Captain Luta Paixon of the far trader Tane Ikai needs to know why she looks like a woman in her thirties--even though she's actually eighty-four. She isn't the only one desperate for that information.
The explanation might lie with her geneticist mother, who disappeared more than sixty years ago. But even if her mother is still alive, it's proving to be no small task to track her down in the vast, wormhole-ridden expanse of Nearspace.
Roberta Stephenson is the daughter of the "father of railways"--a girl almost raised in the engine works and, through her experience and education in the most advanced halls of Miss Mather's Academy for Girls, fit to become manager and designer at her father's steamship yard on the Clyde. And Britain needs Roberta's expertise, for fate in this world has dealt more kindly with Napoleon, allowing him to extricate most of his army from Moscow in 1812, and granting him at least a draw at Leipzig in 1813.