Literature: Federation of the Hub
aka: A Tale Of Two Clocks
The Federation of the Hub
is a series of science fiction short-stories and novels by James H Schmitz
. They are connected by their setting, an interstellar federation in the far future located toward the center of the galaxy. The series as a whole is considered memorable as one of the earliest in mainstream SF to feature strong female leads.
Almost all of the stories feature one or more of three different young women. The majority of the stories (and the majority of the words in the series) are about teenaged psychic Telzey Amberdon. There are also several stories and one short novel starring or co-starring the young student Trigger Argee, who gets caught up in interplanetary intrigue, and later in the series, becomes friends with Telzey. In addition, there is one short novel and one short story starring biologist Nile Etland; though Nile never encounters Telzey or Trigger. Beyond that, there are a handful of stories featuring other minor characters, some of whom have smaller roles in the main Telzey/Trigger storyline.Baen Books
have brought the series back into print in recent years. The reissue attracted some controversy among long-standing fans because of the editor's decision to tighten up a few of the stories, a process that in some cases more closely resembled major surgery. There were also some kinks in the release order: it was decided to release all the Telzey Amberdon stories first, with the result that every Telzey team-up story appears before the story introducing the character she's teaming up with. This doesn't really matter for the lesser recurring characters, whose stories don't have strong continuity or chronology; but volume 2, containing the Telzey and Trigger team-up stories, is definitely set after, and contains significant spoilers for, the solo Trigger stories in volume 3.
Novels in the series:
- Legacy (aka A Tale of Two Clocks). Stars Trigger Argee.
- The Demon Breed (aka Tuvela). Stars Nile Etlund.
Baen's collections (in publication order) are:
- Telzey Amberdon
- TNT: Telzey and Trigger
- Trigger and Friends (includes Legacy)
- The Hub: Dangerous Territory (includes The Demon Breed)
This series provides examples of:
- Absent-Minded Professor: Plemponi, Dr. Mantelish.
- Action Girl:
- The Alternet: The ComWeb, a Federation-wide email/instant messaging/videophone system.
- Aristocrats Are Evil: The Duke of Fluel, in "Lion Loose".
- Bluffing the Advance Scout: In The Demon Breed
- Chivalrous Pervert: Heslet Quillan takes instant advantage of the situation when the naked Action Girl falls into his arms—but never hesitates when a lady needs his help.
- Cloning Blues: In "Ti's Toys"
- Close-Call Haircut: "Baldy" Perk in "Lion Loose" has his nickname because a near-miss shot from a blaster left him with burn scars all over his scalp, leaving him entirely unable to regrow his hair.
- Cool Gate: In "The Lion Game"
- Curse Escape Clause: In "Child of the Gods", Telzey is mentally enslaved by another psionic, with several of her most potent skills locked away. When the man is incapacitated and a monstrously powerful alien is shortly due to arrive to enslave and/or eat them, Telzey breaks free when she realizes that his command to look after his best interests—without him conscious to decide otherwise—would best be served if she had full access to all her abilities and was free of his control so she could use them most effectively.
- Drives Like Crazy: Dr Plemponi in Legacy
- Dolled-Up Installment: The Baen reissues include a non-Hub story, "Planet of Forgetting", rewritten as a Hub story, "Forget It". The theory here was that it may well have been a Dolled Down Installment in the first place.
- Don't Make Me Take My Belt Off: Used as a threat in Legacy, when Trigger is placed under guard. Her guard, who's also her self-defence instructor, gives her terms: If Trigger tries to escape and succeeds, no hard feelings. If she tries and fails, she gets spanked with whatever's closest to hand.
- Extra Eyes: In "Company Planet", a surgeon has an additional eye in the centre of his forehead, which Telzey guesses might act as a magnifier for close-in work.
- Famous Last Words (also Tempting Fate): "And now, if it is within the power of a Tuvela to defy our purpose, show what you can do." note
- The Federation: The Federation of the Hub.
- Framing the Guilty Party: Telzey does this in "Undercurrents"
- Grand Theft Me: In "The Symbiotes"
- Heroes Want Redheads: Trigger and Heslet Quillan.
- Hunting the Most Dangerous Game: Played with in "Novice" (the first Telzey story) with humans hunting crest cats, who (unbeknownst to the humans) are intelligent beings. However, the crest cats are having enormous fun hunting the humans right back.
- Humans Are Psychic in the Future: The Hub stories have a significant number of psychic characters, even though psis are still only a tiny fraction of the human race. However, they are numerous enough that the Federation Psychology Service has spent centuries making sure that rogue psis don't screw up the status quo too badly. A character in one story explicitly mentions that humanity only developed psi powers when it started spreading to other planets, and speculates about how the two events might be connected.
- Humans Are Warriors: the epilogue to The Demon Breed concludes that Humans Are Dangerous, Leave Them Alone.
Lord Toshin: There remains, as the Lord Gulhad indicated, a third possibility. I find it perhaps more disquieting than the two we have considered. It is, of course, that Dr. Etland is precisely what she seems to be—an exceptionally capable human, but one with no abnormal qualities and no mysterious authority.note
- Humanity Is Infectious: In The Other Likeness.
- Hyperspace Is a Scary Place: "A Nice Day For Screaming" has this in spades: the space itself is inherently hazardous, and then it turns out there are things living in it... although they aren't malicious.
- Immortality Seeker: Ticos Cay. This makes him a rarity among Hub citizens, who are mostly affected by Who Wants to Live Forever?.
- Intrepid Reporter: Keth Deboll.
- Kaleidoscope Hair: Danestar Gems, in "The Searcher", always wears a wig of the same colour as her outfit.
- Make the Dog Testify: In "Undercurrents". Subverted in that the dog didn't actually know a damn thing, but Telzey knows some people who can implant fake memories really really well...
- Mook Horror Show: The epilogue to "The Demon Breed" retells the story from the aliens' point of view.
I must emphasize strongly the oppressively accumulating effect these events produced on the Parahuans during the relatively short period in which they occurred. As related by the survivors, there was a growing sense of shock and dismay, the conviction finally of having challenged something like an indestructible supernatural power. At the time they were questioned, the survivors still seemed more disturbed by this experience than by the practical fact of their own impending demise on orders of Porad Anz, of which they were aware.
- Mugging the Monster: In Lion Game two street thugs stalk Telzey...very briefly.note
- New Powers as the Plot Demands: Telzey is rather prone to this.
- One Riot, One Ranger: Well, one invasion / one Guardian, is the Parahuans' conclusion from their debacle on Nandy-Cline. "Guardians" being their hypothesized superhumans who secretly rule the Federation.
Evidently the Guardians had considered it unnecessary to employ one of their more formidable members to dispose of the invasion forces; and evidently their judgement was sound.
- But other aliens think — correctly — that the ratio is even worse: one invasion / two more-or-less ordinary humans.