In a future North America at once familiar and utterly strange, a young man and woman, Skip and Chelle, fall in love and marry. But Chelle is enlisted in the military, there is a war on, and she must serve her tour of duty before they can settle down. Earth is fighting a war with aliens in distant star systems, and Chelle's months in the service will be years in relative time on Earth. She returns to recuperate from severe injuries, still a young woman but not necessarily the same person—while Skip is now a wealthy businessman in his forties. Still in love, they go on a Caribbean cruise that rapidly goes awry with spies, aliens, and battles with pirates who capture the ship for ransom. There is no writer in SF like Gene Wolfe and no SF novel like Home Fires.