A superb SF novel from one of the genre's most accomplished writers.
Dorothy Yoshida is a telepath and a really rather good one at that.
She's also a scientist and when a small planet begins to manifest some unusual signs she is sent to investigate. The planet is more than it seems and on further investigation the scientists begin to suspect it has been artificially altered.
But despite their suspicions the only life they can detect is on the surface, none of which has advanced far above the level of animals. And despite the hopes of mankind to find something which will help them in a burgeoning war against other species, there seems to be nothing there to aid them.
With Dorothy's arrival, however, they are in for some surprising discoveries.
Paul McAuley (Born 1955)
Paul James McAuley was born in Gloucestershire on St George's Day, 1955. He has a Ph.D in Botany and worked as a researcher in biology at various universities, including Oxford and UCLA, and for six years was a lecturer in botany at St Andrews University, before leaving academia to write full time. He started publishing science fiction with the short story "Wagon, Passing" for Asimov's Science Fiction in 1984. His first novel, 400 Billion Stars won the Philip K. Dick Award in 1988, and 1995's Fairyland won the Arthur C. Clarke and John W. Campbell Awards. He has also won the British Fantasy, Sidewise and Theodore Sturgeon Awards. He lives in London.
You can find his blog at: http://www.unlikelyworlds.blogspot.com