The Smoke Ring
by Larry Niven
Book 3 in The State series (1987)
Publisher: Del Rey
In the free-fall environment of the Smoke Ring, the descendants of the crew of the Discipline no longer remembered their Earth roots — or the existence of Sharls Davis Kendy, the computer-program despot of the ship. Until Kendy initiated contact once more.
Fourteen years later, only Jeffer, the Citizens Tree Scientist, knew that Kendy was still watching — and waiting. Then the Citizens Tree people rescued a family of loggers and learned for the first time of the Admiralty, a large society living in free fall amid the floating debris called the Clump. And it was likely that the Admiralty had maintained, intact, Discipline‘s original computer library.
Exploration was a temptation neither Jeffer nor Kendy could resist, and neither Citizens Tree nor Sharls Davis Kendy would ever be the same again…