This story is set in a future almost diametrically opposite from
Schwartz Between the Galaxies: the entire world has become one large city, and it's divided up into millions of small communities, each as self-contained as they can make themselves, with their own governments, customs, and ways of life. Contact between the communities is limited and often hostile. All of them rely heavily on computers and automation for day-to-day functions, and when Ganfield Hold's master program is stolen, things start to deteriorate quickly. The climate-control systems break down and can't be repaired, garbage collection gets hung up on a malfunction in the compactors, and robot security units go inactive. The man whose
month-wife (a term never fully explained, though there's an obvious basic interpretation) stole the program is sent to bring it back. His journey across the communities of Conning Town, Hawk Nest, and Kingston is fraught with danger and strangeness. A frightening but unlikely future by 90s standards. The Schwartz scenario seems more likely.