Superficially, Dust is a story of immortal space aliens who travel the universe trying to bail worlds out of the troubles they get themselves into. But those and other fantastical characters are a means of concisely giving focus to a perspective of the history of humanity, beginning with the cave paintings at Vallon-pont-d'Arc about 30 millennia ago and culminating on 9/11 in the first year of this millennium, with the continuing terror in the Middle East. Most of the story is the civil rights issues of the twentieth century, from the Russian revolutions through the Montgomery bus boycott to the Palestinian problem, showing both failures and successes. Or maybe the explicit cosmology is correct! Who kws?
Billy Lee Harman grew up in poverty in a small town in south-central Michigan. His teachers there called him an under-achiever, but eventually he earned a baccalaureate degree in English after falling short of traveling around earth twice by missing the longitudes between Cam Ranh Bay and Bangkok and before working more jobs than he says he thinks he can count. Now he has retired from working for money and filled that gap in his travel and returned to the snow and maple trees of his home town.