by Simon Butcher-Jones
Legend tells of the Vo'lach, an ancient people who could travel the stars and see the future. Some say they didn't like what they saw; some say they were devils who hated life. For whatever reason, they destroyed their own biosphere. And, to make sure that their planet would remain a desolate wasteland for ever, they built fearsome machines that would instantly destroy any sign of life or intelligence.
Bernice travels to the primitive and religious world of Canopus IV, where the locals worship the Spire - a kilometre-high tower that bends time - and talk of gods who can see through time. On arrival, she finds that the planet is on the brink of collapse, as military zealots attempt to seize power and spread their faith throughout the sector in a holy war. One thing alone can maintain the stability of the region. Someone must solve the mystery of the Canopusi's ancient gods - and Benny is just the archaeologist for the job.
So, to prevent an interstellar war, the professor and her team journey to the root of the mystery - the dead world of Vo'lach Prime - and face a culture dedicated to the destruction of all life. But it soon becomes clear not everyone wants the truth to be known, and that there is more than one murderer amongst them.
*First appearance of Clarance the 'Angel'
*A Virgin Books 'New Adventures' novel