Ex-space hero, Jamie Caldicott, runs his family business from suburban San Antonio, Texas, while war looms and global warming and an unprecedented energy crisis threaten America. Unable to avoid the world around him, or come to terms with the mysterious circumstances surrounding his brother's death years earlier, he accepts a mission to fly to Europa, Jupiter's moon, in search of oil shale, a concentrated fossil fuel, and he and his crew aren't alone. The French have joined the race for shale - or something else. They, along with others, are convinced that Europa nurtures life. Caldicott finds that he must now choose between oil and the prospect of a living world while, at the same time, he must confront his past - and his brother's killer.