The seeds of contradiction that lay at the heart of the Soviet-American alliance are bearing their final fruit. Soon they will rip the CoDominium apart - and Earth will die. In the face of that inevitability the fate of humanity lies with the Colony Worlds - a few of which are equipped for more than barest survival. Thrown upon their own resources, their futures seem as limited as their pasts. They - and humanity - have one hope: that somehow, someone will have both the vision and the strength to grasp the tattered remnants of civilization and weld them into a single galaxy-spanning society.