The Lani People
Corgi, London, 1962
The blurb on the back:
They exported the Lani to every planet in the galaxy. Who wants to be bothered by a woman when you can get a whole harem of Lani so cheap?
It is six thousand years on from the first exodus of humans from Earth, that great wave of adventurers determined to explore the Universe, and humanity has colonized large reaches of space. Meeting no civilization, no species capable of resisting its restless imperialism, humanity has occupied vast reaches of space, with ten thousand billion people united only by a common philosophy, the Brotherhood of Man, a species-consciousness that is rigorously enforced. Legally the separation of humans from animals is a black-and-white issue.
Which leaves Jac Kennon in a curious position. He's a vet, and he's employed to maintain the livestock on a remote continent on a remote planet. But the livestock are the Lani, a race of intelligent humanoids, capable of articulate speech, whose only visible difference from humanity is the fact that they have tails.
What we're looking at, then, is essentially an exploration of racism, written at a time when the Civil Rights struggle in America was reaching a crisis point. And it's not bad, even quite interesting in its own way. But there is a curious lack of imagination about how this expansionism might impact upon humanity. In particular, eight millennia of growth have left the genders with exactly the relationship as they had in, say, 1962. Here, for example, is Kennon ruminating on the distorted culture found on the planet Saris
This is relevant, incidentally, because the Lani have been bred by their human owners as a female-only species. Which gives a certain frisson to the proceedings.
ARTISTIC MERIT: 2/5