From the author of Hardwired and the splendid Voice of the Whirlwind: an overextended but often intriguing far-future alien-contact/space-frontier yarn. Ubu Roy, with four arms and total recall, and Beautiful Maria--she call jiggle computer-electrons--are the children of tailed independent trader and suicide Pasco (though they are genetically unrelated to each other and to Pasco). Runaway, their ship and sole asset, has been impounded against outstanding loans, in desperation, Ubu and Maria hijack their own ship and go in search of miniature black holes (the immensely valuable power sources for spaceships). Instead, they encounter Beloved, a spaceship-sized, queen-bee-type intelligence, and trade rare drugs for old computers (Beloved's technology is entirely biology-based). But, as Ubu and Maria sell their cargo back on Angel Station, the rival de Suarez clan learns of Beloved's existence and tries to steal a march on Ubu and Maria. Their problem, then: defeat the vicious de Suarezes, avoid repeating Pasco's errors, and outwit the cold, calculating, and cunning Beloved and her humanoid amanuensis, Volitional Twelve. Broadly persuasive and inventive, but the flabby narrative and fairly obvious plotting here put a brake on the proceedings: ponderous, overall, and disappointingly hasty in construction.