Words: Treason or loyalty? Thoughts on the Chanur books

Recently author Jo Walton posted a review of the trilogy Chanur’s Venture/The Kif Strikes Back/Chanur’s Homecoming. It’s an interesting piece because it highlights the way interpretation can vary, and the way different people put different meanings in a word.

For me what Pyanfar does is not to commit treason to her species but to risk being ostracised for her defence of the Compact, the stability of which she views as a guarantee for Hani autonomy.
In her case it means going against the Han, the ruling body of her culture, and this is the core of the issue – is the ruling body, of any society, the same thing as the society it governs? Is it possible to be loyal to the society and not to the governing body, at the same time?

I, of course, think so. My continuous questioning of those managing the company employing me is based on that tenet. I view that as loyalty towards my employer – I want the company to thrive so I get interesting assignments and a reasonable salary. Pyanfar does much of the same, even if it becomes personal when Sikkukkut threatens annihilation of her species. That this loyalty crosses swords with the narrow-minded self-interest of a local government is only to be expected because that is what happens when you have people entrenched in status quo, with vested interests in maintaining the present situation.

If someone commits treason it is Tully, the only human. But looking at his motives it becomes clear that he doesn’t share the interests or motivations of the human fleet (which is neither Mazianni, Alliance or Union – I read it as a Sol initiative to seek it’s luck in the opposite direction, to make it possible to sever the connection to the three aforementioned forces) – he feels more at home with the hani crew than with his own species.

So, even looking at the same situation it is possible to name it two things – treachery or loyalty.

No wonder we humans don’t understand each other.

Good thing we haven’t met any aliens yet. We would mess it up beyond repair ;-)

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