James H Schmitz’s “The Complete Federation of the Hub”: Telzey Amberdon


Volume 1: Telzey Amberdon (2000)


Blood of Nalakia (1953)
The Star Hyacinths (1961)
Afterword, by Eric Flint
The Federation of the Hub: an Overview, by Guy Gordon


Part I: Novice (1962) (novelette)

15-year-old Telzey Amberdon lives on Orado, the capital planet of the Federation. Her mother Jessamine is a member of the Federation Council.

Currently Telzey has gone on holiday with her Aunt Halet to the planet Jontarou.

Aunt Halet has always been somewhat antagonistic to Jessamine and Telzey, seeing them as intruders in the Amberdon family.  When Aunt Halet invited Telzey on this holiday, Jessamine urged her to go, thinking that Halet was starting to be more friendly to them.

Telzey has brought with her her pet Tick-Tock.  Telzey had found her as a strange-looking kitten, with a pompom of fur on her head, 5 years before.  No one knew what species she was, or where she had come from.   Now Tick-Tock has grown to a big 200 pound cat.

Jontarou is a paradise for game hunters and zoologists, full of all kinds of animals, and had been left in a primitive state.  Its only city is Port Nichay, where Telzey and her aunt are staying.

While relaxing in the garden of their guest house, Telzey senses that Tick-Tock is tense.  Telzey had never been quite sure whether Tick-Tock could communicate with her in mental pictures.  Something Tick-Tock can definitely do, however, is camouflage herself, so that she disappears into the background.  Now Tick-Tock seems to want her to do something.  Telzey goes into a trance state and senses several beings around her.  They are communicating with her mentally, in a similar way to how Tick-Tock apparently communicates.  Some of them have a menacing feel to them.  They seem to think Telzey is of little importance, and her ability to communicate with them is “kitten talk”.

She is awakened from her trance by a buzz on her wrist-communicator.  Aunt Halet asks her to come into the house.  Inside she finds a visitor with her aunt, a man called Dr Droon, a zoologist.

Dr Droon tells her that Tick-Tock is crest cat, of a species native to Jontarou, which had been hunted for sport.

The various hunting associations of Jontarou had established rules for hunting – to give the animals a chance to escape or fight back.  The hunters must not use technology which would give them an unfair advantage.  In the case of the ferocious crest cats, there was approximately one hunter killed for every cat captured.

When these statistics were published, there was a drop off of hunting these creatures.  Instead the scientists had come in to capture and examine them, or to add them to museums or private collections, and they did not have same restrictions as the hunters: they used aircars, long-range detectors, stunguns and sometimes gas and poison.

But then the crest cats had died out, presumably from a plague.

Under Federation law, when a species is threatened with extinction, any remaining survivors must be transferred to the Life Banks of the University League, to ensure their preservation.

Telzey realises Aunt Halet had set her up; she had not had a change of heart after all.  Dr Droon wants to take Tick-Tock away from her; in the Life Banks Tick-Tock would cease to exist as an individual awareness, while scientists experimented on her in an attempt to reconstruct the species.

Telzey is a law student; she has brought her law library with her.  (Apparently this is in the form of a portable computerised device with all of Federation law loaded onto it.)  She tells them she is going to check her law library and goes to her room.

But in her room she presses a button which locks down the house and she escapes through the window, taking her law library with her.

Telzey wanders through the nearby parkland. She senses there are various creatures escorting her, which she can’t see.  She eventually stops at a lake and sits down.  Her escort, which now includes Tick-Tock, gathers round her.  She explains to them how Federation law applies to them.

One of the creatures, whom she thinks of as “Iron Thoughts”, declares that they will try her proposal.

Eventually Halet’s aircar arrives, driven by a chauffeur and carrying Halet and Dr Droon.  Dr Droon stuns Tick-Tock and confines her in the car’s trunk.  Telzey enters the car with them.  Dr Droon intends to take Tick-Tock to the spaceport.

But then Iron Thoughts appears in the car; he is a crest cat, as the other creatures in Telzey’s escort had been, and had been camouflaged.

Instead, Telzey directs the chauffeur to take them to the Planetary Moderator’s office.  She locks the others in the car’s trunk.  Then she enters the building, taking Tick-Tock with her; some of the office workers think they see a double shadow when they look at Tick-Tock.

Telzey tells the Moderator that the crest cats in fact hadn’t died out; they had gone into hiding.  They were happy enough when it was just the hunters hunting them, but not when the scientists started capturing them.  There are a lot more crest cats than had been known to exist – thousands, in fact, and many of them had now come to Port Nichay to eliminate the cause of the problem.

She has been in communication with them.  The Moderator says that this would mean that they are an intelligent species.  And Telzey could only communicate with them if she was a xenotelepath.  Telzey tells him the Federation should make a treaty with them as an Affiliated Species.

The Moderator obviously doesn’t believe her.  But suddenly Iron Thoughts appears in the room, and so do several other cats in the nearby balcony.  Immediately the Moderator sets things in motion to establish the treaty relationship.

Two weeks later the treaty is ratified, as Telzey and Halet head home to Orado.  Tick-Tock has stayed behind to experience life among the crest cats.

Part II: Undercurrents (1964) (novella)

In Orado City Spaceport there is a Customs and Public Health machine – a huge psionic computer, situated along the side of the hall – checking arriving customers for contraband, dutiable items and health problems.  Technicians are hidden from view checking dials and indicators.  Such machines are in use in all major spaceports in the Federation, so travellers have become used to their presence.

But such machines have other purposes, which are not generally known.

As Telzey arrives from Jontarou, certain technicians detect that she is a psi with significant mental powers.  (Her experience with the crest cats has triggered her dormant psi powers.)  A signal is sent to the Federation’s Psychology Service, 42 miles away.  Unknown to Telzey, a compulsion is planted in her mind to discourage her from using her powers, and to encourage her to present herself to be employed by the Psychology Service.

Telzey is a student at Pehanron College.  She lives in a duplex bungalow in the students’ residences.  Her fellow-student in the other half of the bungalow is a girl called Gonwil Lodis.  She is one of the few people Telzey has told about her psi ability.

Gonwil has a huge white dog, Chomir, who is her bodyguard.  He is an Askanam arena hound, bred for his ferocity.

Gonwil has told Telzey of an incident which occurred when she was walking with Chomir in the woods.  Chomir suddenly became angry, as if there was some kind of threat, and raced off into the bushes.  But when Gonwil followed, there was no one there, and Chomir seemed confused.  Gonwil wondered if Telzey could read Chomir’s mind to determine what had happened.

So Telzey spends the night trying to read the dog’s mind, while he and Gonwil are asleep.  This is difficult, because Telzey has to keep nudging Chomir’s mind to keep him thinking of the incident, and Chomir is confused about what had happened.

Telzey learns that Chomir had sensed that a man had been present whom Chomir had previously encountered, who was a threat to Gonwil.  But then the man seemed to disappear, resulting in the dog’s confusion.  Telzey nudges Chomir to think about the previous encounter, but only gets a confused picture of a narrow-faced man in a room with white walls.

But Telzey gets the feeling that Gonwil’s life is in danger.  Gonwil had previously talked about a story she had heard since childhood, that whoever had killed her parents had a vendetta against the family, and might sometime try to kill her.  There is a history of vendettas in Gonwil’s home planet of Tayun.  But Gonwil doesn’t believe the story, and Telzey is not inclined to either.

( “Private wars”, including vendettas, have a semi-legal status in Federation law.  In its attempt to govern the thousands of worlds of the Hub, the Federation has little power to prevent murder, and people generally have to rely on their own resources.)

But Telzey does think of someone who might want to kill Gonwil.

The previous summer, Gonwil and Telzey had been house guests of Gonwil’s closest living relative, Malrue Parlin, when Malrue and her husband and son came from Tayun to stay on Orado.  Telzey had not liked the Parlin family, but Gonwil seemed to be fond of Malrue.

Telzey realises that Malrue currently has control of Gonwil’s inheritance.  But Gonwil will be coming into her majority in three months’ time – 19, according to the laws of Tayun.  Malrue’s son, Rodel Parlin the Twelfth (“Junior”), has been trying to persuade Gonwil to marry him.  But since this now seems unlikely, Malrue will probably try to kill Gonwil before her birthday, to retain control of the fortune.  But Telzey has no proof of Malrue’s intention, and Gonwil is not likely to believe her.

Junior had stayed behind on Orado, but his parents are returning to Orado in two days time.

