This is the story of one member of the Terran Survey Corps. His name is Loftus Tait. There are many men of his stamp in the Corps; men who possess a deep and unshakable conviction that what they are doing has a meaning in face of the great unknowns, men who, recognising the transience and minuteness of humankind, yet believe that Man has a destiny among the stars.

Not for him or his crew was there the refinement and luxury of a base ship equipped like a small world; they took their frail craft across the parsecs and set down as and when they could, and worked at their jobs, and came back – if they were lucky.

Some were not so lucky.