Monday, July 30, 2007

A Woman in Charge, by Carl Bernstein

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I published this review a few days ago at Zeal for Truth.

Carl Bernstein has a new book about Hillary Clinton. He was on The O'Reilly Factor a few weeks ago, to talk about what he learned in the seven years of investigating for the book. In the brief segment, he managed to contradict himself every time he opened his mouth.
O'Reilly: Did [Hillary Clinton] break the law?
Bernstein: Yes.
O'Reilly: OK. Good, I like this. How did she break the law?
Bernstein: She broke the law if, indeed, she perjured herself.
O'Reilly: Well, you just said she did break the law.
Bernstein: No. The special prosecutor determined that she did not. So he did not file the charge.
O'Reilly: So you think she did. But the special prosecutor, Ken Starr, said no.
Bernstein: That is co -- you know what? Let me be really straightforward. I don't think she broke the law. I think there was a time that she did not tell the truth.

So what's the real story? To find out, I read A Woman in Charge: The Life of Hillary Rodham Clinton. It is a meticulously researched, detailed biography. (There are 70 pages of end notes and references.) It gives insight into who Hillary Clinton is, what motivates her, what her goals are, and why she is so secretive.

The Journey
Bernstein's favorite metaphor is the journey. Hillary's life is a journey. She can't be pigeon-holed as a radical liberal, or a socialized health care nutjob. She can only be understood in the context of her personal journey. My understanding of Hillary Clinton was fairly limited. I could identify her as the proponent of the Clintons' failed attempt at socialized health care. Other than that, all I had was a vague feeling that she was too liberal. So when I heard Bill O'Reilly praising Bernstein's book as well-researched, I went right out and bought it.

Hillary Rodham, Republican
Most surprising to me is that she began her journey as a Republican. This is probably due to her family upbringing. Her father was a staunch Republican who considered Democrats no better than Communists. By college, though, Hillary realized her views were no longer Republican.

Hillary Rodham, advocate for children
I assumed Hillary Clinton used her husband's career to gain her own entry into politics. I was wrong. Before she met Bill Clinton, Hillary Rodham had already established her reputation nationally, as an advocate for family and children's rights. Her friends thought she could eventually be elected a US Senator. When she married Bill Clinton, she gave up her Washington career to move to Arkansas, where the public demanded she play a traditional role as the governor's wife.

Bill Clinton and Hillary Rodham, public servants
A theme that runs throughout A Woman in Charge is that of Bill and Hillary's deep desire to help the public. Both want to change the world for the better. Hillary Rodham went into law to change the world, one case at a time; Bill Clinton went into politics, to enact wholesale change. Both are genuinely seeking to help the most vulnerable. Theirs is not a quest for power for its own sake. Power is a means to an end. The goal is to do as much good as possible.

Bill Clinton, candidate
Bill Clinton always had his eye on the Presidency. It was where he could do the most good. He considered running in 1988, but decided against it. One issue was the amount of time it would take away from his family life--both he and Hillary were determined to be good parents. The real reason, though, was that at that time, his problems with women would have sunk his campaign.

Hillary Rodham Clinton, co-President
During the first two years of Bill Clinton's presidency, Hillary wielded as much power as he did. All the major mistakes of his presidency during this time can be traced to Hillary. Hillary--feeling self-righteous as always, and that God was on her side--was unwilling or unable to listen to critics. She drove the health care agenda into the ground by

  1. Actively mistreating the press

  2. Formulating the plan in secret

  3. Deliberately not seeking the support of Republicans

  4. Refusing to compromise.

Bill Clinton could see she was headed for failure, but he couldn't overrule Hillary. He owed her. During the campaign, she had supported him steadfastly against (legitimate) accusations of womanizing. Only after Hillary's health care initiative was soundly defeated, and the Republicans took control of Congress, did Hillary remove herself from a day-to-day policy-making role in the White House. Bill Clinton's presidency was more effective after her exit.

Hillary Clinton, obfuscater
Hillary Clinton has a problem with the truth. As Bernstein presents it, Hillary does not trust the public to understand the truth in context. She would rather present her own version of the truth--not because she has anything dirty to hide, but because she's afraid that the press will spin it and the public will come away with the wrong impression. Years of relentless persecution by the press and by the Republicans have cemented Hillary's attitude.

Bill Clinton, amnesiac
Bill Clinton has a remarkable ability to make himself genuinely forget about incidents he'd rather not remember. Actions he wishes he hadn't taken are pushed out of his conscious mind. The examples Bernstein provides are all related to Bill Clinton's womanizing.

