The science vessel Hermes has been urgently recalled from its mission to survey the moons of Saturn, just as First Officer Miranda Lee receives bad news from home - her mother is dying so she must leave the ship and return to Earth - for good. Commander Scott McNabb is so distraught by her sudden decision to leave that he pays little or no attention to the parameters of the new mission being requested by the Council of Europa. Big mistake.
Powerful forces on Earth are now moving to resume inter-AI communications, risking the development of an all-out war. But other powers within the System are also mobilizing to prevent them from achieving their objective. Scott and the remaining crew of the Hermes are totally unaware that they are now at the very nexus of an inter-planetary battle - and ultimately heading toward disaster.
As the mission starts to fall apart Scott begins to realize the secrets that the ship’s QI, Aria, has been hiding from them all along. Secrets that could tip the balance of power within the System. He must now put aside all thoughts of Miranda and focus on trying to save his crew - including Aria. Failure to do so could ultimately plunge the entire System into total chaos.
No pressure, then.
The story is set a few centuries into the future where humanity has colonized most of the inner solar system. The asteroid belt (The Belt) is now a hive of mining activity and ships ply the trade routes to Earth and Mars. The technology depicted is, for the most part, what I consider to be technically plausible, although I do stretch it a little with quantum entanglement. That said, you won’t need a calculator or a slide-rule to enjoy the story.