Ever since finishing the Expanse series last year, I’ve been looking for something to fill up that space opera-sized hole in my life — and Shards of Earth did just that. I’ve seen Tchaikovsky’s novels at the library for awhile now, but finally decided to check this one out after seeing that his Final Architecture series had concluded earlier this year. (I didn’t want to start an unfinished series.) Shards of Earth has everything I wanted: a richly detailed universe filled with multiple alien races and offshoots of humanity; a motley crew of ne’er-do-wells eking out an existence on the edge of civilization; and a mysterious planet-destroying threat that, of course, only our motley crew seems capable of defeating. That is, if they can survive cults, corrupt politicians, alien gangsters, and their own prejudices. I particularly enjoyed Tchaikovsky’s vivid prose describing the bizarre realities of space travel, the otherworldly entities potentially lurking in the depths of space, and the effects they have on mortal minds — all of which make his universe more compelling and intriguing, and reminded me of my favorite aspects of David Zindell’s storytelling.