The Second Sphere is thousands of light years away from Earth - if Earth still exists. For Matt Cairns and the cosmonauts of the Bright Star, this distant corner of the galaxy is their new home.
But the Second Sphere is also home to other civilisations, lifted from their worlds by a race of god-like aliens. On Croatan, two of these civilisations live a precarious co-existence, separated by eons of technological advance. The arrival of the Bright Star is an event that may trigger disaster, for this is the first human-crewed starship to arrive at the ancient colony.
And all the time, hidden among the stars, the gods are watching. They have always been watching.
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Since graduating from Glasgow University in 1976, Ken MacLeod has worked as a computer analyst in Edinburgh. He now writes full time.