James S. A. Corey’s Expanse series remains my gold standard for galaxy-spanning space opera, but Adrian Tchaikovsky’s Final Architecture trilogy comes pretty close, with Lords of Uncreation concluding the series in suitably epic fashion. Turns out, I like my sci-fi with a touch of eldritch horror, and in Tchaikovsky’s novel, a ragtag group of humans and aliens seek access to the bizarre, otherworldly realm of unspace in a bid to prevent the galaxy’s sentient life from getting wiped out. Even better, they’re led by one of the most delightfully pathetic and sadsack protagonists I’ve encountered since The Curse of Chalion’s Lupe dy Cazaril. Lords of Uncreation does get a bit long-winded with Tchaikovsky’s repeated descriptions of the aforementioned otherworldly realm — there are a lot of explanations of just how much unspace defies explanation — but there’s also a lot of delightful and clever prose, and several moments practically had me cheering. More importantly, his cast of characters — hard-bitten salvagers, cyborgs, government agents, indestructible human-lobster hybrids, warrior clones, clam-like alien gods, and even a space lawyer — are colorful and endearing in their own ways.