By the end of the twenty-second century, Earth's ravaged environment has become a time bomb ticking down to global self-destruction. Despite the fortuitous arrival of faster-than-light space travel, the search for a new home has so far located only one candidate--Quraqua, a desolate planet scheduled for terraformation within a few months. For interstellar archaeologist Richard Wald and starship pilot Priscilla Hutchins, the looming renovation threatens critical research on the enigmatic alien ruins on Quraqua and its moon, which include a bizarre false city dubbed Oz. Rousing little interest on Earth and facing an unyielding terraformation committee, Wald and his team undertake a last round of life-threatening expeditions to decipher Oz's secrets before they are swallowed forever by an emerging new world. With plenty of startling plot twists, a heavy dose of intrigue, and an unusual amount of character development for science fiction, McDevitt holds us fast right through to a thrilling finish. The yarn's less pure sf, though, than a rousing archaeological adventure transplanted to another star system. Carl Hays
From Kirkus Reviews
In the early years of the 23rd century, archaeology has expanded to the stars. Teams of linguists, historians, and engineers are excavating ruins on a number of planets in search of clues about the Monument-Makers, whose civilization was leaving its mark on distant worlds when our ancestors were inventing the wheel. Coming from a planet whose population has outgrown its resources, these archaeological teams must race to finish their work before colonists from Earth are sent to occupy these worlds. Priscilla ``Hutch'' Hutchins serves as pilot for one of the teams. Though untrained in archaeology, she's the one who first sees connections between the spectacular monuments left on various worlds and the peculiar, massive false cities made of solid cubes of rock. These cities, composed only of right angles, appear with regularity throughout the galaxy; all show signs of having been subjected to massive destructive forces. Scientific curiosity and grief over the accidental death of their leader take Hutch and the remains of the team to the edge of the galaxy. There they encounter the Monument- Makers and are faced with a mystery whose solution may hold the key to human survival. McDevitt (The Hercules Text, not reviewed) is at his best award-winning style in this intelligent and wide-ranging novel. -- Copyright ©1994, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.