Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Loyalty

In Poul Anderson's The War Of Two Worlds (New York, 1959), after twenty years of war, Mars has captured Luna and defeated Earth. Under the terms of the armistice, the Earth space service must yield Pallas Base in good condition to the Marshies. The executive officer on Pallas, David Arnfeld, intends to obey that order and therefore must carpet an engineer who sets out to wreck safety controls so that the main power pile will blow up some time.

The engineer's loyalty is to his race. Arnfeld's is to the Earth HQ that issues his orders. Arnfeld can also point out first that the Terrestrial population will suffer if the armistice is broken - here, loyalty to family is invoked - and secondly that:

"Maybe we can get our revenge later, but that won't be for a long time yet." (p. 10)

So, fellow Terrestrials, which of them is right: Arnfeld or the engineer?

1 comment:

  1. Hi, Paul!

    Here I have to side with Arnfeld, and not the engineer. My view is that only an exact and scrupulous obedience of the armistice terms would help to bring milder treatment to a defeated Earth. Moreover, this was no different from the surrender terms accepted by defeated powers in real wars. I recall reading in the documents signed by the Germans and Japanese in WW II that their armed forces would not destroy public property but turn it over intact to the occupying forces.

    Sean

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