The second of Carver's independently intelligible Chaos Chronicles (Neptune Crossing, 1994) featuring surveyor John Bandicut who--aided by his superintelligent, disembodied cranial lodger, the quarx--saved the Earth from being blasted by a comet. For his pains, Bandicut is whisked thousands of light-years away to a mysterious place called the Metaworld, a vast aggregation of physical locations and habitats interconnected by various means. It is menaced, Bandicut learns, by an insensate ``boojum,'' a powerful, cunning, immaterial entity seemingly intent on destroying the entire structure. Slowly, Bandicut and his robot companions acquire allies: the solitary aliens Ik and Li-Jared; the multi- dimensional shadow-people, who apparently function as technicians; the beautiful alien female Antares; and the firefly-like, group- minded Maksu. But the Metaworld's information network, the iceline, may have been infiltrated by the boojum, which has become aware of Bandicut and makes several attempts to kill him. Finally, the allies determine that the boojum has occupied the Tree of Ice, the iceline's main node. To destroy the boojum, they must also shatter the Tree and lose the means to discover how, why, and by whom they were summoned to the Metaworld. A dazzling, thrilling, innovative space opera--a remarkable turnaround after the half-baked series opener, and probably Carver's best effort to date.