It is the near-future, and in the wake of the Meme Wars, the world's population is much reduced, although, thanks to One True, the winning software meme, humankind is now a cooperative, noncompetitive species. One True manages the survivors by controlling both memory and the autonomic nervous system, and a copy runs in the mind of everyone on earth. Or almost everyone. Occasional cowboys, such as the one known as Lobo, purge themselves of One True, unplug from the global network, and survive by raiding civilized settlements.
Currie Culver is the bounty hunter who brought Lobo down--killing him, he believed, years ago in the Rocky Mountains. When One True informs Currie that Lobo survives, Currie must ride out once again on Lobo's trail. What follows is a splendid mix of Western, moral argument, and philosophical treatise. In a skirmish, Currie's copy of One True is damaged, and he is taken to a hideout where the wily Lobo begins to deprogram him. All, of course, is not as it seems.
It could be said that Barnes, best known for the juvenile space novel Orbital Resonance and the decidedly adult disaster tale Mother of Storms, occasionally allows his characters to degenerate into talking heads, but for most readers the meat of the matter will be the hugely enjoyable (if rather basic) examination of that place where the interests of the individual, society, and human identity collide. --Luc Duplessis [via]