The Rival Rigelians – Mack Reynolds (1967)
‘Two worlds to conquer – or to be conquered by
MEDDLERS FROM TERRA
The team from Earth had the task of raising backward planets to the home world’s high level. The situation on Rigel was this:
‘The most advanced culture on Rigel’s first planet is to be compared to the Italian cities during Europe’s feudalistic years… The most advanced of the second planet is comparable to the Aztecs at the time of the Spanish conquest…
These planets are in your control to the extent that no small group has ever dominated millions before. No Caesar ever exerted the power that will be in your collective hands. For half a century you will be as gods and goddesses!’
But the Rigelians were themselves descended from the lost colonists of old Earth and they could learn their lessons as fast as they could be taught.
In fact, they could even teach their teachers a thing or two. And therein lay the peril the professors from space never dreamed of.’
Blurb from the 1967 Ace Doubles G-632 edition
Centuries before, Earth sent out colony ships to hundreds of newly discovered planets and then abandoned them to their own fate. The plan was to contact the planets again when they had reached a reasonable level of civilisation.
Earth has sent out a test team to Rigel where the civilisations are thriving on two of its planets. One, at the level of the Incas is called Texcoco; the other, at the level of medieval Italy, is called Genoa.
The team has fifty years to bring the worlds to an industrial level. On a whim, the team splits into 2 and decides to compete, but they have not reckoned on either the addictive nature of power or the colonists’ own ambitions.
It’s a clever piece, but it needed to be either shorter and punchier or longer with better character development. A common failing of Ace Doubles is that the necessary brevity sometimes causes problems in pieces with several main characters.