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Buffalito Contingency Paperback – May 27, 2011
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And yes, it really is a book about a stage hypnotist who is just trying to get by with his miniature (alien) buffalo out and about in the universe...
Then I read one of the stories. And I was blown away by how good it was.
This novel continues the Adventures of the Amazing Conroy, which started in the anthology Buffalito Buffet and continued in Buffalito Destiny. If you haven't read those books already, I highly recommend doing so before you start this one. There is also a freely-available Nebula-nominated novella "The Trial of the Century", which bridges the events of Buffalito Destiny with those in Buffalito Contingency. Go find it and read it. I'll wait.
Having gone from rags-to-riches-back-to-rags, Conroy takes his hypnotism entertainment show back out on the intergalactic road. But his life can never be that simple: aliens from several different races all want to use him for their own mysterious purposes.
Another human who is as intensely interested as he is in alien cultures appears with a proposition: she's been tasked to take him to meet an alien with deity-like powers - except that it turns out this alien was one who nearly killed Conroy many years before, indirectly triggering the start of his career as a hypnotist. Then another quirky, fast-talking alien persuades Conroy to take him on as a manager/agent - but he may just be a ticket into big trouble. And an avaricious ship captain from yet another alien race blackmails him into serving as a reluctant smuggler in a highly-dangerous scheme.
Once again, Conroy must rely on his psychological powers of suggestion and persuasion to get him out of all these messes, with the help of his buffalito companion Reggie - while still managing to sample many delicious selections of the universe's unique alien cuisine.
The author does a spectacular job of blending richly-developed alien cultures with psychological insights, in a funny, adventurous romp through the stars.