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THE PEACE WAR [b1]
The Peace War, by Vernor Vinge. This was serialized in Analog May to August 1984, and was a Hugo nominee.
The Peace Authority ruled the world, having taken advantage of opportunity plus technology. From their orbital enclaves, they could generate force-field bubbles ("bobbles") that would cut off their target from the rest of the world - forever. This worked on missiles, atomic explosions - even as they happened - airplanes, cities… anything. With the world on the brink of war - they put anyone they considered a threat in a "bobble," and then laid down new laws to the survivors: no high-density power sources, no experimentation with nucleonics or biology. But any technological edge only lasts so long, and they did not suspect that the man they sought most, as the inventor of the "bobble," was still living, disguised and thriving as a Tinker. Paul Naismith had escaped their net, and the Tinkers formed a high-tech underground dedicated to the downfall of the Peace Authority. Then some of the Bobbles started to decay (including one with an exploding A-bomb inside), and only Naismith had a chance of figuring out the actual mechanism and timing of their decay - if he can stay free. For the Peace Authority, feeling their grip on the world starting to slip, have decided to crack down on the Tinkers.