Adrian Tchaikovsky is the absolute master of world building. Here, he gives us a piece of universe where Earth is gone, destroyed, but humanity lives on, inhabiting multiple planets. Humans aren’t alone, though— there is a variety of alien races, some friendly, some less so, and some largely incomprehensible.
And then there are the Architects.
The Architects are each the size of our moon, crystalline, and they appear for a single purpose: to twist inhabited planets into esthetically pleasing shapes, thereby killing the inhabitants who can’t be evacuated.
In response, humans created the Ints, the Intermediaries, men and women who, after all the brain surgery and other changes, could travel through unspace without going mad, and at ho hopefully could somehow stop the Architects when and where they next appeared.
Idris Telemmier. was an Intermediary, one of the first group of volunteers for the program. Of the 300 volunteers, only 30 survived— the rest died or became incurably insane.
It was as Idris who, with two peers, was finally able to make contact with the enormous and alien mind within and of the Architect, to let make it understand that there were intelligent lives on the planets it was destroying, and to beg it to stop.
And it did.
But now, a half century later, they’re coming back…