Appropriately enough, Phil and his stepsister Andrea begin their journey in California and travel in an orange bubble, called a ""contemplajet,"" to the dreamy, muddled dystopian planet Hallelujah, where dull but convenient food is dispensed from faucets growing out of trees and the inhabitants' souls are ""recycled"" every eighty years after a brief interim spent as batlike red boomerangs. The problem of getting back home to Earth is complicated by the Hallelujans' fear of the sirenlike Cloud Music, which snatches up their otherwise immortal souls, and by Phil's longing to fly (and implicitly, to die) even if it means flirting with the Cloud Music itself. Andrea's chief, and jarringly discordant, worry seems to be her boyish appearance; and while the children and their escort travel through Animalaurus, populated by talking animals whose species face extinction on Earth, and cross the Lake of No Tides where the planets' artists live in hedonistic isolation, Andrea is alternately nagged about washing her hair and encouraged by predictions that she will one day be ""ravishing."" Andrea eventually saves Phil's life by loving him so hard that he ignores the lure of Cloud Music and drops back to solid ground (so much for the power of death!). As for Hallelujah, which seems variably childlike and chilling, it teases our imagination without coalescing into a believable locale--Andrea passes through with out ever knowing what to think of the place, and others are likely to find it just as disorienting.