I'm coming late to the game, but I'm 1300 words into something since lunchtime. Should make the 25th deadline!
I recently started The Reality Dysfunction. I guess I am reversing history with PFH, having already devoured and loved his Commonwealth Universe series.
I spent two weeks trying to remember the title for (b) when the question was posted on stack exchange. I found it by brute force:
Thank you for this response. I found one on-line and started rereading it already.
Smith certainly did not shrink from genocide:
From the Wikipedia article about Skylark DuQuesne