Xotonian Chorkle’s home asteroid Gelo is so boring that of course it’s going to spy on the iridium-stealing, fur-tufted invaders from Eo.
Chorkle’s originator allowed it (there is no gender on Gelo) to check out Jehe Canyon for human incursion as long as it agreed to leave if it saw them…but they’re so interesting, and they have amazingly fun technology. Xotonians are adept at hiding, so the aliens are oblivious to Chorkle’s presence, but it makes off with their hologram device. When the Xotonians decide to unleash the dreaded, destructive Q-sik weapon to chase off the humans, Chorkle wants to warn the humans. It knows the ones it saw in the canyon are young ones. Having learned some human language from the hologram device and human transmissions, Chorkle intends to warn them…but it’s distracted by the sugary pink magic of Feeney’s Original Astronaut Ice Cream, and the young humans end up marooned on Gelo. Now Chorkle must keep them alive until their originators return for them. When the Vorem, the ancient enemy of the Xotonians, reappear, the fate of the solar system might hang in the balance. O’Donnell’s debut is an imaginative, smart and laugh-out-loud adventure. Chorkle is charming, and its alien perspective on the human invaders and the ensuing culture clash never falters.
Clap your thol’graz—the open ending begs for a sequel! (Science fiction. 9-12)