Martin Humphries - the fabulously wealthy, coldly ruthless owner of the greatest space-based industrial giant - has been checked, but his malice and ambition remain. He still dreams of bankrupting the rival space exploration company Astro Manufacturing and bringing the independent prospectors who are beginning to stake claims on large and small rocks of the Asteroid Belt under his control. And most of all, he wants to capture the love of beautiful Amanda Cunningham, the woman who spurned his money, and take his revenge on Lars Fuchs, the space prospector who both defied Humphries and married Amanda.
His weapons will be piracy, sabotage and murder. .
Noted space expert Bova returns to his planetary future history (Moonrise, etc.)in a hard-charging continuation of the battle for the Asteroid Belt begun in The Precipice (2001). Positing an Earth on the brink of eco-catastrophe, a recently independent moon and a frontier filled with prospectors and claim-jumpers out among the asteroids, it is a story that at first appears to be very familiar. But mixed in with the high-tech optimism and libertarian good faith are the darker elements of an older dramatic tradition. Keeping his themes classical love, jealousy, greed Bova gives his tale energy and focus through a love triangle that evolves into a vendetta. Lars Fuchs finds that he and new wife Amanda can't escape from the attentions of Martin Humphries, his rival for both Amanda and the Belt's mineral wealth. Trying to establish a home on Ceres, Lars and Amanda, with their fellow prospectors and miners, are threatened by increasing attacks on their property and lives. Ultimately, Lars must duel Dorik Harbin, the gunslinger sent to kill all who refuse to sign contracts with Humphries Space Systems. As in Greek tragedy, from which the author openly draws, there's no happy ending, only deception, gory murder, exile and planned revenge. Archetypal rather than well-rounded, characters suffer more from their own fatal flaws, hubrischief among them, than from each other's actions. Ambitiously juggling elements of space opera, western and Sophoclean drama, Bova keeps the pages turning. FYI:A past SFWA president, Bova has won six Hugo Awards.