I just finished reading Dorsai! by Gordan R. Dickson. This is an older military science fiction book, first published in 1959.
Note: this is not a review. I will probably do one of those next week. This is just a question I had at the end of the book.
In this world, people have contracts, contracts traded by companies and governments.
The woman in the book, Anea, has a contract that the main character describes so:
It was nothing more — and nothing less — than a five-year employment contract, a social contract, for her services as companion in the entourage of William, Prince, and Chairman of the Board of that very commercial planet Ceta which was the only habitable world circling the sun Tau Ceti. And a very liberal social contract it was, requiring no more than that she accompany William wherever he wished to go and supply her presence at such public and polite social functions as he might require. It was not the liberalness of the contract that surprised him so much — a Select of Kultis would hardly be contracted to perform any but the most delicately moral and ethical of duties — but the fact that she had asked him to destroy it.
Despite that last line, I have to say I assumed she was an expensive, high-class escort. I mean, William dangled her as bait to manipulate other guys, letting them believe they could have her. (But he intended to keep her for himself.)
Plus, she is a paid companion. To me that is short hand for a classy, exclusive call-girl.
But, at the end, there is something about eventual marriage to William, and I am thinking maybe she wasn’t an escort at all. That, plus the single line about “liberal contracts” and “most delicately moral and ethical of duties” makes me think she was never a call-girl. Paid companions with non-liberal contracts might be call-girls.
But now I am confused. What was her job? Girlfriend? Hostess? Housekeeper? A friend that you pay for? (Why would anyone pay for friendship?)
What are the “most delicately moral and ethical of duties” of a paid companion? I can’t make heads or tails of it.