The Repairmen of Cyclops – John Brunner (1965)
‘WHAT PRICE ETERNAL YOUTH?
The Corps Galactica, the Galaxy’s police force, had pledged itself to a policy of non-interference with the backward Zarathutra Refugee Planets. Langenschmidt, the Corps chief on the planet Cyclops, was content with this ruling. After all, if the refugee planets could form their own civilization from scratch, logically they would come up with cultures suited to their own needs.
However, when the case of Justin Kolb came to his attention, Langenschmidt was forced to rethink the problem.
Kolb’s accident with the wolfshark revealed to the Corp’s medicos the leg-graft that had been done on him. It was a perfect match – only its gene-pattern wasn’t Cyclopean, and limb-grafting wasn’t practiced on Cyclops. Where then had the leg come from, who had been the unknown repairman and wasn’t this something that might be violating galactic law?’
Blurb from the 1965 Ace Doubles Edition M-115
It is the far future where man has spread out to settle planets across the galaxy. The main body of galactic society in order to promote human cultural diversity, operates a non-interference policy on human-settled planets below a certain level of social development and agents are posted to those worlds to ensure compliance.
Hundreds of years before the star Zarathustra went nova and it was thought originally that that not many of the population of its single world escaped. later, known civilisation began discovering many settled planets, the Zarathustra Refugee Planets, which became known as the ZRPs.
Magdallena has just finished a twenty-year stint on a primitive backwater world whose renaissance was primed to begin until the planet’s brilliant and charismatic leader has assassinated by a less able rival, freezing the world into cultural stagnation.
Magdallena is suddenly immediately posted to Cyclops, a world whose female leader Quist is causing trouble for the Galactic envoys and troops/
Her lover, Justin Kolb, has lost his leg during a wolf-shark hunt and was rescued by a local fisherman and brought to the Corps Galactica base. It is then discovered that this is the second time that Kolb has lost his leg. The first time, the leg was not regenerated as would have been done on richer worlds. In fact, Kolb received a graft and the genetic make-up of the replacement leg was not to be found on Cyclops.
Magdellena and her longtime friend and lover, Gus, suspect that this is part of something larger, particularly as Kolb’s doctor is anxious to have Kolb transferred back to his care, and Quist unexpectedly rails against The Corps and insists that they leave Cyclops.
Ace Doubles are notoriously variable in quality, although they did publish some major talents such as Brunner, Dick, Samuel Delaney and Brian Aldiss.
Despite its sensationalist title, this is a very satisfying read and (rather like van Vogt used to) Brunner gives us tantalising titbits of the wider galaxy in which this tale is set which somehow makes it a richer experience with more depth.
Refreshingly, Brunner recognises that were we to colonise other worlds, it wouldn’t just be the US and the British that would be doing it.
The original Zarathustra colony, it transpires, had a large Iranian community, some of whom managed to escape to settle another world from which Quist’s doctor has selected victims for organ donations.