A novel by Frederick Pohl, it's centered around Lysander John William Washington. "Sandy" is apparently a human born and raised on an alien ship on it's way back to Earth from an orbit which took it all the way out to Alpha Centauri ( which reminds me to review Starburst later)

The aliens, in this case, are the Hakh'hli. Frog like bipeds, with a strict, regimented society, where the will and opinions of the Major Seniors are truth and law. The Hakh'hli, aside from having some of the funkiest names I've read in a while (ChinTekki-tho, Ceth'ik ti'Koli-kak, Hoh'My'ik perThara-tok 3151 - all sound like excerpts from some heavy-industrial-techno cra...I mean track), breed fast; freezing their eggs in vast freezers for eventual hatching, and specialize their society by breeding and gene altering individuals for specific tasks.

Sandy is part of a cohort altered and trained to be able to produce and understand human speech. The members of the cohort take their name from A Midsummer Night's Dream. They get to Earth with the express mission of spying out current Earth society, distribute gifts, aid the surviving people (more on that later), and generally recon... *spoilers*and prepare the Earth for eventual conquest, a part they left out from Sandy's knowledge. *spoilers*

Earth this time has gone through some tough times; Africa and a fair chunk of the "3rd world countries" have been wiped out by AIDS, the whole world is several degrees warmer thanks to pollution and the protracted effects of a nuclear war, the whole earth is girdled by shell of debris from centuries of space missions, the Star War or SDI, and the clutter of global tele-communications. Low lying cities are now underwater; what's left of New York has been relocated to New Jersey. there are no longer nations to speak off, just independent commonwealths trying to get by. Yet thankfully ( predictably, surprisingly, woefully) the apparatus of a global law enforcement force ( espionage and security) is still in place as the InterSec.

To make a long story short, Sandy saves the day, reconciles himself to his mixed heritage... *spoilers* and I mean mixed; the Hakh'hli rescued the cells from 2 dead male cosmonauts which they proceed to tailor and mix with the DNA from their (and Sandy's) major food animal, the hoo'hik, as spare parts even using a female hoo'hik as womb surrogate to the young Sandy.*spoilers*

All in all, a solidly good story. This is one of the more unique twists to the fish-out-of-water yarn I've read. There's some issues though (there always is);
1. Hakh'hli technology, metabolism, and reproductive rates as it is, they could have quite easily overrun the Earth without guile.
2. The use of strange-matter as propulsion and the part of it being self generating, i.e. the product of matter - strange matter interaction is energy and more strange matter sounds a bit iffy to me...but that's not from any technical know-how of particle physics on my part just the feeling that strange matter was latched onto the story just to produce the requisite obscure scientific soup (not that there's anything necessarily wrong in that...it just doesn't feel...kosher)
3. InterSec sounds like a global entity and I wonder if the world has need or the resources (and reason considering the drastic reduction of global population) to maintain such a group.
4. Africa is shown as wholly depopulated, again something that sounds iffy.
5. InterSec immediately jumps into action to welcome (and maintain surveillance on) the extraterrestrials...but it takes them till the very end to think of obtaining biological data from the visitors which I would think would be the requisite before any encounter.

...but don't let those (personal) issues turn you off, it's still a good read.


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