David Mack wrote:
The Caeliar's reluctance to enter the temporally unstable passages at the end of Gods of Night was rooted in their desire to avoid causing damage to their objective timeline; they valued its preservation over their own lives. However, the decision to sacrifice themselves was compromised by the presence of the Columbia personnel, who would not even have been there had the Caeliar not taken them captive. From the Caeliar's perspective, deciding to sacrifice themselves to preserve the timeline was their choice to make as a society; sacrificing the humans was not their choice to make.
Thanks for the explanation. It seems, then, that the Caeliar who told Pembleton that the rest of the city had died on their behalf was being disingenuous--those millions would have died one way or the other, whether from the shockwave destroying the planet or the subspace distortion in the corridor. The real sacrifice was ethical, the twelve Caeliar who lived when they otherwise would not (along with the city's inorganic technology), prioritizing one precept--their injunction against killing--over the other, preserving the timeline. I guess, since Axion also wound up in the past, that Hernandez and her people also profited from the same decision. (But three cities escaped, by my count, one of which had no humans on it, so I guess that one managed to fix the temporal distortions before fleeing... which, setting aside another disaster in the intervening two hundred years, means there should be another Caeliar city floating around somewhere in the TNG era in addition to New Erigol). Still, a refusal to make make a (deadly) ethical choice on behalf of others is something I can respect (moreso than mass sacrifice, really); it probably would have been better if they had asked the humans, but since Graylock's people at least were already willing to go back in time, I figure the Caeliar could be certain what the answer to the question "Would you rather die now or risk altering the timeline" would be. I wonder if Hernandez might have given a different answer had she been consulted...
*shrugs* This may just boil down to personal temperament, but to me, the willingness of millions of people to die to protect a smaller number of people is something to interpret positively -- an act of genuine altruism, not merely a sign of dogmatism and inflexibility.
Maybe we'll just have to agree to disagree, because I don't see mass suicide for the sake of a handful of people as a good thing. But since, if I understand David
correctly, that's not actually what happened, the question is kind of moot.
If we agreed with every aspect of an alien culture's morality, they wouldn't be alien.
Yes, of course--just look at the Klingons, nominal friendlies but who conquer other races and have other divergeant ethical standards besides. I was just surprised that I came off with a more villainous view of the Caeliar than most have expressed.
Fictitiously yours, Trent Roman