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I just don’t know. This book took me an unreasonably long time to read. I just couldn’t get into it as easily as I did the first book in the series, “Excelsior”. This book is not without a good story although it does get a little confusing at times. Now that the “Mindscape” or virtual reality has really set in on the humans of Earth, they’re having trouble getting people to stay in the real world. You can’t spend all your time in the Mindscape since you do have bodily functions that must be taken care of in the real world, and it’s actually illegal to spend all your time hooked up in a virtual reality world. But, there are some people already pushing the amount of time they do spend there. The Alliance Government has seen fit to hand out so much money that most people have chosen not to work and will live with the minimum essentials in the real world. The Government dole has become so pronounced that a whole class of citizens are known as “dolers”, and they do nothing, but spend what little money they have on the mindscape.

Admiral Alexander de Leon, who saved the world in the first book, has experienced the Mindscape and found it to be an unsatisfactory reality that ruined his marriage. While he had retired from the Navy after the Last War, he and his wife spent so much time in the Mindescape that they lost touch with each other. When Admiral de Leon found his wife in bed with another man in the Mindscape, he decide that they needed to go their separate ways. So, after 30 years, he’s back in the Navy. But, the Navy isn’t what it used to be since there hasn’t bee anyone to defend against for the last 30 years. Most of the ships have grown old and have not kept up with technology. There is thought that eventually the Alliance Government might have to scrape all its space ships to save money that it desperately doesn’t have. Still, the Solarians are out there. These are the people that left Earth a while back to set up their own civilization on Mars. They have grown quite well and now are thought to be a possible threat to the Alliance back on Earth.

That threat seems to materialize when super fast missiles are detected in-bound for the domed city at Luna Base. Admiral de Leon commands the N.W.A.S. Adamantine and is ordered to intercept and destroy those missiles before they can harm the moon base and it’s two million inhabitants. (Why is an Admiral commanding a just a single spaceship?) Whether he accomplishes this mission or not, the Alliance is now at war with someone. Those someone’s are very deadly and must be dealt with or Earth’s future stands in jeopardy.

The story seemed to drag in places. I don’t think it was that there are two different threads going, one about his step-son and what he’s doing, and the other about Admiral de Leon, but it seemed like the stuff about his son was particularly boring until you find out what his part in this whole book is about. Also, with the Mindscape clearly part of what’s going on in the world and considering what the author did to us in the last book, I couldn’t seem to trust anything I was reading as the real story! Even now, when it’s over and Admiral de Leon and his previously estranged wife are now together and heading out to the stars, I’m still not sure if that’s real. I hope there never comes a day in my life where I can’t tell a virtual world from the real one, or maybe I’m already in a virtual world and have never seen the real world????

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