The novel deals with a government installation at Blind Lake, Minnesota, where scientists observe sentient life on a planet fifty-one light-years away, using telescopes powered by quantum computers that have advanced beyond human understanding. A sudden and unexplained facility lockdown extends into a long-term quarantine. Observation department head Marguerite Hauser tries to carry on with her work studying the alien life while taking care of her socially-challenged daughter Tess, warding off her ex-husband Ray, and deciding how she feels about houseguest and disgraced journalist Chris.
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Won Aurora Award for Best Long Form in 2004.
Nominated for Hugo Award for Best Novel in 2004.