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I'm looking for a book I read back in the mid-90s, probably from the late 80s or early 90s.

It was a teen sci fi book, not set on Earth. It involves the main character, an young man, getting forced into a situation (to smuggle or pilot a starship) involving drugs or spice.

I can't recall for certain, I may be mixing it up with a different book, but the spice/drug gives the users blue lips.

Two characters involve a female (hardened, who turns into an ally of the protagonist), and some sort of alien which may be reptilian - and wearing some kind of metal strap vest.

There were two books in the series, I read only the first book. The second book (which my library at the time didn't stock) had the word 'Moon' in it.

  • Spice giving its users blue lips is from Frank Herbert's Dune series, which I don't think this is, so you're probably right that it's mixed up with a different book. – Mike Scott Oct 21 '14 at 15:51
  • It's a long shot, but the Genellan books involve animal-like aliens, strong female characters, and the second book in the series contains the word "moon." I don't think it's correct, but just in case. – Jason Patterson Oct 21 '14 at 17:39
  • There are an awful lot of Dune/dune-related books. I've read the first 4, and what you've described doesn't match any of them, but it's possible that it can be one of the later books in the series – Sam I am Oct 21 '14 at 19:37
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    @MikeScott afaik spice does not give blue lips, however mentats have red lips in the dune series due to a drug they take to enhance their mind. – Himarm Oct 22 '14 at 21:02
  • @Himarm Yes, you're right, I have misremembered the colour. – Mike Scott Oct 23 '14 at 5:45
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I believe this might be 'Kidnap In Space' by Nathan Elliott, which was followed by two other instalments - 'Plague Moon' (thus matching with your description) and finally 'Treasure Planet'.

There is one reptilian-style alien as one of the kidnappers (who are otherwise broadly human) and I recall a couple of members of the pirate crew are pretty explicitly depicted as drug users - with the blue lips as a side effect detail ringing a bell also. Hope that clears up your long-ago question (and apologies if by any chance I'm off-base - but I'm fairly sure this is what you're looking for - your description is actually pretty good and detailed I reckon, and your recollection not so terrible at all).

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    @Joy This answer from another question has summaries of/copy from the first two books of this series, if that will help. – eshier Aug 24 '18 at 13:19
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The book Bloodhype by Alan Dean Foster matches much of your description but misses some of the plot points and the blue lips.

  1. Young man = Flinx
  2. Reptilian aliens = Aann
  3. Drug = Bloodhype
  4. Smuggling = yes
  5. Many books in the series - much more than 2
  6. Female drug dealer changes her mind and helps Flinx

Lieutenants Kitten “Kitty” Kai-sung, a female human, and Porsupah, a male Tolian, of the Intelligence Arm of the United Church have been sent to Repler to investigate the newly re-established trade in the drug bloodhype (aka jaster, silly salt, brain-up, phinto) as the most deadly and addictive drug in and outside the Humanx Commonwealth. Once on Repler they make contact with the drug trader Dominick Rose who are using Captain Malcolm Hammurabi and his ship, the Umbra, as unwitting transporters of bloodhype.

This trio tracks Rose to his base where they encounter Flinx, currently in Rose’s employ, who helps them escape when Rose’s men capture the agents.

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