For eons, Earth has been under observation by the Firstborn, beings almost as old as the universe itself. The Firstborn are unknown to humankind - until they act. In an instant, Earth is carved up and reassembled like a huge jigsaw puzzle. Suddenly the planet and every living thing on it no longer exist in a single timeline.
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Returned to the Earth of 2037 by the Firstborn, mysterious beings of almost limitless technological prowess, Bisesa Dutt is haunted by the memories of her five years spent on the strange alternate Earth called Mir, a jigsaw-puzzle world made up of lands and people cut out of different eras of Earth's history.
Twenty-seven years later, the Firstborn are back. This time, they have sent a "quantum bomb" speeding toward Earth, a device that human scientists can barely comprehend, let alone stop or destroy. But when shocking new insights emerge about the nature of the Firstborn and their plans, an unexpected ally appears from light-years away.
A terrific journey; well worth the money. Arthur C Clarke is a visionary. Too bad there is no more.