A novella. Introduction by Stephen Baxter.
Richard Swift is a failure; a brilliant thinker and theorist on alien
intelligence who has been excluded from the most significant project of
his era due to a bitter family dispute. Bored and restless, he is
shocked by the return of his oldest friend – the supposedly dead Roland
Once, Swift and Childe entertained each other with intricate games and challenges. Now Childe proposes that they – and a small number of other experts – tackle the greatest challenge of all: gaining entry into a sinister alien structure on a nameless world light years from Swift's home.
But Swift and Childe are not the first to attempt this task. Others have come before them and failed. Their bones litter the ground, testifying to the appalling punishments that the structure has inflicted on those who would dare to better it.
No one sane would take Childe up on his offer.
But there is nothing Swift likes better than a challenge.
Alastair Reynolds (born in 1966 in Barry, Wales) is a British science fiction author. He specialises in dark hard science fiction and space opera and noir toned stories.
Reynolds spent his early years in Cornwall, moved back to Wales before going to Newcastle, where he read Physics and Astronomy. Afterwards, he earned a PhD from St Andrews, Scotland. In 1991, he moved to Noordwijk in the Netherlands where he met his wife Josette (who is from France). There, he worked twelve years for the European Space Research and Technology Centre, part of the European Space Agency. About half of his time in ESA he spent working on S-Cam, the world's most advanced optical camera. In 2004 when he left ESA to pursue writing full time. He returned ... (more)