A ship-wrecked space sailor is rescued by the oxygen-deprived inhabitants of a distant solar system. They treat him like royalty, but he soon realizes there is something fishy about Leffingwellians besides their appearance: Their culture is identical to that of Earth's two centuries earlier except for a peculiar state religion dedicated to a romance-novel goddess.
An attractive geophysicist uses his romantic interest to have him kidnapped by a band of revolutionaries, part of a planet-wide movement dedicated to overthrowing the Leffingwellian establishment, a color-coded society strangely like the old Earth's. He escapes into a surreal wilderness, is rescued by a blue-green siren, and in the midst of civil war unravels the mystery of the goddess Leffingwell and her planet's bizarre and forbidding fate.
By the author of the acclaimed Space Ark.
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Double Dragon Publishing
September 07, 2008
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Excerpt from Leffingwell's Planet by Thomas J. Hubschman
They were not all as ugly as Doctor Arbuthnot. Some of the nurses were almost attractive-unless the habit of confronting trolls like Arbuthnot and his equally hideous colleagues was already redefining his idea of beauty. But even those lithe young females were all mouth-breathers. And despite the obviously artificial septums someone had grafted onto their noses, they had all been born with single nostrils, just like the good doctor
He was being treated like royalty. He was served real, if not always identifiable, food and had his sheets changed twice a day. Even his excretions were being accorded a deference that bordered on reverence. He felt like he was being toilet-trained all over again, the ploy now, as then, being to reward him with praise.
Everyone seemed to know all about him. They realized right from the start he would not be able to breathe in their oxygen-poor atmosphere, so he was provided with his own special supply of that vital commodity, piped into his room at no doubt considerable expense. They also spoke his language, or a fair approximation of it, rather like foreign students who have had only each other and some records to practice with. They had a pretty good idea of what he ate, though he suspected their beaming smiles, that weird distortion of their fishy mouths, were put on as much to hide their disgust at his own alien appearance as to seem neighborly. One of these young nymphs had even offered to climb under the sheets with him
Arbuthnot dropped by twice a day to listen to his heart and draw blood. The Earthman had tried to engage him in conversation, but Arbuthnot only smiled and told him to save his strength. There would be plenty of time later for talk. The nurses were equally unresponsive.
The situation was in some ways so familiar-shipwrecked sailor being attended to by friendly alien natives-that for the first few days he didn't even think to complain. He assumed he was on some outer planet of the Confederacy. There were hundreds of them, some supporting indigenous populations, others harboring colonies of the NWC or the older Union that preceded it. There was no keeping track of all of them.
"You wished to see me, Mister Bosun?" Arbuthnot said, striking the tone of the busy professional acceding to the wishes of an unreasonable patient. The patient in this case might have fallen for it, but he was convinced by now there was something fishy about Arbuthnot besides his face.
"If you can spare the time."
Arbuthnot chose to ignore the sarcasm and sat down in a chair opposite the bed.
"I've been in this...hospital for almost a week," Bosun went on. "But no one has been willing to tell me what planet I'm on or what I'm being treated for. I'm very grateful for your rescuing me, but I haven't been injured and, as far as I can see, I'm about as fit as I've ever been. I realize your atmosphere isn't fit for me to breathe, but surely you could supply me with some kind of device which would permit me to leave this room. I'm an officer of the New Worlds Confederacy, Second Quadrant, Seventh Fleet. I have an obligation to return to my unit. I've said all this to several people any number of times in the past week, but all I get in return is silence and smiles-if you can call them that. I want to know what's going on."
Arbuthnot started to distort his mouth into that odd horizontal that passed for a grin, but then thought better of it. "I can understand your distress," he replied in the same queer accent they all spoke in. "You've been through a great deal. We've tried to make you as comfortable as possible."
"I'm not complaining about the service. All I want to know is where I am and why I'm here."