Beneath the roiling seas and deadly atmosphere of Venus are the Keeps--fully enclosed cities and within those cities live descendants of the survivors who first harbored atomic energy to propel the spaceships that took them to Venus. In massive superstructures built beneath the Venusian seas, a complex feudal society devoted simply to decadence has evolved. Presiding over that society are Immortals--genetic throwbacks to the mutant atomic survivors. While the society is stable, the stability will only lead to its destruction, and the harsh environment outside the Keeps is malevolent and encroaching. Born into all of this is Sam Harker, son of an Immortal, the object of his father's disdain and whose mother perishes in childbirth. Sam is subjected to treatments which stunt his growth and leave him hairless, and he is exiled from the society of the Immortals and set on the tumultuous path of a rebel's life, one inspired by hatred and a desire for vengeance on the society that exiled him in the first place and made him an outcast. Sam's search for revenge and his great abilities make him more powerful than the more decadent residents of Keeps, even more powerful perhaps than the Immortals. Sam seeks mass appeal as a politician in a campaign that assaults society itself. It is not until everything is destroyed--that is, in the aftermath of destruction--that the reclamation of human destiny is even a remote possibility.