Xavier William Lennox, daredevil writer and scholar, is fascinated by alien peoples and cultures. On the planet Medina, he attempts to learn the religious secrets of the native Fireflies, only to be captured, horribly mutilated, and left for dead. Lennox, however, bears the Fireflies no ill will, and when Nora Wallace of the Department of Alien Affairs offers him an opportunity to return to Medina in a body surgically altered to function as that of a Firefly, he accepts with alacrity. In return, he must persuade the Fireflies to open up their planet to human mining corporations. His mission duly accomplished, Lennox returns to the human Republic still wearing his Firefly body. When Wallace offers him another job, to rescue four humans marooned on the planet Artismo, he jumps at the chance to be surgically transformed into a native Hawkhorn. Again he triumphs. But with each succeeding mission and transformation--on Tamerlaine as a native Wheeler; on Monticello IV as a Singer--he becomes less and less human, until finally he designs himself a composite body and abandons humanity altogether. Another low-key, thoughtful, absorbing entry from Resnick (Inferno, 1993, etc.).