Paperback: 256 pages
Publisher: Futura Publications; New Ed edition (1 Jan 2000)
This is a fourth volume, or possibly a zeroeth volume, in the Song of Earth series, touching as it does on the ancestry of Manuel from The Celestial Steam Locomotive. It's still far in our future, but it's a long way in the past of that volume. It's apparently set on the Atlantic Coast of South America, where wooden sailways have monorail sailing cars plying their trade up and down the coast. The True Humans are the owners and operators of the sail cars, but they rely on the (originally artificial but now true breeding) human-animal hybrids of the region, particularly the Felinos (and Felinas).
The problem is, El Tigre, leader of the Felinos, hates the humans, and dreams of revolution.
The mysterious Dedo is still coldly manipulating humanity (still? - this is thousands of years earlier - well, you know what I mean) in order to eventually lead to the freedom of the godlike Starquin from his prison a mere 60 light years in extent. And by the nature of Coney's story devices, we see multiple story paths on occasion, with not-necessarily-worse outcomes elsewhere.
On finishing this, I felt as though I'd drunk the last bottle of a never-to-be-repeated vintage.