Time is set on Earth, the inner part of the Solar System and various other universes onwards from the 21st century. The novel covers a wide range of topics, including the Doomsday argument, Fermi paradox, genetic engineering, and humanity s extinction.
The book begins at the end of space and time, when the last descendants of humanity face an infinite but pointless existence. Due to proton decay the physical universe has collapsed, but some form of intelligence has survived by embedding itself into a lossless computing substrate where it can theoretically survive indefinitely. However, since there will never be new input, eventually all possible thoughts will be exhausted. Some portion of this intelligence decides that this should not have been the ultimate fate of the universe, and takes action to change the past, centering around the early 21st century. The changes come in several forms, including a message to Reid Malenfant, the appearance of super-intelligent children around the world, and the discovery of a mysterious gateway on asteroid 3753 Cruithne.