The Tactful Saboteur

Frank Herbert
The Tactful Saboteur Cover

The Tactful Saboteur


Although difficult to get through, this is a must read for Herbert fans. But should be considered in context. Written in a time of great political turmoil. During the wind down of "The Red Scare" when the "House Unamerican Activities" comittee was trying to expose the free speech "Yippies" as communists. All with the help of an FBI director spying on Americans.

So in the middle of this real world upheaval Herbert pens this convoluted short of Jorj McKie "The Tactful Saboteur". Of course it mirrors actual activities. McKie is a constitutionally authorized saboteur out to undermine his gorgon headed boss as being in league with the "Tax Watcher" alien Pan-Spechi. In truth he just wants to be promoted secretary of the department. All this probably resonated better at the time of publication.

Why is this an important Herbert piece. It was published in the same time period "Dune" was being serialized in the competeing magazine "Analog" as "Dune World" and "Prophet of Dune". In the Herbert world "Jorj McKie" series is the beginning of the ConSentient universe. This gets developed in the next "Jorj Mckie" novel "The Whipping Star". The ConSentient universe pre-dates the Dune universe, both are bridged somewhat by the novel "The God Makers". All of this being developed and published more or less in parallel.

I am a huge "Dune" fan and hopefully will enjoy this leg of Herberts' world as much.