The Forbidden Dream [Hallmeyer, Destroyer of Worlds #1]
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by Ross Rocklynne
Category: Science Fiction
Description: Golden Age Pulp Series by Nebula Nominee--First Time Ever in Book Form! For the first time since their original appearance in the legendary pulp Planet Stories in the early 1940s, here are the three novelettes that launched the adventures of Sidney Hallmeyer, interstellar agent--one of the era's most trail-blazing series. In essence, Hallmeyer is a scientific secret agent with a license to kill--entire cultures and worlds! If needed or if so ordered, when they stand in the way of Earth's territorial expansion and dream of empire. In fact, it is utopias Hallmeyer is most often instructed to terminate--with prejudice. In "Exiles of the Desert Star," for instance, his assignment, as the original magazine blurb announced, is "Murder. Murder among the asteroids. Hallmeyer had orders to transform small Elron's brisk atmosphere to krypton. It meant killing that last gallant handful of royal exiles as surely as if his hand held a ray-gun." Hallmeyer's charm and saving grace, and the surest sign of his creator's penetrant insight, is his conscience. For unlike, say, James Bond, and long before him, Hallmeyer is aware of the dubious nature of his profession. The Hallmeyer series was clearly cut from such contrapuntal cloth that it is easy to understand why it made a big stir in the science fiction world of the time. Yet, paradoxically, for all the series' fame and popularity, no Hallmeyer story has ever been reprinted. Thus this two volume eBook republication of this landmark series by Nebula nominee Ross Rocklynne is a major science fiction event. BONUS FEATURE: Excerpt from classic pulp novel, The Man Who Saved the Universe.
eBook Publisher: Renaissance E Books/PageTurner Editions,
eBookwise Release Date: February 2012
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [167 KB]
Reading time: 102-143 min.
ABOUT THIS AUTHOR AND BOOK
Get set for a real science fictional treat. For the first time since their original appearance in the legendary golden age pulp Planet Stories in the early 1940s, here are the three novelettes that launched the adventures of Sidney Hallmeyer, interstellar agent of the TSRI, one of the era's most trail-blazing series. Hallmeyer of the TSRI is a series that stood so far above the SF of its day that it achieved instant popularity. What makes the Hallmeyer series, penned by Hugo Award nominee Ross Rocklynne (1913-1988), so unique? As reader Dick Burns put it in a letter to Planet Stories, at a time when science fiction invariably portrayed "earthmen as haloed angels, big hearted and philanthropic," the Hallmeyer stories portrayed them as "just plain mercenary." It was a complete reversal of the standard science fiction situation, and fans found it, as reader Margaret Mason said, a "refreshing plot twist. ...The idea of "Nasty Earthmen versus Admirable Aliens," she wrote, "is a world beater..."
In essence, Hallmeyer is a scientific secret agent with a license to kill -- entire cultures and worlds! If needed or if so ordered, when they stand in the way of Earth's territorial expansion and dream of empire -- and regardless of whether they deserve it or not. In fact, it is utopias Hallmeyer is most often instructed to terminate -- with prejudice. In "Exiles of the Desert Star," for instance, his assignment, as the original magazine blurb announced, is "Murder. Murder among the asteroids. Hallmeyer had orders to transform small Elron's brisk atmosphere to krypton. It meant killing that last gallant handful of royal exiles as surely as if his hand held a ray-gun."
Hallmeyer's charm and saving grace, and the surest sign of his creator's penetrant insight, is his conscience. For unlike, say, James Bond, and long before him, Hallmeyer is aware of the dubious nature of his profession. He implicitly recognizes that in any higher sense neither Earth's ends nor its means can justify the immoral nature of his actions. In short, at least part of Ross Rocklynne's conscious intent was to shake the largely provincial 1940s U.S. reader out of their complacency and make the wonder if ends can always justify means. Was Rocklynne, who was a discerning man deeply influenced by Hindu metaphysical thought, making a comment -- seventeen years before Eugene Burdick and William Lederer's novel The Ugly American suggested the new image the actions and attitudes of American's official representatives in the far-East were giving the U.S. in the eyes rest of the world -- on American foreign policies?
