Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Book Review: Veruchia

© 1973 by E. C. Tubb

A few days ago I reviewed E. C. Tubb’s Technos, #7 in his “Dumarest” series.  You can read it, here, if you wish, but to recap:

(1) Dumarest is one tough space dude

(2) Dumarest is seeking the fabled, mystical, lost world of Earth

(3) Dumarest always gets involved in life-or-death high level political intrigue every time he lands on a new planet

(4) Dumarest always gets the babe(s)

Every novel incorporates these four indispensable truths.  The planets vary, the political systems vary, the monstrous wildlife vary, the death games and attempted assassinations vary, but they are all there, in varying degrees and combinations, in every hard-boiled space opera novel.  For instance, in Technos, the planet government resembled very much the government of the Soviet Union or North Korea.  In Veruchia, we’re visiting something more like imperial “bread and circuses” Rome.  Oh, and every novel is either named after the planet Dumarest alights on, or the name of the babe he, er, alights on.

Anyway, it seems unnecessary to say I enjoyed the novel.  A quick, fast, hard-to-put down read, just the kind I like every couple of weeks to take my mind off weightier matters like raising children and eking out a living in Obamaland.  I’ve now read 15% of the Dumarest series, and I’ve put out a General APB on all yellowed out-of-print Tubb sci-fi novels at all the used bookstores I frequent.

Veruchia, #8 in the series, seemed a bit more fleshed out than Technos; it may be the extra 27 pages or it may be a quest that Tubb throws in the final third of the novel that’s actually quite suspenseful.  Seems that Veruchia, the beautiful but bizarrely-pigmented potential heiress to the world of Dradea must locate an ancient starship to prove her birthright or else suffer assassination at the hands of her eeeeevil cousin Montarg.  To help her is, natch, Earl Dumarest, but our selfishly macho hero has an ulterior motive: that ship, if it exists, might hold some navigational clues to long-lost Terra.  As the clock ticks down, the pair have to deal with treachery, incompetence, subway-car sized eels, decapods, the perils of deep sea pressure, and Montarg’s goons. 

I liked it; it moved and held my interest.  What more can I say?

Oh, I know.  Another characteristic of a Dumarest novel is

(5) Dumarest ultimately out-maneuvers the evil cybers of the Cyclan

The Cyclan is something like Star Trek’s Borg – a collective, a hive, of emotionless morally ambiguous Spocks called cybers.  Prized as top advisers by planetary rulers throughout the galaxy for their precision logic-guided predictions, they secretly march to the drum of the Cyclan itself and its long, long-range plans.  Appearing something like ancient Egyptian priests, these superstrong monotone Machiavellians tussle with Dumarest in every novel I’ve read to date in the series, and while they are without a doubt his most challenging adversaries, so far the score stands at Dumarest 5, Cyclan 0.  But each of those victories came as the result of a Hail Mary pass with three seconds left in the fourth quarter.

Grade: A-ish.

No comments: