Geoff and his friends live in Phocaea, a distant asteroid colony on the Solar System's frontier. They're your basic high-spirited young adults, enjoying such pastimes as hacking matter compilers to produce dancing skeletons that prance through the low-gee communal areas, using their rocket-bikes to salvage methane ice shrapnel that flies away when the colony brings in a big (and vital) rock of the stuff, and figuring out how to avoid the ubiquitous surveillance motes.
"Very old school SF, in ways good and bad"
Ruby runs waldoes. Freelance. Construction, security - no job too large or small. And her favorite tool is Golem, 600 pounds of vaguely human-shaped, remote-operated power. Not an easy living, but it's better than most in half-sunken, greenhouse-heated, 21st-century New York. Best of all the waldoes go Outside, not Ruby. Ruby hates the Outside. But when a Ruby/Golem tries to rescue a rich Egyptian from a collapsing skyscraper, and accepts the papers he presses into her hands as he dies, Ruby's in trouble.
In the parched twenty-first century Southwest, Carli D'Auber has made the most important discovery of the century. She has pioneered a new form of communications: It is now possible to send your consciousness across hundreds of thousands of miles, to be present in another country or in another world, through a remote device. But powerful forces have seized control of her invention. A globe-spanning corporation has taken the credit for its discovery.
More than 100 years after a small band of humans stole an antimatter-fueled starship and headed away at near-lightspeed, a colony of those renegades' descendants are now struggling to survive on Brimstone, a barely-habitable world of ice and bitter cold four dozen light-years from Earth. In the long run, they hope to slowly terraform Brimstone, making it, if not Earthlike, at least bearable. In the short run-well, life is hard, and everyone lives in everyone else's laps. Not easy for anyone. Particularly Manda....