The spaceship Sunbird, initially commissioned for a voyage around the sun, makes contact with a solar flare and is thrown off of its course. There are three crew members on board: Lorimer, the timid scientist who is occasionally consulted by Bud and Dave, the two conventionally masculine men who outrank Lorimer within the crew’s hierarchy. While trying to regain their bearings, the crew receives radio transmissions in which feminine voices with heavy Australian accents talk amongst themselves and also try to make contact with the Sunbird. The transmissions relay the fact that the Sunbird is not heading towards Earth, as the crew believe, but is in fact on a course going further out into space. After reluctantly responding to these transmissions and relaying their identifying information, the crew is told that the Sunbird mission was lost in space centuries ago. Unwilling to accept that the collision with the solar flare must have sent them into the future, but realizing the severity of their circumstances, Dave, the pious commander of the crew, acquiesces to making contact with the spacecraft Gloria, which initially picked up the Sunbird on its radar and has the capacity to take them back to Earth. The crew spacewalk from the Sunbird onto the Gloria as the shock of their journey through time sets in. After relatively amicable relations set in between the two crews, Lorimer is quick to perceive holes in the story that the crew of the Gloria relay to the three men about the society that awaits them back on Earth. They are told that a pandemic of mass infertility decimated the population of Earth generations ago, with Australia being the least affected. When asked to elaborate on the political and social structure of the existing society, the crew members are reticent. Lorimer also takes note of some inexplicable characteristics of the Gloria crew, including identical twins who are seemingly different ages, and the sole male crew member, Andy, appearing to be a little more than a boyish teenager. With time, Lorimer discovers that the Sunbird crew has been drugged with something that makes them vocalize their thoughts. When probing for answers, he is finally told that the remaining population of Earth is almost entirely female, with the exception of some, like Andy, who are given androgen treatments soon after birth. The population is maintained by cloning the genotypes of the roughly 11,000 survivors of the pandemic. While these revelations come out, Bud attempts to rape a crew member, and Dave becomes convinced that he is chosen by God to sire a new lineage on Earth. These violent thoughts and behaviors of the men, including sexually aggressive thoughts Lorimer has which are revealed by the drug, are evidence to the Gloria crew that introducing the men to their peaceful society would be a mistake. Coming to terms with the futility of his situation, Lorimer requests the deadly “antidote” to the thought-revealing drug, which he drinks.
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