Hillary Rodham Clinton, blameless
The biggest failing of A Woman in Charge is that it tends to paint the Clintons as blameless. For example: Bernstein mentions some boxes of documents that the Clintons were able to keep sealed. Bernstein quotes several people as saying that if those documents had been released during the Whitewater investigation, Bill Clinton would have been forced to resign. Then Bernstein concludes the documents held nothing incriminating, and that the Clintons kept them sealed for no good reason. Really? It may be true, but that conclusion doesn't seem warranted by the facts that Bernstein presents.

Carl Bernstein, cheerleader
Bernstein's support for Hillary Clinton's policies is evident throughout the text. Her most spectacular policy failure was socialized health care. Bernstein painstakingly details how the Clintons managed to sink the health care initiative. Hillary's irrational secrecy; their disdain for Washington traditions, their mistreatment of the press, and Hillary's inability to compromise. Certainly these all played a part. But Bernstein never even entertains the idea that America didn't want or need socialized health care.

Hillary Clinton, Senator
Bernstein offers no real details on Hillary's Senate career. He offers some speculation: Hillary has learned from her mistakes. She has genuinely reformed, and is eager to make up for her earlier mistakes by reaching out the powerful people in Washington. Her moderate record reflects her real beliefs, which are influenced by her conservative Methodist upbringing.

Bah! A more rational explanation is that Hillary is rehabilitating her image and biding her time so she can be elected President. Her moderate voting record is less indicative of her true political persuasion than of a calculated attempt to avoid controversy so she can spring wholesale change when she becomes President. She's always considered herself on a righteous mission to fix the world, and is willing to stretch the truth and lie to achieve that goal. Bernstein examines that aspect of her character in detail, but seems oblivious that this might also apply to her Senate career.

Hillary Clinton, ?
O'Reilly: I have to tell you, I still don't know what to make of the woman even after -- even after reading the book. That's how complicated this woman is.
Bernstein: That's terrific.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Rant: Elitism

There is a problem in science fiction: a current of righteous, exclusivist superiority. The sf community considers itself enlightened in a way that the rest of the world may never attain. It's true that most new technologies have been written about in sf for decades, so the questions they pose do not take any sf fan by surprise. E.g., the ethical implications of cloning were explored in myriad stories, long before cloning became a reality.

That should not cause sf fans to feel smugly superior. The sf community is not better than the rest of the world. It is neither at the forefront of technological breakthroughs nor a driving force for social change. It is a niche literary genre that is fast developing an insular, ivory-tower elitism--an elitism just as destructive and self-defeating as the elitism of the literary fiction that sf writers and fans so often sneer at. It may be too late. sf is no longer relevant, if indeed it ever was.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

The Glory Game, by Keith Laumer

Rating: 4
Pages: 222

The Glory Game is top-notch military science fiction. It's not quite on the level of Starship Troopers or Dorsai!, but it's a fun story.

The Terran Empire is threatened by the Hukk, a warlike alien race. Nobody knows much about the Hukk. The Terrans are politically divided on how to deal with the threat. Only one man, Commodore Tan Dalton, understands the Hukk threat enough to devise a suitable defense, but he does not have command of the Terran Navy.

The Characters

  • Softliners - The anti-war politicians want to avoid war. They believe the best way to deal with the Hukk is with an olive-branch. A few concessions to the Hukk will prevent conflict.

  • Hardliners - War hawks believe the Hukk threat must be crushed. The Terrans should not wait for the Hukk to initiate hostilities. They should strike first, and wipe every last Hukk off the face of the galaxy.

  • Tan Dalton - Commodore of the Terran Navy, he is respected by both the Hardliners and the Softliners. When Terra stages a navy exercise--as a show of force--both the Hardliners and Softliners approach Dalton. Both are afraid that the other side's admiral will seize command of the fleet. Each side promises Dalton a promotion and political favors if he seizes command instead.

The Conflict
During the fleet exercise, Dalton uncovers a Hukk plot to attack Terra. He seizes command of the fleet--much to the consternation of the admirals--and intercepts the Hukk armada. By sheer bravado, he cows the Hukk into surrender. Then he disarms the Hukk vessels and sends them home.

