Barington Bayley’s novels are about exploring ideas, in this case its high-stakes gambling. The stakes are high indeed for Scarne, a renegade mathematician working as an undercover agent to infiltrate the Grand Wheel. The Wheel is a consortium of gamblers, part Vegas, part Mafia. They are the alternative to the Legitimacy, the inter-stellar empire.
You’d thing the guys with blasters would have it all over the guys with cards, but the Legitimacy is engaged in a losing war with the Hadraonics. The complicating factor is they are fighting in a region where stars go super-nova without warning. Military commander Hakandra is relying on semi-mystic powers of a youth named Shane to understand when stars will explode.
Both the Wheel and the Legitimacy seeks to control the unpredictable, the Wheel the turn of cards in a game where the rules change from second to second, the Legitimacy the forces of nature and the course of war. Underneath the fast-paced space adventure is a meditation on powers that seek to control the uncontrollable and the manner in which they gamble with the lives of others.