My life in outer space

Exile from Xanadu – Lan Wright (1964)

exile

‘The man the monsters made

STAR WRECKED – STAR CROSSED

Regan’s last waking memory was of the clamor of alarm bells – a sound that lasted a bare second before it dissolved and was lost in a holocaust of roaring noise and flame. he never did recall the reflex action that flung his screaming body towards the survival capsule.

When he awoke at last, there was nothing but blackness, yet the pain was gone. His body was compressed and comforted in all-embracing nest of yielding softness that was like a vast mother-womb, so close did it enfold him. he moved slightly and at once a voice said ‘Can you hear me?’ In a panic, Regan tried to open his eyes, but could not. With dread, he lay very still, waiting. For the voice was not human…

CAST OF CHARACTERS

Martin Regan

An accident had made him into a freak with prosthetic limbs and alien eyes.

Manuel Cabrera

He possessed the secret for the survival of mankind, but he did not live to share its wonder.

Cabrera

Old in wisdom and in the ways of political intrigue, his concern was for the fate of humankind. He knew everything – except the answers.

Giselle Cabrera

Beautiful and stately, she was burdened with knowledge that she could entrust to no one.

Arfon Plender

He held the key to the mystery, but how could he help them – dead?

Armand and Carlo Cabrera

They used Regan’s life as a pawn against their enemies – they said it was in the interest of mankind.’

Blurb from the cover and interior of the 1964 Ace Double paperback edition M-103

Regan is booked on an interstellar flight, sharing a cabin with one Manuel Cabrera. when the ship’s alarm sounds, Regan has only seconds to drive into Cabrera’s bunk, which is also a survival capsule.
He awakens, having been rescued and operated on by aliens. Not having a full record of human anatomy they have given him replacement arms and legs of tremendous strength and more efficient alien eyes, but have assumed to be Manuel Cabrera.
When Regan is returned to human space after two years recuperation, the Cabrera family pick him up as – despite the fact that he has been insisting otherwise – they assume that he could still be Manuel. Manuel was carrying a box keyed to his own touch that contained a secret vital to the future of Earth, and many would kill to possess the secret.
Man has spread into the galaxy but Earth is severely overpopulated and burdened by the dependency of the colony worlds.
The head of the Cabrera family, known only as Cabrera, persuades Regan to masquerade as Manuel in order to discover the secret that could help the Earth and colony worlds before a crisis point is reached.
Lan Wright was a little known British writer who published a handful of novels. This is an interesting and quite complex novel for an Ace Double, one that twists and turns with a couple of red herrings.
Regan’s superhuman prosthetic limbs and his see-in-the-dark eyes come in useful here and there, but seem otherwise superfluous. The alien reconstructive surgery was only necessary within the novel in order to render Regan unrecognisable.
Interestingly, although there appears to be serious social problems on Wright’s future Earth, there seem to be no wars, and humans are on good terms with the two alien races which are kept off-page and never fully described.
It’s one of the better quality Ace Double novels. Wright, it seems, gave up writing to concentrate on his career. It would have been interesting to see how his work developed had he decided otherwise.

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