The Exile Waiting by Vonda N. McIntyre

(1976) is pretty good. It is set in a far future in which Earth and its early colonies have been mostly abandoned by the more advanced civilization on the outer surface of the Sphere of exploration. Most of the humans left on Earth are living in an ancient bomb shelter and the cave system surrounding it. The story involves a young telepathic girl (with several brothers and sisters sharing more or less similar gifts), the local ruler who controls starship traffic and regulates interstellar commerce into Earth, and several visitors to Earth, arriving in a ship that lands unexpectedly during a surface sandstorm. The ship's two captains are the most interesting characters in the book. Though not biologically related, they were raised from birth in identical artifical environments, so that they had, upon exiting their creche and entering the real world, identical personalities. Since then they have been growing different, and there is an increasing tension between them. The interactions between them and with the other characters make the book worth reading. Various things happen. It's not nearly as good as her Dreamsnake, but it's better than her Star Trek novels. (4/95)

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