Earth Made of Glass
by John Barnes
Tor, 1998, ISBN 0-312-85851-5
This is the sequel to A Million Open Doors, which was my introduction to Barnes. It’s twelve years later, Giraut and Margaret are agents of the Office of Special Projects of the Council of Humanity, they’re feeling middle-aged, and they’ve just had their vacation cut short for a new assignment to a really unpleasant planet. On Briand, two cultures that were artificial literary recreations and not overly tolerant of alternative viewpoints to begin with have been forced by inconvenient natural phenomena to live rather closer together than was envisioned when these two cultures were sold this very last of the partially-terraformable worlds at the end of the colonization period. And then things start to go wrong for Giraut, Margaret, and everyone else.
This is not a happy book, but it is consistently interesting. I should perhaps mention, for those who were put off by the violence of Mother of Storms and Kaleidescope that it has very little of that kind of graphic violence.