Yet another high-tech, Heavy Metal near-future mini-war (cf. K. W. Jeter, John Shirley, William Gibson). This one isn't too much more than a fairly obvious Gibson (Count Zero, p. 167) imitation. Balkanized, rotting planet Earth is dominated by the Orbitals, space-based industrial blocs who control commerce on Earth by manipulating the lucrative smuggling and black-market theaters--and by spreading lethal designer diseases to which only the Orbitals have cures. Cowboy, a part-cyborg (""hardwired"") smuggler who drives an armored hovercraft, meets Sarah, a part-cyborg assassin/whore who feels compelled to protect her drug-addict, deadbeat brother--and a conspiracy is born. Plotting to defeat the Orbitals and free Earth, Cowboy and Sarah work through Albrecht Roon, a fanatical, perverted exOrbital ousted during a power struggle. Their method involves using Roon as corporate leverage in a computer stock-market battle, while Cowboy and his hotshot friends attack the Orbital-allied smugglers and black marketeers. There are some rousing moments and one or two persuasive passages, but no signs of originality whatsoever. So: entertaining enough for those readers plugged into what is rapidly, and depressingly, becoming a standard near-future scenario. For everyone else: ugly, soulless, and wearisome.