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Rudi MacKenzie has grown up knowing that he will one day assume leadership over the survivors of the technological disaster known as the Change. But a prophecy made at his birth spoke of an even greater destiny?a destiny that is about to be fulfilled. A mysterious traveler from Nantucket, long rumored to be the source of the Change, arrives on a mission to bring Rudi back with him. And between him and his destiny lies the the cult of a madman determined to stop him?
Set 12 years after A Meeting at Corvallis (2006), Stirling's latest novel of a chaotic near-future U.S., crippled when the mysterious Change rendered most technology nonfunctional, combines vigorous military adventure with cleverly packaged political idealism. When assassins pursue a traveler into Oregon's Willamette Valley, the resulting skirmish propels the heirs of three influential local leaders on a risky continent-crossing mission to Nantucket. Stirling's narrative deftly balances sharply contrasting ideologies the Mackenzies' proto-Celtic clan system in Oregon against Gen. Lawrence Thurston's strict and principled military democracy in Idaho, the zealotry of the Church Universal and Triumphant versus the pagan Powers venerated by the Mackenzies though the most difficult cosmological questions are never addressed. Meanwhile, there are hints of otherworldly intervention and time travel on Nantucket, echoing the parallel continuity established in Island in the Sea of Time and its sequels. Despite these fuzzy underpinnings, the thought-provoking and engaging storytelling should please Stirling's many fans.