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    THE WORLD MENDERS by Lloyd Biggle, Jr.

    Conde Nast, 1971

    The Interplanetary Relations Bureau has swept up the entire class of Cultural Survey graduates into their service. Somehow, somewhere (see A SMALL STILL VOICE OF TRUMPETS), a Cultural Survey expert had helped a long-recalcitrant planet establish democracy and now every planet is supposed to have one--even if this means college-aged kids. Cedd Farrari, one of these young graduates, is sent to Branoff IV, an unlikely planet if ever there was one. It isn't that Branoff IV doesn't have culture. It's just that its culture is highly aristocratic. Generations before, the current civilization had conquered the land and now they treat the indigenous population as so many animals. Indigenous culture appears non-existent and the movement toward democracy is going no-where.

    Nobody expects Farrari to do much, even himself. Everyone knows that the conquerors treat their victims terribly but even their most highly trained revolutionaries haven't been able to generate any serious and organized resistance. Eventually Farrari decides to do what he's trained to do (conduct a cultural survey), despite the fact that nobody seems to want one. In a fairly believable set of circumstances, Farrari is separated from his teammates and forced to strike out on his own. There he gets to see first-hand the fate of the indigenous population.

    With its companion piece, A SMALL STILL VOICE OF TRUMPETS, THE WORLD MENDERS represents Lloyd Biggle Jr.'s (see more reviews of novels by Biggle) best writing (see more reviews of novels by this author). The concept of the Cultural Survey allows Biggle to bring artistic and musical thought to his descriptions of alien cultures and civilizations. His sympathetic understanding of all sides of the culture into which Biggle places his protagonist adds to the compelling nature of the story. As with most classic Science Fiction, we can presume a happy ending brought about by the protagonist's actions. Exactly how Farrari is able to bring about a peaceful change to democracy is the unexpected twist that Biggle manages so well.

    Five Stars

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