Del Rey, July 2004, 23.95, 249 pp.
Chicago commodities traders Marcus Walker camps in an isolated part of the California Sierra Nevadas when he sees a bright light fall into the nearby woods. When he goes into the nearest town for food and drunk, he discusses what he saw with the patrons; they convince him that a meteorite landed nearby. He goes to sleep at his campsite, but wakes up to the same scenery except that he is on a spaceship taking him away from earth.
He meets George, who like him has a universal translator in his brain. George's intelligence was also boosted so he could talk with the Vilenjii, purple pointy-headed giants who want to sell the various species to collectors for a profit. Marcus and Roger join forces with an octopus-like sentient species and the snake-like Tuuq'alian to escape from their holding pens. Since they don't know where they are, they depend on the escape pod to flee the ship and the kindness of another sentient race to help them out of their predicament.
The four sentient beings take their situation very seriously and constantly find ways of outwitting their captors.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner