Earth lies crushed in the grip of totalitarianism. To save her planet, Kyra Davis is sent on a mission to liberate the last bastion of freedom and to rescue its legendary leader. Her bold adventure will sweep her from Earth's rebel enclaves, to the decadent court of an exotic lunar colony, from the virtual realities of biotech and artificial intelligence to a brave new world menaced by a dying star.
Though Anderson's ( The Boat of a Million Years ) latest offering bears the earmarks of a science fiction epic, the novel fulfills little of its promise. A future North America is dominated by the Avantist police state, while space is ruled by the vast Fireball corporation. Founded by entrepreneur Anson Guthrie, Fireball is devoted to a nearly libertarian ideal of individual freedom and laissez-faire economics, the antithesis of the Avantist policy. The original Guthrie is long dead, but his mind, downloaded into a computer, lives on to direct Fireball. When the Avantists capture a second copy of Guthrie, designed to travel with a probe to Centauri's earthlike planet Demeter, they have the power to destroy Fireball, using their copy to issue false orders and to force a crisis. Plucky Fireball pilot Kyra Davis and a host of other Guthrie loyalists race to avert disaster. The plot is flat, however, the tension deflated by trite, intrusive lectures on liberty and finding meaning in a high-tech world. Then Anderson introduces a bizarre development, when Guthrie decides to lead his followers to colonize Demeter. Despite Anderson's assemblage of all the elements of classic SF on a grand scale, the novel evokes more weariness than wonder.