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Schmitz, James H.
A TALE OF 2 CLOCKS
This is another of those Torquil editions where BCE and "regular" editions use the same stock - price is stamped on the flap and "Book Club Edition" is clipped from the bottom corner of DJ flap of the publishers "regular" edition. / I'm not impressed with the cover art - but this is the only way to get this title in hardcover.
A Tale of 2 Clocks - the first novel to feature Trigger Argee and Major Heslet Quillan (a.k.a. "Bad News" Quillan) by James H. Schmitz, in his "Hub" series. Trigger Argee had been introduced in "Harvest Time" (1958) and "Bad News" Quillan was the star of "Lion Loose" (1961.)
Here's the flap-copy from the hardcover, for a summary/set-up:
For mankind, this is a period of star-spanning subspace ships, of high adventure, great discoveries and achievements... and equally great danger. The basic human qualities, good and evil, have not changed, and on the hundreds of Federation worlds, highly organized power groups are pitted against one another in ruthless struggles for economic advantage and political control, searching constantly for ever more effective weapons against their competitors.
Such groups are taking an unhealthy interest in the recent discovery of the plasmoids... strange and alarming life-forms with robotlike traits who are believed to have been developed by a long-vanished alien race, the Old Galactics, to act as their servants. The exclusive possession of these incredible living machines will mean a decisive advantage for one or another of the conflicting factions in the Federation.
Against this background, a beautiful and quick-tempered young woman unwillingly finds herself drawn into the deadly network of political intrigue surrounding the plasmoids. Invisible influences threaten her existence as, behind the scenes, an unknown masterschemer manipulates his human and plasmoid puppets against the Federation. The action shifts from world to world, the petty human struggles being dwarfed gradually by the implacable purpose of the malevolent hidden foe, whose identity must be painfully deduced from the few clues provided by his actions, and whose power, aided by human greed and selfishness, is growing to the point where it will be unleashed in overwhelming fury against all mankind.
The search for this entity leads the story's heroine and her companions at last to a sinister fortress hidden in the vast, unnatural depths of subspace, to a meeting with the enemy, and to a decision which determines the fate of man and of all life in the galaxy.
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