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In the series, the Earth is running out of resources and multiple missions to close stars are sent out. One specific mission finds a planet with a building on it with very advanced technology. A ship that is an orb of black fluid is found and used to return to Earth.

Upon arriving in the solar system, a large number of other ships of similar make appear and destroy the Earth and a Dyson sphere around the Sun, as well as other planets and a space station near Jupiter. The first book ends with all of humanity, save the ones in the alien ship, destroyed.

I never got a chance to read the other two parts to the trilogy. Has anyone ever heard of this? Any help would be much appreciated. I think the book was published in the mid-to-late eighties. Perhaps it was published by Eos or Ace sci-fi.

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  • Hi, welcome to the site. Did you actualy read this in the mid-to-late eighties, or later? If later, then when? Also, do you recall anything about the cover? Dec 7, 2022 at 0:27
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    Alliens destroyed the Earth, the Dyson sphere, and the space station? The Earthlings were running out of resources, and they built a Dyson sphere?
    – user14111
    Dec 7, 2022 at 0:39
  • My first thought from the title was Greg Bear's Forge of God (1987) / Anvil of Stars (1992) duology, where the last human survivors wind up on an alien ship seeking revenge. This clearly isn't that story, but I mention them and their dates because this sounds like a later work riffing off shared elements. Dec 7, 2022 at 17:08

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Could this be Echoes of Earth by Sean Williams and Shane Dix?

It has a group of human explorers arriving on an alien planet; shortly after they arrive, they're amazed to see a set of a dozen orbital towers grow from nothing, presumably via nanotech.

They explore them, and discover any number of wonders - there's a (very cagey) AI present, who doesn't give any hints about who created the towers or why.

They then discover that one of the towers includes an FTL ship - they got to the planet the slow way. They send a message to Earth to let them know they're coming back with great news; but arrive to discover that the solar system has been devastated.

As I recall, the theory is that there's one set of aliens seeding planets to give knowledge to up and coming species; and a second set, keeping an eye out for species finding those planets and wiping out any potential competition.

It seems to match most of your plot points fairly well.

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    You should point out that this was published substantially after the suggested time frame. It doesn't mean it's wrong (we've all misremembered things) but it is an important detail to note.
    – DavidW
    Dec 7, 2022 at 19:25
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    It seems very likely this is the book even though the date is wrong. The FTL ship consists of a black sphere rotating about a white sphere, and when the protagonists return to Earth they find Earth and Venus have been dismantled and their material used to build the framework for a Dyson sphere. Dec 8, 2022 at 11:16

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