“Humans sometimes penetrated the lower forests in search of the Trailmen. It was one-way traffic. The Trailmen never came in search of them.”
The Planet Savers featuring “The Waterfall” by Marion Zimmer Bradley.
The world of Darkover is in trouble. Every 48 years, a disease crops up to decimate the native population of the planet (how fittings to read this now with all the measles floating about out there). The only ones immune are the Terrans who came to Darkover from another world and the reclusive Trailmen, who contract the disease as youngsters and recover quickly. It is believed that Trailmen genetics hold the key to unlocking a cure for the Darkovians, but there is only one man who could possibly penetrate into their society and stand a chance of appealing for their help. Too bad Dr. Jay Allison has turned into a cold, heartless, bigoted fellow far removed from his unique childhood orphaned among the Trailmen! So a unique process is developed to appeal to Dr. Allison’s younger self, the more impulsive and passionate Jason, quelled so long ago when Jay embarked on his medical career, and so begins a journey into the deep wilderness of both Darkover and the human soul.
The Planet Savers is a really intriguing little novella, especially from a writer’s perspective, because Bradley jumps right in, which I really like. She does an excellent job of portraying these completely opposite personalities and how they conflict with each other within the same man. She also makes a good job at making sure they’re both “imperfect:” Jason is technically the hero of our tale, and you start out thinking he is the better one and Jay is a stone cold bitch, but you realize that they’re both flawed, and that’s the point. They represent extremes, when what we should strive for is balance. There was a little romance that was completely predictable and unnecessary, and potentially another romance that might have been born out of my pure speculation that I liked much better, but, overall, a solid little yarn of classic ’60s sci-fi. Maybe a little on the obvious side of things, but that’s to be expected with this era and these pulpy type books.
My copy also included a short story from Bradley, entitled “The Waterfall,” which I thought was a little dull at first, but then it hits you with a wallop at the end, the kind you should have expected but somehow didn’t, and so it left me with a pleased disposition wanting to read more.
Books read: 004/100.
Hmm, this sounds interesting!
It really was! And it was a super-quick read. The novella was just a page or two longer than 100. I’ve been meaning to read more of Bradley’s work, and this was just another reminder of how I’ve really got to do that…