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I'm trying to find a novel I read as a mass market paperback. There were planets with some sort of valuable resource but the resource was in areas behind "curtains." All the space age technology stopped working behind the curtains and the protagonists and antagonists had to use Elizabethan-era cannons and guns (single-shot?). I seem to recall carts on rails carrying the resources and being pushed through the curtains.

Both sides used "greys" (aliens) as slave labor to do the actual extraction. During the course of the novel, there are several daring privateering-type raids and one of the protagonists begins to have doubts about using greys as slaves. I think one of the characters or their ships was called "Tolliver."

Any ideas?

  • Some aspects of this match Jack Chalker's The Well of Souls books. A planet divided into hexes, each of which only supports a certain tech level. It had high tech, middle tech, and low tech societies adjacent to each other on the same planet. But it has nothing about "greys", mining precious resources, etc. that I remember. – Jim2B Mar 11 '15 at 19:52
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I found it! It's called "Igniting the Reaches", part of the "Reaches" series by David Drake.

In a distant galaxy where immense danger threatens, desperate pirates travel to the outer limits of space, doing trade with the star colonies and encountering rivals, aliens, and strange human hybrids.

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  • 1
    Don't forget to mark your own answer as accepted :-) – Valorum Jul 19 '15 at 9:12

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