The Flaw
Then Dalton must deal with the political fallout--the Hardliners and Softliners each try to spin the incident to their advantage. Both are irritated at Dalton's refusal to toe the party line. Apparently, Dalton is the only human in the whole galaxy who believes that the Hukk military threat should be met with decisive military action, but that a genocide against the Hukk race is unnecessary. That, I believe, is the biggest flaw in The Glory Game. The Hardliners and Softliners are gross caricatures. Dalton's moderate views make him the only reasonable person in the book.

The Retirement
The Softliners gain the political upper hand. The Terran navy is gutted. Dalton is forced into retirement and politely asked to leave Earth. He sets himself up in a frontier planet and waits for the inevitable Hukk attack. (Dalton believes that the Hukk will rebuild their fleet and attack again.) When the Hukk try again, Dalton is ready.

Monday, July 23, 2007

The Peregrine, by Poul Anderson

Previously published as Star Ways
Rating: 3
Pages: 184

The Stellar Union is expanding. It pushes into new frontiers, filling its part of the galaxy. Most people live on planets, but a small group has taken to living in space permanently. They call themselves Nomads. The Nomads are relatively small in number; a few dozens of spaceships.

Joachim Henry, captain of the Nomad ship Peregrine, makes an unsettling discovery. Several dozen spaceships have disappeared in one particular region of uncharted space. There is a pattern to the disappearances. It suggests an advanced, secretive, malevolent empire. Joachim convinced his fellow Nomads to support him in investigating.

The Stellar Coordination Service is also interested. The uncharted space is right where the Stellar Union hopes to expand into in the next decades. If there is an enemy, the Union would like to know.

Therefore: Coordination Service agent Trevelyan Micah weasels his way onto the Peregrine and offers his help in the investigation. Joachim accepts his offer of help. Joachim and Trevelyan are aided by Ilaloa, the new wife of another Nomad. Ilaloa has rudimentary powers of telepathy. Together, they manage to locate a planet of the unknown civilization.

The Alori civilization is a kind of paradise. The people live simply, in idyllic planets. The climate and weather are perfect; food grows abundantly. They live in symbiosis with the planet, to the extent of a kind of mental connection. The humans want no part of it; the Alori in turn cannot abide the mechanistic and technological culture of mankind. One or the other must perish.

Overall, it's an interesting enough book, but nothing special. I give it a score of three.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Rant: Out of print

Books should never go out of print. There's no excuse for it anymore. Technology is advanced enough that every book should be print-on-demand. Publishers could still print up big batches of best-sellers. But for those that aren't, they should go to print-on-demand and be available from online sellers. Forever. I hate not being able to find a copy of an old out-of-print book. The publishing industry should reorganize itself to serve me.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Americanism versus Imperialism, by Andrew Carnegie

The Gospel of Wealth: Americanism versus Imperialism, by Andrew Carnegie
Reviewed date: 2007 Jul 16

Part VIII: Americanism versus Imperialism

Andrew Carnegie once again returns to the question of the Philippines. He argues forcefully that the United States should not attempt to rule the Philippines, but rather give them their independence. Carnegie portrays the United States at a crossroads between imperialism and traditional American isolationism.
Shall we remain as we are, solid, compact, impregnable, republican, American? or, Shall we creep under the protection, and become, as Bishop Potter says, the "cat's-paw" of Britain, in order that we may grasp the phantom of Imperialism.

Imperialism will be particularly costly for the United States, Carnegie argues, because (at the turn of the century) it lacked a world-class navy. To become an imperial power, America would need to field a world-class navy--at tremendous expense. In the short term, if the United States wishes to promote its international imperial agenda, it can only do so with the support of Britain and her navy; thus America must support Britain.

Carnegie identifies three main arguments in favor of imperialism: 1) for commercial gains--unnecessary because global open trade policies already obviated the need for American-owned colonies; 2) increased power in war--counterproductive, because foreign expansion puts America at greater risk compared to the geographic safety of the continental US; 3) America has a "sacred task to undertake the civilization of a backward people committed to their charge." It is this last argument that dominated the newspapers in Carnegie's day.

The average American, especially in the West, really believes that his country can govern these tropical people, and benefit them by so doing ... The writer knows that the cynics, both at home and abroad, but especially the latter, will smile at this statement; but the extent of the ignorance of the American people in general, except in the South, about subject races and tropical conditions, cannot be realized by Europeans. This ignorance is truly as great as their belief implies.

The thought sweeping America--fueled by zealous religious leaders--is that America has been called by God to bring civilization, liberty, and Protestant Christianity to the world. Most specifically, to Cuba and the Philippines. Carnegie asserts that America can do nothing but harm to the Philippines. (Cuba had already been granted independence at the time Carnegie wrote.)

