On the Rim planet fittingly called End of Nothing, a bizarre society of robots and humans toiled for a thousand years to perfect a religion that would create a new and all-embracing faith - no novelty in a galaxy crowded with religions. But one project was hidden from the hordes of pilgrims welcomed at Vatican-17 on End of Nothing. A group of trained human sensitives were sending their minds ranging through all of time and space, gathering information. With that information, a computer of infinite knowledge, wisdom and infallibility was being constructed in secret - the ultimate Pope.
Of the three outsiders allowed residence on End of Nothing, one was tolerated at a distance by Vatican-17, one was welcome - and one was a threat to be countered.
Decker hardly mattered. His lifeboat had landed him on the remote planet, and he kept to himself in the wilderness. Neither the human nor robot authorities knew of the unseen companion who whispered constantly in Decker's mind.
Dr Jason Tennyson had fled the political furies of his homeworld. Here, Vatican-17's physician had died, and Tennyson's skills were desperately needed and well rewarded.
Jill Roberts was a journalist in quest of a sensational story she had scented. Vatican-17 knew she could not be allowed to break the news of Project Pope before it was completed - and debated two possible ways of stopping her.
The one of the Searcher sensitives threw Vatican-17 into turmoil, threatening its very existence and involving the three outsiders in a sudden power struggle between human and robot.
Drifting in unsuspecting dimensions, the woman had encountered Heaven!
Clifford D. Simak (1904 -1988)
Clifford Donald Simak was born in Wisconsin, in 1904. He attended the University of Wisconsin and spent his working life in the newspaper business. He flirted briefly with science fiction in the early '30s but did not start to write seriously until John W. Campbell's Astounding Stories began to rejuvenate the field in 1937. Simak was a regular contributor to Astounding throughout the Golden Age, producing a body of well regarded work. He won the Nebula and multiple Hugo Awards, and in 1977 was the third writer to be named a Grand Master by SFWA. He died in 1988.