Earthman, Go Home! – Poul Anderson (1960)
‘When Captain Sir Dominic Flandry heard about Unan Besar, he thought carefully about the possibilities the planet might offer. It had been a Terran settlement, but in the vast confusion of galactic colonization, it had been lost in the shuffle.
Lost? Well, perhaps not so much lost as kidnaped. For a civilization can develop in strange ways over three hundred years – and it looked as if this one had deliberately withdrawn from the rest of the universe.
It was the kind of situation that Flandry liked. And because he knew there was profit in intrigue, he decided to invade the planet – alone. But as soon as he had landed he found himself playing a game for his very life – with all the rules made by his world-wide opponents!’
Blurb from the 1960 D-479 Ace Doubles paperback edition
Serialised in Fantastic Stories (December 1960, January 1961) under the title “A Plague of Masters.”
Captain Dominic Flandry has paid an unofficial visit to the planet of Unan Besar, a world which has been cut off the mainstream of human civilisation for centuries. Flandry hopes to profit from reintroducing trade to the world, although it would appear that the rulers are not keen to allow visitors.
To keep humans from dying from local biotoxins in the atmosphere, all the residents must take a pill every month. The issue of pills of strictly regulated and they are not issued until the recipient provides a bioscan.
Biocontrol has therefore risen to become the government of this world, as they control the source of life for the world’s population.
Under the premise of diplomatic security, Biocontrol have confined Flandry and plan to scan his mind for information about the outside galaxy.
Flandry escapes however and manages to team up with members of the local criminal underworld in order to devise a plan for a world-wide (and profitable) revolution. Refreshingly, Anderson does not fill his world with Americocentric stereotypes. This world appears to have been peopled by Indonesians.
This is a late story in Anderson’s tales of Dominic Flandry. Flandry is a semi-autonomous agent of the Terran Empire, an Empire in its decadent final stages and doomed to collapse. He has been compared to a James Bond of the spaceways since his every adventure seems to see him involved with a new love interest (in this case Liang, a wily female criminal) whom he abandons at the finale.
Formulaic though the tales may be, they are very well written and laced with a certain wit and panache. This raises this piece above the general level of Ace Doubles.