The last survivors of humanity have just been deposited on Pandora, a horrific, poisonous planet rife with deadly nerve-runners, hooded dashers, airborne jellyfish, and intelligent kelp. The determined colonists attempt to establish a bridgehead on the deadly, inhospitable planet, but more trouble arises. Their sentient ship - backed up by an impressive array of armaments - has decided it is God and is insisting the colonists find appropriate ways to worship it.
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In The Jesus Incident, Frank Herbert and Bill Ransom introduced Ship, an artificial intelligence that believed it was God, abandoning its unworthy human cargo on the all-sea world of Pandora. Now centuries have passed. The descendants of humanity, split into Mermen and Islanders, must reunite--because Pandora's original owner is returning to life.
Pandora's humans have been recovering land from its raging seas at an accelerated pace since The Lazarus Effect. The great kelp of the seas, sentient but electronically manipulated by humans, buffers Pandora's wild currents to restore land and facilitate the booming sea trade. New settlements rise overnight, but children starve in their shadows. An orbiting assembly station is near completion of Project Voidship, which is the hope of many for finding a better world.