Furious Gulf is the 5th of the Galactic Center books by Gregory Benford. Somehow, I wrote up the last in the series but not this penultimate one. This is a series I plan on reading again. I have a special fondness for space opera.
from the back of the book:
The last humans from the planet Snowglade have taken flight from the genocidal mechs aboard the spaceship Argo. As the ship hurtles toward the Galactic Center, hunger and desperation are taking their toll among the refugees, who are beginning to question the leadership of Captain Killeen. Convinced that his people's one hope of survival lies in the True Center of the galaxy, he is determined to find it, with a will bordering on obsession.
As the crew of the Argo, and even Killeen's own son Toby, find their faith in their captain's brilliance tested to the limit, Toby faces his own perilous journey into the uunknown, into the mysteries of adulthood. Like the others in this Family of voyagers, Toby's spine contains microchip implants holding the memories - the legacy - of his race. But just as the technology designed to save his people may tear Toby himself apart, so his father's desperate gamble to save the Argo may plunge the ship and its inhabitants into a cosmic pit of all-consuming fire.
Kirkus Reviews says, "when it comes to conjuring the marvels of space and the bizarre possibilities of high-energy physics, Benford is second to none."