Imperialism can become a "holy duty" only if we can by forcible interference confer blessings upon the subject races; otherwise it remains what the President once said it was, "criminal aggression." Let us see, therefore, whether good or evil flows from such interference. ... Has the influence of the superior race upon the inferior ever proved beneficial to either? I know of no case in which it has been or is...
We can only retard, not hasten, their [the Philippines] development.

Finally, Carnegie draws parallels between the Filipinos and the American Revolutionary War.
They have just the same feelings as we have, not excluding love of country, for which, like ourselves, as we see, they are willing to die. Oh, the pity of it! the pity of it! that Filipino mothers with American mothers equally mourn their lost sons -- one fallen, defender of his country; the other the invader. Yet the invader was ordered by those who see it their "duty" to invade the land of the Filipinos for their civilization. Duty, stern goddess, what strange things men sometimes do in thy name!

Historical note: the United States did not leave the Philippines until 1992.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Gray Matters, by William Hjortsberg

Rating: 2
Pages: 159

The back cover of Gray Matters says it won the Playboy fiction award. I'm not familiar with the Playboy fiction award, but I do know that at one time, Playboy published a lot of first-rate science fiction stories. They were regular science fiction stories, not pornographic. I think even Asimov sold some stories to Playboy.

But if Gray Matters won an award from Playboy, then Playboy's standards must be falling. It's a tiresome, un-engaging story about a world where humanity has given up their physical bodies. The entire human race exists as cerebromorphs, brains in jars, in a giant underground complex called the Depository. The cerebromorphs are connected to a central computer, which guides them in their quest for enlightenment. Those few people who achieve enlightenment are given new bodies and sent to live on the surface.

In the Depository, the computers are concerned at a certain cerebromorph's lack of progress towards enlightenment. Denton "Skeets" Kalbfleischer has been in the Depository for 200 years, since he was 12 years old. He is still mentally 12 years old, and has not progressed beyond Level I. The computers decide that Skeets will never mature and gain enlightenment unless he experiences a sexual awakening. So they arrange for him to meet someone in a lucid dream sequence.

While the computers are messing with Skeets's head, another resident of Level I decides to take a shortcut to enlightenment: Obu Itubi tricks the computers into giving him access to a maintenance robot. Itubi disconnects his brain from the computer, installs it into a new body, and escapes the Depository.

The world Itubi discovers is dismal. A few thousand Enlightened people live on the surface and consider themselves the Guardians of the world. Unfortunately, the program of enlightenment involves the complete suppression and loss of one's previous identity, even one's gender identity. The enlightened cerebromorphs are installed into male and female bodies at random. They are asexual beings.

Itubi, however, discovers one human woman who never became a cerebromorph. Oona has been living on the surface, alone among the Enlightened humans, for years. She and Itubi are a sort of Adam and Eve, the only natural humans left to repopulate the world.

But Itubi is recaptured and sent back to the Depository. It is a sad ending. Except Oona is pregnant. Maybe there is hope for humanity after all.

With all this focus on sex as essential to the human experience, and Playboy's mark of approval, you might expect this book to be graphic. Well, it's not as tame as Asimov, that's for sure. It's not as graphic as Norman Spinrad. It's closest to Robert Silverberg.

Notes on the cover: The hardback cover features a big brain and a small Adam and Eve. When it came time to for the paperback, someone realized that brains are boring. The brain is smaller, and Adam and Eve are the focus of the picture.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Rant: Advertisements

I got an old paperback in an eBay auction. It's not very good. Below average, I'd say. But it's interesting. It's interesting because right in the middle it has a two-page full color advertisement for cigarettes. They look like good cigarettes, but if I were a smoker, I'd probably smoke clove cigarettes, so I don't know about these ones in the ad.

Anyway. I haven't seen ads in any recent books. It's a good idea. We have ads in magazines all the time, why not in fiction books? It might bring the price down. Maybe. Then again, publishing is so cut-throat, margins are so thin, that it probably wouldn't.

Still, I'd like to see more ads.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Subspace Explorers, by E. E. "Doc" Smith

Rating: 2
Pages: 255

I knew Doc Smith was a Commie-hating freedom-loving libertarian capitalist, but Subspace Explorers is over the top. Smith shows us the establishment of the Galactic Federation, a benevolent interplanetary government. The prime movers behind the Galaxian movement are corporate bigwigs: Upton Maynard of Galactic Metals, Lansing of WarnOil, Stevens Spehn of InStell, and so on. They operate on the principle of Enlightened Self-Interest, which is a sort of utopian version of laissez-faire capitalism. Enlightened Self-Interest is the dominant philosophy on all planets save one: Earth.

