The starship Starfarer prepares for Earth's first interstellar voyage. Its diverse faculty includes J.D. Sauvage, the alien contact specialist; the other members of the alien contact department: Victoria Fraser MacKenzie, Satoshi Lono, and Stephen Thomas Gregory; J.D.'s friend Zev, the diver; a world-famous sensory artist; Crimson Ng, paleontologist and performance artist; Miensaem Thanthavong, Nobel laureate; General Nikolai Petrovich Cherenkov, cosmonaut, hero of the Soviet Union and (in the eyes of the political entity that swallowed up his homeland) war criminal; Griffith, the man from the GAO who says he's an accountant; Infinity Kenjiro Yanagihara y Mendoza, the gardener, among other things; and Florrie Brown, the first member of Grandparents in Space.
But political conditions on Earth are shaky and delicate. As J.D. her colleagues eagerly anticipate their departure...
...EarthSpace cancels the deep space expedition.
So what do they do? They do what any red-blooded multi- national starship faculty would do.
They steal the starship.