A sci-fi murder mystery in the 31st century.
In the future humanity has spread throughout the universe in a Golden Age technology, exploration and co-operation between the various forms of consciousness. In an era of benign diversity and tolerance a way has been found for artificial intelligences, androids, mechanised sentients (mekanoids), genetically engineered humanoids and natural humans to co-exist together, but there are inevitable tensions because the Right to Life Party has insisted on an intrinsic bias towards natural evolution from the outset.
At the tail end of a devastating war an acolyte has been sent to a redundant prison planet. As part of his novitiate he has been apprenticed to Commander-General Erinei du B'lanche, erstwhile military leader and First Sword of the Confederation of United Intelligences, but now at the end of hostilities reduced to a token supervisor of the prison. The planet is in caretaker mode, in virtual shutdown, with only a skeleton staff to oversee basic maintenance. A series of killings shocks the remaining personnel. These officers are a complement of genetically engineered humanoids (Jenes), and their society is rigidly controlled by gene editing and a law code known as the Principles. Selected genes dedicated to aggression have been eradicated, and strict behavioural conditioning is mandated through compulsory social childcare. Murder is regarded as impossible in their culture. Yet it appears to have happened, and the acolyte is caught up in the investigation. He joins a team led by du B'lanche, which has to cross a planet in lockdown to try to identify and neutralise the culprit. But the way is fraught with danger, both from the past and the present, and the acolyte is forced to confront the legitimacy of his culture and his own version of ethics and history. Nothing is as it seems, but the truth might set him free, if he can trust himself to follow one of the greatest military strategists of all time.
The start of an odyssey into the future of consciousness, and responsibility, where molecular computers can turn the virtual into reality, and holographs into action.