Earth is a corrupt hive filled with enemies of the Galaxianism. There are half a dozen factions.
  • Western hemisphere (WestHem) government - Corrupt money-grubbing politicians who promise the citizens everything.

  • Labor unions of WestHem - The labor bosses demand exorbitant wages, fight progress and automation at every turn, and have all but strangled Earth's economy.

  • Corrupt capitalists of WestHem - A breed of corrupt capitalists (to be distinguished from the ethical, enlightened Galaxian form of capitalism) abuses its workers. Punsunby of Plastics is the worst offender: Plastics owns its own secret planet where a billion people work in slavery their entire lives.

  • EastHem - The Communist half of Earth, ruled by the Nameless One of the East, opposes freedom in all its forms.

  • New Russia - A cabal within EastHem has established New Russia, a network of secret planets that will form the new USSR when the inevitable nuclear war wipes out life on Earth.

The machinations of the Galactic Federation are dull. When the corporations of Galaxia refuse to pay the ridiculous wages demanded by Labor, the unions go on strike. Galaxia responds with force. When EastHem seizes an opportunity to start a nuclear war, the Galaxian fleet shoots down all the missiles from each side; Earth is saved. Galaxia immediately liberates EastHem and sets up a provisional government. The citizens of EastHem quickly choose to support Galaxianism.

WestHem, despite being ostensibly freer, is less easily swayed. Galaxia tries to steal an election, and nearly succeeds--but WestHem votes to reject membership in the Galactic Federation.

The trickiest problem is New Russia. Its fleet is bigger, and it has a bigger industrial base than Galaxia. Fortunately, Galaxia uses some new secret weapons and manages to destroy the enemy fleet. The rank and file Communist citizens will be reeducated and integrated into Galaxian society; the Communist leaders will be shown the truth, and the intelligent ones will accept the Principle of Enlightened Self-Interest eagerly.

Notice I didn't mention any characters. That's because there aren't any memorable ones. Subspace Encounter is more about establishing the perfect society than about people.

Monday, July 9, 2007

Star Prince Charlie, by Poul Anderson and Gordon R. Dickson

Rating: 1
Pages: 189

Star Prince Charlie is a juvenile. It is about young Charlie Stuart, who is on his own personal grand tour of the universe. He gets caught up in local politics on the planet Talyina. One faction kidnaps him and forces him to act the part of the red-haired liberator foretold in Talyinan prophecies. Charlie's only ally is his Hoka companion, Bertram. But Bertram is more interested in roleplaying the part of Charlie's Scottish ancestor than in facing reality.

I did not finish reading Star Prince Charlie. Did I mention it's a juvenile? The plot is tedious. I can see Poul Anderson's hand in it--the setting is a pre-industrial backwater planet, and the main characters have to use their wits to survive. But the idea of the Hoka is what ruins it. The idea of an intelligent species being predisposed to roleplay elements out of Earth's history is absurd.

Worse, the Hoka talks in dialect. It's hard to read. No competent writer should use dialect. It's always a mistake.

Star Prince Charlie might not be bad fare for a ten-year-old. If that ten-year-old can wrap his head around words like autochthonous. Otherwise, skip it.

Friday, July 6, 2007

Rant: Page headers

Books should have meaningful page headers. I'm reading an omnibus edition of Tales of the Dying Earth right now, and it has no page headers at all. It's a burden. There are four novels crammed into those pages, with no visual cues on the pages. There's a table of contents, sure. It gives the starting page number of each novel. But when I'm flipping through the book, all I see are page numbers. Ideally, the name of the novel should appear on the top of each page. Even better, the novel name should be on each right-hand page, and chapter names on the left-hand pages. Is that too much to ask?

Most books do this already. It's especially important for collections, anthologies, and omnibus editions. I'm disappointed that Orb has neglected this crucial feature in its edition of Tales of the Dying Earth.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Fallen Angels, by Larry Niven, Jerry Pournelle, and Michael Flynn

Rating: 1
Pages: 359

Plot synopsis
Anti-science greenies seize control of the world as a new Ice Age descends upon the globe. When science and technology are outlawed the Russian and American crews of the space station declare their independence from Earth. Back on Earth, persecuted science fiction fans form secret societies and struggle with the knowledge that they are the last hope for mankind. Then one day a space ship from the space station crashes on Earth. The crew is rescued by science fiction fans who decide to use the fullest resources of fandom to build a rocket and send the stranded astronauts back home to their space station.

