The belated sequel to Code of the Lifemaker (1983), Hogan's mildly satirical tale featuring an ecology composed entirely of machines derived from an alien factory that went haywire on Saturn's frigid, smoggy moon, Titan, a million years ago. The advanced, andromorph robot Taloids have constructed a medieval city-state culture. Leading the Earth contact team are talented illusionist Karl Zambendorf and chief scientist Werner Weinerbaum. The latter soon learns how to activate some huge, mysterious, apparently nonfunctional blocks of computer code (the machines' equivalent of DNA), and these prove to be the stored personalities of alien Borijans, who escaped their doomed planet but, because their ship was damaged on the journey, were never reconstituted. Once awake, however, Sarvik, his intelligent computer, GENIUS, and other Borijans prove to be wily, devious, and competitive. They easily persuade the gullible Weinerbaum to grant them access to the Earth uplink. Suddenly, Zambendorf--previously having frustrated an attempt by Earth industrialists to take over Titan's chaotic, evolving factories--and his Taloid allies find themselves in a struggle not only for Titan, but for the Earth itself. A beguiling and diverting yarn--once again, its benignly satirical elements help--that totters towards success despite a plot that grows increasingly more absurd.