Far-future computer-game/interstellar-intrigue yarn, wherein starship pilot Quinn Lioe, a talented computer gamer, arrives at city/planet Burning Bright to deliver cargo, make repairs, and participate in the local role-playing, virtual-reality Game. Elsewhere, the powerful smuggler and political manipulator Damian Chrestil plots with an alien hsai, the Visiting Speaker; Damian intends to be the next planetary governor, while Visiting Speaker strives for advantage over a rival hsai clan represented by a human, Chauvelin, the hsai ambassador. Meanwhile, Chauvelin's sidekick, the terminally ill Ransome--once famed as Game compiler and inventor Ambidexter--grows suspicious of Damian's distractions, yet is drawn to the marvelous Games being conducted by Quinn. Many maneuvers later, the good guys defeat the bad guys, mostly, while Quinn realizes that her true vocation is to remain on Burning Bright and create ever more realistic Games. A lively, churning backdrop, but porous plotting, undistinguished aliens, and virtual-reality notions that already seem dated and dusty. Disappointingly mediocre work after a superior debut (Dreamships, 1992).