Sunday, 31 May 2015

A Double Surprise

Throughout "Genius" by Poul Anderson, the psychologist Heym and the soldier Goram speak as though genocide were morally acceptable, although - surprise ending - Goram turns out to have been playing a role. Shortly before the end of the story, Heym has learned, first, that Goram is secretly a member of the genius population of the experimental planet that they are inspecting and, secondly, that agents from that planet are infiltrating and taking over the Solarian Empire.

Knowing this, Heym, who is loyal to the Empire, cannot be allowed to return to it. Just six sentences before the end of the story, Goram, who until now has spoken of nothing but killing, remarks with a smile:

"'I'll just have to report you as accidentally killed on the planet.'" (Call Me Joe, p. 222)

A death sentence for Heym? No. The geniuses are too ingenious to resort to violence. Goram continues:

"'I don't think you'll find life exile on this world, out of sight of the observers, uncongenial.'" (ibid.)

Indeed, it has already been established that this entire planet is a hassle-free zone with considerate inhabitants and no conflict. I like to imagine a sequel, set decades later, in which Heym, still happily living on the planet, has no desire to escape or warn the Empire. In fact, the geniuses will solve the social problems of which he was only too aware - the only difference being that homo intelligens pursues goals that transcend those of homo sapiens. 

No comments: