(Ah, the lower-case “a” Ace colophon. I much prefer it to the capital A that showed up sometime after Baen started running Ace. What was it about him and publishers with triangular colophons)
Charles Sheffield (1935 – 2002), born in the UK but resident in the US for much of his life, was a moderately prolific science fiction writer, specializing what’s often called hard SF. You would therefore expect this particular book would be filled with mass ratios, slide-rules white-hot with the speed of calculation and engaging discussions of the implications of the Poynting-Robertson effect on deep space mining. Instead it is a glorious celebration of some of the wackier elements kicking around the United States deep in the now-legendary Disco Era.
2190(ish): three million humans live in space but the majority of the fourteen billion people alive live on an overcrowded Earth that is despite the best efforts of the experts of General Coordination teetering on the edge of collapse. Draconian measures to limit population growth1 have failed to produce a steady state and aside from one act of terrorism that killed a billion people, population has only crept ever closer to the the Malthusian limit. Space resources may help but they are only delaying the crisis and if Earth collapses, the United Space Federation will soon follow.