Having resigned from the Federation Survey Service rather than face a court-martial for losing his ship in a mutiny (see The Big Black Mark), John Grimes finds himself stuck on the Planet Botany Bay and in urgent need of employment. His saviour comes in the form of the lofty Baroness Michelle d'Estang and her ship the Far Traveller. Built of gold and designed to be a rich woman's plaything the ship is piloted and run by an advanced computer known as Big Sister. And thus while Grimes might be the human Master (in so far as the ship's insurer is concerned), its Big Sister who rules the roost.
'Take one thoroughly spoiled, fabulously wealthy El Doradan baroness, one solid gold spaceyacht complete with almost human pilot-computer, one piratical space tramp captain, add the accident-prone John Grimes, late of the Federation Survey Service, stir and mix thoroughly-and the things that happen shouldn't happen to a Morrovian dog!' (1977 Hale edition).