A biological calamity affects the entire nation. An apparently harmless loss of a contraceptive chemical turns out to be a disaster affecting not only the coalition government and the civil service, who have to cope, but most of the population. It also gives the press unprecedented opportunities for scoops, and for some people who will always find ways to profit. People view the future with varying degrees of horror, delight or panic. Jennifer Joy, the civil servant controlling Randy Jolliphant, the Minister for Leisure and Pleasure, who becomes responsible, relishes the task until she discovers her own plans are going to be affected by the consequences.