Bear, Elizabeth -- Carnival

I didn't like Hammered much, but Bear has gotten much better at dropping in vast swathes of background without stopping the story dead at the outset. This is a standalone in which a not-very-admirable Terran empire is taking back a bunch of emancipated colonies (which are not necessarily that admirable either). One colony is More Than It Seems. It's a character story on top of politics on top of culture clash, and all of these levels are well-done.

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