In an age of exploding stars and other cataclysmic galactic events in which Homo sapiens has long since split into different kinds, Mallory Ringess becomes a pilot of the Order of Mystic Mathematicians and Other Seekers of the Ineffable Flame. His quest to find the Elder Eddas—nothing less than the secret of life embroidered in humanity’s oldest DNA—will lead him from Neverness’s streets of colored ice into the deadly manifold: the “space beneath space” whose topology writhes and twists with hideous complexity like a nest of psychedelic snakes.
In his lightship named The Immanent Carnation, Mallory journeys far across the Milky Way and enters the Solid State Entity: a nebula-sized brain composed of moonlike biocomputers analogous to neurons. There he is tested. In the journeys and war that follow, he begins to grasp the infinite possibilities of evolution and what he will need to sacrifice in order save humankind from destruction and change the course of the universe.