Continuity — (a) A list of spaceships with hyperdrive at Gummidgy includes the Pregnant Banana, "...a cargo job, flown by computer, at ten gee with no internal compensators" ("Grendel", Neutron Star p. 250). This seems to contradict statements in "At the Core" and "The Borderland of Sol" that a mass pointer is necessary to navigate in hyperspace, and "the mass sensor is a psionic device; it must be watched by a mind, not another machine" ("The Borderland of Sol", Tales of Known Space p. 166). However, elsewhere Bey says "...the autopilot did everything for me but wear my uniform" ("At the Core", Neutron Star p. 53), so it seems reasonable to conclude that on a regular route, where the course has been thoroughly surveyed and all gravity wells are accurately mapped, it is possible for an autopilot to fly the ship unaided on a pre-set course. Apparently, on such a route, checking the mass pointer is only a safety measure to ensure the autopilot is working correctly. Therefore, a computer-controlled ship could "fly blind" through hyperspace on such a well-surveyed, predetermined course.
(b) During Beowulf Shaeffer’s trip to the galactic core, he says to his Puppeteer employer "I’ll take pictures of these instruments. When a court sees the readings on the radiation meter and the blue blur in the mass indicator, they’ll know something's wrong with them" ("At the Core", Neutron Star p. 69). The ability to take pictures of the image in a mass pointer (or mass indicator) appears incompatible with it being a psionic device, which requires a living mind to operate. And elsewhere, it is explicitly stated "A mass pointer can’t record, because the user’s mind is a necessary component" (Ringworld’s Children ch. 6, p. 74). Furthermore, the protector Tunesmith found it necessary to invent a device to photograph hyperspace directly because he was unable to see anything in a mass pointer (ibid). So why would Beowulf (Bey) make an empty threat? We think the most likely answer is the simplest: Bey was stressed out and exhausted from the trip, and he made a simple mistake. There are other possibilities: Bey could have been testing his employer’s technical knowledge, or he could have previously determined his boss wasn’t technically inclined, and was bluffing. However, we find these possibilities unlikely, as Bey is not elsewhere shy about pointing out the fact he’s outsmarted an adversary. We must also ask: Why did the Puppeteer not point out Bey’s error? The simplest possibility is the Puppeteer didn’t know much about how the mass pointer works. A more subtle possibility is that the Puppeteer spotted Bey’s error, but was not about to reveal something which might later be to the Puppeteer’s advantage.↵