The first seven volumes of Hubbard's "Mission Earth" novel series were devoted mainly to the drawn-out farcial adventures of alien spies among comic oil barons, mafiosi, PR men, etc. This time things finally happen with a bang: hero Jettero Heller harnesses a black hole to provide cheap, pollution-free energy for Earth and accidentally wipes out western Russia. Then Heller and his love, Countess Krak, bring their evil nemesis, Soltan Gris, back to Voltar, their home planet. But dirty politics there has made the Emperor a drug addict and put power in the hands of nefarious, paranoid Lombar Hisst, so Heller and the Countess return to Earth, where more cliffhangers await. Even as a re-creation of the freewheeling pulp fiction of earlier times, this futuristic thriller is heavyhanded and unsuccessful.