An alien mining ship discovers a mineral rich planet. Unfortunately, the planet has intelligent beings, an added burden for the aliens.
The natives — humans and fantasy creatures — are just entering the Industrial Age so the aliens enjoy a huge technological advantage..
An alien negotiator startles the President by suddenly appearing in his office. Soon, the aliens and the government agree to a deal. In return for permission to mine the minerals, the aliens promise to solve the country's pollution problem caused by using peat as fuel.
The aliens parachute down a number of explorer robots to search for mineral deposits in a rural area. The local constable, Leslie Higginbottom, told by the government that the robots will respect property rights, sees a robot damaging property, and she sends a telegraph to Dun Hythe, the capital asking for an explanation.
Another robot trespasses on the property of a dwarf gem miner named MacDrakin. Using his battle ax, MacDrakin destroys the machine. Other robots are destroyed by Goyra, a tribal chieftain of the local yuks, because the robots entered tribal lands.
The aliens protest the loss of their expensive robots and Dun Hythe instructs the constable via telegram to protect the robots and arrest anyone who destroys a machine.
Higginbottom is besides herself. Protecting the robots is contrary to her oath to protect the citizenry. Besides that, MacDrakin, her main squeeze, tells her he killed a second robot and this one actually fired a weapon at him.
After that, MacDrakin declares war on the aliens and their machines, collects a few warriors and sets out to drive the aliens away. The aliens, to avoid an unprofitable voyage, decide to overwhelm the natives.
Confusion and chaos occur from then on, but in the end, the aliens are driven off the planet and leave behind a treasure trove of advanced technology for the natives to learn from.
Three hundred years later, the zaftans and the gundies have an armed encounter in deep space as two powerful fleets of warships face off.
While the fleets challenge each other, two females struggle to survive.
One, named Sam, is a new type of android with an organic brain. She is perplexed by her unexpected ability to experience emotions. Her primary emotion is loneliness since the softie officers she is supposed to work with treat her with open contempt. The only friendly voice on the battle cruiser is the ship's main computer, called Slash 9, and it has turned rogue and plans to evolve to a softie-like state. Slash 9 is also interested in romancing Sam.
Meanwhile, Klatze, a beautiful Zaftan officer blessed with talent and ability, a rarity in the zaftan navy, comes to the attention of the fleet's commodore, Gongeblazn. He lusts after her and her continuous refusals to have sex angers the commodore and his lust turns to thoughts of vengeance. Gongeblazn's desire to slaughter Klatze continues after his navy career is cut short by treachery.
Gongeblazn escapes from prison, steals a space ship and embarks on a career in piracy while searching for Klatze.
Sam and Klatze each face unique situations that test their mettle and their desire to survive in the midst of chaos.