Sunday, 20 March 2016

Neutral Advisors

"...Conservors were utterly neutral, bound by their oaths to serve only the species as a whole."
-Jerry Pournelle and SM Stirling, "The Asteroid Queen" IN Larry Niven, Ed., Man-Kzin Wars III (New York, 1990), p. 59.

This reminded me of something that I had posted recently. Since I had made a comparison with "a celibate priesthood," I searched the blog for this phrase and found that I had referred to Motie Mediators.

Another comparison could be with a Pak (or human) protector who manages to adopt the entire Pak (or human) species as his kin. On the Ringworld, ghouls make ideal protectors because they must protect all other species as their own food source. I think that Poul Anderson's many imaginary societies include some with neutral advisors loyal to the society as a whole  - if anyone can remember an example?

I learned to practice neutrality as a Careers Advisor. Some pupils at a Catholic school told me that they wanted to leave the school as soon as possible in order to get away from the religion whereas another told me that he wanted to attend a Cardinal Newman College precisely because it was Catholic. I helped each pupil to do what s/he wanted and therefore had to disagree with a Teacher who thought that the pupils should stay at the school.


  1. Kaor, Paul!

    Unfortunately, I can't remember anything like Kzinti Conservors in the works of Poul Anderson. That is, advisors whose first loyalty is either to the human race or a human society as a whole. I think the human race is too quarrelsome and bellicose for anything like that to naturally arise among us. Which makes it all the more surprising the Kzinti evolved such an institution.

    Of course I've heard of Cardinal John Henry Newman, and read some of his works, but I've never heard of a Cardinal Newman College before this blog piece of yours.


    1. Sean,
      Planetary Engineers in the Psychotechnic History? I thought that there was some such group in THE WINTER OF THE WORLD but I would have to check.

    2. Kaor, Paul!

      Dang! I should have remembered the Order of Planetary Engineers, who even had (I think) an "abbot" as their chief. But that was more an organization of engineers and technicians trying to BUILD things that would benefit the entire human race. Not as acting as advisers to any state.

      A better example from Poul Anderson's works might be the Order of Communicators we see in "The Communicators." What had once began as simply a scientific research group had evolved during centuries of chaos into a quasi religious order which had taken on more and more roles, "secular" as well as semi-religious. The very end of the story has Brother Roban saying: "Sir, we... we can't murder: we can't take sides. It's not in our t-t-tradition."