It is the 23rd century. Herb, a young entrepreneur, returns to the isolated planet on which he has illegally been trying to build a city - and finds it destroyed by a swarming nightmare of self-replicating machinery. Worse, the all-seeing Environment Agency has been watching him the entire time. His punishment? A nearly hopeless battle in the farthest reaches of the universe against enemy machines twice as fast, and twice as deadly, as his own - in the company of a disarmingly confident AI who may not be exactly what he claims.
Little does Herb know that this war of machines was set in motion nearly 200 years earlier - by mankind itself. For it was then that a not-quite-chance encounter brought a confused young girl and a nearly omnipotent AI together in one fateful moment that may have changed the course of humanity forever.
"Overflowing with provocative ideas, Ballantyne's debut displays enviable mastery of both suspenseful storytelling and technological extrapolation. Mark him as a writer of considerable promise." (Booklist)
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