It seems that Earth has very little trouble placing its people into extremely high positions all over in a variety of countries and societies, despite not having mind control technology - or for that matter, much of any useful technology for infiltration (they can't spy remotely, for example, requiring Rumata to be physically present to record stuff with his Google Glass headband camera). They have their unlimited synthesized gold, but I doubt you can just buy high nobility that easily.

Don Rumata's singular case can be explained - he's a "foreign noble", in a distant province, and he assumed the identity of an actual dead noble. (and even so, Don Reba tumbled on to his cover story pretty easily, by checking that real Don Rumata of Estor is dead for several years).

How did the rest of them manage this feat? Don Kondor is far higher placed than Rumata, in Republic of Soan. The text mentions several others by name, and the implication seems to be that there are dozens if not hundreds all over.

  • 2
    But they do have mind control technology: Rumata thinks about using 3 equatorial sattelites with hypnoinductors for "positive remoralisation". I take this as a sign they have some sort of mind control tech. Commented Apr 11, 2017 at 17:43
  • @Gallifreyan - ah, missed that point.
    – DVK
    Commented Apr 11, 2017 at 20:47
  • Also, I think a GoPro would be a better analogy than Google Glass :) Commented Apr 16, 2017 at 17:23

1 Answer 1


I would say this depends on the particular agent we're talking about. For some, I admit, being placed might be very difficult (see Don Condor), but for others solutions may be trivial.

  • Bribery

    Earthlings are ridiculously rich, due to Philosopher's stone their "synthesisers". This infernal machine appears to be able to produce gold of very high purity from... sawdust.

    There, underneath a pile of trash, was the compact field synthesizer Midas in its strong silicate safe. Rumata cleared away the trash, entered in the code, and lifted the lid of the safe. Even in the white electric light, the synthesizer looked peculiar in the midst of the scattered junk. Rumata dumped a few shovels of sawdust into the receiving funnel, and the synthesizer began to hum quietly, its display panel turning on automatically. Rumata shoved a rusty bucket underneath the output chute with the toe of his boot. And immediately — clink, clink, clink! — gold disks with the aristocratic profile of Pitz the Sixth, King of Arkanar, started pouring onto its battered tin bottom.
    Chapter 1; emphasis mine.

    Now, gold may not be able to buy nobility [citation needed], but it may buy you a fleet and a trade, especially in a world that has not yet experienced geographic discoveries - there's no one to say you're an impostor, if you come from a land far far away.

    The trader Pani-Pa, in my opinion, would have benefited from this the most:

    Approximately at the same time, in another hemisphere, Carl Rosenblum, one of the leading experts on the peasant wars in France and Germany, also known as the wool-seller Pani-Pa, led a revolt of Murissian peasants, stormed two cities, and was killed by an arrow to the back of the head while trying to stop the looting.

    Infinite supply of money would have propelled him to the heights of the merchant society.

    Combined with some skillful acting and rather fortunate previous events, this is effectively how Anton came to be Rumata.

  • Trickery

    Rumata recalls an operative who serves as a shaman for a tribe of barbarians:

    Let us assume that you’re alive and in Arkanar. It’s possible, of course, that you’ve been captured by barbarian raiders who’ve come down from the North Red Ridge. In that case, Don Condor is planning to get in touch with our friend Shushtuletidovodus, who specializes in the history of primitive cultures and is currently serving as a shaman-epileptic under a chief with a forty-five-syllable name.

    Whoopi Goldberg, A Knight in Camelot, anyone? I can't even imagine the range of awesome feats of awesomeness one could pull of for barbarians ca. 12th century with 22nd century technology. Not that one would even have to, given even predicting weather (using meteorology equipment from the airships), or healing, would make a shaman the shaman.

  • Hypnosis

    Earthmen seem to be in possession of at least some sort of a mind-control technology, as seen in the following excerpt:

    Budach gave an awkward laugh. “Yes, I see, it’s not that simple,” he said. “Somehow I’ve never thought about these things before. We seem to have considered everything. Although,” he leaned forward, “here’s another possibility. Make it so that people love work and knowledge more than anything, so that work and knowledge are the only meanings of their existence!”

    Yes, that’s another thing we were planning to try, thought Rumata. Mass hypnoinduction, positive remoralization. Hypnoemitters on three equatorial satellites. “I could do this, too,” he said. “But should we deprive mankind of its history? Should we exchange one mankind for another? Would it not be the same thing as wiping mankind off the face of the planet and creating a new mankind in its place?”
    Chapter 8; emphasis mine.

    While this does not mean, or even imply, that they have more localised (portable) version of this technology, or that it was ever used, one could be convinced that it is possible. It would not be necessary to brainwash too many people to get one agent placed, as the peasantry does not have to be briefed on the new noble don in town (they'll learn from rumours anyway). "Nudging" even one noble don to introduce our agent to the court would be enough for a good start. In Don Condor's case, he did not necessarily start as the Chief Justice and Holder of the Great Seals. I suspect it is entirely possible that he started from lower ranks, and moved up the court ladder.

  • Training and knowledge

    Consider this agent:

    Stephan Orlovsky, also known as Don Capata, the commander of a company of His Imperial Majesty’s crossbowmen, ordered his soldiers to open fire on the executioners at a public torture of eighteen Estorian witches; he cut down the judge and two court bailiffs and was lanced by the Imperial Guard. Writhing in agonies of death, he shouted, “But you’re human! Get them, get them!” — but few heard him over the roar of the crowd: “Fire! More fire!”
    Chapter 1.

    A military man. We have seen in the book that the operatives not only possess advanced technology, but also considerable prowess in battle:

    Fifteen well-fed bumpkins with axes weren’t too much for a man who’d mastered methods of battle that would only become known on this planet three centuries in the future. The mob pressed forward and fell back. A number of axes remained on the floor; two storm troopers were doubled over and clambering into the back rows, carefully cradling their dislocated arms. Rumata had complete mastery of the fan defense, in which attackers are faced with a solid curtain of gleaming steel, and breaking through this curtain seems impossible.
    Chapter 6.


    Rumata stood on the windowsill, continuing to make threatening gestures with his sword, and at that very moment a spear came out of the dark yard and hit him in the back. It was a terrible blow. It didn’t pierce the metalstrom shirt, but it knocked him off the windowsill and threw him onto the floor.

    Mastery of martial arts, fencing, probably also archery (see prologue), and armour that cannot be pierced by anything known back then is a good recipe for promoting a military man all the way up the army rankings.

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