Karyn Fitzmanner, an inch-high adult in a race of tiny humans created by an alchemist, wants nothing more than to ride cats into battle against the city’s rat infestation, a service for which mini-folk such as she are well suited in a Biggie world. She comes from a family of circus performers and actors, but she seeks something more. She cherishes the comradeship of fellow riders and, hopes to win a spot with an elite troop. But her dreams become a nightmare and she must find new ways to serve. Along the way she discovers love and acceptance and her place in the world.
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In a dystopian Chicago of the future, gated communities at the edge of Lake Michigan and in the city’s former suburban sprawl house the elite behind high walls and mesh fences.
The lake front and the downtown streets of the old city beyond those walls are pockmarked with craters, marred by falling-down buildings, rife with the general destruction
caused by years of riot and near-civil-war. This is an area known as Outside. It is there that city residents without work permits are exiled. There, the refuse of the city
struggle to live while within the walls protecting the elite, residents without work assignments exist off-the-grid in a shadow world, avoiding detection by police and bounty hunters,
avoiding discovery and eviction. Juxtaposed to this shadow world are the inviting plazas offering diverse entertainment, restaurants, and quiet parks, along with skyscraper office
buildings. Everywhere one looks, service robots of various design are ubiqutous. They dominate the labor force to the point that laws dictate a proportion of human workers to the
number of robots.
The story follows the lives of a slacker struggling to exist, a cop using his authority to keep himself, his wife and his mistress in a state of near-luxury, and a government functionary
who does his job even if he doesn’t quite understand it.