Valerius is dead. He watched himself pass away through the eyes of a golem his mind was copied into. The new body may be free of the physical and genetic defects that made his old life so hard, but his thoughts are still on the mysteries he never got to solve. Chief among them is the question of what happens to all the street kids who simply disappear from Autumn.
More than 9,000 years in the future, civilization is again in decline, having clawed back from a complete collapse of technology, the environment and society. Of the great flying cities that were originally built to lift people above a polluted world, only Autumn remains. The city is populated mostly by genetically enhanced humans, along with human-animal hybrids providing manual labor, and a very few “artisanal” humans — those born the traditional way of un-enhanced genetic stock.