The Changeling Worlds
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by Kenneth Bulmer
Category: Science Fiction
Description: THESE PLANETS ARE TABOO! On the gold-symbol world of Beresford's Planet, Richard Kirby lived in total luxury. As a member of "The Set" his life was a never-ending round of planetary party-hopping. The only restriction imposed on him-- that he never put down on any world marked with a red or black symbol--was something that he had always accepted without question. That is, until his brother Alec was murdered in cold blood! Alec had been an undercover agent to those forbidden planets, and in order to avenge him, Kirby had to find out for himself what was really happening there. But with the start of his investigation, Kirby found out quickly that the authorities meant business when they said, "Hands off!" The secret they were protecting was of vital importance, and it now became a matter of life and death, not only to Kirby, but to all the inhabitants of THE CHANGELING WORLDS.
eBook Publisher: Gate Way Publishers,
eBookwise Release Date: May 2011
2 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [200 KB]
Reading time: 121-170 min.
Reclining comfortably three feet in the air, with his robodressers scurrying in silent deftness around him, Richard Makepeace Kirby struggled with the weighty problem of deciding whether to take the .1 needle gun or his new variable-aperture flarer to the forthcoming party. He pushed the problem away to be solved later and said to Molly: "We've been married for--what is it--four days now? Do you want a divorce for this party tonight or shall we stay married for a bit?"
"My vote says we stay married." Molly walked slowly from her dressing room. "And I was thinking we ought to have had a baby by now."
Kirby said casually: "Sure."
"After all, that Margot Bailey bought one the day she married that thin young architect; I forget his name." "That wasn't her last, was it?" "No. Three ago."
"His name was Jim. All right then, Molly, why don't you drop by the B.E. tomorrow and pick one out." He chuckled suddenly and a robodresser seized the chance of running the pinstripe trousers onto his legs. "I don't have to remind you we'll have to stay married for a year. Can you stand that?"
Molly put the foot-long ivory cigarette holder into the corner of her mouth and said: "I don't like the way you say that, Dick. Of course I don't mind."
"Ah, but," said Kirby, "will I?"
"You'd damn well better not! I've a good mind to go right down to the B.E. this minute and buy a baby--"
"Hold it! Hold it!" Kirby sat up, his body moving against the magnegrav field without conscious effort. He looked across the bent backs of the temporarily baffled robots at Molly. "We take off for this party in thirty minutes."
Molly coughed on her cigarette holder. "Ow!" she wailed. "I've no idea what fancy dress to wear. I came in to see if you had any suggestions." Molly was wearing a petulantly perplexed expression and nothing else.
Kirby said: "I have, but thirty minutes isn't long enough. And I won't suggest you go as you are. Remember Alice Evans?"
They both laughed with tired, malicious amusement. The Set was still giggling over poor Alice and her dramatic entry to a party. At one of the incessantly regular parties she appeared as Eve-before-snake until the U.V.'s caught her nude back and everyone could read a certain suggestion some joker had scrawled there in fluorescent crayon. Abdul Rahman had shouted above the uproar: "Take the snake's advice, Alice--cover up!" The joke had gone the rounds and been fresh for a whole week.
"Anyway," continued Molly, dragging her half-practical, half-butterfly mind back onto her own problems, "what are those ghastly objects you're wearing? What are you supposed to be?"
Kirby recognized Molly's gambit. In only four days of marriage he had learned more about her than all their previous three-week acquaintanceship, which was as it should be, he had decided luxuriously more than once. He smiled and the robodressers took their chance and ran the black frock coat up his arms and settled it neatly about his wide shoulders. He rolled off the magnegrav couch and stood up. He spread his arms out and twirled on tiptoes.
"You look like some dam' great vulture," Molly said.