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The founder's of Hildred's Planet thought they had designed a foolproof socioeconomic system under which virtually no one could fail. Dunstan Malvern proved them wrong, as he was informed by Uncle Grump at a not very congenial family dinner. In a society where no one is supposed to fail, failures are not well received. However, Uncle Grump had arranged a job for Dunstan, his last chance to save himself. But what should have been Dunstan's salvation begins a cascading series of disasters that leave Dunstan homeless, broke and on the run.

Some years prior to these events, on the Planet Arasmin, the firm of Jephsen, Hembrecht, Emmersohn and Associates, manufacturers of androids, had created the near perfect android servant in their Electronic Butler System, known as Jheebs.

Fate and a midnight ocean swim bring Dunstan and Jheebs together. With Jheebs' aid Dunstan redeems himself and in the process discovers there is much going on around him that is not as it seems.

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