serial summary of the sequence of fight scenes in Poul Anderson's "Brake." However, I have at last come across the reason behind the fighting.
As I said before, the Solar Union period of Anderson's Psychotechnic History divides into a "social" trilogy and a "political" tetralogy. The "social" stories are, respectively, pre-Humanist, post-Humanist and extrasolar. The "political" stories feature:
Humanist conspirators with an asteroid base;
a Humanist Dictator on Earth;
psychotechnic conspirators on Callisto and Ganymede;
Western Reformist conspirators with an asteroid base (in "Brake").
The Western Reformists want to hijack a spaceship in order to supply their base. "Holmgang" and The Snows Of Ganymede had told us that opposition to Western technic society emanated from Asia. Now, this Oriental opposition has crystallized around Kali worship, which has even spread to North America and has generated its own opponents, the puritanical, pro-technological Western Reformists. Western Terrestrial women are described as "...crop-headed, tight-lipped, sad-clad..." (Cold Victory, p. 233) We really needed a "social" story set on Western Earth during this period, not an interminable fight sequence grudgingly explaining itself after thirty four pages of text. (The fact that the ship is temporarily in free fall affects the movements of the combatants and their use of guns but otherwise there was no reason for these long passages to be sf.)
However, "Brake" does complete the account of social degeneration on Earth. When Banning suddenly starts talking about Terrestrial ideological conflicts (p. 234), it sounds like an arbitrary mishmash of labels but it does make sense that the failures first of the Psychotechnic Institute, then of the Humanist Dictatorship, would lead to an irreconcilable polarization along the lines laid out in this story.
As with all of Anderson's works, there is more than we expect to be found in the Psychotechnic History when we delve beneath its surface.