Welcome to the strangest, most distinctive future ever imagined by a science fiction writer. An interstellar empire ruled by the mysterious Lords of the Instrumentality, whose access to the drug stroon from the planet Norstrilia confers on them virtual immortality. A world in which wealthy and leisured humanity is served by the underpeople, genetically engineered animals turned into the semblance of people. A world in which the great ships which sail between the stars are eventually supplanted by the mysterious, instantaneous technique of planoforming. A world of wonder and myth, and extraordinary imagination.