Don't blink or you'll miss something in Canadian writer Phyllis Gotlieb's richly detailed mystery set on alien worlds seething with seedy life. Travelling judge Skerow, of a race of moral haiku-writing telepathic sauropods, stumbles upon two mysteries while on duty on grimy mining planet Fthel V. The same day she discovers her senior judge and colleague of 25 years was under investigation for accepting bribes, said colleague is murdered in his bedroom; and Skerow espies a genetically-altered, almost-human mermaid held captive in the display tank of a brothel window. |
Gotlieb's handling of a wide cast of alien, human, and post-human characters will appeal to fans of James Tiptree, Jr. Most intriguing are the Lyhhrt, who've left their home planet for an indentured servitude of 125 standard years, to act as physicians and metalworkers for the Zamos corporation of casinos and entertainment-plexes. Lyhhrt actually resemble brains, but look like robots since they encase themselves in beautifully-welded metal bodies.
In Gotlieb's future, flesh is bought, sold, molded and used with the ease of gold. But some things are still worth fighting for, and the scales of justice pass sentence on greed, malice, and the breeding of slaves