Five different sets of aliens and three seemingly unconnected plots cavort through this cheerful adventure. The stakes: planetary control. Ironic misanthropy and the often self-conscious rhythms of a stand-up comic are coupled with Mafia shootouts and the obligatory spy scene on the Orient Express. Haiblum keeps all the strands of his baroque structure from getting tangled and when he turns the heat on in all his worlds simultaneously, the results are funny and suspenseful. Unfortunately, the solutions huddle at the end like verbs in a German sentence; but it's not the destination -- it's the trip that counts.