Baker (the story collection What A Piece of Work, 1992, etc.) here weighs in with a hefty but hollow saga of a world in crisis- -with Homo sapiens opposed by virtually every living organism on the planet in a desperate bid for survival. Triggering the final showdown in the year 2131 is the disappearance of teenager Ronnie Draper, lost to civilization while on a hunting expedition meant to render him fit to be a leader like his father. Captured by a scouting party of Ginks, supposedly degenerate humans who occupy wastelands produced by a previous nuclear war--and who are the ultimate game for hunters in Ronnie's society--he quickly learns that they have unimagined powers and organizational skills. Burrow dwellers and cannibals, they draw strength from a union with their shadow selves that enables them to communicate with other creatures. Ronnie becomes one of them after tasting human flesh, while his case becomes a political football back home, prompting top-secret probes to locate and terminate him, plus an all-out assault on the Ginks. High-tech human warfare meets its match in a well-orchestrated resistance by Nature, as Ronnie finds himself heir apparent to the Ginks's wizened spiritual leader and meets his mate--an all-powerful renegade female captured as a child by Ronnie's own people and sent out now with agents to find him. He comes home alive with her, thereby creating the possibility of racial harmony in a newly configured political climate. Sweeping and imaginative, although this promises more than it delivers: a futuristic vision so vast that characters seem lost, with more shadow than substance.