Astounding interplanetary-war saga from the author of Earthling (1997), etc. Several hundred years from now, in an era of sophisticated "grist" (nanotechnology), computer-enhanced minds ("converts"), Large Arrays of Personalities (LAPs), and intelligent spaceships ("cloudships"), complex sentient cables link the inner planets into the Met. Its ruler, the masochistic musical genius Amés, has grandiose ambitions to conduct humanity as a conductor leads an orchestra. The asteroids, and those planets and moons still farther from the sun, permit the existence of free converts and other liberties, and therefore Amés and his Department of Immunity begins a vast and ruthless war to bring these outer worlds to heel. Chief among the resistors is Colonel Roger Sherman of Neptune's moon Triton. Sherman's estranged son Leo flees through the Met's maintenance conduits with young refugee Aubry, whose mother, a free convert, is being tortured on Mars as Amés attempts to learn how to absorb the free converts he abhors. Jill the ferret-assassin will join Roger Sherman on Triton. Andre Sud, a priest of Greentree who has foreseen the horrors of the struggle in visions, ponders the vanished poet Thaddeus Kaye and his pivotal role in the conflict.
Vast, intricate, fizzing with wit, and bulging with utterly fascinating ideas; nonetheless, without even a token ending, this is only the first installment of a series—though you won't learn this important consideration from the book's cover. Awesome, thrilling, spellbinding, and infuriating in equal measure.