Under the benevolent leadership of the League of Peoples, there is no war, little crime, and life is sacred...unless you're an Explorer. The ugly, the flawed, the misfit, the deformed, they are the unwanted, flung to the farthest corners of the galaxy to investigate hostile planets and strange, vicious creatures. Out there, there are a thousand different - and terrible - ways to die.
Festina Ramos belongs to the well-trained, always-dwindling ranks of ECMs (Expendable Crew Members). Now she and her partner, Yarrun Derigha, have been ordered to escort the unstable Admiral Chee to Melaquin -- the feared "Planet of No Return"-- which has swallowed up countless Explorers before them without a trace.Obviously, this is meant to be the last mission for Ramos and Derigha. But it won't be, if Festina can help it.
©1997 James Alan Gardner (P)2012 Audible, Inc.
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Customer Reviews

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3 out of 5 stars
By Jim "The Impatient" on 06-03-15


I almost gave up on this several times. It is not awful, it is barely good. The story concept was great. A group of misfits who have things wrong with them, that could be fixed at great expense in a future where the state pays for everything. The state decides that certain people are not worth fixing, but they make great explorers, because they are so ugly, no one cares if they die or not. So they can be sent on the more dangerous missions. It makes you think about our society today, where beautiful people have an advantage, and those not so well blessed have to work so much harder to succeed.

The first part of the book, is basically a set up of the universe JG has created and reads like the main characters diary. Matter of fact there is very little interaction with others. I thought I had to give it two hours before giving up on it. Then a mystery would happen and I was just interested enough to keep listening, to find out the answer. This happened a couple of times. The glass people were kind of silly and I did not understand why they were glass and not diamonds. The mechanical sharks were just stupid. There was plenty here that just seemed dumb. I also didn't understand why a group of people not accepted by society, who where put on a planet of nothing put misfits, didn't just make a new world the way they wanted instead of trying to get back to the old one where no one cared about them. Yet, at the end of the book, I found I really admired the main character. I thought I might be interested in the sequel, but it turns out it was the other book by JG that I read years ago. It has nothing to do with this book at all or the characters in this book.

This book is worse then a bad book, because a bad book would be easy to stop listening to. This gives you just enough that you have to listen. I suggest you just don't start.

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13 of 13 people found this review helpful

4 out of 5 stars
By Almira on 05-10-12

Odd but delightful

Occasionally improbable but interestingly speculative, I found the story fun and the narrator excellent. Festina's delightful internal voice and development as a character is absolutely is the strongest thing about this book, but I will be interested to hear more about this universe, the League of Peoples, the Explorer Corps and the Admiralty in the other books.

What's with Audible's numbering of the series, though? Is there not a Book 2?

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4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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