Frank Herbert, who died just a few weeks ago, was one of America's most intelligent, imaginative, and magnetic novelists; we are much the poorer for his loss. This book may be the only Herbert father-son collaboration (with the possible exception of a Dune book reportedly in the works). To father Frank's love of complex plotting as an end in itself, knack of realistically portraying characters enmeshed in life-and-death power struggles, and sheer narrative momentum, son Brian (Sudanna, Sudanna) brings a wealth of new ideas, a talent for whimsy, and a warm, subtle wit. The Dreens of planet Dreenor are funny-looking aliens whose primary capability is ""idmaging,"" transforming matter from one form to another by mental power. Stories, for Dreens, are a consuming passion; and planet Earth, idmaged by the Dreens long ago, is the richest source. But lately Earth has grown powerful and dangerous, capable of threatening Dreenor itself. So the timid, pacifistic Dreens, reluctantly pondering whether or not to erase the Earth, idmage a destroyer spaceship just in case. Young Ryll, a clever but inattentive student with a penchant for mischief, gleefully steals the ship--but, near Earth, he collides with another vessel: an experimental Earth ship piloted by arrogant, acquisitive Lutt Hanson Junior (his megalomaniac father is the most powerful industrialist on the planet). In the crash, both Ryll and Lutt are so severely injured that Ryll, to stay alive, must merge what remains of his body with what remains of Lutt's; the two immediately fight for control of their mutual corpus. And this is just the beginning of an unpredictable and broadly amusing jaunt involving the idiot-savant rulers of Dreenor, the rest of the unpleasant or eccentric Hanson family, Venus, the French Foreign Legion spaceship-brothel, the Zone Patrol, and what-all--with the survival of both Dreenor and Earth hanging in the balance. The upshot, then, is a novel of great charm and freshness, with improbable situations, weird complications, vital characters, a wobbly plot and plenty of loose ends.