By the early 22nd century, artificially created life-forms--mycora--that can dissolve stone, metal, flesh, anything, with terrifying speed, have taken over the Earth, the Moon, and Venus; the only human survivors cower behind biological barriers far away in the asteroids (the Gladholders) or the moons of Jupiter and Saturn (the Immunity). The dissenting Temples of Transcendent Evolution, however, admire the Mycosystem and are seeking ways to study it, perhaps even cooperate with it, an idea rejected as impossible by the Immunity's chief scientist, Vaclav Lottick. Instead, Lottick prepares a spaceship with novel defenses to probe the Mycosystem and set detectors down on Mars and Earth's polar regions, where, for some reason, the mycora can't flourish. But the Gladholders report humans living, apparently normally, on both Venus and Earth, so maybe the Temples are correct. Eventually the ship, captained by Darren Wallich and with journalist and narrator John Strasheim aboard, gets under way, but not before it's been attacked by spore-bearing Temple fanatics. And soon Strasheim discovers an eavesdropping device aboard--but who's listening? One of the crew turns out to be a Temple agent, but the others bundle her out of the airlock just before the spores she carries internally can explode into a deadly bloom. Pursued by a fleet of Temple ships, Wallich heads for Earth, only to discover that the detectors he's supposed to plant are actually bombs. Finally, the Mycosystem attacks the ship--or is it some weird attempt to communicate? Despite some conceptual problems, an ingenious yarn with challenging ideas, well-handled technical details and plenty of twists and turns: a whopping improvement on Murder in the Solid State (1996), though the sophomoric narrative voice is dismayingly similar.