Not a sequel to, but a story taking place in the same far-future universe as, Cherryh's well-known Downbelow Station, churning with political intrigue and heavyweight powerbroking, thick with knotty conspiracies and plots. Cherryh's backdrop is a complex and thoughtful one. In 2300 A.D., Earth's farflung colonies and space habitats have won their independence after a long struggle. Genetically-engineered humans--programmed by computer for any desired orientation, loyalty, and function--are commonplace. At the top of the human ant-heap are the Specials, supergeniuses subject only to self-imposed restraints. Hostile alien planet Cyteen is slowly being terraformed; its labs and industries are at the heart of Ariane Emory's political-military-industrial empire. Ari, a Special, appears to be at the height of her power--yet various almost-as-powerful factions oppose her plans to launch another wave of human expansion across the galaxy. Then Ari turns up murdered. Whodunit? Well, Special and psychogenesis ("mind-cloning") expert Jordan Warrick confesses--even though he's not guilty--as part of a convoluted power-play. Meanwhile, Ari's people start to grow a clone of Ari, which, thanks to Ari's own brilliant research, will grow into an exact duplicate of the dead Ari--as a prelude to an even more ferocious struggle. There are drawbacks: not enough action, spindly characters, sheer density and length (a whopping 680 pages). Still, aficionados of futuristic imaginary power-politics, and those intrigued by the possibilities of human-biological manipulation, will find much to ponder here.