In the far future, a young man stands on a barren asteroid. His ship has been stolen, his family kidnapped or worse, and all he has on his side is a semi-intelligent spacesuit. The only member of the crew to escape, Hari has barely been off his ship before. It was his birthplace, his home and his future.
He's going to get it back.
McAuley's latest novel is set in the same far-flung future as his last few novels, but this time he takes on a much more personal story. This is a tale of revenge, of murder and morality, of growing up and discovering the world around you. Throughout the novel we follow Hari's viewpoint, and as he unravels the mysteries that led to his stranding, we discover them alongside him. But throughout his journeys, Hari must always bear one thing in mind.
Nobody is to be trusted.
The fourth in McCauley's Quiet War space opera series (after In the Mouth of the Whale) is a typically imaginative and complex vision of the far future. Nineteen-year-old Gajananvihari "Hari" Pilot is a member of a family of junk peddlers, who salvage what machinery they can from derelict settlements. Hari, a clone of his deceased brother, is introduced in desperate circumstances; he's been living on a remote asteroid for over a month, following the hijacking of his family's spaceship. Hari was the only person to escape; he managed to take with him a human head that contains valuable research files. His dull, challenging, solitary existence is interrupted when his asteroid comes under attack; after surviving the assault, he escapes to seek the truth about his family's fate and the files' source and contents. The book's greatest strength is the detailed high-tech worldbuilding, which includes creations such as a cult whose members "infect themselves with mites that construct molecular archives in the bones of their skulls." The focus on only one character makes this installment easier to follow than its predecessors.