Telzey decides to consult with her father, Gilas Amberdon, who is the executive officer of Orado City’s Bank of Rienne.  She sets off in her aircar, a Cloudsplitter, and calls her father from her car’s communicator.  Gilas agrees that there is a concern, and tells her he is hiring the Kyth Detective Agency to look into the situation.

The aircar is on autopilot, so Telzey decides to catch up on her sleep.  But at once the Psionic Cop appears in her mind.  This menacing figure had appeared in her dreams at various times since she had come back from Jontarou, whenever she had engaged in significant psionic activity.  She had eventually figured out that a compulsion had been planted in her mind by the psionic computer.  (Over time the impact of the Psionic Cop has been fading.)  But this means she won’t be able to get any sleep.

Her mother, Jessamine, had urged her to downplay her psi talent.  But her father had decided to help her find out everything about psi abilities.  In particular, Telzey has been trying to find out about psionic machines, which are operated by the Federation’s Psychology Service.  But the whole subject of psionics is shrouded in secrecy.

Telzey has learned that the Bank of Rienne has a psionic machine, operated by Transcluster Finance, the central bank which regulates the financial institutions of half the worlds of the Federation.  This machine is used as a Verifier; a person can make a statement, and the machine verifies whether it is true.  The machine supposedly keeps no record of other facts that it might pick from the person’s mind.

But Telzey has doubts about whether psionic machines do only what they are stated to do.

She had been visiting one of Orado’s universities one day, gathering material for an assignment, and had come across an alien habitat which was on display.  There was a creature in the habitat which attacked her psionically. In response to this, she had developed a psionic defence: a kind a screen around her mind, like a soap bubble, which she is able to activate whenever she feels such an attack. This may prevent the Psychology Service from prying into her mind.

Meanwhile, back at Pehanron College, the Senior Counsellor, Miss Eulate, visits Gonwil.  She shows Gonwil a photo of two people who had enquired about her at the Tayun consulate.  Gonwil doesn’t recognise them. Miss Eulate is concerned; could these be people involved in the vendetta?  But Gonwil says there is nothing to worry about.  Miss Eulate announces that the college will be posting guards to watch the bungalow to ensure there are no unauthorised comings and goings.

When Telzey arrives at her father’s office, she discovers that Wellan Dasinger, the head of the Kyth Detective agency had already arrived.  And Gilas had sent a query to Transcluster and obtained details of Gonwil’s financial situation.

Gonwil’s inheritance is in the form of shares in Lodis Associates.  Shares can only be sold after offering them to the other associates at the original value.  Since the value of the shares had gone up, this could result in a loss.  If a shareholder dies without heirs, that person’s shares are distributed among the shareholders in proportion to their current shares.  So if Gonwil dies, the Parlin family would end up with a controlling interest in the company.

The Bank of Riennes is temporarily Gonwil’s guardian while she is on Orado, but this can be overridden by her guardians back on Tayun.  They are not likely to act against the Parlins without clear evidence of wrongdoing.

The Kyth Detective Agency is getting indications that shareholders have been pressured into selling their shares to Malrue, and there are cases where other shareholders have died in mysterious circumstances.  The detective agency is taking the threat to Gonwil seriously.

For Gonwil to remain safe, they should plan on getting Malrue sent to Rehabilitation, or Gonwil should sell her shares to Malrue.  The alternative is to declare a private war against Malrue, and try to get her killed – but Telzey knows that Gonwil will not agree to that.

New information arrives: the Parlins have had mind-blocks installed, that prevent them from being forced to divulge information of a commercial nature.  And killing a fellow business associate comes under that category.

The agency plans on locating Junior, and eavesdropping on conversations that he has with his parents.  Then if the Parlins proceed with a plan to kill Gonwil, the agency will try to catch them in the attempt, using a decoy.

Telzey tells them she had arranged to go on a holiday with Gonwil that day, taking Chomir with them.  This would effectively remove Gonwil from the Parlins’ attentions.  She would also try to read the dog’s mind again.

Telzey heads back to her car.  But a guard at the gate tells her that her father wants to speak to her again on the ComWeb, and directs her to a combooth.

