There are devices a high-level culture could produce that simply don't belong in the hands of incompetents of lower cultural evolution. The finest, and most civilized of tools can be made a menace ...
pressed. One boss slid a little under his finger and he felt a faint, unfamiliar sense of awareness.
He put the coronet on his head and shuddered a little as the awareness increased to an almost painful intensity. The forest was somehow more clear to him than it had ever been. He seemed to understand many things which he had heard or experienced, but which had been vague before. And memory crowded upon him. He stood still, looking around.
At the edge of his mind was vague, uneasy wonder, obviously not his own thought. There was a dim caricature of himself standing over the body of the Earl. And there was a feeling of the need to do something without understanding of what was to be done, or why.
He could remember clearly now, the Earl's explanations of the action of the coronet. One incident stood out--a time when the old man, having overindulged in the local wine, had demonstrated his ability to divine the thoughts of others. Flor twitched a little in painful recollection. The kitchen mas
I so wanted to give this story 4 stars. But the author bungled the ending. No matter how bad a jerk your hero is, you always want to see him get some sort of win in the end. This story disappoints in that respect. Otherwise, it\'s a good read.
An advanced alien culture has lost a series of technical gadgets on a backwards planet (presumably Earth, but never explicitly stated). The aliens now must retrieve their objects without disturbing the locals or their culture.
Extraterrestrial explorers to a planet (everyone seems to be human, no one seems to be from Earth) left behind quite a lot of their equipment when they left a few hundred years ago. Now they've come back to fetch it, but the people who found the stuff (telepathy rings, force field belts) have set themselves up as aristocracy on the feudal planet.
There's a nice second plot of a ruthless serf who kills his master, steals the trappings of power, and runs to another country to pass as an aristocrat.
The writing--description, plotting, characterization--is good. The story held my interest.