Instead of wiping out tawdry political rivalries on an overpopulated and over-armed Earth, the future discovery of a new inhabitable planet (Jem) just doubles the madness. In reckless haste, each of the three great power blocs (Food, Fuel, and People, exporters respectively of grain, oil, and labor) spends untold amounts of precious energy to get its own settlement on Jem. While their masters on Earth joyously use events on Jem as fuel for ever more brainless brinkmanship, the Terran colonies set about ravaging the new planet and arming the three intelligent and mutually inimical native races, whose antagonism has hitherto taken only the comparatively peaceful form of eating each other. Some of Pohl's writing here is hasty; most is effortlessly to the point: every act of stupidity, aggression, and irresponsibility is carried out by a recognizable intelligence acting by all-too-recognizable lights. And though this is a more conventional narrative than the dazzling Gateway (1977), its political seriousness should reach out beyond the limits of a strictly science-fiction audience.