Nigel Walmsley, gifted scientist and insubordinate astronaut, kicks off his career with a tantalizing brush with a derelict alien spacecraft. Fifteen years later he is trying to establish communication with another ship; a few years after that he is on the Moon investigating an ancient, long-abandoned alien computer center with a possible link to the North Pacific Bigfoot. Feared and distrusted by assorted NASA muckety-mucks, he pursues a half-glimpsed dream against a background of Earthside pollution, cultural unrest, and increasing religious fanaticism. An ambitious narrative, but many of its ambitions are curiously perfunctory. Benford seems basically uninterested in the busy details of socio-cultural change and space hardware that crowd his canvas. An intermittently moving love story is burdened by the detritus of chic (the making of the breakfast soufflÃ‰) and is linked to a portrayal of alien attempts at transverbal communication--sometimes exciting, sometimes just hifalutin. All in all: full of possibilities, but unfocused and labored.