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Cole, Everett B. – “Exile” (1954)

12/12/2013

Proto-Star Trek, in which an embedded anthropologist from the Galactic Federation finds himself amnesiac and marooned on a backwater planet with which he isn’t supposed to interfere. Said planet seems rather medieval at first, but then is also something like the Robber Baron age of industrialization, with a caste system based on the the relationship to the means of production thrown in to boot. We’re told that it’s transitioning from the Mechanical-Industrial era to the age of Empathy, but nothing that happens in the story supports this.

I have, once again, allowed too much time to lapse between reading and reviewing, and this story was poorly constructed and confusingly written anyway, but the jist of it is this: the anthropologist starts at the bottom rung of society as a turbo-car assembler. Once his memory returns, he writes a science fiction novel based on his previous field work, and uses the proceeds to buy his citizenship. He then amasses a fortune by building advanced turbo-cars, which are secretly channeling excess energy to “provide power for a sub-etheric disturbance that cried to the stars” so that he will be found and rescued, but no trace of his meddling or advanced technology will be left behind. That done, he leaves anthropology behind and becomes one of the guardsmen who search for castaways.

An interminably stretched-out and uninteresting story, and yet another example of humans apparently being native to planets throughout the galaxy, although the protagonist’s rescuer is noted to be non-humanoid.

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