Joe Messenger is an award-winning specialist in artificial intelligence. The son of a cryonics pioneer, he believes that people can be made to live forever. But he also knows that merely freezing the body is not enough; without one's brain – one's consciousness – a cryonically preserved person will be incomplete. Joe, a computer genius, devises a way to download the human brain into a supercomputer called ARCHIVE. Joe's wife, Karen, finds his cutting-edge research increasingly disturbing, particularly his obsessive work on ARCHIVE, which is developing signs of a distinct and sinister personality. Karen's complaint that ARCHIVE is beginning to dominate their lives is not idle paranoia – it is truer than even she realizes. Karen and Joe's marriage is further threatened when he falls for Juliet Spring, a gifted young scientist whose loveliness is matched by her keen insight into Joe's work. But just as the pair are on the brink of a scientific breakthrough, a series of macabre accidents befall Joe, Karen, and their son, Jack – clearly the work of some malevolent force. It becomes increasingly evident that the obsessions that have shaped Joe's life are about to blow his family apart.