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Bill Waltham has a sneaking suspicion that a few important details were purposely withheld from him when he receives his assignment to the planet Dilbia. At first, the project – to teach the planet’s bear-like inhabitants basic agricultural skills – seems a straightforward, though boring, undertaking for a young engineer on the rise.
But Bill immediately senses a very keen hostility from the Dilbians toward interfering humans. And in trying to solve a major crisis on the planet, he finds himself involved in a knock-down, drag-out brawl that has all the undertones of a David-and-Goliath battle revisited.