In the year 4771 colonised planets around nearby stars plan to win their freedom from Earth. Since they are only capable of sublight space flight their rebellion is fifty years in the making. They launch several waves of GUTships and a computer virus against earth.
It is discovered that Empress Shira, who has ruled Earth and its colonies for nearly a thousand years is a refugee from the future, a member of the religious group known as The Friends of Wigner, who is attempting to guide Earth into her future using a dangerous mathematical modelling device, the "logic pool".
In 4820 the starborn's rebellion succeeds and Shira is forced to shut down the logic pool before using a transdimensional transport system to escape. The device also inadvertently alerts an alien race called the Squeem to the presence of humans.