Imagine a world, a time, a history so entirely unlike ours that -- It's August 19, 2037. The United Nations is just fifty years old. Televisors are still black-and-white. The Nidics have just won the World Series in Prague. Com-Pub observatories are publishing elaborate figures on moving specks in space which they consider to be Martian spaceships on their way to Earth, but which United Nations astronomers cannot discover at all. Women are using gilt lipsticks this year. Heat-induction motors were still considered efficient prime movers.
Thorn Hard is a high-level flier for the Pacific Watch. Bathyletis is the most prominent of nationally advertised diseases, and was to be cured by RO-17, "The Foundation of Personal Charm." Somebody named Nirdlinger was President of the United Nations, and somebody else named Krassin was Commissar of Commissars for the Com-Pubs.