Francis Sandow is the last surviving human born in the 20th century. An early space colonist, he spent long centuries of space travel in suspended animation, and then suddenly woke in a far future world where everything had changed. Desperate for something to hold to, he sought out a mentor, who happened to be a member of a slowly dying alien race, the Pei'ans. Under this tutelage, Sandow eventually became a telepath and "worldscaper". Worldscapers have the ability to create and/or terraform planets. The process of becoming a worldscaper culminates in a mystic rite called Naming that binds the mortal to one of the gods in the Pei'an pantheon, and it is believed that the worldscaper is actually acting as an avatar for the god.