What a dear, unselfish lot of peace-lovers the Chirpones are--those fat, lisping penguin-like traders who have agreed to extend the benefits of their remarkable enterprise to poor old messed-up Earth and its infant Empire. Come to think of it, Earth seems more messed-up than ever despite the sweet influence of the Chirpones with their beautiful musal trees and ingenious tri-d viewing devices. In fact, people all over the planet are taking after each other with chair legs and kitchen knives for no reason whatever, and Sam, the big computer in the Eastern ImpSec Commissioner's office, gives humanity 7-8 weeks to the point of irreversible breakdown. Of course, Sam hasn't reckoned with unorthodox investigator Elias Kane and the huge alien ""manservant"" he won at the gaming tables--the gentle, formal, pumpkin-colored Pendrake, who drinks iced tea, raps with plants, and has never ""used violence against another intelligent being."" Despite the labored scientific convolutions of the ending, this is several snappy pegs above Spruill's Keepers of the Gate (1976). Kane is not much more than a standard mail-order item, but Pendrake is worth reviving for better things.