Peadar O Guilin
IT'S A troubled life you have when you look at your neighbours and think "There's eating and drinking in that fellow".
In Peadar O Guilin's The Inferior, Stopmouth, our disabled hero, hasn't yet been 'volunteered' to be given to one of the other sentient species as lunch, but it's a close thing.
In O Guilin's cannibal world, the humans trade their weaklings for the weaklings of the Clawfolk, Hairfolk, Hoppers and other species. There are no non-sentient prey species, and no edible vegetation.
No species can talk to any other, until, mysteriously, two of the non-human species start to co-operate, and go on a Sarajevo-style ethnic cleansing drive to wipe out the others.
Into this Arcadia drops - what else - a beautiful woman from the sky. Straightaway, the treacherous Wallbreaker, Stopmouth's ambitious, too-clever brother, claims her as a second wife.
And off we go with a rollicking adventure for young adults.
It moves a bit slowly for teens, but for the kind of grownups who loved sci-fi of the classic Gollancz era, this is a relaxing read.
But it sparks uneasy thoughts: when you think about it, if we keep killing off species, our world could be like Peadar O Guilin's chilling vision - a world in which it's eat and be eaten.