Senator Martin Harmon is poised to claim his partys nomination for vice president of the United States. He improved his chances dramatically by becoming the leading spokesperson for a law, the REA, designed to prevent abuses in genetic engineering; abuses that Harmon believes threaten the country and mankind. But he has a problem: the woman he loves is not his wife, and the woman who is his wife wants nothing to do with the intense spotlight that comes with a presidential campaign. As he struggles to resolve his dilemma, he must confront the consequences of the law he fought so hard to enact, for if he has won political friends with his support for the REA, he has made enemies among genetic researchers, including Max Grunfeld, an aging scientist of towering reputation whose most recent discovery will revolutionize the entire field of genetics. Events put Harmon and Grunfeld on a collision course with the highest stakes possible: human life.