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London: four hundred years after a sophisticated neutron device has cut the world’s population by 95%.  After the destruction, the world is set slightly out of its orbit, leaving, according to calculations by those still alive, just 2350 years before it burns up.  The surviving forces, an élite of women scientists, decide that, as a testimony to the event, the world’s years will be chronicled in reverse order from that year on.

It is 1909 in the new world 441 years later.  Women are the ruling class, the Populite, running the country, controlling the population through a school-based rearing process; each schoolgirl having two children as part of her Biology Module before being sterilised; the legacy of the Other World, as it becomes known, has been several Sperm Centres, which provide, outside of the need for relations between the sexes, the necessary sperm for each pregnancy.  The male children from this process are sired by male couples who have to have lived together for at least five years to qualify for siring.  The controlled 5% of births that are female are raised for positions of power at selective Populite establishments.

London is in the grip of the Republican Activists, a male terrorist group trying to wrest power from the Populite.  The only legally permissible sexual activity is between males - the lower strata of society - women are all in positions of power but remain asexual.  Their elders have sacrificed a historical sexuality for power, retained through a clinical manipulation of the population.  The Sperm Centres have permanently relegated the real fathers of everyone born in the New World to the dead history of the Old one.

Morda is a man trying to fight off his heterosexual urges; any discovered sexual encounter with a woman is punishable by death.  The tendencies become further frustrated by the fact that he has just qualified to sire a child with his lover of five years, Provlyn Ranshell.

Rocassa Milo is his employer and the subject of his fantasies.  She is a woman blighted since the discovery in a school clinic that she is unable to bear children; she has consequently not been subjected to any of the unsexing of the sterilisation process.  The story develops as she decides to do the unthinkable and transgress the culture of her sex to answer the feelings that she has been experiencing.

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