The Plot

(Critical Survey of Science Fiction and Fantasy)

As Carnival time on Mars approaches, Tabitha Jute, owner of the space barge Alice Liddell, is penniless and in trouble with the law. In need of a large amount of money in order to pay a fine, she faces the possibility of Alice Liddell, her beloved if rather rickety ship, being impounded.

Jute meets the mysterious Marco Metz, a performer. Metz needs to get to Plenty, an asteroid with a bad reputation, in order to join his cabaret troupe—or so he claims. He offers Jute a sum of money sufficient to get her out of trouble, so, reluctantly, she agrees to take him there.

Plenty is a hollow asteroid, built by the Frasque, an aggressive race that did not last long in this solar system, having been turned out by the Capellans, who had arrived before the Frasque. The Frasque left behind Plenty, riddled with tunnels and huge space docks, and now occupied by all kinds of slightly dubious businesses. Once on Plenty, Jute finds Metz reluctant to pay her, claiming that the troupe’s manager, Hannah Soo, has the money. He does not mention that Hannah Soo is dead. Jute instead meets the Zodiac Twins, Mogul and Saskia, and Xtasca, a Cherub. She discovers that the police seem to be after all of them.

They all flee Plenty in Alice Liddell, by now in a parlous condition. Metz now claims that the troupe members are in fact bank robbers. Later, it appears that they are smuggling a Frasque, but even this seems not to be their...

(The entire section is 421 words.)