Humanity's future has been disrupted and shaped by the mysterious alien Jackaroo. We spread to the planets they gave us, and we discovered the ruins of a dozen previous civilistions. All previous clients of the Jackaroo, all dead. So far we have escaped that fate - but we have also escaped from the Jackaroo's planets and begun to explore the galaxy. The discovery of ancient spaceships, and the unlocking of their mysteries, has led to a new way of life. But humanity's failings and conflicts are always with us.
A woman living a quiet secluded life, with only her dog and her demons for company. The dissolute heir to a powerful merchant family. The laminated brain of the woman who led us into the universe. A policeman, seemingly working for the Jackaroo. All of these people are on the edges of a vast plan, one which will span decades and light years. A piece of alien code has awakened, and the end of our species may be happening around us.
And we may finally discover if the aliens really are here to help us.
Paul J. McAuley (born 1955) is a British botanist, award-winning author, and self-described science junkie. By training a biologist, he writes mostly hard science fiction, dealing with themes such as biotechnology, alternate history/alternate reality, and space travel.