New science fiction from the author of the Recluce series, the Spellsong Cycle, Gravity Dreams (1999), etc. In the future, genetic enhancements and nanotechnology augmentations (“nanites”) are available to anyone with the means to pay. Young “pre-selected” Daryn Alwyn, rejecting UniComm, the giant media/communications concern run by his father and brother, joins the Federal Service. Despite the fierce competition, he qualifies as a starship pilot. Later, leaving the FS, he works as a methodizer (consultant) and edartist (purveyor of infotainment). At a party he meets the mysterious and tantalizing Elysa, who tries to kill him by overloading his system with peculiar octagonal nanites. After he recovers and attempts to investigate, Daryn can find no trace of Elysa, nor discover why anyone would want to kill him; like all his contemporaries, he’s oblivious to the anger and resentment that normals feel toward the preselected who, by chance or design, have built a self-selecting power structure. Daryn survives several other assassination attempts, but his sister Elora (she also rejected UniComm and built her own business) dies in an “accident.” Finally, Daryn—he thinks of himself as a raven among eagles—learns of a shadowy conspiracy by the rival OneCys to take over UniComm and rule the world—just before several crucial murders place him firmly at the focus of events.
Dry and didactic, with frankly uninteresting characters: only the most patient, determined readers will follow through.