Vivyan has a quality about him that makes him seem trustworthy, that makes people want to tell him things. This quality, it turns out, is being exploited: the Empire of Terra has brainwashed him into needing to report the things he hears to them, and he, a savant, not understanding that he is doing any harm, is the perfect spy.
Vivyan, in fact, was once the prince of a planet which rebelled against the Empire and, when he was five years old, been destroyed. Now he has blocked out those memories, and he has lived a peaceful and happy life, unknowingly serving the enemies of his former people.
I can't help but feel like the big reveal about Vivyan wasn't worth all the words spent leading up to it. About half of the story is focused on Vivyan, and it'd have been better to have just that part and the reveal, without the frame story around it involving the reporter and the rebels. There's meant to be some lesson about the cruelty of humans, and the evils of war, but it's lost in the shuffle. Might as well excise it, or at least reduce it.
|James Tiptree, Jr.||Author|