Charleston Sutterfeld does what people do: shows up to work predominantly on time, tends to assigned tasks, avoids conflict and complication. Sure, beneath the surface he occasionally ponders whether a personal greatness might exist somewhere inside of him--as anyone, he presumes, might naturally wonder every now and again. But his life seldom offers occasion to descend to such introspective depths. So who is he to argue?
Until an innocent oversight brings Charleston face to face with an unexpected bit of information about a man known simply as Mr. Twytharp--the revered and reclusive visionary founder of Thundercom Corporation, a company known the world over as the universe's single largest manufacturer of all things material. Housed in a towering eighty-six floor building, on the third floor of which one can find Charleston's cubicle, Thundercom is credited with revolutionizing business for the modern age. But as Charleston unwittingly discovers, the lauded humanitarian at the center of the company's success barely resembles--in appearance, at least--the human beings whose culture he has so advanced.
Rather than proving his undoing, this discovery brings about Charleston's inexplicable rise to the top of Thundercom's ranks where he is confronted with one unexpected oddity after another, including the fact that maintaining his success requires that he keep himself from asking one simple and central question. A question he has heretofore seldom asked of his life. A question that is now proving irrepressible. A question that proves deeply threatening to the most powerful man-like thing in the modern global economy. Namely: what does any of this mean?