The starship Starfarer and its faculty and staff encounter the Four Worlds, their sponsors into Civilization. J.D. Sauvage, alien contact specialist, meets the four different peoples of the Four Worlds: the charming Largerfarthings, the mysterious and demanding Smallerfarthings, the whale-eel Orchestra of Largernearer, and the unique, lonely Smallernearer.
Performance artist and paleontologist Crimson Ng grapples with ethical problems when the Four Worlds representatives take her archaeological art project all too seriously. Victoria Fraser MacKenzie, Satoshi Lono, and Stephen Thomas Gregory struggle to keep their family partnership from fragmenting under the strain of love, fear, and unacknowledged grief.
And the cosmic string is moving again.