Another yarn set in Foy's generic and rather anonymous future (The Memory of Fire, 2000, etc.) where a handful of free spirits resist an overweening government and, in this instance, the mega-corporations with their relentless virtual reality entertainment. In a decaying New England whaling town whose main attractions are the Moby-Dick Theme Park and the X-Corp tower lives John Slocum. Once a high-flying X-Corp executive, Slocum quit when he realized that he was not only addicted to his own interactive, full-sensory VR product, but also increasingly numb to reality. Inspired by the Smuggler's Bible, he went to live on a sloop moored at Coggeshall Wharf, his solitary companion the repulsive alley-cat Ralfie. His dreams of going to sea are stymied by the boat's broken diesel engine. Now, he's estranged from his wife, Amy, who refuses to let him see his beloved daughter. When informed by the harbormaster that an approaching giant ship needs his berth to moor, he declines to move. As a hurricane creeps up the coast, the huge ship arrives, dwarfing Slocum's tiny vessel. The owners, he learns, are probably the mysterious Syndicate. Predictably, his credit lifeline abruptly evaporates. Invited aboard ship, he meets the beautiful and intriguing Melisande Yonge. The hurricane gets closer; parts for his engine fail to materialize.
Workmanlike, with a persuasively grimy backdrop, but stubbornly lackluster and unengaging.