Panoramic, far-reaching, far-future hardcover debut involving black holes, aliens, religious fanatics, and vengeance. Hundreds of years from now, exploring humans stumble upon an alien race that is at war with itself: the Alea--who develop intelligence only when prompted by solar flares from their red- giant sun--have split into two factions, one hostile to all competition (the ``Enemy''), the other fugitives who attack intruders without provocation to avoid detection by the Enemy. The latter have taken over some advanced technology abandoned in orbit about the black hole at the center of our galaxy, of which their uncomprehending misuse threatens to destroy the universe. Another set of aliens, the ``angels,'' have departed our universe, but their further progress is being halted by the same Enemy misuse of technology; the angels want the help of humans who have already clashed with the Alea and intend to wipe them out. Still other humans have their own agendas: Talbeck Barlstilkin seeks vengeance for the destruction of his family; Dorothy Yuoshida wants the full use of her blocked alien-empathy talents; the religious-fanatic Witnesses expect to find God at the galactic center; technician Robot has a second personality, Machine, through whom the angels communicate; the angels give Robot's pilot, Suzy Falcon, strange weapons with which to destroy their abandoned technology. Hypercomplicated and overlong--but in terms of hard science, extrapolation, and skill at conveying alien motivations, McAuley invites comparison with top-notch practitioners like Gregory Benford and Vernor Vinge. Flaws and all, a remarkable performance.