Repairmen of Cyclops by John Brunner

was possible to determine which of the high-Irani areas

would have been on the day side and hence wiped out

immediately. On the night side, however, there were

three notable zones where the minority language was

spoken, and in any of these such a gene-type as they had

found in Kolb’s leg might have occurred.

With this as a basis, it was then necessary to compute

whether one or two or all three stood a chance of get-

ting people from their homes to the nearest spaceport be-

fore the planet turned far enough on its axis to expose

the rising ships to the nova. Only those which had been

able to keep in shadow of the planet for several million

miles had escaped the storm of radiation.

One of the key zones had been in darkness for a full

seven hours; the other two, for a mere half of that.

Settling on that as the most likely course of events, the

team instructing the computers then had to work out

what trajectory ships would have followed to remain in

shadow if they had stayed till the last moment picking

up refugees; if they had left with an hour to spare, or

two hours, and so on, backward through the Zarathus-

tran night. And from these hypothetical lines of flight,

they attempted to calculate where they would have

wound up.

The process went smoothly for a while; several pos-

sible courses were at once ruled out because the Corps

had explored the volume of space through which they

led, to the extreme range any ship could have covered

with its passengers in a fit state to endure a landing. Af-

ter that, though, it was like plodding through heavy fog

and deep mud.

Maddalena complied vidth Langenschmidt’s request to

hear the local news bulletins about the conference; they

were platitudinous, merely giving extracts from pious

speeches interlarded with praise for Quist’s and Cyclops’s

noble compassion towards the ZRP’s. Listening, she was

reminded of what Langenschmidt had said last night,

when he asked if it was too soon to re-question her on

her attitude towards the non-interference policy.

She was no longer sure what her attitude was. And to

find this reaction in heiself so soon after her arrival here

was disturbing.

She was glad to lose herself again in the complexities

of interstellar course-plotting, and was deep in what ap-

peared to be a promising assumption when an argent

message came through to the computing room for her:

would she go see the commandant at once?

Reluctantly she complied, framing a jocular complaint

to utter when she saw Langenschmidt. It died on her

lips. One glance told her he had been badly shocked by


“Gus!” she exclaimed. “You look as though you’ve

)ust heard this sun is going nova too!”

“Next best thing,” grated Langenschmidt. “At any

rate, it’s having the same effectwe’re compelled to



“Sit down and I’ll play you back a recording of the

news. I couldn’t trust myself to repeat it coherently.” He

slammed switches on the desk at which he sat, and a

screen lit. Maddalena moved numbly to a seat from

which she could see it properly.

At first there was only a blur, with an automatic

voice-over signal identifying the time of reception and

dating it on the basic Corps scale; then the blurring

faded, and a harsh incisive voice with a Cyclops accent

rang out.

“Personal and official from Alura Quist to the Com-

mandant, Corps Galactica Repair, Refit and Recreation

Base, Cyclops. Alura Quist!”

A face appeared on the screen. Maddalena studied it

with interest; this was the first time she had seen the fa-

mous Quist, who had for so many years been undisputed

arbiter of this planet’s fate. She saw a pretty blonde

woman whose best attempts to stand off the effects of

age had not entirely succeeded.

“Commandant, you will learn from the appended

recording of my address to the Conference on Non-in-

terference with Zarathustra Refugee Planets at which I

am currently- presiding what it is that you are required

to do. I only wish to add that action is to fae taken forth-

with to implement the decision of the government of my

Page: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63

Categories: John Brunner