Famine sweeps across the world when a lab accident unleashes a virulent strain of bacteria that transforms healthy fields into barren wastelands. With the fate of the human race at stake, wealthy financier Stanley Nordenholt establishes a stronghold in central Scotland and assumes dictatorial powers to save what remains of the planet's starving population. This gripping tale of survival explores some of the moral dilemmas that arise in the wake of catastrophic events as well as their social, cultural, and political consequences. A precursor to the latter-day tales from the golden age of science fiction, this compelling novel was published by a noted British chemist in 1923. Acclaimed by the Encyclopedia of Science Fiction as "realistic, reasoned, sociologically observed, and credible," it offers an ever-relevant warning against the exploitation of disaster as a pretext for the suspension of freedom, democracy, and justice.