unpublished, completed in 1998
45,000 words.

The cover image is not real.

Barrington Bayley: "[The novel] is probably more typical of 1950s science fiction. In my mind it has echoes of Phil Dick's SOLAR LOTTERY.

It deals with a firm of interstellar explorer-exploiters, run by partners Karl Krabbe & Boris Bouche. Their staff are all in a form of legalised slavery, that is, voluntary servitude. The unheroic protagonist is one of their bondmen, a nuclear engineer who has tried to renounce his bond but been prevented from doing so by typical chicanery on the part of the cynical partners. As the story opens the firm has discovered a small desert planet which in a previous age has borne oceans. Its intelligent species had been crustacean-like, living along the extensive shorelines. Then, due to some biological freak, all the water drained away into a deep aquifer, leaving a waterless world. The crustaceans have managed to survive, hoarding what water remains in domed refuges. To help them they have aided the evolution of countless tribes of humanoid and lizardlike creatures whose bodies contain no water and no circulating blood -- the dehydrates -- who live in constant warfare with one another but have an ingrained subservience to the crustaceans. The firm of Krabbe & Bouche realizes that with some adroit geological engineering the planet can be given back its oceans. Even though this will mean the extermination of the dehydrates, to whom water is poison, they strike a deal with the crustaceans... did I mention that K&B are operating illegally, having already had their licence revoked?

I guess it's a minor piece of work, but fun to write."