Baroque Space, with wings.
A few people I have seen say this reminds them of Zelazny. Not getting that at all, and I have read a whole bunch of the aforementioned, possibly I missed something.
Robert A. Heinlein's generational Universe Ship structure and competing ship factions, yes. Old Dr Who episodes, absolutely (minus the sex and swords - adding sex and swords to stuff is usually a good thing, and certainly is here). Adding Reynoldsesque strange tech is also cool.
There is however something missing in Dust, the majority of the first part of the book seems to stutter in and out of Bear's writing style, perhaps that is deliberate, but it is certainly no way as polished a novel as Undertow, or even Carnival.
I think it improves somewhat when a little more of the actual technological elements of the situation appear, which gets it back into rhythm.
An interesting book, but nothing special - I am guessing this might be one of those cases of the rare trilogy where the second is better.
The people in the book so far, to me, weren't as interesting as the behind the scenes powers could be part of the reason.
I'd call this a little under 3.5.
3.5 out of 5