Karl Schroeder, Author . Tor $27.95 (480p) ISBN 978-0-7653-0371-4

After his well-received first SF novel, Ventus (2000), Canadian Schroeder offers a complex, conceptually satisfying story of interstellar intrigue, cosmology, theology and nanotechnology. The scattered members of the book's far-future intergalactic culture inhabit either space stations (aka "halo" communities) around brown dwarf stars that are supplied by Cycler craft on prescribed, intergalactic routes or "lit" planets with fusion-based suns that are linked by faster-than-light ships. Meadow-Rue Rosebud Cassels, a young woman living on the space station Allemagne and eager to escape her violent half-brother, discovers an alien artifact once possessed by a succession of militaristic individuals, both human and alien. Rue's artifact, apparently a new Cycler, ignites a struggle for money and power that alternately switches her from outcast to important property owner. As Rue masters political infighting and battle tactics, she picks up such loyal followers as Michael, a mystic and anthropologist, and Max, her resourceful cousin. Amid all the fast-paced space adventure, some readers may wish for clearer details to help guide them from one scene to the next. The narrative fairly bursts with interesting ideas, like the religion of Neo-Shintoism and the philosophy of Permanence, but the result too often resembles digressions that belong in an anthropology study, not a novel. In truth, the author packs in enough material for several volumes. Yet Schroeder knows how to entertain and should continue to build an audience across a broad range of SF fans. Agent, Donald Maass. (May 23)

Reviewed on: 04/15/2002
Release date: 05/01/2002
Genre: Fiction
Mass Market Paperbound - 480 pages - 978-0-7653-4285-0
Peanut Press/Palm Reader - 978-0-312-70640-1
Ebook - 480 pages - 978-1-4299-8039-5
Paperback - 978-2-07-034971-5
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