The Spin, an ancient artificial cluster of eighty-eight planets and twenty-two suns – is in decline. The boundaries of the formerly prosperous Inside have shrunk to a mere eleven planets, their trade routes are cut off, and their last remaining source of income comes from selling the services of their vast industrial slave-colony – The Hive.
Then a group of Hivers escape. Led by Seldyan, they steal the last remaining legacy battleship, reverse the trance that has been imposed on it for eight thousand years, and leave the Inside behind. Their destination: the free colony of Web City. However when they arrive they realise all is not well – a new green star has appeared in the sky, sparking the growth of a socially repressive cult which is quickly taking over, making Seldyan wonder if Web City is any improvement on the Hive.
At the same time Harbour Master Hevalansa Vess, stripped of his role after the loss of the last ship, has his identity changed and is sent under cover in to the Hive to find out how Seldyan escaped. Wired into the living AI called the Mind Stack, he is forced to confront both his own past, and the institutionalised cruelty of the hierarchy he has been part of.
While Seldyan and her crew try to discover what has caused the new green star, Vess must choose between loyalty to the system that has nurtured and promoted him, and his sympathy for the mass of people it treats as slaves. He must also work out how far he trusts Vut, the gestalt insect entity that increasingly represents his contact with the Inside.
Meanwhile, the ancient ship, now with full access to its memories, has worked out the meaning of the green star for itself – and the existential threat to the Spin that it has been concealing for ten thousand years...
It is the aftermath of civil war in the vast pageant of planets and stars known as The Spin. Three years since he crushed the rebellion, Viklun Haas, industrialist and leader of the Hegemony, is eliminating all remnants of the opposition. Starting with his own daughter.
But Fleare Haas, fighter for Society Otherwise has had a long time to plan her next move. Sprung from her remote monastery prison and reuniting with a team of loyal friends, Fleare’s journey will take her across The Spin to the cluster of fallen planets known as the The Catastrophe Curve - and from exile, to the very frontiers of war.
Meanwhile, in the brutal and despotic empire of The Fortunate, word is reaching viceroy Alameche of a most unusual piece of plunder from their latest invasion. For hundreds of millions of years, the bizarre planets and stars of The Spin itself have been the only testament to the god-like engineers that created it. Now, buried in the earth of a ruined planet, one of their machines has been found . . .
Born in 1965, Andrew Bannister grew up in Cornwall. He studied Geology at Imperial College and went to work in the North Sea before becoming an Environmental Consultant. For the day job, he specialises in green transport and corporate sustainability, but he has always written – initially for student newspapers and fanzines before moving on, encouraged by creative writing courses, to fiction. He’s always been a reader and has loved science fiction since childhood. From the classics of the 50s and 60s to the present day, he’s wanted it all: space, stars, astonishment and adventure - and now he’s discovered that writing it is even better. Andrew lives in Leicestershire.