Transcendence: Book Three of the Heritage Universe Summary

Charles Sheffield


(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

Darya Lang and her compatriots in adversity, barely survived their meeting with the Zardalu in DIVERGENCE, but their spirits remain high. Admittedly, they’re almost bereft of economic resources and absolutely no one believes their assertion that the Zardalu (“the greatest menace ever known to the worlds of the spiral arm"p) are alive and procreating, but those are only minor obstacles. Despite all the manifold perils, the crusading impulse and the possibility of profit carries Darya and her hardy band back into the unknown reaches of the galaxy.

After combining what remains of their resources, and with the help of one of the most cowardly creatures this side of Oz, the group manages to penetrate the innermost reaches of yet another artifact of the mysterious Builders. Once there, however, the group is separated and endures danger, discomfort, and frustration to the point of mental and physical collapse. Still, although profit yet eludes the more mercenary members of the “Zardalu collective,” they survive the adventure secure in the knowledge that while the Zardalu live, they are no longer a threat. The worlds of the spiral arm are seemingly assured that their former masters will not return to ravage the galaxy. But the mystery of the Builders remains, and there is no doubt that more than a few of the groups will find themselves engaged in yet another quest—find the Builders.

On occasion, the various works of a series may be examined without recourse to previous volumes in the canon—this is not one of those times. The “heritage universe” created in SUMERTIDE and elaborated in DIVERGENCE is so complex, diverse, and often unique that the reader must need be exposed a bit at a time lest sensory overload result. Therefore, those who would pursue this finely crafted work are well advised to enter Sheffield’s universe at the beginning.