A group of Jesuit scientists, led by the polyglot priest Emilio Sandoz, set off on a mission to discover the source of music emanating from the direction of Alpha Centauri. Sandoz is accompanied by his Jesuit colleagues as well as a variety of friends who make up a motley but capable crew: a doctor, an engineer, a young astronomer, and a brilliant analyst. Like so many explorers before them, they venture with all the best intentions. But something goes terribly wrong, and only Sandoz returns—ill and maimed, unable to speak of what has befallen him. The story is riveting and terrifying, veering from moments of kinship and interspecies friendship into terrific episodes of violence—detailing both the spoils of exploration, and its costs.