Repairmen of Cyclops by John Brunner

“I don’t, really, I just needed some guide to Cyclops

when they posted me here, and these are the examples

our social psychologists dredged up for me.”

“What does support the Cyclopean economy? And

wliat’s the total population now?”

“Efficient census-taking is one of the expensive luxuries

they don’t enjoy, but our best estimates are around seven

to eight hundred million. Mark you, life expectancy is

low; one child in eight dies in its first year. As to the

economy: it’s self-sapporring in respect of food and

housingthe climate in the equatorial belt is an ad-

vantage there, with very mild rainy seasons and no real

wintersand several other basics like textiles . . . It’s a

safe Class A planet, or the original settlers would never

have survived.

“About the only exports are fish-oil, which serves as a

source of proteins for farther synthesis and ultimate use

as a diet-supplement on some nearby vitamin-poor worlds,

and raw materials from the asteroid belt. There are some

lumps of ore pure enough to be worth shipping long dis-

tances. But the margin is slender, and two invisible ex-

ports make the crucial difference between getting by and

relapsing to starvation.

“One of them is a small tramp space-fleet, consisting of

a hundred-odd interstellar vessels. And the other isall

this.” Langenschmidt gestured to embrace their surround-

ings. “Cyclops is conveniently sited with respect to the

forward bases in this sector, and we’ve rented this island

since shortly after the Corps was constituted.

“Trapped in their economic snare, the Cyclopeans

don’t like having us beret Isn’t it a truly ancient platitude

that the poor don’t like the police? But here we are, and

they can’t afford to be rid of us.”

The office communicator sounded, and Nole’s voice,

nervous, addressed them. “Commandant, can you come

down to the computing room? I’m getting results I can’t

make sense of, and I think you’ll want to see them.”

“Coming!” Langenschmidt said briskly, and rose.

Very cautiously, Bracy Dyge swung his legs over the

side of the bed. It was further to the floor than he had

expected. Anyway, this hardly fitted his concept of a

bedit was an elaborate therapeutic installation with a

disturbing aura of near-sentience about it, and he would

much rather have been on the pile of inflated fish-skins

which he was used to at home, three inches from the


He had been instructed to lie here and sleep, but he’d

been unable to. After ashort lifetime on the edge of

starvation, the nutrient and restorative shots he had been

given had acted like a violent stimulantsomething the

doctors should have made allowances for, but hadn’t,

being used to scaling their treatment to the healthier and

better-fed patients they- normally had.

He felt, in short, fighting fit. The burns he had suf-

fered when he let off his signal rockets against the wolf-

shark had been dressed with something to relieve the

pain, and although he had lost half his braided hair and

several square inches of skin, the injured area was cool

and perfectly comfortable. Nothing distracted him from

what was uppermost in his mindto wit, the fact that he

had been brought to half-legendary Corps Island, from

which the local inhabitants were strictly excluded.

Tomorrow he would have to ask to be sent awayhe

owed it to his family to get back to sea and try and

complete his unfinished business. He had ventured to tell

the doctor of his dream-ambitionbeing allowed to join

the Corpsbut something in the answering laugh had

convinced him it was a ridiculous proposal. They had

promised to mend his fish-finder, and he would have to

be content with that as his reward for rescuing the wolf-


If only it had been one of the men from the Corps

base . . .! But it was useless to wish that the past were


Maybe he could beg replacements for his torn solar

sails, too. Even so, tomorrow he would have to leave

and lying wakeful without using this opportunity to see

how the Corps lived was more than he could endure.

He stole to the door and fumbled with the latch. It

proved to be simple in operation, and after pressure .on a

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