By Bruce Sterling
Spread thin, mankind struggles to hold itself together.
Mankind has scattered throughout the stars, inhabiting every celestial body with enough size and value to justify a colony. Within these communities various cliques spring up, each propagating their own model for an orderly society. Over time new cliques form, pushing old ones to the fringe in an ongoing war of politics and economics.
The story follows Abelard Lindsay as he navigates the tumultuous sea of ideologies. Each chapter reads like its own short story. Abelard repeatedly reinvents himself to adapt to changing circumstances, sometimes changing so drastically that it’s hard to believe this is the same character.
The text itself is a good, challenging read. The story raises numerous questions about society and identity, but rarely lingers on any one topic long enough to reach any conclusions. Instead it is left to the audience to engage these topics further. It’s difficult to walk away with any real conclusions, and I believe that’s by design. It mimics the central challenge of the story, maintaining a sense of self in an ocean of ever changing ideologies.