Expendable by James Alan Gardner
ExpendableFestina Ramos is a member of the Explorer Corps. Her job is to make first contact in alien cultures and worlds. She and her group call themselves ECM’s – Expendable Crew Members. They were the ones that aren’t quite accepted in society for some deformity that makes them a little different. Instead of their deformity being cured, they are the first line of defence in the Corps. No one will shake their heads if one of them dies.
Festina is given the assignment to escort Admiral Chee to Melaquin. Anyone who has landed there has not come back. The planet is beautiful, luscious, and uninhabited according to all records. So why have they lost so many explorers there? Festina is determined that fate will not befall her small party. She will beat the secret of Melaquin.
This is an interesting story. It shows another way mankind discriminates against deformities and old age. Melaquin is an intriguing planet. Festina learns much more than she ever expected on this planetfall. But can she return with the information?