The planet Fluva is underdeveloped, covered in swampy jungle, and inhabited by many fierce predators, in addition to two sentient races, the Sakunlata and the Deyzara, who don't particularly like each other. (Human) colonial administrator Lauren Mattias has the stressful job of trying to preserve the peace between the two races as well as overseeing the small human settlement on the planet.
When a misanthropic (human) botanist, Shadrach Hasselmonga, disappears without a trace in the jungle, Mattias sends a Sakunlata and a Deyzara into the jungle to search for him.
As the two aliens and the human attemp to walk back to the colony, they face danger from predators and their environment, and from each other.
Meanwhile, back in the colony, tensions between Sakunlata and Deyzara erupt into violence and threaten a full-blown war. Mattias attempts to discover who is responsible for the violence and defuse the crisis.
This report prepared by Will B.
Del Rey, Feb 2003, 23.95, 304 pp.
Because it seems to never stop raining, the planet Fluva has been nicknamed THE DROWNING WORLD by members of the Commonwealth. On Fluva, the wettest spot is probably Viisiiviisii Jungle where the combination of constant torrents with extreme humidity has led to one of the Commonwealth's greatest natural treasures. Exotic flora and strange animal life abound here and not anywhere else.
When bioprospector Shadrach Hasselemoga disappears while on a biological expedition on Fluva, an irritated Commonwealth Chief Administrator Lauren Mathias puts together a team to rescue the missing fool lost somewhere in the jungle. Though the right species make up the squad to include an ape-like native and a Deyzara, the rescuers vanish too. At about the same time of the second disappearance, the Sakuntala make a play for power with one goal being the genocide of the Deyzara leadership. As Deyzara refugees flee in terror, Lauren wonders whether the Sakuntala are involved in the vanishing or is her paranoia justified that the enemy reptilian empire is causing the disturbances?
Move the 1950s and 60s confrontations through third world nations between the US and the USSR into outer space and one will understand the premise of the Commonwealth series. The alien races appear real and fully developed. Few writers make other species seem so authentic as Alan Dean Foster does. The exciting story line will delight fans of the series that will enjoy the latest strife between empires through surrogates.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner