Quofum was a strange planet. The robotic exploration ship that was in the system didn’t register it. Then all of a sudden it was there. The Humanx Commonwealth sent only a small expedition to check out the system.
The crew consisted of six beings, five humans(four men and a woman) and a male Thranx, the six foot insect-like alien, two multitasking crew members and four multidisciplined scientists.
They set up a base and begin looking around. Right away, they begin to discover sentient beings, several different varieties. There were the Jelly-sticks, the Fuzzies, and the Spikers, the latter of which attacks the base, but are easily driven off.
While floating down a river, they come upon a war. A village, half afire, is being defended by the Jelly-sticks and Fuzzies againt the Spikers and a -fourth? sentient race, dubbed the Hardshells. Then they encounter several aquatic, whale-like sentients that attempt communications with them before leaving.
That made five different sentient races found in short order in a small area. What was going on? In addition, completely different species of animals, bearing no possible relationship to each other, were being discovered literally every few minutes.
Evolution run wild? Or something else?
Unknown to the scientists, other agendas were in force amongst their group. Murders happen and they are abandoned on the planet, two humans and the Thranx.
With no hope of rescue, the three decide to carry on with their work, collecting and storing their findings for the day hopefully another expedition returns.
The discoveries they eventually make are tied into Alan Dean Foster’s Pip and Flinx series and their hunt for the weapon to fight the coming darkness that will destroy everything.
Alan Dean Foster excels in this type of story. His aliens and the worlds they explore are deliciously complex and always fun to read. Never boring. If you follow the Pip and Flinx books, you need to read this one before next year’s final volume in that series.
At the same time, it can be read and enjoyed by the uninitiated. Recommended.