For years, engineer Landen Keene has envied the Kronian colony among the moons of Saturn, which embodies the pioneer spirit that Earth has lost. Then a Kronian delegation arrives on Earth with newfound evidence that the planets underwent cataclysmic changes only a few thousand years ago. And a white-hot protoplanet which Jupiter has emitted is found to be on a collision course with Earth. Keene has to choose between escaping on the Kronian ship or making a desperate cross-continent journey.
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After a near miss by a white-hot protoplanet, Earth is devastated, civilisation as we know it has ended, and the survivors are reverting to barbarism. Only the Kronian colony on Saturn's moons preserves technology and human culture. Landen Keene, taken off the Earth before the disaster, is a key figure in the Kronian efforts to rebuild civilization on Earth. Then he finds that other survivors from Earth miss the power they once Wielded, and are bent on restoring the old privileges and hierarchy, with themselves at the top.