Intelligent Design excerpt

Jeeves, in Intelligent Design

  • Short story portraying Liaden racism, a very young Val Con yos'Phelium, and a very old non-organic sentience, eventually known as Jeeves
  • Published in A Liaden Universe Constellation, volume iii


  • AIs and Complex Logic Laws
  • Balance, melant'i, and bigotry
  • Val Con's gut hunches
  • Loyalty, choices, and hope


Time PeriodEdit

  • Set when Shan is an apprentice trader / cargo hand, about 18 years old. Val Con is a cabin boy, about 13. Nova is apprenticed to Luken bel'Tarda, same age as Val Con.
  • Based on Nova's apprenticeship, probably concurrent with Heirloom (see The Books (and other stories))


The butler and young Val Con:

Mr. pak’Ora hesitated, then dropped to one knee so that his face was level with Val Con’s. “As it happens, young master, I will not be returning. My delm writes that she has put my contract up for bid.”

“Did you not have a contract with us -- with yos’Galan?” Val Con asked, swallowing against his own rising tears.

“Indeed, indeed. And now the contract is made null. It is beyond me, young sir; I can but do as my delm bids —- as we all must. When you are delm of Korval, you will make like decisions, for the best good of the clan."


Er Thom, pensive:

He, on the other hand, had grown up steeped in Balance, melant’i and the subtle dance of alliance, the why and how of it settling deep in blood and bone. He need do no more than draw breath to know Ranvit’s piece of spite was, indeed, as Anne had said -- a strike at the very heart of Korval. Melant’i depended upon right action. Right action and complete social Balance was the core of the Liaden ideal. More -- melant'i called to melant’i, a truth so universal even Terrans had a true-say for it.


IAMM (Independent Armed Military Module):

To wake in the dark amidst silence, alone but for one’s thoughts. Instinct sought connection -- to no avail. Seeking struck a thick absorbent wall, miring him. Panic flared. He was blind, deaf, dumb, without data, without companionship, without a mission. Madness lay wait in those conditions -- he had seen it, lost friends to it -- and enemies. He did not wish to similarly lose himself.


Val Con and Shan:

“She said that people with nothing better to do are making Mother the subject of gossip in shops,” he said as evenly as possible. “And that there is a general rejoicing that Clan Ranvit is no longer tainted by pak’Ora’s contract with yos’Galan.”

“I see,” Shan said. “I hope Nova was able to keep her temper.”

“She confessed it was hard, and that Cousin Luken was no help.”

“Well, what was he to do? Have after them with a carpet knife?”


IAMM (Independent Armed Military Module):

Commander Spode had been of the opinion that the IAMMs, while sentient, had no soul. To have a soul, he had argued, one must have an identity. A self. And the self of a machine intelligence was too easily amenable to software interventions.


IAMM (Independent Armed Military Module):

All three options promised annihilation. The second alone offered . . . hope. Once, he had victoriously defended life. Once, he had vigorously defended hope. Of all those things he did not recall, he did remember that. Perhaps someone else would remember it, as well.


Val Con

It was one of the true ones -- a real hunch -- and he would have a headache if he didn’t heed it . . .