Things I learned from this book
Inside jokes are fun. You can sustain an entire book on the strength of inside jokes about science fiction fandom. Throwing in sly references to famous geeks like Richard M. Stallman increases the awesomeness factor of any story.

Other neat ideas in this book: only science fiction fans have the brains and the clearheadedness to keep the world from strangling itself by following the shortsighted goals of the Environmentalist movement.

Technology can do no wrong. If it weren't for the millions of tons of air pollution generated by coal-burning power plants the Earth's clear skies would allow heat to radiate off into space, causing a new Ice Age.

There were some good parts to this book. I even understood most of the inside jokes and science fiction references. It was amusing for the first couple of chapters, but not for 359 pages. By the end of the book I hated all the characters. I prayed that their rocket ship would blow up on the launch pad and kill everyone. Alas, it was not to be. So I ripped the last page out of the book and wrote this new ending on the inside of the back cover:

The rocketship exploded and killed everyone. The science fiction fans lost and the evil Environmentalists won. Earth froze and everyone died. And the authors of the book got food poisoning and died. The End.

The full text of Fallen Angels (sans my improved ending) is online at the publisher's website: Baen Books - Fallen Angels

Monday, July 2, 2007

A Circus of Hells, by Poul Anderson

Rating: 3
Pages: 160

A Circus of Hells is a schizophrenic book. It's part of Poul Anderson's Flandy series, so it follows Dominic Flandry on one of his rip-roaring adventures. The first half of the book is about a shady side-deal Flandry undertakes. While on an official Imperial scouting mission, Flandry takes a couple of weeks to explore Wayland, an abandoned planet that Flandry's underworld employers think can net them a huge payoff--if somebody can just verify that it's worth mounting a full scale expedition. Flandry verifies that Wayland is a treasure mine of valuable ore--and is promptly sold out to the Merseians by his partner. The rest of the book concerns Flandry's escape from Merseian captivity. The Wayland plot strand is dropped completely.

Flandry's partner is Djana, the proverbial prostitute with the heart of gold. She sold Flandry out because she was forced into it by Merseian agents. Flandry doesn't hold this against her. Both are taken to a secret Merseian base deep within Imperial territory, where Flandry busies himself helping the Merseians to study the autochthonous life forms, and Djana works with a Merseian to develop her latent mental powers. Flandry knows he must escape, and he watches and learns and plots and waits for the perfect opportunity.

Poul Anderson is a libertarian. Themes of personal liberty and responsibility permeate his books. I didn't realize it until recently, but he influenced my own political views. I read his books as a kid. I invariably agree with the messages that Anderson's books give, although I can't condone the hedonistic lifestyle of his heroes.

So I was surprised when A Circus of Hells presents a very un-libertarian view at its conclusion.

[Djana and Flandry have escaped Merseian captivity, with the help of Djana's newfound mental powers. Djana expresses sadness that they will soon be separated.]
[Flandry said:] "You've proven you're tough and smart, not to mention beautiful and charming. On top of that, there's this practically unique wild talent of yours. And Ydwyr wouldn't be hard to convince you've zigzagged back to him. Our Navy Intelligence will jump for joy to have you, after I pass word along the channels open to me. We'd see each other often, I daresay, perhaps even now and then we'd work together...why, even if they get you into Roidhunate as a double agent--"
He stopped. Horror confronted him.
"What...what's the matter?" he faltered.
Her lips moved several times before she could speak. Her eyes stayed dry and hard gone pale, as if a flame had passed behind them. There was no hue at all in her face.
"You too," she got out.
"Huh? I don't--"
She checked him by lifting a hand. "Everybody," she said, "as far back as I can remember. Ending with Ydwyr, and now you."
"What in cosmos?"
"Using me." Her tone was flat, not loud in the least. She stared past him. "You know," she said, "the funny part is, I wanted to be used. I wanted to give, serve, help, belong to somebody . . . But you only saw a tool. A thing. Every one of you."

I don't know about you, but I find few things as noble and filled with purpose than using one's skills and talents to earn a living. Djana is wrong to think that using her talent in willing service is the same as being used like a tool. It gets Poul Anderson out of a tight spot by getting rid of Djana, thus leaving Flandry free to womanize in the sequels, but it's not in keeping with his values.