Priscilla “Hutch” Hutchinson’s fifth adventure opens with the former starship pilot deskbound at the Academy (the twenty-third-century equivalent of NASA), which is facing catastrophic cuts to the space program. In a media campaign led by Hutch’s old friend, acerbic newspaper editor Gregory MacAllister, pundits and politicians alike argue that the program’s money would be better spent on the earthbound threats of global warming and disease. Perhaps not coincidentally, humans everywhere from Earth to Ophiuchi begin witnessing repeated visitations from “moonriders” (apparently alien spherical spacecraft), and they prompt an Academy investigative mission. To humor Hutch and grab a good story, MacAllister joins a spacebound team including a celebrated pilot and a senator’s daughter. When the moonriders apparently redirect a few asteroids to destroy an orbiting hotel and narrowly bypass Earth, suspicions begin to emerge that the moonriders–and certain members of the Academy–may not be what they seem to be. McDevitt’s energetic, character-driven prose serves double duty by exploring Earth’s future political climate and forecasting the potential dangers awaiting humanity among the stars.