In a world emerging from nuclear winter, Henry Barton sets out to find other humans. He survived in a cabin in northern Alberta near Swan Hills, sustained by the memory of his wife, who encouraged him. On his search for others he meets Nestor, who is reluctant to accompany him south toward civilization. Later he meets Wayne, half mad after the loss of his wife. When Henry reaches the town of Barrhead, he meets two women and a man who view him as their savior. He goes onto Edmonton where he loses his wife when he finally realizes that she is dead. Returning to Swan Hills he discovers why Nestor was reluctant to meet other people. Now Henry must decide how to cope with the others who depend on him.