For ambitious, passionate Kiter Io, a posting to the daring diplomatic mission organized and hosted by a mysterious race known only as The Understanders represents more than a chance to help his people become part of the new enlightenment era, it also represents a chance to make his personal mark on history. A chance to prove to himself that he possesses the skills his people value most: negotiation, determination and empathy.But when a disaster kills the rests of his delegation—a disaster that seems no accident—Kiter faces an unknown world—host to many cultures and shrouded in mystery—on his own, finding himself forced to work alongside a new delegation, one made up of members of many different worlds, with strange and alien values. Here he must fight to preserve the goal of his original mission—to bring his people—and all the broken vestiges of a once-great civilization spanning thousands of worlds—out of the twin darknesses of ignorance and xenophobia, at last.Michael Canfield writes about monsters, superheroes, couples, bank robbers, babies, astronauts, paranoids, background artists, hobbyists, and other people. He has published mystery, fantasy, science fiction, horror, or just-plain-odd stories on StrangeHorizons, futurismic, EscapePod, M–Brane SF, magazines including Realms of Fantasy, Talebones, Black Gate, Flytrap and other places. His novelette “Super-Villains” was republished in the prestigious Fantasy: The Year’s Best series, edited by Rich Horton. Born in Las Vegas, he now lives, works, plays, writes, and watches television in Seattle.