God, I can’t get enough of CJ Cherryh’s world. This book follows the life of a group of miners who live their lives in the “Belt” here in our own solar system. The theme of “heavy time” — necessary time they must spend in 1g gravity aboard space stations in between mining runs (there’s no artificial gravity in this world) — is ongoing throughout the novel.
It’s a story set in the time before the Company/Union wars, when life was tough for those ruled by the Earth Company, and personal ships in the belt were largely at the mercy of directed “beams” of energy (caught by large sails) sent from mining station HQ’s. The people are hesitant about the future — they know the strength of the Union that lives in the “Beyond,” as they call it, and they live in constant fear of some great big rock being dropped into their system at relativistic speeds, aimed straight towards Earth.