Barney's memory banks may be missing some units but his logic components are supercharged. Barney is a 69 All Purpose Wellington deluxe robot who just vaguely remembers his original owner, archaeologist Professor Dixon and a visit to one of the forbidden cities of Mars. Fortunately he is found and adopted by young Janet and Larry who are about to embark with their actor grandfather on his mission to bring Shakespeare to the universe. But then two other old acquaintances of Barney's, one Slezak and Larch, attach themselves to the trip and misdirect the orbit to --the forbidden Martian city of Zark where the group discovers the legendary lost Shadow People and a misguided Messiah. Their nemesis is an ex-museum curator who is now fanatically determined to save the Shadow People from exploitation by equipping them with unwanted weapons. Larch and Slezak meanwhile are after the Shadow People's sizeable loot and all of them end up in Zark's version of the hoosegow where they join Professor Dixon. It's a little confusing. . . space narrator Barney's sense of humor is the real saving factor in a novel that hovers maddeningly somewhere between genuine subtlety and the outrageously obvious.