E.C. Tubb 1919-2010

I was very sad to learn today of the death of E.C. Tubb.

Tubb was a prolific British SF writer who wrote more than a hundred novels in his career under his own name and pseudonyms—SFWA says more than 140, Locus says more than 130. He also wrote scripts for the TV show Space 1999 and many stories published in New Worlds, Analog, Galaxy, and other magazines. Some of these stories are available in Wildside’s The Best Science Fiction of E.C. Tubb. He was a Guest of Honour at the 1970 Heidelburg Worldcon and was one of the co-founders of the British Science Fiction Association.

What most fans will best remember is his Dumarest saga.

When I started reading Dumarest there were more than a dozen volumes, by last year when Child of Earth came out in a limited edition, there were thirty-three. I loved those books. I can remember their names and their titles. I spent years without number four, Kalin, which was a pity as that was one that contained essential plot. I was so excited when I found it, a U.S. remainder with a hole in the cover.

Dumarest was a man born on Earth, who had lost Earth and was trying to find it again. Travel between the stars could be by the High or Low methods, the High kept you awake and the Low froze you down, and a certain percentage of people never woke again. Each book was a fully satisfying complete episode in Dumarest’s long quest—the books usually ended with him leaving yet another planet and woman. When I was a teenager they contained the concentrated essence of space opera. I think the feel of them can be best summed up by the title of Spectrum of a Forgotten Sun. They’re not great literature, but they reliably provided a certain very specific kind of pleasure. I would be delighted whenever I found a new one, or an old one that I was missing. I grew out of them eventually, but as you can tell I remember them fondly and in some detail—and most of all I can still remember the joy they gave me.

Planet after planet, adventure after adventure, Dumarest kept on questing, finding an occasional clue to lost Earth, and to the mystery of why Earth was hidden. Let him sail between the stars forever.

Edwin Charles Tubb was ninety one. He kept writing to the end and had a book accepted on the day he died. He is survived by two daughters, two grand-daughters and numerous great-grandchildren.

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