In a galactic culture that extends from quasi-Utopian worlds like New Alexandria to vermin-infested slums like Old Earth, starship pilots have become the great romantic heroes of the day. When Star-Pilot Grainger is rescued from a shipwreck, he finds himself pressed into reluctant service to fly the Hooded Swan, the prototype of a new kind of interstellar ship. He's also picked up an alien parasite that's determined to share his brain. Under these dire circumstances, can Grainger possibly stay out of trouble? Not a chance!