It is AD 2380 and humanity has colonized over six hundred planets, all interlinked by wormholes. With Earth at its centre, the Intersolar Commonwealth has grown into a quiet, wealthy society, where rejuvenation allows its citizens to live for centuries, by both rejuvenating their bodies, and transferring their memories into clones.
When astronomer Dudley Bose observes a star over a thousand light years away vanish, imprisoned inside a force field of immense size, the Commonwealth is anxious to discover what actually happened. As conventional wormholes can't reach that far, they must build the first faster-than-light starship. Captained by Wilson Kime, an ex-NASA astronaut a little too eager to relive his old glory days, the Second Chance sets off on its historic voyage of discovery.
But someone or something out there must have had a very good reason for sealing off an entire star system. And if the Second Chance does manage to find a way in, what might then be let out?
AD 2050: Wilson Kime pilots a landing craft, achieving the first manned space flight to Mars. Although Europe leads the world in developing rejuvenation, the US remains a leader in aerospace. However, some giggling behind him reveals Nigel Sheldon and Ozzie Fernandez Isaacs, who have beaten his team to Mars by inventing wormhole technology, rendering space flight largely obsolete.
Chapters One-Nine: Discovery
AD 2380: Humanity has spread into a "Commonwealth" of wormhole-linked planets and has encountered a number of sentient alien races as well as the SI, or "Sentient Intelligence", an independent AI evolved from human technology. Nigel and Ozzie are two of the Commonwealth's most influential citizens due to their genius and their control of Compression Space Transport, the company at the heart of wormhole technology.
On distant Gralmond, astronomer Dudley Bose observes the envelopment of the Dyson Pair and realizes that although the stars were previously thought to have been enveloped in Dyson spheres over time, they were in fact enveloped instantaneously. With the assistance of LionWalker, an amateur astronomer on the even more distant planet of Tanyata, Bose confirms the instantaneous envelopment and sets the Commonwealth into motion.
At a Council meeting attended by Nigel, Ozzie, Thompson Burnelli, and the SI, Commonwealth leadership agree that the instantaneous envelopment of the Dyson Pair represents a substantial threat, and agree to authorize Nigel's plan to construct a starship to investigate the pair, which lie out of wormhole range of any existing planet. Ozzie meanwhile resolves to search for the Silfen motherhome, in order to determine if the Silfen have any information on the pair. On Oaktier, Morton Shaheef's wife and her lover are murdered and their bodies hidden.