Marla Gershe is a middle-level supervisor on the Textile Planet, an entire world devoted to textiles and the making of clothes. It's a high-stress job; Marla has daily production quotas that must be met. One day, Marla's boss takes away half of her staff to put them on another project, but Marla still has to make her daily production quota. Marla has had enough, and organizes a strike among the employees. In the confucion, Marla is shot in the stomach, and is rushed to the hospital.
Wherever Marla is, it is not exactly a hospital. She undergoes several months of experiments, like someone is doing psychological warfare on her. BAC, the consortium that runs the Textile Planet, would very much like Marla back at work, but Marla would rather be anywhere else. She gets out of the hospital, and immediately hops a spaceship to the most distant planet, a place called Ansonia.
Ansonia is said to be the "end of the line." Think of an 1800s American frontier town. It's a planet with a severe employment shortage; as long as you have two arms, two legs and a semi-functioning brain, you're hired. Marla finds herself doing data entry, locked into a cubicle for several hours a day, entering rows of numbers that come to her off of pieces of paper that come out of a chute. Marla has no idea what the numbers mean. At lunch, her fellow workers talk about the usual lunchtime topics, and about much deeper subjects, like the roles of men and women. After a year, Meko, Marla's boss, tells her that people have been asking about her, so a fast departure is a very good idea.
Marka ends up on an unexplored, desolate rock called XKJ-10. If Ansonia is the end of the line, XKJ-10 is much farther out than that. Marla meets Sam, a human who has been living on the planet for several months. He has a beard down to his waist, he has quite a mansion (made up of a number of different tents) and he claims that he can talk to the local ants. A major scientific discovery is made several million miles away (next door in astronomical terms), so XKJ-10 goes from being a desolate planet in the middle of nowhere to the most popular spot in the galaxy. Marla and Sam plan all sorts of construction, including a spaceport and hotel, to take advantage of all those scientists who will be coming their way.
Here is an interesting story that moves very quickly, perhaps too quickly. It's well done, and it will keep the reader's attention.
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About the reviewer
Paul Lappen (plappen)
I am in my early 50s, single and live in Connecticut. I am a lifelong very, very avid reader and am a freelance book reviewer with my ownblog (http://www.deadtreesreview.blogspot.com). Please visit. It … more
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