............... E.C. TUBB ...............
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'As a science-fiction fan, I write stories that I want to read myself - I imagine that other people who share my enthusiasm for science-fiction will also be entertained by the stories, and if that is the case, then I am delighted' (E.C.Tubb 2001)

E.C. TUBB was Britain’s most prolific science fiction writer, an author whose many colourful space opera stories were never allowed to be compromised by bad science. Best known for his epic Dumarest Saga series, which ultimately ran to 33 volumes, he was also recognised for acclaimed stand-alone works such as Alien Dust (1955), The Space-Born (1956) and Moon Base (1964), as well as a series of novels based on Gerry Anderson’s Space:1999 television series.

Born in London on 19 October 1919, Edwin Charles Tubb made his first sale as a writer in 1951, a short story entitled ‘No Short Cuts’ which was published in issue 10 of New Worlds Science Fiction, the magazine of the British Science Fiction Association. A few months later, his first novel, Saturn Patrol, was published by Curtis Warren and although credited to King Lang (a house name) the book exhibited many of the themes that would come to dominate Tubb’s writing.

Within three years Tubb had penned a further 29 pulp novels as well as contributing dozens of short stories to SF magazines on both sides of the Atlantic. He became a five-time winner of the Nebula Science Fiction Magazine Literary Award (1953-1958) and received the 1955 Cytricon Literary Award for Best British SF Writer.

From February 1956 to October 1957 he was also editor of Authentic Science Fiction magazine, where his deadlines often meant that he had to write most of the contents too, crediting his stories to a variety of pen names such as Alan Innes, Julian Carey and Alice Beecham. In a career spanning six decades, Tubb ultimately wrote 127 novels as well as 12 novellas and some 220 short stories. Many of these were compiled in his short story collections Ten From Tomorrow (1966), A Scatter of Stardust (1972) and The Best Science Fiction of E.C. Tubb (2003), while others were selected for inclusion in the prestigious Year’s Best SF, World’s Best SF and New Writings in SF annual anthologies. His 1955 short ‘Little Girl Lost’ was dramatised for American television as an episode in the second season of Rod Serling’s Night Gallery.

In much of his short fiction, Tubb was a master of the science fiction mystery, a sub-genre tackled by only a handful of other writers. His keen understanding of logic and psychology enabled him to craft ingenious tales which combined SF with detective fiction in a form succinctly described by the title of his 1997 collection of such stories, Murder in Space. Mysteries were also often at the heart of his novels with the plot hinging on the protagonist finding the solution to some form of puzzle in order to resolve a dangerous situation, as in Moon Base (1964), The Life-Buyer (1967), Death Wears a White Face (1979) and The Space-Born (1956).

The latter was a classic generational starship story, originally published as a serial novel in New Worlds Science Fiction magazine. The book tells of a society who are the sixteenth generation of the original crew of a vast starship en route to Pollux from Earth, a journey lasting three hundred years. In a plot which prefigured the central premise of William F Nolan and George Clayton Johnson’s Logan’s Run (1973), the protagonist, Jay West, is a psych-policeman whose job is to eliminate anyone who has become a burden to society, whether ill, unfit, neurotic, mentally unstable or, crucially, over 40 years old. West faces a terrible dilemma when he discovers that his next target is the father of the woman he loves, and his solution changes the lives of everyone on the ship. Tubb’s best known stand-alone work, The Space-Born was dramatised for French television in 1962.
The height of Tubb’s popularity came in the 1970s with his Dumarest Saga, Cap Kennedy and Space:1999 novels series, written concurrently for mainstream publishers on both sides of the Atlantic. Tubb’s output during that decade rivalled even that of his Fifties pulp work: 46 novels and 15 short stories between 1970 and 1979.

The Dumarest Saga began in 1967 with The Winds of Gath, Tubb’s homage to the work of American author Leigh Brackett and written in deliberate imitation of her Eric John Stark stories. The book was popular with American readers and three sequels quickly followed, Derai (1968), Toyman (1969) and Kalin (1969), subsequently extended into a long-running series of novels with Tubb producing a new instalment every six months.

Above- various covers for 'The Winds of Gath', reprinted often over the years with the latest appearing in 2009 - see panel below.
The saga is set in a far future where mankind has spread across the universe, populating hundreds of planets so distant from Earth that its existence has been forgotten and its whereabouts erased from star maps. Born on Earth, Earl Dumarest left the planet as a child, stowing away aboard a visiting space freighter to escape a savage, primitive life on a world scarred by ancient wars. After several decades as an itinerant adventurer, Dumarest now seeks to return to Earth, searching for clues that will lead him to the lost coordinates of his home planet. His quest is complicated by the machinations of the Cyclan, a clan of dispassionate scarlet-robed logicians who act as advisors to those in positions of power but secretly plot to use their influence with the ruling classes to place themselves in a position of absolute power and authority across the universe.

Consistently imaginative, intelligent and exciting, the Dumarest Saga was a fast-moving space opera focussed as closely on character as on plot and almost invariably indulging all of Tubb’s favourite themes: beautiful women, hierarchical societies, gladiatorial combat, logical deduction, the physical and psychological effects of extended space travel, and the secret of immortality. Each volume exhibited the best of Tubb’s writing skills, the original Brackett pastiche melded seamlessly with his own author’s ‘voice’ to create what has come to be regarded as the definitive Tubb style.

His second space opera series, Cap Kennedy, began in 1973 with Galaxy of the Lost and went on to spawn 16 further novels written at remarkable speed over the next two years.
Commissioned by Donald Wollheim of DAW Books, the Cap Kennedy novels were intended as Wollheim’s own rival to the popular Perry Rhodan and Captain Future space opera series then being published by DAW’s competitors.

This series followed the adventures of an intergalactic investigator, Captain ‘Cap’ Kennedy, a Free Acting Terran Envoy (FATE) with licence to act as judge, jury and executioner and the power to intervene in any situation which threatened the peace of the Terran Sphere, an interplanetary federation centred on Earth. Independently wealthy and operating from his personal spaceship, the Mordain, Kennedy was assisted on his missions by engineer Penza Saratov, scientist Professor Jarl Luden and alien navigator Veem Chemile, a humanoid chameleon who claimed to be descended from the Zheltyana, an ancient race which dominated the galaxy in the distant past before vanishing without trace.

Such was the punishing schedule for the Cap Kennedy books, Tubb had no qualms about plundering his earlier pulp novels for ideas and plots. Thus The Tormented City (1953) became Monster of Metelaze (1973), Debracy’s Drug (1953) was reworked as Earth Enslaved (1974), and World at Bay (1954) provided the basis for A World Aflame (1974).

In 1974, British publisher Futura invited Tubb to contribute to their novelisations of the scripts for a lavish new live-action TV series from Thunderbirds creator Gerry Anderson. Then still in production, Space:1999 followed the plight of the inhabitants of Moonbase Alpha, a self-contained community located on Earth’s Moon, after the detonation of nuclear waste stored beneath the lunar surface caused a chain reaction which blasted the satellite out of Earth orbit. Tubb embraced the project and penned two books of script adaptations, both of which transcended the usual expectations of the TV tie-in. He then went on to write three original novels – Alien Seed (1976), Rogue Planet (1976) and Earthfall (1977) – with the freedom to develop the television series format in his own way.  
With Earthfall, Tubb’s enthusiasm for the subject resulted in an epic novel that was not only one of his best (and longest) works, but also one of the best novels ever written from a TV science fiction property. Rather than simply criticise the TV series’ bizarre concept for its lack of scientific plausibility (as Isaac Asimov had done in the New York Times in 1975), Tubb took the bull by the horns and found a way to make it work, producing a grittily realistic interpretation. 25 years later, he returned to the series for a final novel, Earthbound (2003), a free adaption of three further television scripts set within the narrative continuity of Earthfall.

In the mid-Seventies, Tubb somehow also found time to pen three non-SF novels, a series of historical adventures set in Ancient Rome. Atlius the Slave (1975), Atilus the Gladiator (1975) and Gladiator (1978) charted the rise and fall of a young Briton, Atilus Cindrus, who becomes a respected lanista during the reign of Emperor Nero. These were by no means Tubb’s only non-SF or historical works: in the mid-1950s he had penned 11 highly-regarded Western novels, a Foreign Legion adventure, Sands of Destiny (1955), and a Chandler-esque detective thriller, Assignment New York (1955). In the early Sixties, he had also turned his hand to war stories in scripts for Fleetway’s various Picture Library comics.

Following the publication of Stardeath (1985), a space opera novel intended to be the first in a new series, Tubb was widely believed to have retired. In truth, Tubb’s career had stalled with the retirement of his long-standing agent Les Flood and the singular inability of Flood’s replacement to secure fresh commissions for the author’s work. In 1995, Tubb appointed writer and editor Philip Harbottle as his new literary agent and his work soon began to appear in print again with new editions of the early pulp novels, first editions of previously unpublished manuscripts, new collections of short stories, and a new Dumarest novel, The Return (1997).
Buoyed by this revival of interest from America, Europe and the UK, Tubb continued writing well into his 90th year. A final volume in the Dumarest Saga, Child of Earth (2008) tied up the series’ many loose ends and brought Dumarest’s quest to a conclusion, and a new short story, ‘Dead End’, appeared in the Space: 1999 anthology Shepherd Moon (2010). His final works were To Dream Again, an expansion of a 1970s novella, and Fires of Satan, an entirely new novel – both will now be published posthumously.

Ted Tubb died in his sleep at his London home on 10 September 2010, aged 90. He married Iris Kathleen Smith in 1944 and is survived by their two daughters, Jennifer and Linda, two granddaughters and several great grandchildren.

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Article by Chris Bentley, who was the editor of the 25th anniversary edition of Earthfall (2002) and E.C. Tubb’s final Space:1999 novel Earthbound (2003). He also contributed the introduction to Child of Earth (2009), the last Dumarest novel.
The 'Dumarest Saga' has been published for over 40 years and you can usually buy them fairly cheaply from second-hand bookstores or online, such as ebay. However they also continue to reappear from different book companies around the world.
Recently Homeworld Press in America published the last book 'Child of Earth' in 2008 and were then planning to release the entire series in 2009, but this had to be put on hold due to poor economic conditions. However in 2010 British company Ulverscroft Large Print Books Ltd www.ulverscroft.co.uk have started reprinting the series (picture left) with 'Gath'. These books don't appear to be numbered and the second book, 'Derai', has a different title of 'The Death Zone', so it will be interesting to see how many they produce.

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