"Customs inspector" in Coventry
who relieved David
MacKinnon of most of his belongings and arrested him for resisting.
The equivalent of a constitution, instituted by the United States after
the overthrow of the Prophet. Its
underlying principle is to prevent interference with individual freedom while
providing restraints against actions that would harm others. Even acts
specifically prohibited would not be prosecuted if only the person committing
the act was harmed. The Covenant protects against individuals passing judgment
on others and acting on those judgments (obviously a reaction to the tyranny
of the Interregnum).
It rejects the concept of "justice" and is based instead on observable effects
of actions. The only responses to violation of the Covenant are either
"reorientation" (psychological treatment to retrain antisocial tendencies) or
banishment to Coventry.
No "punishment" is permitted; the government is no more allowed to pass
judgment and impose harm than are individuals.
Exile imposed on those who act to harm others, to a "reservation" where
is not observed. Coventry is surrounded by a heavily guarded force shield to
prevent the exiles from leaving without permission. The concept behind this
treatment is that the government has no right to "punish" its members, but an
individual who is unwilling to abide by society's agreements may be ejected
from the society. Exiles may re-enter the Covenant if they are willing to
submit to psychological reorientation. Most of those entering Coventry
expected a complete anarchy, but at least three separate governments had
developed inside: New
America, nominally a democracy but run as a political machine and
State, a totalitarian state; and The
Angels, the remnants of the Prophet's
the Doctor (no other name)
Medical man who was in Coventry
for altruistic reasons, not in forced exile. He enjoyed immunity from any
harassment because of the scarcity of healers. He treated Fader
Magee for the injuries that resulted from his attempt to reach the gate
out of Coventry.
America judge who upheld the "customs agents" who confiscated David
MacKinnon's possessions, and sent him to jail in lieu of a fine for
Absolute dictatorship within Coventry.
The ruler was known as The Liberator. Its watchwords were Duty and Obedience,
and no freedom of opinion was tolerated. Anything not forbidden was
compulsory. The Free State fought a series of wars with New
America trying to absorb its territory, but the two governments settled
their differences to form an alliance to break out of Coventry and invade the
The government after the overthrow of the Prophet. It was
modeled after the original United States of America, but instead of the
Constitution it was based on the Covenant.
Just as many clauses in the Constitution were a direct reaction to Great
Britain's treatment of the American Colonies, much of the Covenant was a
reaction to the repression and intolerance of the Prophets.
Entrance to Coventry,
a temporary "break" in the surrounding forcefield. It can only be operated
from the outside, but a signal on the inside can indicate that an exile wants
United States citizen who was sent to Coventry
after violating the Covenant
and refusing "readjustment". He expected to find an anarchist's utopia, and
entered his exile with a full load of camping and survival gear. His
possessions were promptly confiscated by "customs guards" just inside the
border, and he was arrested and imprisoned for resisting them. Fader
Magee helped him to escape, and also to avoid conscription in the New
American army. When they learned that New
America was plotting to break out of Coventry and invade the United
States, first Fader (a member of the Covenant's Secret Service) and then
MacKinnon attempted to return outside to give a warning. MacKinnon was
successful; once the mission was completed, he was declared cured of his
antisocial tendencies. Still wanting more adventure than society offered, he
considered joining the Secret Service.
Fader Magee (no other first name)
Fellow prison inmate who helped David
MacKinnon after his arrest for resisting customs guards. They broke jail,
avoided conscription, and learned of the New
America plot to invade the United States. Fader was a Secret Service agent
who was keeping tabs on events within Coventry.
After an initial unsuccessful attempt, he made it back outside to give reports
of the plot.
Society was founded by Virginia Heinlein on behalf of her husband, science
fiction author Robert Anson Heinlein, to "pay forward" the legacy of Robert A. Heinlein to future generations of "Heinlein's Children."