The Plot

(Critical Survey of Science Fiction and Fantasy)

The Heritage Universe series is a narrative about a group of humans and aliens seeking to solve the mystery of the disappearance of an ancient alien race (the Builders) millions of years ago. Humans and various alien races have formed empires throughout thousands of star systems in the galactic spiral arm and have discovered thousands of huge, mysterious Builder artifacts. One sector was formerly ruled by a ruthless race of aliens, the Zardalu, who made slaves of all other races.

In Summertide, troubleshooter Hans Rebka goes to the planet Opal to determine why Max Perry is refusing more challenging assignments. Opal has a twin planet, Quake, to which it is connected by a Builder artifact called the Umbilical, a sort of space elevator. The system is soon to reach summertide, a period of maximum tidal stress that occurs every 350,000 years. A number of individuals seek to visit Quake at summertide, including Darya Lang, an academic expert on Builder artifacts; Julius Graves, a Councilor from the galactic ethical authority; Louis Nenda, a fortune hunter with his fierce alien slave, Kallik; and Atvar Hsail, a mysterious insectoid Cecropian with his alien slave and translator, Jmerlia.

Lang and the two fortune hunters believe that events during summertide may help them discover why the Builders left and where they went. Despite being denied access, all those interested end up on Quake at summertide as tidal stresses nearly destroy both Quake and Opal. Nenda and Hsail, with their slaves, form an alliance and seek to kill all the others.

While leaving Quake, Lang sees two huge silver spheres, obviously of Builder origin, exit the core of Quake. One of the spheres heads toward extragalactic space and the other toward the gas giant planet Gargantua, taking with it the ship with the treacherous slave owners. As the book ends, Rebka learns Perry’s secret: His girlfriend died on Quake at summertide. Lang and the two slaves decide to take a ship to Gargantua to look for the Builders and their masters, respectively.

In Divergence, E. C. Tally, an embodied computer, is sent to investigate. Lang, Rebka, Jmerlia, and Kallik have left for Gargantua. Birdie Kelly, assistant to Perry, must accompany Tally and Graves as they follow in their own ship. Lang and Rebka pick up a distress signal from Nenda and Hsails ship among the small moons and debris surrounding Gargantua, but they find the ship empty on a perfectly spherical small moon. As they approach, they are attacked by Phages, Builder artifacts of unknown purpose. After landing, Rebka and Lang enter the artificial hollow moon and find Nenda and Hsail trapped in a field. At the moons center, they are greeted by an intelligent emissary of the Builders, who puts...

(The entire section is 1127 words.)