Four pulp sci-fi novels (set #3)

Updated 11 Oct 2018 (notes on all four)

Agent of Vega, (Tempo Books, 1972, original copyright 1960) by James H. Schmitz

Contains four stories that comprise the Confederacy of Vega series.

Cover artist unknown. I’ve searched the links above and several other sites but this is possibly lost to the ages.

A Far Sunset (Ace Book, 1967) by Edmund Cooper

Author of The Rings of Tantalus from a previous set of pulp sci-fi novels I’d purchased.

Cover by David Bergen

  • David Bergen at Illustration Art Gallery – I’m uncertain if this is him, but the description of his work from the 1970s fits:

He was active in the 1970s, illustrating Sphere’s H. G. Wells’ reprints and the cover for SF Digest (1976), as well as books by Arthur C. Clarke and Samuel R. Delaney. He illustrated See Inside a Space Station by Robin Kerrod (Hutchinson, 1977) and an illustration appeared in The Flights of Icarus (Paper Tiger, 1977). Soon after, he could be found contributing covers to DAW Books in the USA (e.g. Barrington J. Bayley’s Star Winds and E. C. Tubb’s Incident on Ath, both 1978).

  • Judging Books by Their Covers: BABEL 17 from Amazing Stories – Compares the different covers for Samuel R. Delany’s BABEL 17, one of which is a Bergen painting.
  • Pulp Covers – oddly, the single cover there is for E. C. Tubb’s Incident on Ath: Dumarest of Terra Series #18 (referenced in the quote above, and I have #8 in this set below)

S.T.A.R. Flight (Paperback Library, 1969) by E. C. Tubb

Tubb also wrote six novelizations of the Space: 1999 TV series.

Cover artist unknown.

Veruchia (Ace Book, 1973) by E. C. Tubb

Dumarest of Terra Series #8. There were a total of 33 (!) books in the series, and a TV show is in the works.

Cover artist unknown but ISFDB suggests Leo and Diane Dillon.

Updated 11 Oct 2018 (notes on all four)

Agent of Vega was given to Matt to read and distribute as he wishes. A Far Sunset left on the plane to Vancouver. S.T.A.R. Flight left in the basket of a bike parked in front of The Midtown Vortex. Veruchia TBD. (Updated 13 Oct 2018: left it on the waitress station at McCray’s last night. Stealth mode!)

Agent of Vega

These stories are about an agency of an interstellar government, set far in the future when people fly from system to system as we do from country to country today (hello, Vancouver). Individuals in this interstellar agency, “Zone Agents of the Confederacy”, all have psionic powers to some degree or another. Those with stronger powers are more valuable, but there are limits to what’s allowed a la Geneva Conventions. The stories switch between boiling intrigue and secret-agent action.

First story (Agent of Vega) has our male protagonist Iliff chasing an enemy who has taken over another’s body in order to hide his identity and mask his crimes. The brain leaves impressions at the crime scene but the body shields him from visual detection. A female agent (Pagadan) from a species with strong psionic abilities works as his rookie apprentice. Second story (The Illusionists) centers around the apprentice, now full Zone Agent, as she unmasks a deceased master of psionic powers who has taken over his home world. All of culture, society, and each individual are molded to his dictatorial wishes. A secondary female agent (Zamm) is caught up and eventually saved from the body-snatcher-type masses and the mental madman is banished. Third (The Truth About Cushgar) is told in flashback as a senior official of the Confederacy retells how they conquered the Cushgar empire with Zamm’s rouge leadership. Final story (The Second Night of Summer) was the weakest. Agents decades under cover on a medieval planet wait for the eventual invasion of flying, psionic aliens. After the aliens’ ultimate defeat, the young innocent local boy Grimp is set to be groomed as a new Zone Agent.

Iliff to Pagadan to Zamm to Grimp.

A Far Sunset

This was a fascinating story of the decades-long FTL flight of one of several ships, populated each with six-or-so couples, traveling from Earth to search for fertile planets. One ship crashes, and all but one person survives an attack from the locals. He lives the following decades as a citizen of the inhabitants; his experiences throughout his life there serve to describe this strange, primitive society. Eventually–spoilers–he discovers an alien star ship. It was left millenia before by the advanced civilization of Mars as a life raft for the dying planet. The local race, and also humans on Earth, all came from these Martian immigrants.

S.T.A.R. Flight

Here we have Earth voluntarily occupied by an alien race that promises the gift of immortality. That promise has been withheld for decades, waiting for the time when humans are “ready” to accept such a gift. An underground rebellion suspects the occupation is for profit not philanthropy.

Shocking moves and counter-moves lead to our hero passing himself off as One of Them and traveling to their planet via one of their transportation portals. Using those portals, he travels from occupied planet to occupied planet and learns more about the invaders. Ultimately–spoilers–he discovers that the destinations are not other planets but parallel Earths that evolved starting millions of years ago with slight differences with each becoming wholly alien. The invaders are ultimately conquered and our Earth starts on its path to replicate the immortality and portal technology.

The book also had a card insert to apply for a degree in electronics from Bell & Howell Schools (see also the card in Agent of Entropy):

And that location in street view:


This was a fun romp and makes me want to get more from this 33-book series.

Centuries in the future, Earl Dumarest is searching for the long-forgotten and possibly mythological origin planet of humans: Earth. I assume the other novels in the series trace his quest (this is only #8), with most likely Earth’s eventual discovery. In this episode, he lands in some trouble with local thugs on one planet and escapes as a stowaway on a cargo ship to another planet. There, penniless, he becomes a gladiator and wins the heart of a wealthy, exotic beauty who may-or-may-not be the heir to the entire planet. She must prove her lineage, against the machinations of the Machiavellian presume heir, to win the prize (spoilers, she does). Throughout Dumarest braves various obstacles as her bodyguard/lover and stays to live with her at the end. This arrangement will presumably end in subsequent books, he being a loner rogue.

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