Working name of US writer Thomas J Bassler (1932-2011), who began publishing sf with "Star Seeder" for If in September 1969. He was almost exclusively associated with the Hive series that comprises his only book publications, Half Past Human (December 1969 Galaxy and November 1970 If; fixup 1971) and The Godwhale (1974), itself expanded from an earlier story, "Rorqual Maru" (January 1972 Galaxy). Through a network of intricately interlinked stories, the first novel depicts a densely overcrowded Earth where problems of Overpopulation have been dealt with by settling four-toed evolved human stock called Nebishes in vast Underground silos (see Cities) under the control of a Computer net. Outside these hives, unevolved humans eke out savage existences; but an ancient sentient Starship named Olga (see Cyborgs) plans to seed the stars with her beloved, five-toed, normal humans, and eventually succeeds, though the Earth society of the Nebishes continues, oblivious to any threat. In The Godwhale, a complexly structured Sleeper-Awakes tale, Larry Dever, a human from our own near future, is mutilated in an accident and decides to enter Suspended Animation to await a time when nerve Regeneration is possible. However, he is found to be still incurable when awoken millennia later into an Earth society, some time after the events of the previous volume. A great long-dormant Cyborg whale has registered the renewal of some life in the desolate ocean and has reactivated herself, longing to serve mankind and harvest the seas for him; she soon comes across humans evolved into Benthics capable of living Under the Sea, and accepts them as human. Larry Dever escapes servitude in the silos and joins the Godwhale; the seas are alive with Benthics and lower forms of life – quite evidently, Olga has seeded the planet. Mankind begins to inhabit the archipelagos and the Earth will once again bear fruit.
In these two books, Bass demonstrated a thorough command of biological extrapolation (see Biology) and a sustained delight in the creation of a witty, acronym-choked language suitable for the description of this new environment. Though his control over the overall structure of a novel-length fiction was insecure, the abundance of his invention conveyed to readers of the 1970s a sense of Bass's potential importance as an sf writer. But he fell silent, his series incomplete. [JC]
see also: Evolution; Hive Minds.
Thomas Joseph Bassler
born Clinton, Iowa: 7 July 1932
died 13 December 2011
- Half Past Human (New York: Ballantine Books, 1971) [Hive: pb/Michael McInnerney]
- The Godwhale (New York: Ballantine Books, 1974) [short version first appeared as "Rorqual Maru", January 1972 Galaxy: Hive: pb/Paul Lehr]
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