The last humans from the planet Snowglade have taken flight from the genocidal mechs aboard the spaceship Argo. As the shop hurtles toward the Galactic Center, hunger and desperation are taking their toll among the refugees, who are beginning to question the leadership of Captain Killeen. Convinced that his people's only hope of survival lies in the True Center of the galaxy, he is determined to find it, with a will bordering on obsession.
As the crew of the Argo, an even Killeen's own son Toby, find their faith in their captain's brilliance tested to the limit, Toby faces his own perilous journey into the unknown, into the mysterious of adulthood. Like the others in this Family of voyagers, Toby's spine contains microchip implants holding the memories - the legacy - of his race. But just as the technology is designed to save his people may tear Toby himself apart, so his father's desperate gamble to save the Argo may plunge the ship and its inhabitants into a cosmic fit of all-consuming fire.
This fifth installment (after Tides of Light ) in Benford's ``Galactic Center'' series, set thousands of years in the future, finds the remaining humans from the planet Snowglade fleeing the genocidal Mechs in the spaceship Argo . As the vessel speeds toward the Galactic Center, the refugees verge on mutiny as food becomes scarce, Mechs close in and Captain Killeen grows ever more determined to discover what lies at the Core. Even Killeen's adolescent son, Toby, begins to question his father's fitness for command, particularly when he discovers that his nervous system has been used as a repository for the skills and personality of the captain's slain lover. Meanwhile, unknown to the Argo crew and passengers, bodiless, perhaps egoless, intelligences muse none-too-benignly on the action at hand and whether they should destroy the shipbound humans as part of their ``ancient task'' of wiping out humanity. If the first half of the narrative is a chase, the second half is a discovery: an exploration of the universe that lies within the human heart, as well as a study of nonhuman beings and of the artifacts of space and time that Benford's fevered imagination has strewn through eons of human history. The author's fans won't be disappointed with this tautly plotted entry in the series, which by now has eclipsed even Asimov's Foundation saga in ambition, and which still has one more book to go.