E(dwin) C(harles) Tubb,a British writer, was born 15 October, 1919 and passed away recently on 10 September, 2010. He wrote science fiction, fantasy, westerns, and a few tie-in novels(Space: 1999). He was most known for his Dumarest of Terra novels, a thirty-three book series that spanned forty years of writing.
In my younger years, I’d spot read a few of the Dumarest novels, none of the earliest and in no order. After his death, I decided to see if I could acquire and read them in order. No mean task as a couple of the later are rather high priced. THE RETURN(# 32) runs over a hundred dollars.
It’s the very distant future. Humankind has literally colonized a million planets throughout the galaxy. Former colonies have launched their own settlements. There’s no central government, every world is on it’s own. Traders ply the paths between worlds.
Earl Dumarest is in his mid-thirties as the series begins. That’s his age biologically. Of his chronological age, he has no idea. You see, he’s a traveler and, because of the vastness of the galaxy, there are two means of travel in the starships: low passage and high passage. Low passage is the cheapest and the most dangerous. Normally used for transporting livestock, it’s a form of suspended animation. Some travelers use it because it’s cheap. The danger comes from the fact that twenty percent never survive the process. Dumarest uses it occasionally, when circumstances dictate, and has been lucky. High passage uses a series of drugs that make time slow for the recipient. An hour could be a year real time. Or more.
Each of the novels is an individual adventure. Earl faces all sorts of planets, some where gladiator entertainment is the norm, religious ruled worlds, savage worlds, one where the Toyman, the insane ruler, uses his people just for that. Earl is quite versed in all manner of self defense and/or combat. He travels and explores, usually finding work to earn his passage to the next world. Occasionally tripped by diversions that force him to use his skills at killing to survive. Always moving outward into the galaxy.
At this point, Earl simply wants to go home. To Earth. His home planet. But he has no idea of it’s location. He’d stowed away on a starship at age ten and when discovered, instead of being ejected into space, the old captain adopts him. So many years, so many passages, he’s now looking for clues to the home world. Most people have never heard of it, a planet named dirt, and those few that have believe it a myth. How can all of humanity have come from a single world? There’s just to many of them.
And Earl Dumarest is being pursued as well.
The Cyclan want him. An organization of human computers(members’ brains are operated on when young to remove emotion and they function on pure logic. That is their goal, to bring order and logic to the human worlds. By whatever means it takes. Because of their superior abilities, they hire out to various planetary rulers to function as guides. Anything to further the organization’s aims. The ultimate goal of all Cyclans is, when the body gets to old, to have their brains removed and incorporated into the group intelligence.
They want Earl because he has something stolen from them. Something that would further the cause of humanity under their rule. The thing is, Earl doesn’t know he has it. Given to him by a dying comrade, it’s hidden in a red stone ring.
Dumarest continues to travel, now pursuing every clue he comes across, and at the same time determined to outwit the Cyclans. He doesn’t know their plans, but instinctively distrusts them because he’s learned they will sacrifice anyone, anything.
The books pictured here are the first six, begun in 1967 and the sixth in 1971. The first two are an Ace Double bringing those together in one edition. I’m actually read the first seven and currently have four more to read. I’ll get to them and find more as I have time.