On the ""Glaktik Komm"" outpost of BoskVeld live the Asadi, a tribe of strange primatelike creatures with a spectrographic language; they were being investigated by cultural xenologist Egon Chaney when he mysteriously disappeared six years ago. But now his daughter, Elegy Cather, arrives on BoskVeld accompanied by Kretzoi, a baboon-chimpanzee hybrid who has been surgically altered to resemble the Asadi. Aided by Chaney's former associate Thomas Benedict they prepare to verify Chaney's controversial claims of intelligence, technological sophistication, and meaningful ritual among the apparently withdrawn and uncommunicative Asadi. This story manages to sustain various weighty philosophical pretensions with some grace only until the time comes to dish out science-fiction explanations of the Asadi's past; and Bishop (the splendid Catacomb Years, 1978) fails to make his noisily posturing humans half as interesting as the Kretzoi and the Asadi. Some intriguing speculations about behavior -- but Bishop's usually engaging curiosity blends poorly here with the traditional furniture of outer-space fiction.