This is a compelling and readable sophomore effort from Buckell; he's taken a number of hoary science fiction tropes and breathed new life into them -- from the interface of man and machine to
evil alien overlords and their traitorous human servants. His worldbuilding is beyond solid and his characters are
sympathetic and highly memorable.

Humans are confined to reservations and habitats run by alien rulers called the Satrapy; while technically free, they're really slaves. A scant handful of worlds have cut themselves off from the Satrapy, their only contact with the greater universe being through a network of loosely connected smugglers and pirates called the Ragamuffins. For years, the Raga have been tolerated by the Satrapy, but they are now engaged in a campaign to destroy them.

In the midst of this is Nashara, a woman less human than machine, bound and determined to get home -- and she may be the key to humanity's true freedom. (Tor, Jun., 320 pp., $24.95)
Reviewed by: 
Natalie A. Luhrs