Hard-back debut of a near-future series starring the fabulously wealthy Forte family of Houston, the Republic of Texas (The Ayes of Texas and Texas on the Rocks, paper). In 2008, Ripley Forte has managed to vaporize Moscow with its own H-bomb. In retaliation, the Russians send a huge, powerful fleet to conquer Texas, which the well-prepared Texans easily repulse. So the Russians ponder a more subtle means to victory, US Vice President David Castle is a Russian mole, you see; he arranges to gather and isolate a selection of young genius scientists. Their task is to anticipate how the Russians might attack and destroy America by means other than nuclear weapons. The scientists, fooled, happily buckle down to work; the Russians gleefully appropriate their data, murder the scientists, and put their ideas to work. Soon the US and Texas are threatened by an array of bizarre biological and ecological disasters. Ripley Forte, naturally, defeats the Russians, then devises his own counterstroke to balkanize both the US and the USSR as a means to prevent nuclear war and other global catastrophies. Easily absorbable soap-opera-ish stuff--not amusing enough to be called comedy (though the potential is there), too absurd to take seriously.