This is a trilogy by SA Swann, which is part of the Terran Confederacy universe. It consists of Prophets, Heretics and Messiah
Centuries after the fall of the Confederacy, the Eridani Caliphate and the Roman Catholic Church are two of the major powers in human space. The have both detected transmissions from a cluster of human colonies not recorded by history, and are rushing in secret to investigate. The urgency rises when an inexplicable anamoly appears in the vicinity of the farthest of these colonies, Xi Virginis.
Father Francis Xavier Mallory is the Catholic Church's investigator. He is assigned to travel in secret to the anarchist planet of Bakunin, there to recruit or insert himself into an expedition into the unknown. Among those recruited is Nickolai Rajastan, a tiger moreau from Grimalkin in the Fifteen Worlds. Once a prince of the blood royal, Nickolai was maimed and exiled for his transgressions against the word of St. Rajastan. Once on Bakunin, a mysterious benefactor pays for his missing parts to be cybernetically replaced, at the price of his service. Both are hired by the mysterious Tjaele Mosasa, an alien AI older than the Confederacy, to investigate an anomaly at Xi Virginis. When they arrive, they discover there is no star there anymore, and no sign of the planet that once held a colony of a million people.
On the colony of Salmagundi, orbiting a nearby star, which practices ancestor worship via downloading their minds, Flynn Jorgenson is attending his fathers funeral. Flynn rejects the practice of merging with the minds of ancestors, claiming that it kills the original and makes everyone the same. He has only one mind that shares his head with him, that of Kari Tetsami, his seven times great grandmother and one of the original colonists.
Meanwhile, the entity that destroyed Xi Virginis, a nanotech entity calling himself Adam and claiming to be God, is moving in on all of human space. He issues and ultimatum to join with him or be destroyed, and it seems that no force in the galaxy can stop him.
- A God Am I: This is Adam's bag. He went mad when he learned that The Race, his creators, are extinct, built himself a distributed nanotech body, and went forth to convert all life in the universe to nanoclouds that worship Adam, and kill everyone who refused.
- Continuity Nod: Nickolai Rajastan is descended from the same Rajasthan family as Nohar. Alexander Shane is a descendant of Kathy Shane
- Gentlemen Rankers: Nickolai is a scion of the royal house of his homeworld, and was an officer in the elite Temple Guard before his exile. He washed up on Bakunin, where he was reduced to a common mercenary.
- Load-Bearing Boss: A peculiar example in which the boss is on the same side as the protagonists. The AI calling itself Tjaele Mosasa has been manipulating society for centuries to keep Bakunin a Stateless planet, and thus one that will tolerate Mosasa's existence. As soon as he's gone, the Proudhon Spaceport Development Corporation starts taking over, and the old society of Bakunin collapses.
- Mind Uploading: Residents of Salmagundi all have their minds uploaded into the Hall of Minds at or immediately before their deaths, for later downloading by their descendants.
- Population Xerox: Salmagundi practices a peculiar form of ancestor worship, which expects everyone to download 5-12 of their ancestors into themselves. Since each of those ancestral minds is usually a melding of the half-dozen or more minds that they had downloaded, each of which is a blending of minds etc. This leads to people who are remarkably alike in personality, since everyone is a distillation of their ancestors, and a lot of people have overlapping sets of ancestors.
- Proud Warrior Race Guy: Nickolai's homeworld considers the pursuits of the warrior to be holy religious observances. Nickolai is disgusted at his need to sell his holy skills as a mercenary.
- Space Marines: Father Mallory is retired from the Special Forces branch of the Occicis Marines, once a major source of troops for the Confederacy.
- Transferable Memory: Uploaded minds can be downloaded into either A.I. level computers or living brains.
- Transhuman: Adam and his followers are clouds of active nano, which only look human when they want to.
- Transhuman Aliens: Adam's followers don't really act very human anymore, and Adam is convinced he's a god rather than a rogue AI. They are also
- Scary Dogmatic Aliens: Religious type. Adam wants everyone to worship him and undergo conversion into Nano Machines, or die.