Andrew Worth is a science journalist with optic nerve taps and a gut full of memory chips. Burnt out after completing a documentary on controversial developments in biotechnology, he turns down a chance to report on a baffling new mental disorder known as Distress and instead takes an assignment covering the Einstein Centenary Conference on the artificial island of Stateless. There, a young South African physicist, Violet Mosala, is expected to unveil her candidate for a Theory of Everything.
But the assignment is not the tropical respite Worth was expecting. While the politics surrounding the creation of Stateless grows more turbulent, and ignorance cults stage protests against the gathering scientists, a secretive group known as the Anthrocosmologists, with some very strange ideas about the Theory of Everything, begin to enact their own agenda.