The protagonist of this Explorer Corps adventure is Ugly Screaming Stink-Girl. The name is supposed to bring her luck, but since she is quickly contaminated by a red fungus known as the Balrog, one has to wonder. Then she, Admiral Festina Ramos, and a slightly mad fellow named Tut are assigned to a rescue mission on the planet Muta. There, an entire expedition from the unit has been turned into gas clouds that give out electromagnetic pulses, and it looks as if this is the result of a deadly defense mechanism left behind by an alien race. It takes ingenuity and suffering to discover the mystery behind the pulses. The sheer complexity of Gardner’s characters and inventions will make the book daunting to a good many, but his ingenuity and wit will keep a good many others reading voraciously.