The time shortly after the Great Nuclear Spasm: in all the world there is nothing but ruin, famine, barbarism. Worst of all, residual radiation is causing an ever increasing rate of abnormal births. The human race is doomed to slow extinction, but among the ever increasing numbers of mutants a few are not less but more than what came before.
Yet even for them survival is a fading hope as the nations once more grope toward their former power, and prepare to wage another war. If the new supernormals are to become the new bearers of the human heritage they must find a way to leave the ruined earth.
Poul Anderson (1926–2001) was born in Pennsylvania of Scandinavian stock. He started publishing science fiction in 1947 and became one the great figures in the genre, serving as President of the Science Fiction Writers of America, winning many Hugo and Nebula awards, and also winning the Gandalf (Grand Master) Award.