I See What You Did There

So it seems I ran out of Telzey Amberdon books last week and these other books do not feature her at all.  However, James H. Schmitz is still a talented author and these books may take place in the same universe – I haven’t decided yet.

Today’s book was Agent of Vega, a collection of novellas and short stories about the Galactic Zone Agents of Vega.  These highly skilled and trained individuals are high level spies with all the government equipment and budget anyone could desire who work independently to surgically solve problems throughout the galaxy.  Each story stands alone, but they are linked through momentary mentions and asides.

The stories are “Agent of Vega,” “The Illusionists,” “The Truth About Cushgar,” and “The Second Night of Summer.”  The threats in each story are very different, and sometimes there’s more than one to overcome.  Still, the Zone Agents are the best of the best, which is why there aren’t nearly enough of them, and, when they have the time, they try to note individuals who may have the mettle to join the team.

Of the four tales, I would say that “The Truth About Cushgar” made the biggest impact on me.  I didn’t think it would be the strongest as I began to read.  It’s formatted as a bar story.  Two old friends, reminiscing about lost comrades.  There’s a tragic story, there’s a heroic rescue, there’s someone staring into the abyss, etc.  And yet…the ending.  As the story moves into the climax I could feel my jaw dropping open…and not just because of the house spaceship.  Whatever else he may have been, James H. Schmitz was a masterful author who took my expectations and turned them upside down and gave me a very rewarding experience out of it.  I retained this state of awe all through the fourth and final story which was perfectly acceptable, but still nowhere near as shocking.

I’ve got one more short book by Schmitz, but I checked ahead and the larger book next to it stars a character that was a main character in one of the Telzey stories.  Combine that with the library book sitting on my shelf, and you’ve got a conflict of interests.  Still, I should be able to renew the book if I need to (though I better return the other at some point), so I suppose I’ll continue with Schmitz tomorrow for now.  Of course, who knows how much reading I’ll be able to do outside of work this week.  There was Mother’s Day yesterday, then there’s adulting and social life things in my immediate future.  Still, no one knows what the future holds.

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