With killer robots, invasive mindscans, and brainswipes, this story would have been dystopia in any other author’s hands. Given the zany tone, over-the-top imagery, and deeply sweet characters, this man probably had a huge amount of influence on Roger Zelazny and other New Wave authors. I have an aversion to animal-people in science fiction, but it worked superbly in this story. The opening and ending were choppy enough to be confusing, and the characters could have been drawn a little deeper, but I could not help but admire the bitter undercurrent of prejudice, flavored like our own race relations. For me, the only truly twangy notes were the very fifties views of marriage and the adoration of the animal-based “underpeople” for human beings.
I was distracted by job interviews while reading this, so I did not enjoy it as much as I could have, and I find it hard to draw out a real writing lesson. The writing was sparkly, sharp, and entertaining. How did he do that? Well, it was very funny. I laughed out loud in quite a few places. I think humor is an emotion that is often forgotten in writing. That’s a fine lesson, then.