Third in Anderson's future-history series (Harvest of Stars, 1993; The Stars Are Also Fire, 1994). The Earth is now ruled by a vast, imponderable aggregate of artificial intelligences, the Teramind, that seems profoundly conservative in outlook. The Lunarians, both on the Moon and on their distant planetoid colony, Proserpina, are feeling the pinch as the Teramind squeezes their sources of energy. As pilot and wannabe poet Jesse Nichol wanders Earth in an unavailing search for inspiration, the Teramind suspects the existence of a Lunarian plot. From its memory banks it downloads a human personality, the sage and loyal Venator, installs him in a box equipped with eye stalks, and instructs him to investigate. On the Moon, Nichol meets up with a former girlfriend, the lissome Lunarian and conspirator Falaire, who promptly maneuvers Nichol into ""murdering"" another conspirator. Nichol, utterly taken in by the faked death, has no choice but to help the conspirators hijack a shipment of desperately needed antimatter. Venator, having observed the blackmail scene, is then captured by the conspirators; later, Nichol discovers him aboard the Lunarian pursuit vessel. Now aware of the deception, Nichol rejects Venator, preferring to assist the Lunarians' bid for freedom despite their shabby treatment of him. A mediocre short story whose single theme is padded out with updates, recaps, and philosophizing.