Phyllis Gotlieb:A Judgement of Dragons

[Spoilers herein]

Phyllis Gotlieb was, at one point, pretty much the only SF author that people could identify as Canadian. This has changed, but she still holds a place in the field.

A Judgement of Dragons is not really a novel so much as a linked series of novelettes. They link quite strongly--the characters from earlier stories appear in later ones--but the action is fairly episodic.

The main characters in the book are Khreng and Prandra, members of a race called the Ungrukh, who are essentially like leopards except with reddish fur, paws better adapted for manipulating objects(though no opposable thumb), sentience, and a high incidence of ESP ability. The latter makes them valuable in GalFed, i.e. Yet Another Galactic Federation. Khreng & Prandra, a mated pair, are among the first Ungrunkh to work for GalFed.

The stories are interesting. In the first, they run afoul of a time vortex set up by an alien Qumedni, and have to thwart it in a 19th-century Polish village. In the second, while Prandra is getting her ESP-ability tested at GalFed HQ, they are framed for murder. In the third, they attempt to break drug-runners' hold on a planet whose inhabitants can't deal with them. In the fourth, they confront the Qumedni responsible for creating their race(from Earth leopards), and the Qumedni intent on stealing the secret of bestowing sentience.

The stories take a bit to get into, since a lot of time is spent from the Ungrunkhs' point of view, which is quite well-done, but which doesn't always focus on the things that would interest the reader. I would recommend them, though. On a scale of 1-10, I'd give it a 7.

%A Gotlieb, Phyllis
%T A Judgement of Dragons
%I Ace
%C New York
%D April 1980
%G ISBN 0-441-42032-X
%P 263 pp.
%O Paperback, US $2.95, Can $3.95

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