No, that is not a raccoon. That is a ring tailed lemur. Never saw a ring tailed lemur? They look like this: Cool, no? Ya gotta love the black around the eyes and the triangle mouth and ….. OK, back to the book and why this guy is important.
OK, there is this colony on an asteroid which is about to be hit by another asteroid. Dang. And the travel agency assured us it was safe as houses.
Moving right along, there is a young American boy in Bangkok, son of Tellurite parents (no, not the mineral. Tellurite is a name the author gives to a faith-healing sect who do not believe in medical treatment.) His widowed mother buys him an NAI creature. He could pick any animal, and he liked this guy, which he named Monkey. Don’t know what an NAI is? You really have to get out more, sci fi-wise. Nearly sentient Artificial Intelligence. It is a computer in sheep’s clothing. Well, in this case, in lemur’s clothing.
Next we have a guy born and raised on Mars. (Mars people are quite a bit taller than earthlings. Did you know that? Try to keep up.)
Both of these characters end up on an extremely distant asteroid which is now Agnus Dei University, which has an extremely strange faculty. And some extremely strange students as well.
From here, we go to refugee camps on earth, where persecuted groups are being encouraged to take their communities and emigrate to asteroids and found new colonies where they can live in peace and safety. Kind of like Pilgrims in space suits.
As you may have guessed by now, this is a sci fi story in the hard science genre, a coming of age story with political overtones of the world-domination conspiracy trope.
I LOVED this book. It has great, believable characters, and of course, who doesn’t love a ring tailed lemur NAI with a smart mouth and a loving disposition? And travel to distant celestial bodies?
Oh yeah, and that asteroid in imminent danger? Will the 80,000 inhabitants be saved? Or will they become star dust? Not telling you. Read the book. Do I have to do everything for you?
Almost forgot. Sigh. I have the memory of a gnat. M. H. Van Keuren is guilty of the authorship of Rhubarb, a wacky sci fi-ish tale of aliens with a sweet tooth…. or whatever it is they use to chew with.