Imagine, if you can, that Christopher Columbus never existedthat in his place was a fantastic crew of circus freaks. They would be our heroes of history as discoverers of the New World. We all would honor the Fat Woman, erect statues to the Human Firefly, perhaps name a continent after the Half Man-Half Machine. Ridiculous? Preposterous? Well, maybe not.... Mankind is faced with such a possibility in this unusual science fiction novel. In a future age of interplanetary travel new worlds and alien races are awaiting discovery and a decision must be made. Who will be the first interstellar explorersand make the first alien contact? On a tiny asteroid between Mars and Jupiter a handful of people seek the honor. They are "the Accidentals." They are pathetic, crippled and deformed humans, half or quarter men and women, fractional organisms masquerading as people. To many they are just "circus freaks", but to themselves they are still members of the human race. Their plan is sound. The galaxy has long since been conquered and now the distant stars await the probing of Earthmen. Yet the stars are very very far away and the exploratory trips will be very very long. Ordinary men would find the voyages nearly unbearable. The Accidentals, though, are not ordinary men. The medical skills which have kept them alive have given them incredible endurance. They are unbelievably tough, nearly immortal. They are the ones who could be the star-flung explorers. From that begins one of the strangest flights to the Stars that mankind may ever see.