Life on Earth is good. Disease is checked, hunger ended, and war and suffering abolished, with liberty and justice and a high standard of living for all. But Paul Formain, a strangely gifted young engineer, doesn't believe a word of it. So he comes to Walter Blunt's Chantry Guild, whose motto is "Destruct!" and whose stated goal is the end of civilization. There are Alternate Laws at work in the world, says the Chantry Guild; Walter Blunt has pledged his life to them, and to the principle of destruction as a positive force. After centuries of hope and progress, and the triumph of science, something strange is happening to mankind. And whatever it is, it's going to be big.