Veteran writer-editor Bova (Voyagers, 1981) weighs in with a large, modesdy successful, near-future Message yam, told mostly in flashback. In the early-21st century, America has lost its nerve and withdrawn from space, allowing the Russians to monopolize the vast resources and potential of the Moon and the solar system. Only expatriate billionaire Dan Randolph keeps the American dream alive, operating from a base in Venezuela and from orbiting factories nominally controlled by Third-World nations. But the Russians keep raising the price of raw materials and inter-ferring with all enterprises not directly under their control. So Randolph sends a ship out to collect a wandering nickel-iron asteroid and bring it into Earth orbit, where it can be mined. The Russians, though, who control the UN and most laws governing space, capture the asteroid and threaten Randolph and his men. Randolph, also dueling with Russian bigwig Malik over the beautiful, nubile Lucita, resorts to space piracy, hijacking Russian robot ore carders and encouraging other independent nations to do the same. Finally the Russians trap Randolph and prepare to execute him--but there are still a few surprises in store. A solid, well-plotted tale that maintains a pleasing balance and tension between the politicking, the romancing, and the action-adventure. One of Bova's best, then, and the fans by now will be familiar with his Cold War posture and anti-Russian rhetoric.