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The year is 2020. It's 17 years since the Revolution overthrew the last king of the New British Empire, and the newly reconstituted North American Commonwealth is developing rapidly, on course to defeat the French and bring democracy to a troubled world. But Miriam Burgeson, commissioner in charge of the shadowy Ministry of Intertemporal Research and Intelligence - the paratime espionage agency tasked with catalyzing the Commonwealth's great leap forward - has a problem. For years she's warned everyone: "The Americans are coming." Now their drones arrive in the middle of a succession crisis, for their leader, First Man Adam, is dying of cancer, and the vultures are circling.
In another timeline the US has recruited Rita, Miriam's own estranged daughter, to spy across timelines in order to bring down any remaining world-walkers who might threaten national security. But her handlers are keeping information from her.
Two nuclear superpowers are set on a collision course. Two increasingly desperate paratime espionage agencies are fumbling around in the dark, trying to find a solution to the first contact problem that doesn't result in a nuclear holocaust. And two women - a mother and her long-lost adopted-out daughter - are about to find themselves on opposite sides of the confrontation.
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Per on 05-20-18
Interesting setting, poor format
The setting and story are compelling enough, yet I feel the way it is written does not do it any favours. While the idea to use a clueless recruit as the vehicle for introducing an established setting to new readers might be good, when the execution is a mind-numbing set of exposition scenes and ‘Huh? What? Eh?’ by the main protagonist, it really, really gets annoying. The between-chapters setups work poorly in an audio format, but strike me as terribly inelegant overall and not really suitable for this story in any format. It steals momentum and excitement from the main chapters.
A story I finished despite the way it was told, because the setting has merit. Will be researching further books in this setting eventually, but currently I would rather point people to selected Laundry Files and the magnificent Accelerando if they really want to enjoy an on-point Stross.
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