Tor, May 2004, 24.95, 379 pp.
Earth still remains in the cataclysmic grip of economic failure coupled with crippling environmental disaster. Little hope remains on the planet with the best chance to renew the orb being the vastly rich asteroid belt. Though the potential wealth seems astronomical, two rivals have merged trying to gain control of the resources (see THE ROCK RATS). Pancho Lane heads Astro Corporation while Martin Humphries leads Humphries Space Systems with the former wanting to share the affluence in an effort to save earth and humanity while the latter wants to control everything and everyone.
Pirate Lars Fuchs lost his beloved spouse Amanda to Humphries when she offered herself in exchange for his freedom several years ago. Not long afterward, Amanda dies giving birth. Humphries assumes that the child is of his sperm and so does Lars who is still mourning his loss and seeking revenge by killing Humphries. Meanwhile on a solar system level, the conflict between Astro Corporation and Humphries Space Systems flares encouraged by a third interested party, Yamagata Corporation, who plans to gain control of everything once the two giants pound each other into stardust.
This exciting tale is a terrific conclusion to the action-packed Asteroid Wars (see THE PRECIPICE and THE ROCK RATS). The story line moves faster than the speed of life until the final confrontation. Though Martin remains as an extreme example of a mega maniac, the rest of the cast does not seem as one dimensional.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner