almost frighteningly observant man . But not having talked to the Angels , he had made a wrong turn in his reasoning somewhere along the line . Had he decided , perhaps , that the center of the cloud was a center of government , instead of a center of life and faith '' ? ?

But it didn't matter now whether he meant to invade the Holy of Holies , or was simply headed in that direction by accident . If it was intentional , it was now also unnecessary ; ; and whether intentional or not , the outcome would be disastrous .

Jack crawled under the boards and restored the six feet of lead line he had excised from the Nernst generator switch . When he was back on his feet again and about to reinstall the fuses , however , he hesitated .

He had to have fusion power to catch up with the skiff , and he had to have it fast . But fusion power in the Coal Sack was what had triggered all the trouble in the first place -- and he already had an Angel aboard .

`` Hesperus '' ? ?

`` Receiving '' .

`` I'm going to turn my generator back on , as I promised to do . But I can't take you to Earth yet . First I've got to intercept my brothers before they get any deeper into trouble . Will you obstruct this , or will you help ? ? I know it's not part of the bargain , and your elders might not like it '' .

`` Nobody else can live in your hearth while I am in it '' , Hesperus said promptly . `` As for my elders , they have already admitted that they were wrong . If because of this incident they become angry with Earth , I will not be permitted to go there at all . Therefore of course I will help '' .

With a short-lived sigh of relief , Jack plugged the fuses back in and threw the switch . Without an instant's transition , the green light that meant full fusion power winked on the board . Always before , it had taken five minutes to --

Of course . Hesperus was in there . From here on out , the Ariadne was going to be hotter than any space cruiser man had ever dreamed of .

But since he had failed to anticipate it , he lost the five minutes anyhow , in plotting an intercept orbit .

`` Hesperus , don't use this t-tau vector trick of yours , please .