Paperback: 384 pages
Publisher: Orbit (24 Oct 2002)
This is the second in of MacLeod's Engines of Light series.
Politics continues - there's a weird setup on Croatan, including a genuine stone-age civilisation that uses hang gliders. And when Matt Cairns and Co. come visiting, well, they just don't seem to be able to avoid starting revolution.
It's probably just as well that interstellar travel is limited - not by cost, not by route restrictions, not by politics, but by the fact that interstellar travel happens at the speed of light, and no faster. This is an interesting twist on the usual space opera motifs, since firstly no signal can get to a destination faster than a ship, but secondly, because the ship is at light speed, it experiences no time, and thus can neither send nor receive signals itself. If it sets off for a destination,the next thing the crew knows, they're there. And although a short trip of a mere half decade may not be a problem, for longer trips, they can only guess what they're going to find at their destination.