An old favorite, always enjoyable. A little reminiscent of the "Retief" series by Keith Laumer.400 years after the discovery of a faster-than-light drive causes a mass exodus from Earth, Earth sends out a huge spaceship to begin the process of picking up the pieces and forging them into a new Empire.But the descendants of the fringe groups that escaped Earth so long ago have other ideas...A wry and funny book, with Russell's characteristic anti-authority viewpoint. It's a pity that he only created three alternate societies in this book; it's a small gem, and an undisputed SF classic. It also has a warm heart, an essential niceness to it that is all too rare in modern SF. The world and creed of the Gands is likely to stay with you for a long, long time.Gordon R. Dickson's Dorsai series explored the idea of the varigation of humanity from a biological and spiritual viewpoint. In A Planet Called Treason (later poorly rewritten as simply Treason), Orson Scott Card took the biological angle much further. The remarkable Cordwainer Smith also used similar themes of wild variation among far-flung branches of humanity, although the concept was not central to his work.Eric Frank Russell didn't take the biological route. The people on distant planets are still quite human in every way. Rather, their culture is different - in the first two cases, a comic exaggeration of an already existing human trait.It's a lovely book. When you're finished, you'll wish there was more.Incidentally, the final section was also released separately as a short story "...And Then There Were None".