(The term “ComWeb”, used in the series, refers to a fixed telecommunications device, including vision, and capabilities similar to the Internet of our time, including communications through space to other planets.  This is similar to a desktop computer of our own time, with Skype or Zoom capability.  People also use personal communicators, similar to mobile phones of our time.)

Telzey’s father tells her they have learnt two new things.  The Parlins have already arrived on Orado.  And because of the strangers enquiring at the Tayan consulate (which no doubt the Parlins arranged to divert suspicions away from themselves), Pehanron College has increased security at Telzey and Gonwil’s bungalow.  Special measures will be required to get Gonwil away.  Two of Dasinger’s men will meet Telzey, and load her car onto a carrier to take her back to Pehanron.  Gilas will brief her on the way.

Back at the bungalow, Telzey persuades Gonwil to come away with her.  But to avoid the guards outside, Gonwil and the dog squeeze through the shower window into Telzey’s carport, and hide in the car’s trunk.  The guards have no problem with Telzey driving away.

Some distance away, Telzey meets up with her father, and drives her car into an airvan, which takes them to a safe hiding place belonging to the Kyth Detective Agency.  She explains to Gonwil that the Bank of Rienne is concerned about her, but lets her think they are concerned about vendettists; she doesn’t tell her of their suspicions about the Parlins.

Telzey and Gonwil are in separate rooms, with Chomir remaining on guard outside in the corridor.  Gonwil must keep her door locked, and only let Telzey in.

Gonwil is currently studying for exams, and has brought her study material with her.  But unbeknownst to Telzey, Gonwil has also brought a personal communicator with her – one which Junior had sent to her, which only communicates with one held by him.

She turns on the communicator, and before long Junior contacts her.  Gonwil tells him she has left the college, that she is all right, and asks him to pass that message to Malrue.  In the corridor, Chomir hears their voices and scratches at the door.  Gonwil lets him in.

Junior hangs up.  Then suddenly the dog springs toward Gonwil, to attack her!

In her room, Telzey has just started to read Chomir’s mind again.  It is always easier the second time, when she has established the patterns of an individual’s mind.  She senses there is something wrong, and then realises what is happening.  She mentally clamps down on the dog’s muscles and sends a telepathic call to her father.  Then for a moment she seems to be in another place – a room with a man present, with a window looking out to Pehanron College.

Meanwhile the detectives rush in to Gonwil’s room, and shoot Chomir with a stun gun.  The impact causes Telzey to lose consciousness.  But they manage to revive her, and she tells them what had happened.  This enables the detectives to track down the man, whose name is Vingar, who turns out to be responsible for Chomir’s attack.  The detectives give Telzey a sedative.

When Telzey wakes up, she is on a spacecruiser belonging to the Bank of Rienne.  Gilas, Danziger and Gonwil are all on board.

The detectives had captured Vingar, who had confessed.  He is a trainer of arena animals from the planet Askanam, who had been hired for the job.  He had taken a job at the veterinarian clinic where Chomir was taken for treatment, and had planted a device in his brain.  When a signal is transmitted to such an implanted device, an animal goes wild with fury.  Vingar had tested it at a low level in the clinic, and again at the time Gonwil and Chomir were in the woods, and then this last time at full strength.  The device was designed to disintegrate so there was no trace of it.

However, Vingar didn’t know who had hired him, so they couldn’t use his confession to prove the Parlins responsible.

Gonwil, however, now believes that the Parlins were responsible, and had asked that the Bank of Rienne to become her legal guardian.  Her previous guardians on Tayun had not objected, as this might indicate complicity with the Parlins.  Now the Parlins know that the attempt had failed.  But the fact that Malrue is now suspected will not prevent her from trying again sometime in the future.

The Bank’s lawyers are considering what legal options they can take against the Parlins, but it does not look too promising.

In the meantime, Chomir is despondent. He knows he has done something terrible. Telzey goes into his mind again and adjusts his memories, and soon he is his old self again.

Finally the lawyers come back with the recommendation that Gonwil should register a private war against the Parlins. The rule that Gonwil must sell her shares within the group could be rescinded by a two thirds majority vote of shareholders, and between them, Gonwil and the Parlins own more than the required proportion of the shares. With a threat to her life, maybe Malrue would agree to rescinding the rule.

But Telzey knows that Gonwil will not accept a private war. Although the intention is not to kill the Parlins, when two bands of men come into conflict, someone is bound to be killed. Gonwil would rather sell her shares to Malrue at the low price she was asking.

