Far-future politico-philosophical showdown from the author of the stunning time travel novel Days of Cain (1997), etc. The mysterious, deadly, and irresistible Erinye—masters of artificial intelligence and VR—conquered the solar system, destroying everything they perceived as a threat; only one person, Julia "Jay" Amalfi, and her companion, Cary, an immature artificial intelligence, fled in a starship to the glaciated planet Midgard. As the years passed, Jay warmed up the planet and seeded it with Earthly life-forms. But gradually she grew remote and detached, leaving Cary and a weak administration to run things. Now a near-bloodless revolt, led by the youthful commander Tony Perin, has successfully gained Jay's attention, but social problems remain. Bilis—criminals, migrant workers, riffraff—are everywhere; even more threatening are the Rigorists, a fanatical black-clad cult whose members espouse a nihilistic doctrine and behave like social insects, calling themselves "monads." In the name of ideological purity, the Rigs have taken to torturing dissidents and slaughtering entire villages. Worst of all, a starship from Earth has arrived in the system with, Jay assumes, the Erinye on board—and they may already have subverted the naive, rebellious, and resentful Cary. Unable to trust the AI, can Jay form an alliance with young Tony Perin to deal with the Bilis, defeat the Rigs, and keep Midgard safe from the Erinye? Intelligent, well organized, often gripping, but with the backdrop and plot all too obviously distorted to accommodate Dunn's dialectic: impressive, sure, but not entirely convincing.
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