By the middle of the next century, waldo technology--machines controlled by telepresence--is far advanced. A secret government project, KaleidoScope, was set up to work toward full sensory, humanlike proxy bodies controlled by remote teleoperatives. One wing of the project is centered at White Sands; another, aboard the orbiting Shasta Station, involves the ancient, brilliant scientist Patricia Taylor. Her creche of kids, all rescued as infants from various life-threatening diseases, have been raised to inhabit proxy bodies; now, indeed, their immune systems have failed so their real bodies can never leave the creche tanks. Secretly, Patricia (""Mother"" to the kids) has treated herself and the children with life-prolonging nanotechnology, and she's evolved a plan to hijack the starship that soon will depart for Ursa Major. But they lack one crucial ingredient: an instantaneous telepresence link from creche to proxy body. Researcher Carli MacLeod was working on such a technology when her work was purloined by the powerful OMNEX corporation. So Mother will spare no effort to recruit Carli for her project. Some of the kids, however, distrust the increasingly unstable and violent Mother. Pablo loves Mother and wants to help, but Buddy (he and Pablo inhabit the same body but can occupy different proxies) hates her and wants her dead. Part technothriller, part family saga: an overlong but hardworking and impressively thought-out hardcover debut.