In the free-fall environment of the Smoke Ring, descendants of the crew of the Discipline no longer remember their Earth roots or the existence of Sharls Davis Kendy, the computer-program despot of the ship - until Kendy initiates contact once more.
Fourteen years later, only Jeffer, the Citizens Tree Scientist, knows that Kendy is still watching and waiting. Then, when the Citizens Tree people rescue a family of loggers, they learn for the first time of the Admiralty, a large society living in free fall amid the floating debris called the Clump. It is likely that the Admiralty has maintained, intact, Discipline's original computer library. Exploration is a temptation neither Jeffer nor Kendy can resist, and neither Citizens Tree nor Sharls Davis Kendy will ever be the same again.