The novella tells of Iadog, who took training on Terra at the university established for not-so-advanced cultures. Back on Dejan, the young crustacean meets up with a former classmate, who has news of importance for his old drinking buddy. Of course, making any sort of technological advance on Dejan, where the priests have held sway for more generations than can be told, takes a bit of finesse. Even worse, if you try to shake up the system, you are liable to meet the Claw before you come close to succeeding.
In the first short story, this version of Earth is saved from the invasion of rapacious balls of energy by Hetzie, whose masterful, if accidental, construct traps the invading force in the laundry line. Her treatment of the captive would be judged inhumane on the invader's world.
The second short story tells of Phil, poor Phil, he only wanted to be the best crystal farmer he could, but that damn wind.