Cordwainer Smith

1975 (Fixup)

Rod McBan is the heir to the Station of Doom on the grey planet of North Australia, the richest planet in the Instrumentality of Man. For, although it's people live the most basic of lives, showing little sign of their immense wealth, their gigantic infected sheep are the Instrumentality's sole supply of stroon, the drug that allows anyone who wishes to live forever.

Rod McBan is the 152nd of his name and on the death of his grandfather (his parents having been lost in space) he would normally inherit the Station. But Rod's a cripple according to the harsh laws of Norstrilia for he's proven incapable of the simple abilities of hiering and spieking despite having being reduced to childhood three times. Now though, he's due for the final fourth test, which he has to pass or be sent to the giggle room. Fearing the worst, he faces those who have to judge him and is startled to be faced by neighbours and a lord of the Instrumentality who successfully come up with a formula that will allow him to live as an adult (mostly, anyway). But he has an old enemy from childhood who sees his new status as a way of getting even.

In order to overcome his problems, Rod and his computer concoct a plan to buy up Norstrilia's entire output of stroon. They succeed well enough to make Rod the richest man in the galaxy, with ownership of Earth itself. But now, Rod's the target of more than just members of the Norstrilian government!

Can Rod survive his trip to Earth and will he be able to resist the temptation of C'Mell, most beautiful of girlygirls? Can C'William's hall of hate show him a way of growing up or lead to his death? And what are the enigmatic lord Jestacot's strange plans?

This is a Gollancz Classic Science Fiction edition

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