Metareview: The Lani People
(1962, Bantam (US) mass market paperback; Corgi (UK) mass market paperback;
free ebook: www.gutenberg.org/etext/2509)
I reread this last night, for the first time since it was new, and
it's not bad: "C+", an entertaining period-piece, if you can get past
bad science and pulpy prose.
The only thing I remembered about the book was the notorious cover:
~dbrukman/Lani-People.html, which is pure teenage-boybait (and why
I've kept the book for 40 years). Artist (uncredited in the Bantam ed.)
was Mitchell Hooks. You won't be surprised to learn that the cover art
(and blurbs, at www.trashfiction.co.uk)
are almost pure tease. Nothing in the contents would have shocked Kay
Tarrant, John W. Campbell's Mrs. Grundy.
I was surprised how much info there is on the net
on this obscure old pb. It even makes Lawrence Watt-Evans's Golden Oldie
list : www.sff.net/people/lwe/miscellaneous/favorite.htm
"The lani are discovered on a distant planet in the far future; they
look human, save that they have tails. A lani with her tail removed
is indistinguishable from human.
"The law says, however, that the key is interfertility; anything
that humans can breed with is human, and anything they can't breed
with is just an animal. The lani, therefore, are animals, and the
story follows the adventures of the young veterinarian hired to tend
a lani herd as he gradually discovers the history and true nature
of the species. It's got adventure, romance, excitement, and a dose
of thought-provoking questions as well. Worth reading, definitely."
The setup is 1950's standard-SF: the Brotherhood of Man loosely governs
the 6,000 human-settled worlds, which are linked by hyperspace (spindizzy)
FTL spaceships and Dirac communicators. Humans have been in space for
5,000 years, but their culture is (surprise!) just like the USA
Watt-Evans likes it more than I do -- my reaction was closer to David
"The novel is several decades old, and the science basis is implausible
even for the time of its publication. However, the central themes
-- discrimination, greed, morality, justice, interstellar law, love
-- are durable and appealing. While unsophisticated, the character
description is skilled, and the resulting interaction is satisfying,
Note that Bone's moral-philosophy lectures are pretty damn tedious.
And you are likely to question whether a 4,000 year-old abandoned spaceship
could really be fixed up (in secret, on nights and weekends) by the
vet and his girlfriend....
Anyway, it's all of 152 pp. long, so it would make a practical (and
free) ebook. Worth a try. And the cover is killer!
Elsewhere on the web: