Pinkwater fans will revel in this madcap adventure in which Myron Duberville, 13, learns that things like streetlights, bent eggbeaters, old toasters, and 1960 Chevrolet Belvederes are not always what they seem. Having taken a summer job at his family's aerospace plant, Myron finds himself in the middle of a dispute between Messrs. Pinch and Grinley, who want to run the company along ""sound engineering lines,"" and his uncle Hugo, Chairman of the Board, who likes to root through junk piles collecting what he claims are stranded space aliens. Hugo says he's assembled a crew to send them home on a modified Chevy that lacks only a captain. Myron has trouble believing all this; but when Pinch and Grinley try to kidnap him and he escapes their hired guns with the help of coin-spitting parking meters, garbage-bag-like Couch Potatoes from Planet Liebfraumilch, and Letitia Reticuli (who can shoot light rays from her palm and declares herself the missing captain), he changes his mind. After a long, wacky chase, Myron watches the Chevy rocket off into the night sky. Pinch and Grinley retreat in confusion; Uncle Hugo offers to share another theory. Gilden wraps a coherent plot and mostly believable characters around a premise that may not be as daffy as it seems, considering the trash heaped on city sidewalks.