Henry Kuttner's "The Disinherited" (short story, free): A god-like being protects worlds from barbarian space invaders!
When "Lords" killed Ardno Carver because he was old & useless in front of his son Ron, Ron ran into a rage. Both Ardno & Ron are slaves ("Helots").
Now Ron is being hunted by Lords & will surely be killed. But there is timely intervention in the person of a Martian, acting on behalf of the "Watcher".
Watcher is a god-like energy being that permeates the galaxy. He had recently forced the first human manned spaceship (of Lord) to Mars to return half way through its journey - humans are still too barbaric to join the commune of extraterrestrial races.
Not only will Ron be saved, but Lords will be disarmed & slaves freed by these aliens - so humans can try rebuilding a saner society.
Story is set over a couple of days sometime in 2530 AD.
- At some level, there is a similarity with David Brin's "The Crystal Spheres". In both stories, there is a barrier to alien meddling in native affairs. Brin's barrier protects the dominant species of a solar system from alien invasion; Kuttner's prevents dominant species of a single world from invading other worlds till they become civilized enough.
Fact sheet.First published: Astounding Science-Fiction, August 1938.
Download full text as scans (rather than text file) as part of a larger package.
Listed among the stories from John Campbell's Astounding/Analog.
Related: Stories of Henry Kuttner.