Nine hundred thousand years ago, something annihilated the Amarantin civilization just as it was on the verge of discovering space flight. Now one scientist, Dan Sylveste, will stop at nothing to solve the Amarantin riddle before ancient history repeats itself. With no other resources at his disposal, Sylveste forges a dangerous alliance with the cyborg crew of the starship Nostalgia for Infinity. But as he closes in on the secret, a killer closes in on him because the Amarantin were destroyed for a reason.
The once-utopian Chasm City--a domed human settlement on an otherwise inhospitable planet--has been overrun by a virus known as the Melding Plague, capable of infecting any body, organic or computerized. Now, with the entire city corrupted--from the people to the very buildings they inhabit--only the most wretched sort of existence remains. The stakes are raised when Tanner Mirabel's search brings him face to face with a centuries-old atrocity that history would rather forget.
Late in the 26th century, the human race has advanced enough to accidentally trigger the Inhibitors--alien-killing machines designed to detect intelligent life and destroy it. The only hope for humanity lies in the recovery of a secret cache of doomsday weapons--and a renegade named Clavain who is determined to find them. But other factions want the weapons for their own purposes--and the weapons themselves have another agenda altogether.
The Inhibitors were designed to eliminate any life-form reaching a certain level of intelligence--and they've targeted humanity. War veteran Clavain and a ragtag group of refugees have fled into hiding. Their leadership is faltering, and their situation is growing more desperate. But their little colony has just received an unexpected visitor: an avenging angel with the power to lead mankind to safety--or draw down its darkest enemy.
Tom Dreyfus is a Prefect, a law enforcement officer with the Panoply. His beat is the multifaceted utopian society of the Glitter Band, that vast swirl of space habitats orbiting the planet Yellowstone, the teeming hub of a human interstellar empire spanning many worlds. His current case: investigating a murderous attack against one of the habitats that left 900 people dead, a crime that appalls even a hardened cop like Dreyfus.
Centuries from now, the basic right to expand human intelligence beyond its natural limits has become a war-worthy cause for the Demarchists and Conjoiners. Only vast lighthugger starships bind these squabbling colonies together, manned by the panicky and paranoid Ultras. And the hyperpigs just try to keep their heads down. The rich get richer. And everyone tries not to think about the worrying number of extinct alien civilizations turning up on the outer reaches of settled space...because who's to say that humanity won't be next?