And Telzey realises that Gilas and Dasinger want her to use her psionic ability to change Gonwil’s mind. But Telzey can’t do this: it would change who Gonwil is, and possibly damage her irrevocably.

But then Telzey realises what could be done. She could plant false memories in Chomir’s mind, to implicate the Parlins in Chomir’s attack on Gonwil. And they could then ask for an ethics hearing, which would make use of the Transcluster Verifier.

Gilas and Dasinger agree to the plan.

Telzey doesn’t tell Gilas and Dasinger this, but she strongly suspects that the Verifer and the people operating it will detect the falsification. But she has a plan to address this.

Part III: Poltergeist (1971) (short story)

Part IV: Goblin Night (1965) (novelette)

Part V: Sleep No More (1965) (short story)

Part VI: The Lion Game (1971) (novella)

Blood of Nalakia (1953) (novelette)

(Retitle of: The Vampirate)

[The editor has added the following note at the beginning:  This story is not part of the Telzey cycle, since it is set in a much earlier period of Hub history.  It gives some of the background of the Elaigar who figure as Telzey’s opponents in the “Lion Game” sequence.]

The Star Hyacinths (1961) (novelette)

(Variant title: The Tangled Web)

[The editor has added the following note at the beginning: Although Telzey herself does not appear in this story, the hero is the same Wellan Dasinger who figures so prominently in her various adventures.]

Afterword, by Eric Flint

In this Afterword, Eric Flint discusses James H Schmitz’s writing career.

Schmitz’s first science fiction story, “Greenface”, was published in 1943.  But his heyday wasn’t until 1961, and it continued until 1974.  During this period he wrote his best stories: the four novels “Legacy”, “The Witches of Karres”, “The Demon Breed” and “The Eternal Frontiers”, as well as almost all of the Federation of the Hub stories.

But eventually his fame faded away.  His writing career was effectively over in 1974, and he died in 1981.

Many of his Telzey stories were reissued in the 1980’s, along with “The Witches of Karres”, but hardly anything else.

Eric Flint believes that Schmitz was a victim of a shift in the market.  He was essentially a writer of short fiction.  And of his four novels, only “The Witches of Karres” is of a length of the novels of today.  That novel is generally considered as Schmitz’s masterpiece.

However, Eric Flint considers that Schmitz’s masterpiece is the Federation of the Hub, taken as a whole.  This work comprises the majority of Schmitz’s work.  And this publication of “The Complete Federation of the Hub” (in 4 volumes) by Baen is the first time the whole of Schmitz’s Hub stories have published together.

The Federation of the Hub: an Overview, by Guy Gordon

Guy Gordon has collected information from throughout the series to build a picture of the Federation of the Hub.

Humanity had moved out from Earth slowly.  In the first 1,000 or so years of interstellar travel, sporadic colonies were settled in what were called the “Old Territories”.  This was 1,100 years in the past from the main period of the series.

By the time of “Blood of Nalakia”, the star cluster called the Hub had been found.  Most of humanity’s colonies were formed there.

After that there was a period of time called the War Centuries.  This was apparently caused by psychological control of planetary populations.

Eventually, the Federation of the Hub was formed.

The events of this series occur approximately 200 years after the founding of the Federation.

At the time of “Legacy”, there are 1258 member worlds (including 214 restricted worlds), with a combined population of 6 hundred billion.

There are also worlds outside the Hub like Precolonial worlds, I-Fleet territories and domains of nonhuman intelligent species.

Travel between different places within the Hub can take weeks, using “subspace” faster than light flight.  (“Subspace” in this series is roughly equivalent to “hyperspace” in other science fiction series.)

The Federation is sometimes referred to as the Overgovernment, indicating that it is a government in the political sense.  Planetary governments handle things such as police, taxes, courts, etc.  The Federation handles things such as defense, colonisation and relations with alien species.

But the Federation has other concerns, such as:

  • preventing a return to the War Centuries
  • protecting the Hub from hostile aliens
  • advancing humanity as a species.

The Federation is ruled by a Council.

Some of the Federation’s departments are:

  • the Psychology Service
  • the Federation Navy
  • Precolonization (Precol)
  • Conservation
  • Outposts