Centuries ago, the people of Earth sent Ship into space. Deep within its core, it carried the seed of humankind...More than twenty years have passed since Ship left its children, the seed of humanity, on an uninhabited, earth like planet - a planet they named Home. Zoheret and her companions have started settlements and had children of their own. But, as on board Ship, there was conflict, and soon after their arrival, Zoheret's old nemesis, Ho, left the original settlement to establish his own settlement far away. When Ho's daughter, sixteen-year-old Nuy, spies three stranger. headed toward their village, the hostility between the two groups of old shipmates begins anew and threatens to engulf the children of both settlements. Can the divided settlers face the challenges of adapting to their new environment in spite of their conflicts? And if they do, will they lose their humanity in the process?
Several hundred years ago, Ship, a sentient starship, settled humans on the planet Home before leaving to colonize other worlds, promising to return one day. Over time, the colony of Home divided into those who live in the original domed buildings of the colony, who maintain the library and technology of Ship, and those who live by the river, farming, and hunting to survive. The Dome Dwellers consider themselves the protectors of "true humanity" and the River People as 'contaminated,' and the two sides interact solely through ritualized trade: food and goods from the River People in exchange for repairs and recharges by the Dome Dwellers. A new light appears in the night sky. The River People believe it might be Ship, keeping its promise to return, but the Dome Dwellers, who have a radio to communicate with Ship, are silent. So Bian, a seventeen-year-old girl from a small village, heads upriver to learn what they know. As she travels through the colony of Home, gaining companions and gathering news, Bian ponders why the Dome Dwellers have said nothing. Has Ship commanded them to be silent, in preparation of some judgment on the River People?
Or are the Dome Dwellers lying to Ship, turning Ship against their rivals?