Look, I heard a lot of great things about James Tiptree Jr. She sounds like an extremely interesting person, and I'm told I should give her short stories a chance as that's really more her medium, but this book just ... wasn't good, and also was deeply problematic. I try to read books with respect to the time period they were written, and I know this was written in 1985, but even so.
I read a bunch of other reviews to try and figure out why anyone liked this book, and the most interesting one said that the author was probably writing about truly horrific things to reflect and highlight the truly horrific things in our real world. especially from her experience as an FBI agent. That might be the case, but none of the horrors really felt like they were being criticized to me.
The child porn stars are just that, and people are uncomfortable around them but no one really criticizes them and there are ample scenes where the girls in particular are naked and objectified. And the reward for one of the stars is to become a concubine to an eleven year old prince who just happens to be good at everything? And he picks her after studying her mom to make sure she'll age well? Then there's the weird father/daughter but want to bang non-relationship of Bram and Linnix, the flippant murder of a comatose teenager which I guess we're supposed to take as setting her free from the will of her sister who is also just sort of left in a coma, the fact that even the female character in command is described purely in terms of youth and beauty and the horror that she feels at her rapid aging is mostly because she's no longer hot enough for her hot husband? I could go on, but... man it doesn't get better. This isn't even getting into the aliens deciding what they really want is to be just like their colonizers including selling their bodily fluids to them.
Also everyone in this book is terrible at their job. Also everyone is either instantly way too intimate upon just meeting or completely lacks intimacy despite being married for years. Also, the “futuristic” dialogue hurts to read. Also, why give away your plot twist with a character who as “good hunches?”
Again, there's a world where I could respect this subject matter in the time period. I like the idea of porn stars saving a group of hapless researches. I like a lot of the progressive (for the time) ideas nearly buried under the problematic points. But none of it is done well or in a sensible way or gave me much of a foothold to enjoy the book. I haven't read any other Tiptree Jr., and if you haven't either I do not suggest starting here.