In 1851 Briareus went Nova. In 1983 Earth went mad. Radiation from this stellar explosion, less than 150 light years away, smashed Earth into a new ice age. Tornadoes ravaged the world, leaving in their wake destruction, desolation and death. Worst of all, the human race found itself sterile. Men looked for a scapegoat and found the Zetas, those strange people with suddenly acquired psychic powers. But even during the hounding and extermination which followed, few could grasp what had really happened: that an alien intelligence, riding on the shock waves of that supernova deep in space, had broken through the atmosphere to take up residence in the human brain. Who would inherit the Earth? No one knew until, in 2000, a woman became pregnant again. But what would she give birth to?