|Caught violating Earth's Zero Tolerance for Violence laws, Peter Novilio is sentenced to a one-way trip to Hell, Earth's prison planet in the Zeta Tucanae system. Hell is forever: Two centuries earlier its ecosphere had been infected with microscopic nanomachines that destroy electrical conductors, condemning its inmates to a neo-Victorian steam-and-gaslight society without computers, spaceflight, or any hope of escape.|
Peter soon learns that he has been framed by Earth's paranoid world government, and is offered a pardon in return for conducting a reconnaissance mission to Hell and back. There are hints that Hell is developing impossible technologies or has even neutralized the wire-eating nanobugs entirely. How he will return from Hell is a secret known only to his grim mission partner, agent Geyl Shreve of Earth's shadowy Special Implementer Service.
But Peter has a secret as well: He is a member of the outlawed Sangruse Society, and in his blood flows the Sangruse Device, Version 9, the most powerful nanocomputer AI ever created. Although supposedly Peter's protector and advisor, the Device answers to no one but the Society's mysterious leader, and has reasons of its own for visiting Hell. Peter soon discovers that he is little more than a disguise, caught in a covert war among Earth, a revolutionary group bent on overthrowing Earth's government, Hell's ingenious inmates, and the deadly mechanism in his veins. For as fearsome as it is, the Sangruse Device itself is afraid'and the fates of whole worlds would be decided by the threat that the Cunning Blood has discovered outside of space and time