Talents, Incorporated (available here as a free audiobook) by Murray Leinster opens with a planet, Kandar, preparing to be conquered: burning sensitive documents, trying to get people out of the area who would be tortured to death by the conquerors, that sort of thing. The Kandarian fleet is going to meet the incoming Mekinese armada and be destroyed.
Then a space yacht pops in, run by a stout gentleman named Morgan and his daughter Gwenlyn, who own Talents, Incorporated--a company that specializes in providing information and services that anyone else would consider impossible. They are there to enable Kandar to defeat the Mekinese Empire. They'll do so largely by providing advance information and the basis for technological advances, almost always accompanied by the phrase, "That's Talents, Incorporated information. You can depend on it!"
The Talents of Talents, Incorporated are normal people with some peculiarity--lightning calculation, lie detection, and so forth. Some are psionic or divinatory, which I admit I don't care for: there is a dowser, for example. However, the story focuses more on Captain Bors, Morgan, and Gwenlyn, and the annoying bits are largely forgetable.
What does Morgan want? Not money, evidently, and while he does collect medals, that seems too small a motive for overthrowing a stellar empire. You eventually find out what his angle is, but not before Captain Bors of the Kandarian Navy discovers how bothersome it is to destroy an armada that was supposed to destroy you. Sometimes the only solution, as Bron Hoddan discovered in The Pirates of Ersatz, is piracy.
While I didn't care for this quite as much as for The Pirates of Ersatz, it has a quirky charm of its own that I found irresistible. You'll enjoy it, too.
That's Talents, Incorporated information. You can depend on it!
Free Gutenberg e-text
1 year ago