'We won't be landing anywhere just yet', Waters said to the other passengers on the spaceship Fulmar. 'I was pretty mystified by this story of mechanical breakdown, so I've been checking up.' He hefted his little box. 'I've spent the past half hour successfully tapping your subspace circuits, Captain, so I know the truth and I propose to share it with everyone. We're not to land. We're to orbit in space, indefinitely.'
Beloved Sister Dorcas's screams pierced the quiet.
'You see,' Waters continued, holding up his hand for silence, 'this is being done on the direct orders of Master Brand . . . you don't know the name?' He glanced inquiringly around. 'No? Well, he happens to be one of the powers of Earth, and there is nobody in the galaxy to overrule him.'
(First published 1965)
John Brunner (1934-1995) was a prolific British SF writer. In 1951, he published his first novel, Galactic Storm, at the age of just 17, and went on to write dozens of novels under his own and various house names until his death in 1995 at the Glasgow Worldcon. He won the Hugo Award and the British Science Fiction Award for Stand on Zanzibar (a regular contender for the `best SF novel of all time') and the British Science Fiction Award for The Jagged Orbit.