In the far future, the Krater-Tromon combine pretty much controls the solar system. On Mars lives young Daric, a clone or reincarnation of the heroic leader Darius (9,000 years ago, his enemies turned him into a tree) with his brother Jonas (another clone) and Grandpapa, Darius resurrected in a mechanical body. Daric has a strange mirror personality, Shade, like a conscience, and a defense against nano-particles called a “sheen.” As Jonas and Grandpapa prepare to leave Mars, Jonas sends Daric into the city Oppidum. An eidolon, or computer ghost, Penthesilia, shows him where to find a drink containing an infectious spore from the distant jungle planet Myiepa. The spore enables him to connect with an interstellar information web that gives knowledge of other worlds and ways to navigate space to get to them. Soon, though, he’s kidnapped by Leften Tine, an agent of Krater-Tromon, and conveyed to Earth. The Ceres Storm covers Earth with voracious nano-particles, but Tine considers Daric safe because he’s an incarnation of Darius, who unleashed the storm and whose personality resides within. Tine wants Daric to locate and command the ancient, hidden Machineries left by Darius. Another vault left by Darius on Pluto’s moon Charon awaits Daric’s attention, but whose designs will he follow: Darius’s, Krater-Tromon’s, or his own?
Distinctive and imaginative, Herter’s tale moves to its own disconcerting logic: a debut of immense promise.