Whatever Rocklynne's intent, the Hallmeyer series was clearly cut from such contrapuntal cloth that it is easy to understand why it made a big stir in the science fiction world of the time. Yet, paradoxically, for all the series' fame and popularity, no Hallmeyer story has ever been reprinted. Thus this two volume ebook republication of this landmark series by Ross Rocklynne is a major science fiction event.
JEAN MARIE STINE
* * * *
THE FORBIDDEN DREAM
(Ganymede was an outcast world -- a fallen Titan. But deep in the brain of her empire-conscious race was the formula of a cataclysmic weapon that would one day smash the universe.)
* * * *
I slipped through space in a one-man rocket, scarcely comprehending the stars about me, and yet, two months before, I had been a well-informed scientist! Now, suddenly, in my thirty-first year, I was entirely stripped of the precious scientific knowledge for which I had studied through fifteen years in a half-dozen colleges on a half-dozen planets!
Nothing remained but the instincts, acquired traits, and a layman's knowledge of the universe.
Incomprehensible -- yes. But true.
Two months before, I was called into the presence of my employer, the president of the Tellurian Science Research Institution, and had been waved to a seat opposite him.
"Sid," he said worriedly, "war is about to break out between Earth and Jupiter. I guess you know the reason, but I'll review it. From no one knows where, a large piece of radium floated into the solar system. Naturally, every planet wanted it, and we were lucky enough to get it. The other planets took it with good grace -- except Jupiter.
"Now she's mad at us, and three or four months will bring war. Nobody will win, but both will lose -- heavily. The whole thing will be quite senseless. Now if we had a weapon superior to any now known, Jupiter wouldn't dare attack us.
"There is only one such weapon of which we know, and it is not in material form. It is locked up in the minds of a people who live on Jupiter's third satellite, Ganymede."
He surveyed me quietly. "You've heard of that, I suppose, though it's hardly more than a legend.
"Thousands of years ago the natives of Ganymede held sway over a large empire -- an empire which embraced, historians say, all the major planets, and the larger asteroids. Today the race is almost extinct. Fifty of its members remain, and they live on Ganymede.
"In the past, no way has been found to secure the secret. If it were in our possession now it would prove invaluable.
"Now, however, a means has been found. You are aware that, ever since interplanetary travel became an established thing, people realized it would be impossible to live on or visit worlds of which they were not native due to differing gravities and atmospheric pressures, and the quality of the atmosphere itself.
"A genius discovered the only way out by inventing a complex machine which is used on every planet where there is intelligent life. The idea underlying its invention was not to use your own body, but a body native to the world in question. A large business has sprung up around this invention, and it is called Transmitted Egos, Inc.
"The Ganymedans run a branch, of course -- they are compelled to do so, under planetary law. Offhand, you'd think that it would be simple to just rent a body, pay the additional charge or retaining instincts, acquired traits and learning, and, then ferret that mind's secret from it. Not so. Obviously only a skilled scientist could read that secret; so the Ganymedans have a test in which they read your mind itself. If you're a scientist, they'll only give you the instincts. If you're not a scientist, you can use everything, for you won't be able to translate the secret even if you're aware of its existence."
I interrupted, "But that lets me out. They'll discover at once that I'm a scientist, and will refuse to give me anything but instincts."
"You won't be a scientist much longer," the chief smiled. "We're going to drain from you practically every bit of scientific knowledge you possess."
"Spin the rest of it," I told him, a sinking feeling in my heart.
"You'll be able to pass the test the Ganynamedans give you, and the results will be negative. You'll receive the entire mind, minus a slice of consciousness necessary to keep your own body alive. But in your ignorant state, you won't be able to decipher the secret.
"In order that you can, I will have sent a layman, probably your own friend, Will Carrist, to the moon beforehand, and with him will go the record of your learning. You will go to the moon, and on the pretense of having made a date with him there, meet him. He will assist in transferring your learning back to you; then you will be able to understand the secret Ganymede guards so zealously. You then return to the Bureau of Transmitted Egos, and come back to Earth. It's that simple."
