The Open Palm and her crew are the finest Earth has to offer in 2058.  The mission: serve as ambassadors of the human race to the aliens called Cygnans. The eleven people on board must live together for seven years.  They were handpicked for the mission but their success hangs on factors that no psychologist could have foreseen. And there is a twelfth personality to contend with: the ship’s computer, programmed to complete the mission successfully and to monitor the crew.  What level of awareness can such a machine develop? How refined can its decision-making be after years of human input?  And when the mission starts to deteriorate, what will it choose to do?