Campbell Aaronson, one of the scientist who worked on the American bomb at Los Alamos, is now a pacifist composer living in a remote community on the west coast of Scotland. He is replanting ancient woodland and his artist friend is creating a vast site-specific artwork in a cave, but a magnate has other plans for their sacred hill. He wishes to blow it apart and turn it into aggregate for building motorways. How is the community to react? Jon Armour, a Glasgow arts journalist is enticed into their plot and, following his own professional and personal interests, blunders into a reality and a conflict he is incapable of understanding, with disastrous results for all involved. The main plot is mirrored in the plot of a parallel story that projects the localism of the Calltain community onto a global and historical plane. Les Wilson's novel tells not just of rivalries, jealousies and murder, but also of an inherent incompatibility between the ecology of our planet and the logic of Western capitalism, which is played out over and over again - relentlessly. None of the characters are saints or demons. This is human tragedy that is beyond solution or even understanding.
The fate of the Calltain community is perhaps a premonition of our own, resulting as it does from an inability to search out rational compromise - and throughout, the story is dominated by the reflective Aaronson and his intransigent daughter.