In Pohl's latest (after Mining the Oort, 1992, etc.), small colonies on alien worlds struggle to survive with intermittent aid from resource-strapped Earth. Barry di Hoa, a Lunar technician specializing in the transfer of volatile antimatter fuel to interstellar starships, joins the tiny colony of Pava against his will, having been drugged and stuck into the cryonic passenger hold of a starship by a rival for his girlfriend's affection. On Pava conditions are rough; fewer than a thousand colonists suffer frequent shortages, and earthquakes disrupt what progress they make. Di Hoa becomes enthusiastic about life there, seeing ways to improve conditions using the starship's large cargo of antimatter, but the ship's captain, Gerold Tscharka, and his fellow religious devotees have a more sinister purpose in mind. The plot moves along briskly, and the native Pavans, innocent caterpillar-like creatures who assist the colonists, make appealing foils for human folly. The author spices his story with characteristic musings on human nature and the dangers of religious fervor, but even Tscharka is handled with sympathy. Not a Pohl classic like Man Plus (1976), but a solid and engaging read from one of the genre's surest hands.