The Plot

(Critical Survey of Science Fiction and Fantasy)

All the stories involve the adventures of Anthony Villiers, Viscount Charteris, as he wanders the Nashuite Empire, usually in pursuit of his remittances. He travels with a Trog, a large hairy froglike alien, named Torve. Trogs are supposed to be banned from most worlds, but Torve manages to travel.

In Star Well, Villiers is on the eponymous gambling planet. There, too, are Norman Adams, a young Imperial agent passing as a rich tourist, and a couple who attempt to practice the badger game on Villiers. They fail because Villiers finds the woman’s performance generally unconvincing.

A spaceship arrives carrying Torve; Augustus Srb, an Imperial Inspector General (superspy) disguised as a priest of Mithra; and five young girls on their way to Miss McBurney’s Justly Famous Seminary and Finishing School on Nashua, along with their chaperon, Mrs. Selma Bogue. Two of the young ladies, Alice Tutuila and Louisa Parini, hope to escape Mrs. Bogue’s watchful eye and have an adventure. Villiers meets the spaceship and turns out to know Louisa, whose family are swindlers pretending to be gentry.

Godwin, the operator of the casino, and his superior, Hisan Bashir Shirabi, decide that Villiers may be about to find out the secret of Star Well: a hidden underground port used for “thumb running,” the exportation of frozen corpses for body parts. They decide to have Godwin challenge Villiers to a duel and kill him that way. The duel takes place, but Villiers kills Godwin. Shirabi had given Godwin a useless weapon because he loathed Godwin and decided that Villiers was not an Imperial agent.

Alice and Louisa, who had sneaked downstairs to see the duel, are captured, frozen, and put aboard a thumb-running ship. Villiers notifies Srb and rescues Adams from the badger game before the “husband” can burst into the bedroom to catch him. They discover the thumb running and revive the girls. Villiers receives his remittance.

In The Thurb Revolution, Villiers and Torve start out on the planet Shiawassee. Torve enjoys making throbbing noises, represented as “Thurb” or “Frobb”; he combines them into compositions that he considers musical but Villiers and other humans do not. His Thurbs, however, fascinate three “yagoots” (bored young rich men) who follow Torve and Villiers to the planet Pewamo. They in turn are followed by Admiral Walter Beagle, a retired naval officer who is Chief Censor on Shiawassee and is Ralph’s uncle. Admiral Beagle wants to pro-tect the youth from suggestive reading matter in favor of such wholesome works as the children’s books of Mrs. Waldo Wintergood. They are also followed by Solomon...

(The entire section is 1096 words.)