Repairmen of Cyclops by John Brunner

on test.

Maddalena had been staring at tonight’s half moon-

small, and reduced in size still further by its distance

from Cyclopsfor some minutes before she spoke again.

“There are an awful lot of things I can’t get clear

about the situation here, Gus. Maybe you’d better edu-

cate me.”

“Hm?” Langenschmidt jerked his head. “Oh! Oh yes.

I’m sorryI’m still working on the false assumption that

you were briefed before you were sent to Cyclops. Since

you weren’t, presumably you know practically nothing

about it. After all, it’s never been a world to hit the

galactic headlines.”

“The last rime I paid it any attention was twenty years

back. There must have been many changes since then.”

“Yes and no.” Langenschmidt had been perching on

the end of the room’s single large table; now he grew

uncomfortable and moved to a contoured chair, drop-

ping his body into it absently and letting it slump.

“Thethe mood of Cyclops, the planetaiy average of

human attitudes, so to speak, is constant over a long

period, as it is anywhere. What was the word I beard

you apply?”


“Exactly. Ummmm . . . Where the hell ought I to

start?” Langenschmidt rubbed his face tiredly. “Clear

back at the beginning, I guess. It must start with the fact

that it’s an unsupendsed foundation.”

Maddalena started. “Is is now? That accounts for a

great deal, I imagine.”

“I’m sure it does. Of the two hundred and sixty civil-

ised worlds, over two hundred followed the standard of-

ficial patternexploration, selected colonisation under the

direction of a polymath trained intensively for the de-

velopment of one and only one particular planet, and

eventually opening to immigration. Cyclops is among the

anomalous fifty-odd. It’s a second-stage offshoot from

Dagon. Ring any bells?”

“Of course it does.” Maddalena hesitated, then gave a

little nervous laugh. “Dear Gus! How little you’ve

changed! You still have exactly the same lecturing man-

ner as you did when you first briefed me on ZRP Four-

teentouchy, expecting this conceited Earthgirl to have

ignorance of unplumbable depth.”

“I’m sorry.” Langenschmidt gave a crooked smile. “So

we take the rest as read. They made one of their rare

mistakes on Dagon, and picked for its polymath a man

who couldn’t stand the strain. He clashed with one of his

continental managers, who finally couldn’t endure it any

more and decided he could do better by himself on some

other planet. He, and about four thousand followers, left

Dagon and set out towell, to homestead Cyclops, I


“It was as tough in the early days as it must have been

on ZRP One, or some other comparatively hospitable

ZRP. Naturally, since he’d attracted his followers on the

basis of liberty- from the authoritarian whims of a bad

polymath, the original leader insisted on at least the

structure of a representative government, and that’s sur-

vived, but only as a formality to the degree required to

qualify Cyclops as a member of galactic civilisation.

Their laws follow the Unified Galactic Code, too. In


“In fact, starting off with so great a handicap, they let

all this remain a formality and proceeded to develop a

hand-to-mouth pattern they’ve never escaped from. It’s

one of the few civilised planets where ruthlessness brings

power. Quist, who has been the de facto head of govern-

ment for a long time now, has no better qualifications

for the )ob than sheer love of authority. She enjoys giv-

ing orders and having them obeyed that significant one

per cent more than anyone else.

“If you want handy comparisonswell, they have to

be pre-Galactic. First century atomic era. Earthside areas

like Spain, some countries of Latin America, and some of

South Asia. Where you had an economy too impover-

ished to support the governmental structure of a finan-

cially efficient administration, but a sort of crust of great

wealth overlying it. Half the population are at the pov-

erty line, a third are illiterate, a quarter are diseasedbut

perhaps one in twenty have achieved some kind of per-

sonal success by pure doggedness.”

“I didn’t realise you knew Earthside history as well as

that,” Maddalena said after a moment’s silence.

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Categories: John Brunner