“We don’t take vacations, at least those of us who are responsible don’t. There’s always something to do that nobody else can do. Oh, there are hours free, if you’re lucky even days. But it’s never predictable. The only reason that I can even count on being on planet for the next month is because Kaia and I are filling in for your father. And if an emergency comes up I may not even have time to work with you.”

“You make it sound like being a slave.”

“Not that bad. Certainly there’s a lot more choice, and more things to enjoy when you do have the time. But the main difference is that the discipline is from inside yourself, instead of being imposed from outside. I wish,” he added grimly, “that Zhaim understood that.”

from Homecoming.

One of the basic assumptions of my fiction is that the R’il’nai, and other star-faring species, are inherently peaceful. The idea is that any species that cannot learn to get along with other sentient beings will, in the course of developing the technology necessary for star flight, kill itself off or at the least knock itself back to barbarism. “Watch, but watch only,” is the rule for nascent intelligent species. I am assuming that applies to Earth.

Jarn broke that rule, not only by hybridizing with our primate ancestors, but by teaching them the technology needed to get him back to his home. The other R’il’nai of his time were horrified, but could not really blame him for wanting to get home, or blame the Humans for learning what he had to teach them. They did, however, feel responsible for Humans being in space—a responsibility that became deeply ingrained not only in their R’il’nian descendants, but in the majority of the R’il’noids, the crossbreds.

The majority.

For the R’il’noids, the sense of responsibility tends to develop rather slowly with age. Derik’s wild youth is not unusual, but the gradual increase in the percentage of R’il’noids that never feel any responsibility toward Humans is just beginning to be a problem at the start of Homecoming, as is the decoupling of the Çeren index from those abilities of the R’il’noids most needed to help the Humans mature into a race that can co-exist with the other star-faring species.

The Maungs? I don’t really get into them in Homecoming, but they are incompatible, not hostile. They are as upset by the fact that what should be the nervous system of an adult Maung is infecting a Human when it should be one of their own kind as the Humans are—and one of the chief duties of the R’il’nai (and the R’il’noids) is to keep the two species apart.

So what do you think? Should we feel a sense of responsibility toward each other? Should those with exceptional talents use them for the benefit of society as a whole?