Girl lives on spaceship and goes to school on it.

  • She is sent to an alien ship in order to learn with six-fingered aliens.
  • There were controls on the alien ship that only they could use because of their fingers.

  • The novel featured a court case plot at the end.

    • The girl was a defendant in a criminal case
    • the alien she was with died of drowning and the alien race blamed her.
  • The book had very mild romantic undertones.

  • This story is at least 20+ years old. I read it after 1969 but possibly in the 80's(?)

  • This was a Sci-Fi book intended for young adults.

  • And was the book in French? Also, how many toes did the aliens have?
    – Mr Lister
    Commented Jun 10, 2014 at 8:07
  • 1
    Hi There, The Girl was around 15-18 however no age was specifically given I think. Can't remember 100%. Space Ship but I don't know how it was powered. It was almost 20 years ago so not much I can remember. I believe it was after 1969 possibly in the 80's. The one I read was a hardcover. The girl was a defendent in a criminal case because the alien she was with died of drowning and the alien race blamed her. Book had very mild romantic undertones.
    – user28143
    Commented Jun 10, 2014 at 19:33
  • Book was in english by an english writer. I don't know if they told the number of toes the aliens had. They talked about 6 fingers because there were controls on the alien ship that only they could use because of their fingers.
    – user28143
    Commented Jun 10, 2014 at 19:34

2 Answers 2


Aside from the alien drowning and the protagonist being blamed, your description matches The Stolen Law, by Anne Mason.

The Stolen Law was published in 1986, and is a sequel to The Dancing Meteorite. Both books are about Kira Warden, a young cadet living on a space station. She is an exo-communications specialist (translates alien languages), and in the Stolen Law she is sent to work on the Vallusian station. The Vallusian's are human-like, but with six-fingers.

There is a description of Vallusian junior officers try to show her how to use a weapon (which requires 6 fingers), and one where Kira is trying to see if she can open an access panel:

...Kira dragged over the nearest empty chair and climbed up on the seat. From this height she had a better view of the six pads that she had to touch all at once. After several experiments, she found that by crossing her hands she as able to make sufficient contact to open the access panel.

Earlier in the story there is a scene where she saves the life of a junior Vallusian officer from drowning during a training exercise, because she has lived on planets and can swim.

Peering down, Kira saw the swift flow of the water carrying some debris rapidly downstream. "Don't worry, sir, I can..." She discovered that Vallusians had no word in their vocabulary for swimming. "I can manage."

When an officer falls:

Kira stared in frozen horror at the thrashing figure as the current caught him. Then without any conscious plan, she kicked off her boots and jumped off the edge of the banks.

The end of the story does have her on trial for breaking a law -- while on "sector status" (on duty as a translator), she is not supposed to reveal anything she learns, and the punishment for breaking that law is death. But when she learns of a plot to kill some other aliens and blame the Vallusians, she takes matters into her own hands. She is eventually caught and put on trial.

One of the commissioners opened the hearing, then read the list of charges. Kira could not bear the sight of so many familiar faces. She looked down, listening to the charges against her. She had expected to be accused of violating sector status, but that was only the beginning. Thefts, lies, deceptions, endangering, impersonations -- she wasn't even sure what all the charges meant. There was only one charge that mattered, the one they would execute her for.

Kira's age is never mentioned, but somewhere between 15 and 18 sounds about right. There is a bit of romantic undertones with one of the other human cadets:

Kira turned to wait for him, feeling a warm glow that had nothing to do with the sun shining down on her.

This is one of my favorite YA books from the 80's, so it's definitely worth reading again if you can find it.


Some of Bradley's 'Darkover' books featured mild romance and 6 fingers, along with plenty of alien vs human civil issues, if that helps.

  • But no Darkover book matching the story as described. I know all the novels. If it is a short story in one of the anthologies, I might have missed it.
    – Basya
    Commented Feb 28, 2017 at 8:13

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