The only other book I've read by Varley is the relatively recent Steel Beach, which I enjoyed quite a bit, especially the opening line, which I still remember fondly to this day (if you've read the book you'll know what I'm talking about, if not, crack the book open in a bookstore and you'll see what I mean). The blueprint for a lot of the stuff in that novel can be found here, at least when it comes to Varley's worldview and his interpretation of SF. He does a clever thing in this novel and puts forward a situation that has already happened long in the book's past, so that while it informs the character's present actions, the reader wasn't really there for it, it's part of history. Here, the premise is that humanity has been kicked off Earth by the super-powerful Invaders, who apparently get along real well with dolphins and whatever lives inside Jupiter. Humanity, with nowhere left to go, spreads throughout the solar system and tries to make do with the fact that the homeworld is off limits. Over the years they've been getting all their information from something called the Hotline, a laser beam of information from an unknown source that they can only translate partially, but what they can figure out has made life interesting for everyone. In this novel, the presentation is just as important as the plot and Varley pulls out all the stops to depict his wild future history, of a human culture adapted to the stars, where sex changes and physical changes are completely ordinary . . . for all the wacky stuff, he manages to make it feel real, not an easy thing to do. The plot has to do with a man named Tweed trying to figure out how to get rid of the Invaders . . . to that end he gathers various people who have been kicked out of society and tries to use them . . . sometimes cloning them when things go slightly awry. The issues of cloning and genetics are consistently impressive and well thought out, almost surreal in a sense, especially when it focuses on the slightly rebellious main character Lilo, who keeps getting cloned more often than she'd like. Meanwhile just to make things more complicated, the Hotline seems to have sent along a phone bill, and no one is quite sure what that's supposed to mean. This is a lot of story for such a slim book and Varley manages to pull it off with a lot of skill, although the ending is still rather abrupt and the plot seems to lose focus toward the end. It can also be said that the idea of humanity playing third fiddle to just about everyone is sort of depressing and certainly not the most uplifting concept, but hey, life is like that sometimes. Not everything comes up roses all the time. His people soldier on anyway, determined to live their lives, even if in the cosmic scheme of things it's utterly pointless. Not a crowd pleasing premise, but the images and ideas he puts forward are amazing, his future is just as fully realized and complex as the real world and you won't regret any of the time you invest in both finding this book (I think it's still out of print, but far from rare) and reading it.