For millennia, humankind and the other intelligent races have studied the bizarre and unfathomable constructs of the legendary beings known as the Builders. But for all that study, they are still no closer to figuring out who - or what - the Builders have been, or where they have gone. Then, on the world called Quake, in the midst of the violent planetary upheaval that is Summertide, a small group of humans and aliens witness the culmination of all those years of watching and waiting: the planet Quake opens up, and something comes out - and it looks as if, at long last, the discovery of the Builders themselves is at hand.
All her life, Darya Lang has dreamed of finding the Builders, whose artifacts she has single-handedly cataloged for the rest of the universe. Troubleshooter and adventurer Hans Rebka has his own dreams of unraveling the mystery of those artifacts. To Louis Nenda and the Cecropian Atvar H'sial, the Builder artifacts represent a once-in-a-lifetime shot at untold wealth. And close behind them come the others: Councilor Julius Graves, who does not trust anyone else to make first contact unassisted; the slaves J'merlia and Kallik, who crave only a reunion with their masters; and the embodied computer E.C. Tally, charged with finding out just what the rest are up to.
The trail that begins at Quake leads to unexpected Builder artifacts full of traps for the unwary and answers for those who know how to ask the questions. But the biggest question of all will remain an enigma, while their search unleashes the greatest threat to civilization ever imagined...
©1991 by Charles Sheffield; (P)2000 Blackstone Audiobooks