Fourth addition to Anderson's future-history series (Harvest the Fire, 1995, etc.). Far out in space, Terran colonists on planet Amaterasu, led by reincarnated hero Anson Guthrie, have developed a planetary consciousness or Life Mother. Lunarians occupy Alpha Centauri, and, back in the solar system, the remote asteroid Proserpina. Earth, the Moon, and Mars are benevolently ruled by an aggregate of machine intelligences, the cybercosm, and by its ultimate manifestation, the Teramind. News reaches Amaterasu that the Teramind, using the sun as a gravitational lens, has made some spectacular discovery and then suppressed it--and also sabotaged the Proserpinans' attempts to make a gravitational lens of their own. So a computer download of Guthrie must travel to the solar system to investigate. Hundreds of pages later--``plot'' is too definite a word to describe the goings-on--young ex-policeman Fenn successfully raids the data-receiving station on Mars; the data seems to reveal the presence of ancient machine civilizations far off in space. But skeptical old Guthrie doesn't believe it and organizes his own raid on the lens's focus. This information shows conclusively that no such civilizations exist: The Teramind planned the deception as a means of controlling the humans in its charge. Flabby and meandering: an average entry in this very disappointing series.