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. Won Aurora Award for Best Long Form in 2004. Nominated for Hugo Award for Best Novel in 2004.