Worthy whack at a near-future coming-of-age novel, set aboard an asteroid shuttling between Earth and Mars in the year 2025; from the author of Sin of Origin (1988) and The Man Who Pulled Down the Sky (1986). Melpomene Murray, 13, lives within the hollowed-out, cargo- carrying asteroid Flying Dutchman and studies hard for her upcoming Full Adulthood exams. Like her classmates, she cares little that the earth, what with climatic changes, a super-AIDS epidemic, and economic collapse, is in desperate trouble; her concerns are more prosaic--school, games, friends, boys. Only gradually does Melpomene realize, from hints dropped by her teachers and her psychologist father, that she and her classmates have been psychologically manipulated from birth to want to help save the human race. Problem is, her father--one of the masterminds behind the plan--admits that the teenagers have already surpassed their conditioning to develop their own uniquely caring and cooperative community. So, the new plan is simply to stand back, allowing sane, healthy, precocious Melpomene and her fellows to grow into their novel civilization and discover their own roles within it. Involving, well-balanced YA fare, with just enough complexity and insight to attract a wider audience.