Chapter 17 Summary
Karellen requests to visit New Athens, which is unusual since the Overlords have not shown any interest in most human affairs that are not considered “dangerous.” The colony simply wants intellectual and artistic independence, which could be considered subversive by the aliens. Twenty years ago, the Overlords had announced that they no longer used surveillance devices to keep track of humans’ activities, but they still exist and could be used if the aliens really wanted to use them.
Some of the colonists welcome the visit as an opportunity to discover the Overlords’ attitude towards art. Charles Yan Sen, who is the chairman of the council, is determined to make the most out of the visit to show the Overlords that man still had plenty of initiative in artistic endeavors and had not yet been “domesticated.” George is the head of the reception committee. Not only do the Overlords want to study the colonists of New Athens, but George wants to study the Overlords. Jean is not happy about the visit. Since the night of her fainting after the experience with the Ouija board at the party, she has viewed the aliens with hostility.
When the Inspector arrives, the islanders are not sure if it is Karellen or one of the other Overlords, since all the aliens look alike. Since his name is Thanthalteresco, they simply call him the Inspector. After the first day of the visit, Mrs. Sen asks her husband Charles if it was a success. Charles says that he thinks so, but one can never tell with the Overlords. They were interested in the statistics of the production on the island. The following day, they are going to visit the schools and the Academy. Charles tries to find out about how the Overlords educate their own offspring (if they have any). The Inspector says that his experience with the planet Earth is similar to the British Empire’s with India. Britain was never comfortable having an empire, he says, until they got rid of it. Charles asks if the Overlords will get rid of their own “empire” when the time comes, and the Inspector says that they will do so without hesitation.
George is pleased that the Inspector seems to enjoy the theatrical production planned for his visit. After the Overlord leaves, Jeff says that the Inspector voice is similar to the voice he heard telling him to run when the tsunami was approaching. When the Inspector makes his report, he says that there is nothing to be concerned about from New Athens. He has observed subject “Zero” and finds him normal at present. He had managed to avoid any questions from Zero’s father, though he suspects that the human is aware of the alien’s interest in Jeff.