Paperback: 630 pages
Publisher: Berkley Publishing Group (Jun 1977)
This was apparently published originally as two novels - Rissa Kerguelen and The Long View. But it reads as a single long novel. Indeed, some reviews of the title indicate that the first half of this book appear to be the middle part of a trilogy, with the second half winding things up.
This story is set in the UET Universe - a Thatcherite wonderland where United Energy and Transport has won the contract to govern what used to be the USA. IN addition, the workhouse has made a comeback, with a sizeable proportion if the population 'in Welfare' - dormitory style blocks where anyone allegedly unable to make it is housed, and made to work for a pittance that supposedly will one day repay their debts but that, for some reason, never does.
Yet somehow, they've left a loophole. One perhaps designed to give hope to the downtrodden to make them less likely to rise up. They have a lottery, and Welfare child Rissa, locked up because of the political views of her parents, wins it. Avoiding the traps of UET, and intertwined with the Argentine-based Hulzein dynasty, she then leaves Earth for the colonies.
Where, many years later (Lorentz-Fitzgerald time contraction, you know), she arrives. And gets involved with Bran Tregare, a piratical seeming skipper of the only armed ship to have mutinied against UET.
In many respects, I found this read much like mid-period Heinlein. But with more sex. Busby likes sex, or at least his characters spend much of their time indulging in it, usually consensually. Rissa herself is somewhat mentally scarred by having been abused, but does come to enjoy the end - ah yes, the 'all women need is a good shag' line, except that that's not quite what happens here - it's more natural lustiness coming through as she rediscovers her confidence and freedom.
The other Busby trope is the lack of Faster Than Light travel. Each time our protagonists have to go from one place to another, they lose years. Anyone who's ever gone somewhere is said to 'have two ages' - the calender age, and the bio age. It makes for interesting plotting, since trying to synchronise anything when the time it takes a message to get to another planet is measured in years means that UET, back on Earth, effectively get decades to entrench their position.
In general, fun without being anything astonishing.