Gabe is a child of Socialist America, a true Territorial, educated in a full tour of the Cibola System. But the clock may be ticking on the Territories. The New Federalists seem to be gaining ground in the East, and there are indications that when next the Federal Expeditionary Command turns its attention to the territorial republics they may have something more than the usual “flower wars” in mind.
With his forty-fifth birthday staring him in the face, Gabe knows it’s high time he did something with his life, beyond puttering in the archive and constructing elaborate collages in his studio/study. Or maybe it’s past time. Some years back, the love of Gabe’s life left him to be the female messiah and spokes-model of the revived Saint-Simonian cult, and his current “girlfriend” is quite literally damaged goods—roughly decommissioned military materiel, in the form of a “minor military Madonna,” the cybernetic product of an experiment the Federals would dearly love to forget. She roams the abandoned military reserve that stretches from New Earth west nearly to the ocean. So does the “Man-Bear of the Saint Mary’s,” if the tabloids can be trusted, and everyone knows the woods are teeming with insect-machines. Things have arguably always been strange in New Earth, but the strangeness seems to be growing—all over the world, really.
Enter the Council of Councils (Universal Code Union, Owenite-Orthodox), who call on Gabe to attend an “Intergalactic Encounter” in the Marianas, where, in accordance with Fourierist prophecy, the ocean is turning into something very much like lemonade, and the first stirrings of the Era of Harmony seem to be repairing environmental damage that decades of anti-radiation remediation has hardly dented. Ill-prepared and armed with the most uncertain of mandates, Gabe flies off to give Radical Babelism and the Universal Code Communities a voice in what promises to be something of a replay of the Babelites favorite story.
Landing at Enewetak atoll, Gabe arrives in time to witness in person what most of us watched on tv—the terrorist attacks, the U. N. intervention, the Battle of the Lagoons—and those events send him off on a new journey, in the islands of the Free Fourierists and on the floating platforms of the Pyrate Archipelago, and there he begins his initiation in the mysteries of the Distributive Passions.