Wednesday, May 31, 2023

The Wind of Gath

Earl Dumarest just wants to go home. 

The Winds of Gath is the first book in the Dumarest saga. It's a long series (30 odd books) detailing the episodes as he tries to return to Earth. The conceit is that he left his home planet as a child, and now no one remembers how to get back there. Or if they do know, they're not telling. 

I've only read a few of these, and the pattern seems to be that in each book he arrives on a planet, perhaps gets a clue about how to return to Earth, and then moves on. In this one he arrives on a world called Gath, a planet pretty much known for the Winds of Gath- a frequent storm that induces people to see things. 

A drug storm? 

Our hero is more of an anti hero- tough, amoral. Yet he often, grudgingly, does the right thing. There's usually a form of single combat, too, or at least in the ones I've read. A pattern- these are probably all written to a formula- but they're different and compelling enough that I'm never bored. At least in the few I've read. 

 In this one Dumarest is stranded on Gath when his ship is re- routed there by a wealthy party who basically buy out the fare. Our hero was riding Low- meaning he's riding with the livestock, it's cheaper but comes with a 15% mortality rate. The wealthy party is riding High passage, of course, and when he wakes up Dumarest finds himself on the wrong planet. Gath. With no way off and no money. 

Of course he gets into trouble and we have misadventures as the wealthy group turns out to be something more than monied tourists. The concept of a storm that induces psychedelia and visions is intriguing. This is definitely an old school read but I had a good time with this.

Tuesday, May 30, 2023

Camping Ch 15

Mallory came right up to Joon and hugged him. 

"We've been looking all over for you!"

Joon was embarrassed and a little flabbergasted. Even as he hugged her back tentatively he could hear Mallory's voice coming through his commpiece. 

"And who is this?" the Mallory in front of him asked, turning to Maia. 

"Mallory, this is Maia. Maia, this is Mallory. Wait... you are Mallory, right?"

"Of course, silly. Who else would I be?"

"Well, who is this then?" he asked, holding the comm up. 

"Joon, what's going on? Who are you talking to?" Mallory's voice on the comm. 

"Oh, that," replied the Mallory in front of him. "That's not Mallory. Obviously," she smiled. She lowered her voice. "There are... intruders. Look alikes. Doppelgangers, if you will. They're infiltrating the place and taking peoples places. I'd turn that off." 

"JOON!" screamed Mallory through the comm. 

"What?"he replied, not taking his eyes off Mallory in front of him. She looked like Mallory, sounded like her. She was doing that thing where she tucked hair behind her ear when she was nervous. 

"We're getting strange reports. Doorways opening, people coming out. People that look like us." 

"Yes," Joon replied drily. "I'm looking at you right now." 

"No! Are you shitting me?" 

"No, sadly. She looks just like you."

"Let me talk to her." 


"You bitch, who are you?" Mallory on the comm was screaming. 

Mallory in front of him smiled and shook her head. 

"Emotional, isn't she?" Then the smile disappeared. "We don't have time for this, though. Stella wants us to get to Ops and secure the Gate." 

"How do we know who you really are?" Maia said. 

"Who are you again?" Mallory retorted. There- that was the occasional hard edged Mallory he remembered. 

"Oh right- the girlfried. Well, be silent and follow us and maybe you'll survive this." She turned to walk away, then stopped to look back at Joon. 

The portal through which she had appeared was slowly fading, and other people besides her had come out. Technicians, soldiers all going this way and that. They seemed to know where they were going. 

"What is that?" he gestured at the fading portal. 

"Just a shortcut. Classified. How we get around quickly in emergencies."

"I've never seen one."

"Well, Joon, you're a high paygrade but you're not cleared for everything." 

"BS. I'd know about that?"

"Would you?" she asked impatiently, hands on her hips. 

He wasn't sure. 

"Do you have a comm?"

"Here." She held hers up.

"Let me see it." It looked legit. 

"Come on, we don't have time for this. We can explain everything at Ops." 

"I'm not sure Ops is where we want to go."

"What? Why not? How else are we going to secure the Gate?"

"Why would they send you to secure the Gate, Mal?"

 "Why not? We're in the middle of a crisis," she snapped. 

"Let me talk to Stella."

"Joon, why are you still talking to her?"Mallory on the comm. "Shoot her for heavens sake" Sure sounded like Mal. 

"Stella," Joon reiterated. 

Mallory in front of him flicked on her comm. 

"Stella. Joon here is being difficult. Can you reassure him?" 

"Joon, for fuck's sake. What is the issue?" Stella's voice. 

"Well, there's two of Mallory. What's happening?"

"Get to Ops, secure the motherfucking Gate, and then report back here. This place is reeling."

"Where are you?"

"Not important over an insecure connection. Roving command post due to body doubles. Security critical."

"That's bullshit," Mallory on the comm said. 

"Cease talking to intruders and get this done. Mallory is in command."

Mallory snapped off her comm and proceeded to stride down the hall. 

Joon remained where he was- he could hear static and voices in the background, and Mallory on the comm was arguing with someone. 

What to do? 

"What if she's right?" asked Maia. "That one, I mean," pointing to Mallory in the hall. 

"She sounds and looks just like her," he replied. 

"The Mallory on comm seems nicer."

"Well, Mal can be both ways."

"Joon!" called Mallory in the hallway. "Are we going?" 

"Just a minute," Joon said. 

"Joon, are you there?" Mallory on the comm. "Get away from her, quick. Do not let her touch you. We're getting conflicting reports - they take you over by touch, or they are... shapechangers? We don't know."

"How do I know? How do I know you're... you?"

"Ask her something only I would know." 

"What would...?" He was thinking of a certain evening not long ago. Before Maia. Not something he wanted to mention. 

He strode up to hallway Mal."Stay there," he held up his hand to Maia. He made sure not to get too close to Mal. "Talk to me about the night a few months ago..."

"When we fucked? It was lovely, Joon. Is now the time though?"

He looked at her. 

"Does Maia know?" 


"Well, be discreet then. I'll never say. Look, I know what you're doing here. I understand. But we have to move." 

Joon went back to where Maia was standing. His brain was reeling. Who to trust? 

Mallory on the comm was still talking. 

"She might know everything we know..."

"Who's we?" demanded Maia. 

I'm going with my gut, decided Joon. 

He turned back to hallway Mal as she strode back toward him. 

"I'm sorry, I can't go with you."

"That's unfortunate. I know this is tough, but I really am the real one. What can I do to convince you?"

Then she went for his throat.