Ace, Nov 2003, 23.95 438 pp.
By 2230, humanity has known about the Omega Clouds for a quarter of a century. They seem to hunt planets where signs of civilization exist. When they find them, they destroy all life forms and geometric shapes and angles. Even though an omega cloud is due to pass Earth in nine centuries, not much research has been done on them because humanity believes they have plenty of time to find a way of dealing with them.
Time runs out when mankind discovers a sentient race of humanoids, so much like us they could be our cousins. An Omega cloud has diverted from its path when it finds the world of Goompahs and the masses on Earth do not want them killed. Linguists, scientists and socialists from all over the galaxy race to the newly discovered civilized world (technologically on a level with Ancient Rome) to try to find a way of destroying the Omega. Failing that they hope to convince the Goompah's to flee their cities and seek higher ground so that they will survive the coming catastrophe.
It is great to watch a united galaxy use all its power to save a newly discovered sentient race (a rare find in the McDevitt universe) despite the danger they bring unto themselves. The society of the Goombahs is examined in such great depth that readers will feel they have actually visited their planet. As more is learned about the Omegas, mankind comes to believe they are not forces of nature but things constructed by an unknown entity.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner