The Plot

(Critical Survey of Science Fiction and Fantasy)

Bored with life on a future Earth, Marvin Flynn agrees to engage in a “mindswap,” exchanging bodies for a month with a Martian named Ze Kraggash. After Marvin signs a number of bureaucratic forms at the body brokerage, warning of such dangers as metaphoric deformation and the Twisted World, his mind is translated into the body of Ze Kraggash. He is, however, met by an old Martian body occupied by the mind of a being from another planet who had in good faith conducted an earlier mindswap with Ze Kraggash. In the meantime, Ze Kraggash has disappeared with Marvin’s body. Marvin will be required to surrender the Martian body in six hours, and his mind, with no body to inhabit, will die.

Marvin consults a Martian detective named Urdorf, who turns out to have failed to solve his last 158 cases. In desperation, Marvin accepts another mindswap, into the body of a four-legged, four-armed Melden collecting Ganzer eggs (a valuable export) on the planet Melde II. He soon finds a Ganzer egg, but it speaks to him, pleading not to be collected. As he agrees not to collect the egg, a full-grown Ganzer comes to bite his head off. They discuss the matter and learn that the Ganzers live on, and export, the Meldens, just as the Meldens do the Ganzers. This particular Ganzer, in fact, turns out to be another earthling mindswapper.

The two of them seek out a hermit who has an illegal mindsender, and he translates Marvin’s mind into the body of Marduk of the...

(The entire section is 565 words.)