Repairmen of Cyclops by John Brunner

What was chiefly worrying him, Maddalena puzzled

out at last, was not being able to see where they were

going with his own eyes; he had known of radar, of

coursesome of the wealthier fishing-families in Grad-

gnol could afford both it and a fish-finder, whereas the

poor families had to settle for the latter onlybut the

little screen was no psychological equivalent for eye-


It was, naturally, out of the question to go on deck

with a hundred-fifty-knot wind howling past them; they

were only able to sit in the after cockpit because the

fairing over the cabin had been subtly altered to make it

aerodynamically efficient at these speeds. But when

Bracy showed signs of real distress at this headlong

career, she decided they might risk running for a while

on manual control, to show that the ultimate responsibil-

ity had not been ceded to the machines.

That was almost the last decision she took in life.

Some enormous marine creaturenot a wolfshark, but

nearly as large and quite as solidshowed up on the

fish-finder, and seeing such a huge obstacle dead ahead

Bracy yelled with alarm and put the helm hard over.

The boat dipped its side in the water, because the foils

could not cope with such a violent change of direction,

and for half a mile they skidded in a tight circle with

spray streaming over the deck and great shuddering

slams of water battering the hull.

By the time Maddelena got the helm away from him

and let the boat straighten of her own accord, the cause

of the trouble was miles astern. But that was the last at-

tempt the fisher-boy made to control his craft at its new

maximum velocity.

Especially when they were compelled to slow to avoid

comment on sighting other ships, Maddalena had a good

deal of time to talk to the boy, and by the end of the

voyage had come to like him a great deal. Faced with

such problems as he had, many youths would have given

np at once; instead, orphaned, with nothing but this

trawler as a means of livelihood, he had grimly set out to

replace two healthy, hard-working adults with decades

of seafaring experience. That sort of thing took guts of a

different kind than those needed to save one from panic

at the sight of strange armoured figures chasing a hospi-

tal patient through a nightmare of menacing machinery.

She had thought of him entirely as an instrument, a way

to escape the surveillance of the Cyclopeans and follow

Kobi to Rimerley’s island; now at last she came to see

him as a personshy, ambitious even though trapped by

circumstances, and intensely proud.

Also, handicapped as he was by his overdose of radia-

tion, he had the kind of tough persistence legend attrib-

uted to the pre-galactic coolie who, half-starved,

half-frozen, dressed in rags, had maintained unstoppable


By the time they came over the horizon to Rimerley’s

island, and accordingly had to slow to typical trawler

speed to escape notice, she had extensively revised her

original plan and spent a couple of hours before nightfall

and the landing in briefing him with the new instruc-


It was ironical that they should be able to drift with

the current here, in plain view, Maddalena thought as she

surveyed the doctor’s private domain. So much the bet-

ter, thoughto have had to wait till dark before coming

into line-of-sight would have imposed extra difficulties.

With a powerful magnifying periscope which had

been built into the mast of the trawler and projected a

needle-sharp image on a screen at the bottom, she studied

the prospect before her. Clearly, Rimerley was one of

Cyclops’s “top twentieth”, as Gus Langenschmidt called

themindeed, he must be among the thousand wealthiest

men on the planet to maintain premises like these. A

huge house, part of it extending out into the ocean so

mat one coma en)oy tne sensation or t)emg in a vast

aquarium by descending a short flight of steps; a private

dockyard with two skimmers at the quay; a ‘copter

parked behind the house, and beyond that a road wind-

ing up to the topmost point on the island, where trees

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