I have enjoyed most of the things Stirling and Drake have put out (c’mon, Drake is an ex-11th ACR guy so he’s got an automatic in). This is one of the books I keep as I cycle through paperbacks and jettison most of those I dislike or don’t care to read again.
Raj Whitehall and his computer pal have now reunited their planet (Bellevue) and are extending their reach to the stars in an attempt to recreate the Federation of Man. In this part of the saga, two young boys handle a “meteorite” that is in the process of being shipped to a new location on the planet Visager. Through this physical contact, Center has made some type of connection to their brains and can not only communicate with them, but also allows them to communicate with one another mentally and with the avatar of Raj Whitehall. (OK, so this is science fantasy.)
Civilization on Visager broke down into several competing societies on one large horseshoe shaped island and another smaller island. The bad guys, known as the Chosen, were defeated in an earlier conflict and booted off the main island to the smaller one. They have created a militaristic society with the goal of reuniting Visager under their control. If you have read any part of the Draka series you will be familiar with the tenets of this dysfunctional country. Several other countries exist in semi-harmony on the main island continent and all have turned their face away from the long term Draka… I mean Chosen… threat.
The two boys represent agents of change and are guided through their lives by Raj and Center, the computer.They become industrialists and developers of technology on their planet under Center’s guidance. Their long term planning allows the Chosen to be defeated in a series of wars that wrest away the initiative from the Chosen.
I enjoyed the book mainly because it has a lot of military action in it and I think the underlying idea is fun. More important, it takes place in a 1915 to 1925 type technological environment so the era is not one I am completely familiar with and gives me a break from other wars in which I am interested. I think it shows how one can take this period and construct ImagiNations out of it that could be fun to build up and in which to game.