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Awakening from a years-long induced coma, Andrew finds himself in New Salem, the center of the small world of the Manband. Survivors of a nuclear holocaust, the Manband has organized society to prevent another onslaught by the Four Horsemen. They indoctrinate the people to be docile and cautious and to distrust anyone who is not. A bureaucratic "deep state" has spontaneously sprung up to insure stability. Thus, to the Manband, Andrew is an alien, bearing the very ideas that caused the "Oblit" and the "Damn Age" that ensued. While the Manband officially tolerates Andrew because they need to widen the genetic pool, unofficially several groups resent and fear his treasonous ideas and actions. When he draws an already attached woman into a love affair, plans to liquidate him take form. Andrew is forced to consider escaping with his love to the shattered wilderness called Babylon, which lies beyond New Salem.