Repairmen of Cyclops by John Brunner

lay in an equipment fault, not in a total absence of fish.

For some reason far beyond his rudimentary technical

knowledge to fathom, the fish-finder refused to signal

anything closer than the bottom of the sea. With mad-

dening precision it delineated on its circular screen the

profile of the rocks three hundred feet below his keel,

but it wouldn’t even show the big plastic bucket he was

trailing as a sea-anchor.

Transistors were expensive, and it was impossible to

tell by merely looking at them whether they were in

functional condition or not. Accordingly, he couldn’t

say whether those he had salvaged at various times and

popped in the spares box were better, or worse, than the

ones installed in the fish-finder already. He could merely

try every possible combination until he had exhausted

the last permutation, and since there were altogether six-

teen transistors in the fish-finder and seven in the spares

box, it was proving an impossibly long job.

At least, however, it was ridding him of some useless

junk. Two of the spares had put the fish-finder com-

pletely out of action, and these he had tossed overboard

with annoyance.

The son was baldng hot, and the sea was completely

featureless. His trawler, shabby and paint-peeling, was

the only sign of life as far as he could see. On the after-

deck, in the exiguous shadow of a torn plastic awning,

he sat with legs crossed, using the front plate off the

fish-finder housing as a tray for the loose parts. He was

very lean, and the summer had tanned his naturally-dark

skin to the colour of old rich leather. His hair hung

around his shoulders in thick braids, and a shiny but

sea-tarnished chrome ring was threaded through the

pierced lobe of his left ear. Anyone with a knowledge of

the culture of Cyclops would have placed him instantly,

even without stopping to consider his off-white loincloth

and elastic sandals: a fisherboy from one of the sea-hemi-

sphere ports, most likely Grarignol, and doing rather

badly this year.

Correct. Morosely, Bracy discovered that another

transistor was worthless, and that made three over the


At least, he promised himself, he was not going to turn

for home before he had exhausted all possibilities for

self-help. Even then.. .

His stomach churned and his mind quailed at the pros-

pect of going home with an empty hold. Better, surely,

to cruise at random until his nets chanced on something

for the family to eat, even if he found no oilfish. Oilfish

were the only salable species in this part of the ocean;

eating fish could be got by anyone, simply by casting a

few lines with bait. Oilfish travelled in vast schools of

eight to ten thousand, but because the schools were so

big they were likewise concentrated, and without a fish-

finder one might hunt for weeks and not cross the path

of a single school.

. If only he belonged to a different family . . . ! If he

were one of the Agmess boys, for instance, six brothers

of whom two had sufficient technical skill not merely to

do their own electronics repairs but actually to build

equipment for other families’ boats . .. But by the same

token, they guarded their knowledge well. He would

have to go home and pay for their assistance, or pay

someone elsewhat with, after a fruitless voyage?

Agmess boats had radio, too, and in the event of a break-

down they could signal for help, whereas he was on his

own, in charge of the boat which supported his four sis-

ters, his grandmother and his eight-year-old younger


He was himself seventeen years old. He had been the

breadwinner of the family since the great storm of the

winter before last during which his parents had been

drowned in the capsizing of a lifeboat put out to rescue

a damned fool.

Add me to the list, Bracy told himself sourly. My

parents would be dreadfully ashamed, to see me in this

stupid mess!

He paused in his thankless task and cast a casual glance

over the bumished shield of the sea, not expecting to see

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Categories: John Brunner