A world-famous Canadian geophysicist and his wife tour China for three weeks. Professor Wilson is aware that the Chinese are steering them through the tourist circuit, but out of sheer compulsiveness he becomes another Marco Polo, recording virtually everything he sees -- the padded jackets (not all blue), the cotton shoes, the embroidery in the railway compartment, the Edwardian luxuries of big-city hotels, his wife's visit to the beauty parlor. They tour Shanghai, Wunan, Peking, and Mao's wartime headquarters in Yenan. Wilson remembers every meal and counts the seats in the Great Hall in Peking and the books in libraries to check his hosts' information. He painfully reproduces the propaganda barrages that begin and end each official university visit, a bit much for him but he thinks it's probably good for the Chinese. The present state of Chinese geophysics and astronomy he finds fairly primitive, with many older Western instruments in use; he even cites the serial numbers of the instruments. A theorist on such macroscopic processes as continental drift, Professor Wilson has paradoxically missed China for the books, seats, serial numbers and railway compartments.