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A fact-finding mission has crash-landed on a distant planet, leaving entomologist Francis Lostwax and physicist Burne Newman marooned. The scientists are rescued by a mysterious society whose inhabitants are wholly incapable of murder, assault, rape, or any other form of aggression. Protected by a river made of liquid hate, the descendants of Quetzalia’s original human colonists have devised a strange techno-religion that has in turn engendered a culture of total pacifism.


While Burne undertakes to rid the planet of the savage and menacing brain-eaters that flourish beyond the utopia’s walls, Francis cultivates his romantic feelings for Tez Yon, the Quetzalian surgeon who saved his life. But the entomologist’s obsession with Tez’s soul leads him down a dark and twisted path, in time confronting him with a terrible dilemma. Should he murder the woman he loves to save a society he abhors?


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“[The] best SF novel published in English in the last ten years. It has the scope of Childhood’s End, the verbal playfulness of Cat’s Cradle, and the ethical seriousness and comic rage of Rasselas.”

American Book Review


“The story zips along with vivid images, and the message is clear: A heady brew, the wine of violence packs a hangover.”

Los Angeles Times


“[A] twelve-course literary banquet spiced with intriguing characterizations and inventive plotting … Morrow draws his plot and characters together like a spinner patiently working at a spinning wheel, drawing fine threads of gold from seeming flax … It is a triumphant writing performance that should guarantee an eager audience for future Morrow novels.”

Atlantic City Press


“Beneath the high-tech space trappings, the author paints a nice little fable about what it means to be ‘human’ … Are hatred and blood-lust as necessary for man’s soul as peace and tranquility? In this imaginative novel, James Morrow proposes a thought-provoking answer.

Fort Lauderdale News


“Morrow spins a satiric examination of violence that runs from light comedy to Swiftian bitterness, without ever letting the reader feel smugly superior. [He] knows the value of pushing issues to extremes to highlight a central point and the effectiveness of allegory in various guises.”



“An anthropological fable that, for all its cool intelligence, bustles with life … Morrow writes a breezy blend of philosophical fiction and blood-stirring adventure.”