Eye Of The Zodiac
is a science fiction novel
author E C Tubb
In the course of a continuing quest for his legendary birthplace, Earl Dumarest befriends a young man who says his home world was called Nerth.
- New Earth, perhaps? Or even the original planet Dumarest seeks. He must find out.
And so Dumarest comes to Nerth - to discover that the Cyclan, his prime enemy in the cosmos is already there ... together with mysteries and a terror that defies the imagination!
- quoted from the rear cover of 1978 Arrow edition.
The Dumarest series of books is a grim travelogue through a universe filled with cruelty, greed, stupidity, and ignorance. Dumarest's journeys from one dismal world to another are motivated by two things. Firstly, his search for the lost planet Earth, believed by only a very few to be the original homeworld of humankind, and secondly by his need to avoid capture by his enemies, The Cyclan. Perhaps it is because he is being hunted that he spends so much of his existence living in the shadows as an identity-less member of a world's underclass. So much of the Dumarest saga is told from the viewpoint of downtrodden workers and the poorest of the poor, doing whatever they can to survive, that you could readily believe that what you were reading was a political tract, rather than a science fiction novel, were it not for the fact that the workers are often shown to be just as undeserving as their masters.
Eye Of The Zodiac opens with Dumarest in familiar surroundings; a mining camp, filled with men trapped there, working off debts that only ever increase. Tubb so often uses capitalism to enslave.
Dumarest is still a free man, however, and has a better job than most, as a security guard. He does his job well, and is able to earn bonuses that will pay for his next journey. A journey that he must make soon, for he knows that it is only a matter of time before The Cyclan work out where he is.
And so the adventure begins. Dumarest only just makes it off planet, eluding The Cyclan, eluding the local authorities, eluding the local villains, with the help of a beautiful woman of course.
What Dumarest novel would be complete without a beautiful woman for him to bed, and then leave? She'd better hope he leaves, for death follows Dumarest like vampires follow Buffy. This woman is lucky I suppose, and she can get back to running her snack bar. It would be a shame for the woman responsible for the description "breasts, unbound, moving like oiled balloons" to come to bad end.
And for Dumarest, as one door closes another opens. Arriving on the planet his latest clues have led him to he is hired as a guard on an expedition into the wilderness. An expedition whose members include a woman who becomes his newest companion. An accident and wild animals claim other members as victims so that when Dumarest finally stumbles into the village inhabited by The Original People, cultists who also believe in Earth, only himself and the woman are left.
The trouble is, this latest woman doesn't fall for Dumarest.
The trouble is, she turns him in to The Cyclan.
The trouble is, she wishes she was a man anyway.
Dumarest's reaction extinguishes any suspicion you might have of liberal leanings.
"Can you guess what it is to hate what you are? I would do anything, anything to be a man."
She was insane, he realized
Yes, wishing that she had been born a different sex is, to Dumarest, clear evidence of insanity. This fits with his reaction to homosexuality in Angado and is in character, though to an open-minded reader it does jar.
Needless to say, Dumarest does escape from this latest trap, and does learn valuable new information from The Original People.
This was the thirteenth book in the Dumarest series, which continued with Jack Of Swords