When an unidentified vessel appears beyond Jupiter, both Earth and Mars begin a frantic race to claim it, aware that whichever planet succeeds might in so doing achieve advantage over the other. But who should they send? Joe would never consider himself the ‘right’ person. Drifting around the Asteroid Belt in a converted freighter, working as a surveyor and miner with a crew of oddballs and misfits who, like himself, are running away each from his or her own private demons, he cannot think of a single good reason why he should be the chosen one. But how could he not go?
When the surveyor Butterball rendezvous with the Visitor, Joe discovers a ship so immense, exploring its thousands of square kilometers of decks is unrealistic. As the alien vessel responds to his presence in wondrous yet frightening ways, not a trace of its inhabitants can be found. Virtually everything Joe and his team sees defies explanation, and little is what it appears to be. Joe soon realizes he and his crew are expendable and cannot take anything or anyone at face value, including the alien ship’s owners. And all the time, the crew is being watched and studied.
Then humanity learns that this wondrous spacecraft is not their real problem. Never would Joe have imagined it would fall to him to make the decision that would alter the destiny of two worlds, launching humankind onto the path to a glorious future, or to extinction.