|Cover of my copy|
I read Kalin this weekend, having recently acquired the 1982 Ace printing of this 1969 novel. The cover illustration is not very good: cluttered, confusing, crude. Somewhere along the line somebody punched a hole in the cover of my copy. My copy also has an indecipherable inscription on the title page. I keep looking at it, trying to find "Edwin" or "Tubb" or "E. Tubb" in there, without satisfaction.
This is the third of the Dumarest books I have read, and in all three the ability to foretell the future has been a theme. In all three books, Derai, Toyman, and now Kalin, the Cyclan appears. The Cyclan is an interstellar organization of highly intelligent people who, early in life, have brain surgery which almost entirely eliminates their ability to feel emotion, turning them into cold, logical, living computers. Able to make calculations without bias or distraction, the members of the Cyclan (who are known as "cybers" and shave their heads and wear bright red robes) can make very accurate predictions. Cybers sell their services as advisers to politicians and business people, which puts them in a position to manipulate people and events so as to expand the power of their cult. In Toyman the Cyclan sought to destroy the supercomputer on the planet Toy, a machine that could also make accurate predictions, and in Kalin the title witch is in their sights: it is revealed in the end of the novel that Kalin's predictive powers are the product of stolen Cyclan technology that was implanted in her brain!
Dumarest secures passage for Kalin and himself off the planet of mob violence, and Kalin's ability to predict the future saves their hides when a fellow passenger, an old woman, tries to hijack the ship. The elderly woman wants to seize and sell the vessel to finance surgery which will transplant her brain into a young sexy body. Vanity! This act of piracy goes awry, and the old woman ends up blowing up the space craft, killing everybody on board except for Dumarest and Kalin; Kalin saw the disaster in a vision and right before the ship went boom the two jumped into what in other SF properties would be called an escape pod.
|1969 cover, courtesy of isfdb|
Kalin is a pretty good adventure story. There are lots of characters I haven't mentioned, and Tubb does a good job of making them all feel real and worthy of your interest, and he does it in an economical way. The action sequences and the science fiction settings, like the hijacking, the problems faced by Kalin's family on their farm, the hunt for the giant reptiles, and life on the mining planet, are all well done. The book is quite fun.
Tubb stuffs each one of these Dumarest books with so many SF tropes, it makes me curious to find out what will be in the rest of them. Next up, Dumarest #5, The Jester at Scar.