Direct sequel to Cosmonaut Keep (p. 466), the opener for MacLeod’s new Engines of Light series. Thousands, perhaps millions of years earlier, humanoid gigants and pithkies, along with dinosaurian saurs and giant-squid kraken, were brought from Earth to settle the worlds of the Second Sphere by the godlike alien Powers Above. Two hundred years ago, immortal computer engineer Matt Cairns arrived. Now Matt, his descendant Gregor, the saur Salasso, and fellow-immortal astronaut Grigory Volkov have refurbished Matt’s ship and cobbled together some navigational computers; they’re headed from planet Mingulay to nearby Croatan, ostensibly to open up human-controlled trade—previously, only the kraken and their saur pilots have had access to spaceships. As soon as Matt arrives, though, the arrogant Port Authority impounds his ship. On a planet whose population comprises savages, Stone Age heathens, and capitalist Christians, freeing the ship will make for a long political and revolutionary battle. And the real, unstated, purpose for Matt’s visit is to ask the Powers Above, comet nuclei populated by vastly intelligent associations of bacteria-sized entities, why the various races were brought to the Second Sphere, a staggering 100,000 light-years from Earth. Both humans and saurs, however, are deeply divided over the wisdom and propriety of such an action. If they can ever shake free of the Port Authority’s clutches and actually communicate with the gods, what if they get answers they don’t like?
Further remarkable developments in a far-future, multispecies environment, with often fascinating analyses of human and alien motivations—though, overall, a little too relentlessly political to suit all tastes.