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Kelvoo is a member of a peaceful, genderless species on the planet Kuw’baal. The kloormari’s intricate bodies—a mushroomlike eye at the top and double-jointed limbs with paddles for hands—make them expert multitaskers. As such, they don’t rely on modern technology and are shocked when humans from planet Terra (aka Earth) send a surveillance drone to their planet. Next, humans come in an even bigger ship, and although Kelvoo and other kloormari find the visitors “hideous,” they aren’t threatening. They teach the kloormari all about the Terran language (of which there seems to be only one),food, culture, and unfamiliar concepts, such as imagination and fictional stories. Sadly, a later group of humans isn’t as amiable; they trick nine kloormari, including Kelvoo, into joining a phony mission, enslave them, and show them some of the worst that humanity has to offer. Kelvoo and the others, pushed to the brink, find a way to escape their plight so they can get home. But will Kuw’baal be the same place they left behind? Aside from the preface, the entire narrative is made up of Kelvoo’s autobiographical account, featuring straightforward observations in simple, unadorned prose. Kelvoo’s willingness to accommodate Terrans’ unusual customs makes the protagonist endearing, and there are some lighthearted moments, as when kloormari become fascinated by Terran-provided Infotab tablets. The kloormari, who live up to a few centuries and birth offspring in just weeks, prove fascinating in their own right. Bailey’s message is blunt but affecting, as the humans cheat, rebuke, and subjugate a species that they don’t bother to understand, and readers will find it painful to watch the kloormari suffer such cruelty. However, the author also rounds out his novel with delightful details, including hints of other species who are part of a Planetary Alliance.

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