"'Any danger from Jupiter itself?"
"A condition of war will not manifest itself for some months. There will be no danger from that source."
"No other catches?"
"None provided you are careful."
* * * *
It had been done as he said, and now I was a layman, hardly knowing the basic principle under which the rocket I rode drove me through space.
I landed on Ganymede, a bleak little moon about 3,550 miles in diameter, and a light surface gravity.
Although Ganymede is almost half as large as Earth, the horizon appears to slope away swiftly. To my right I could just see Jupiter, striped with broad hands. She filled almost an entire quarter section of the sky, and the lower half of her was eclipsed by her moon -- that is, she was just setting. On the left the sun, a coppery disk the apparent size of a dime, was just rising. There was no night on Ganymede at this time of its short year -- which was seven days, three hours and forty-two minutes long; most of the time there was just a pale, hazy sort of twilight.
I landed in front of the Bureau of Transmitted Egos about 4 p.m. Earth time. I selected the heaviest helmet I could find, and donned heavy metal shoes. In this manner I increased my weight to about three-quarters normal.
I pushed open the door of the domed building, and strode in. No one was about. There was a bell hanging from a rope, and I clanged on it impatiently with the little hammer, and waited. It seemed that very little business came to this uninteresting little sphere, containing as it did only fifty inhabitants and one ruined city.
I gave the bell another blow, and heard motion from the adjoining room. A little, wizened old man, with hooked nose, great ears, short limbs, gigantic chest and leathery skin, entered. Less than three feet in height, he stood staring rudely up at me until I feigned impatience, though what I felt was uneasiness.
"Come, man!" I shouted in the universal tongue. "I can't stand here all day! I want a transferral! To your business!"
He mumbled something or other, but the thick helmet and thin air between my ears and his voice did not enable me to catch the words.
He stood behind his desk and started shouting at me.
"What's your profession?"
"I'm a psychologist," I told him. "I've come here to write a chapter of my book, 'Psychology of Races.' For that reason I wish to use as much of the mind as you find it possible to give me!"
He surveyed me distastefully. "Are you a scientist?"
"No," I quite truthfully answered. "By Lord, quick about it! I've got an appointment with a friend that arrived here some days ago."
He pushed a blank toward me. "Fill this out."
When I had finished, he took the blank and beckoned me into a room.
A peculiar machine stood in a corner, but with my layman's mind I could make nothing of it.
The gnarled gnome beckoned again.
"You men of the other planets," he said, without any pretense at politeness, "are all liars. How do I know you're not a scientist? You have to take the test, otherwise you don't get anything but the instincts."
"Well, I'm willing," I told him with a sneer. "I've heard of you Ganymedans. You guard your secrets well. Don't be afraid; I won't steal them."
"Into the chair," he snapped.
I sat in a chair attached with various wires to the contrivance behind me. These Ganymedans certainly did not pay tribute to the niceties of politeness. He jerked off my helmet, leaving me gasping. I lost my temper but before I could make up my mind to hit him he had clamped another down on my head.
"Gas will come through that helmet in a moment," he snapped. "Breathe deep; I can't have any mental resistance."
I had never taken the test before, and wasn't at all sure what would happen. I started to get up, but at that same instant the gas hit my nostrils. It carried me away like a leaf on a spring wind.
The next thing I knew I was still sitting in that chair, breathing in pure oxygen from my own helmet. The old Ganymedan was standing before me.
"You are," he said contemptuously, "as ignorant as a dog. Your book will never sell!"
He hobbled away, and I followed. I entered a vast room, the walls of which were covered with involved, inter-connected mechanical contrivances. It required the operation of this entire machine to transfer personalities between two bodies.
The Ganymedan, grumbling still, pointed to a metal chair which, with its snaky wires and cables twisting away from it, reminded me most forcefully of one of those devices used centuries ago to eliminate dangerous criminal talent from the world. I seated myself.
The old man then struck a large gong above his desk. He used a measured cadence which at the moment made me think that it might be some sort of code he was using. I later learned, to my peril, that such was the case. The clanging sounds echoed and re-echoed in that room, and fled from the building out into the thin air of Ganymede, reaching, presumably, to the ruined city wherein lived this moon's fifty inhabitants.
"A few moments," he said in his crackling voice. "They will hear that bell, and one of them will come to transfer with you. The charges will amount to 1500 universe. That includes taxes."
1500 universe: 2000 dollars.
"And," he resumed, "if the body is injured fatally you must consider your own body forfeit, and all your possessions will revert to us -- to be divided equally among the inhabitants of Ganymede. That is planetary law."
He spoke these words in a kind of hiss and his eyes shone with a deadly light that for a moment made me feel cold. At that time I did not know the reason for this strange exhibition, but later, when I had possession of my temporary body and most of its mind, I knew it quite fully. Death is the most dreaded of all things on Ganymede. And the people who live on it have quite a logical reason for it, too, considering their terribly depleted numbers.
"I understand that," I told him. "Let's get to the business quickly. And don't forget I wish to retain the entire mind."
His eyes narrowed, and suspiciousness flooded his face.
"You seem over-anxious," he said through tightened lips.
I snorted in derision, but secretly cursed myself. I had certainly been more insistent in my demands than necessity demanded.
"You're a fool," I taunted. "I am a psychologist. That should be sufficient reason. Curse it, where is that fellow?" I snapped angrily.
He turned away, mumbling, while I feigned irate impatience. He came back and started connecting wires to a sort of metal harness which he draped about me. He then went about snapping switches that soon had the whole room lit up with sparkles and flashes that presented an eerie display. I felt an awe at these machines, even though, two months before, I could have built duplicates of them without resorting to the use of blueprints.
A back door opened and a wiry little fellow, a newer edition of the old man, came in and for a moment stared at me with insolent, hating eyes. I returned to stare. It fascinated me to know that this, in a few minutes, would be my body.
* * * *
The young Ganymedan hopped into his place, and his older counterpart threw the metal harness over him and connected it with the machine. He then took up a position at his control board, and I saw great cables tense like garden hose as a load of power went through them. In the ordinary sense of the word I did not lose consciousness, but saw the whole proceedings. There was a ringing in my head that droned up and down. I stiffened, and felt tiny forces plucking at my consciousness, forces that changed my very mind into vibrations that sped along metal cables, finally impinging on the brain of the body I was to occupy, there translating themselves back into actual brain stuff.
I then experienced the most peculiar sensation in the universe -- that of being in two different places at the same time. I saw myself sitting in that sinister chair through the eyes of the dwarf, and simultaneously saw the dwarf through my own eyes.
It made one feel cold and crazy, for my consciousness was swiftly oozing out of my mind into his, and a proportionately smaller amount of his was oozing into mine.
This went on for some moments, occupying a stretch of time that appeared like eternity. I felt like yelling. The sensation was too eery to describe logically in words.
I knew the transmission would be completed shortly when I saw the body of the dwarf fade from my sight, and my own gain lasting prominence... I soon knew, beyond doubt, that the transferral had been accomplished.
I looked across the room at my face, a cold chill racing like a comet up and down my back. My features had relaxed from the keenness which I fondly imagined had been its outstanding characteristic into an expression of dull, idiotic apathy. I doubt if that body of mine even knew it was alive, for the small bit of the dwarf's consciousness which it possessed did not have sufficient power to tell it so.
Except for the lack of this tiny section of consciousness, I was a complete and actual dual personality, with the exception that my own ego could not be supplanted in the least measure by that of the dwarf. At once I became fully enlightened on the customs and history of this race, and knew at once all remembered details of the ancient city in which its remnants lived. I knew at once that strange, old language they used amongst themselves, and felt, for one instant, the morbid hate which the race entertained for beings other than members of that race.
I was more interested in that corner of the mind which refused to be explored. It was as if cloudy veils were stretched there, and through that layer of veils I could glimpse shadowy visions of a complicated mechanism which defied all my efforts to focus its details. This much alone could I grasp: its powers of destruction were terrible.