As in Beyond the Veil of Stars (1994), Reed takes a familiar setting and then introduces pan-cosmic complications, to initially stunning but ultimately self-defeating effect. It is 1978. Jesse Aylsworth, a biology major at small-town Warner College, is also editor of the Chronicle newspaper. He runs a headline piece by vindictive reporter Jill Toon describing the bribes and payoffs accepted by Warner's President Lloyd. Then, while delivering the newspapers, Jesse falls madly in love with fellow senior Sully Faulkner; he's also visited by a man of Native American appearance who claims to be a turtle from the end of the universe. Jesse, Sully, Jill, Lloyd, and certain others have been made immortal and given godlike powers as part of Mr. Turtle's plan to create a perfect universe--the convolutions of which are far too tedious to detail. Soon, Jesse witnesses the alarming spectacle of Lloyd repeatedly blowing his brains out, then regenerating. And a criminal from Mr. Turtle's era arrives, intending to disrupt the cosmic harmonies and taking the identity of someone familiar. Jesse suspects that it's Sully. A persuasive small-town purlieu tilting away into a hypertrophied flight-of-fancy impossible to believe in or care about--which is Reed's usual outcome.