The story: Fifty years in the future, two great crises are reaching a boiling point: one is personal,
the other, planetary.
The planetary crisis is of epic proportions. The earth groans under the weight of a population of 15
billion (more than double that of 2011); resources are stretched far beyond capacity, governments
founder because of their inability to provide basic services, economies crumble, wars are fought
over drinking water, and a reckless mismanagement of the environment has triggered a chain
reaction that threatens to fry the planet in radiation in a matter of months.
Exacerbating the crisis is the presence of the Krinati, a peace-loving alien race who arrived on
Earth thirteen years before, having fled a similar crisis on their own planet. The Krinati, who are
serenely content to take the most lowly and hazardous jobs available, soon became society’s de
facto servant class; they also exercise a disproportionate influence on the performing arts, in which
they excel. The Krinati maintain that they spend only half their lives in the material world; the other
half is spent in a dream state called diima that they consider every bit as real as the earthly realm.
Unfortunately, just as throughout history people have sought a scapegoat for every major calamity,
so now the Krinati are blamed for Earth’s woes. Even though they make up less than 1% of the
global population, they’re blamed for the planet’s overcrowding, and for all the terminal ills that
have accompanied it. Their only defender is a youth movement, nicknamed the Krinateens, which
rises up not only to defend the Krinati, but to use their humble, peaceful ways as example of how to
live life wisely and maybe even save humanity in the process.
Running corollary to the planetary crisis is the personal crisis of Simon Lubbeck, a down-and-out
musician whose life is in shambles. Twice divorced, his career circling the drain and his finances in
freefall, he’s coming up hard on his fortieth birthday, and is resolved not to meet the milestone with
either submission or quiet grace. Life has not only disappointed him, it’s pretty much shit on him all
the way down the line. Simon was once a Krinateen himself, and in fact his first wife divorced him
when she discovered him cheating with a Krinati female. When Simon then married his Krinati mistress, he was
socially ostracized, even in musical circles—and quickly found his new wife’s exoticism greatly
diminished by daily exposure. He divorced her (she, in that maddening Krinati way, didn’t seem to mind)—and soon came to hate her. And from there it was a short hop to hating all the Krinati, like
everybody else did.