James P. Hogan
Baen, Apr 2008
In the middle of the twenty-first century the mega-conglomerate Interworld Restructuring Corporation controls much of earth and other planets through its questionable ethics enforced by its even less scrupulous military contractor, Milicorp Transnational. The Bill of Rights does not exist as those amendments were protection from government not corporations and was affirmed by Supreme Court judges.
Quantum physicist Marc Shearer has plenty of offers to join the weapons of mass destruction wing of MT, but prefers basic and applied research rather than experimental design so is on the outside not looking in. At the same time Marc studies physical reality, anthropologist Jerri Perlok is whimsically comparing the preening of the affluent elite to that of peacocks in heat.
People are vanishing on the recently found Cyrene while those still in contact seem to not care about anything; if it was just a civilian lost no one would care, but officials of IRC and officers of MT are some of the missing. Hard ass Myles “the Facilitator” Callen leads an expedition from earth to Cyrene to learn the truth. Marc was given no choice but to join the crew as his scientific mentor Dr. Evan Wade vanished while Jerri is also drafted due to her unique social anthropology skills of studying bizarre cultures like the rich and almost-famous.
This is a fascinating encounter between humans and a sentient species that thinks radically different. Whereas mankind is avariciou in its one for one belief that the individual matters regardless; the selfless Cyreneans feel everyone counts as no one is left behind. What makes James P. Hogan’s latest sci fi look at human avarice and the extrapolation of the Bush corpocracy is the reaction of the Cyreneans who understand revering teachers and doctors, but not social flits. This comparison of the two human species make for a strong social anthropological thriller as the greedy invoke the wrath of the God of Economics to save Wall St while the altruistic wonder why waste energy negatively when Main St needs help.