The novel focuses on Lilo's search for knowledge, as well as her search for her own identity. The search for knowledge is enhanced when she becomes three Lilos. One eventually uncovers the source of the Ophiuchi Hotline and discovers humanity's only hope for a future. Another is flung several thousand years into the future by the Invaders, where she discovers the meager life left to primitive and superstitious people on Earth. The other helps thwart the plans of the tyrannical Boss Tweed, leader of the Free Earthers, whose plans to retake Earth from the Invaders would result in the extermination of humanity. Each learns and subliminally shares with the others, giving the Lilos an understanding of what her race must do to survive.