The author, James Wittenbach, sent this book to the LFS for review, and suggested that we might be interested because "strong currents of libertarian philosophy run through it". It's not from a major publisher, and the lack of editing shows. There are numerous repeated words, many misspellings, and sentence fragments in the narration where they are obviously not intended.
Those errors and distractions notwithstanding, it's a good read. The background is that humanity's galactic commonwealth fell apart over a 1000 years ago, leaving each separate world to get by on their own. Two planets, Sapphire (individualistic) and Republic (collectivist) have restored contact and joined forces to send ships out exploring in an attempt to regain contact and recreate a broader community. The author plans to write several novels in this setting (see the website www.worlds-apart.net for details). It's not a bad set-up for a series, but it's not well enough executed to justify much confidence that more will make it into print.
The contrast between Sapphire and Republic are supposed to drive some of the conflict, and create interesting conflicts between the characters. Unfortunately, a military expedition under constant pressure (the ship itself seems to be rebelling from the start) and in battle isn't' the best setting to show the differences between them.
The human civilization on Meridian, the planet visited in this book, has been taken over by an alien species that has managed to assimilate the human population. The explorers manage to avoid a similar fate, but it's mostly due to superior technology and luck, rather than character or the advantages individuals have over unthinking slaves. It's a fine read, though not a great one, and the libertarian themes aren't strong enough for me to recommend it to the attention of the Prometheus nominating committee.