The citizens of the Hypogeum inhabit an enclosed, self-sufficient world, constructed after an ancient global disaster and supposedly buried in a cosmos of stone. This derivative debut borrows heavily from Heinlein and Orwell, but its terse chapters and efficiently defined characters make for brisk reading. Unaware that any other world exists beyond their immediate horizons, the people of Hypogeum are ruled by Orcus, whose villainous family maintains dominion with incestuous intermarriage, complete control of a ubiquitous network of spying cameras and a team of ""Deathsmen"" who cull the population of the sick. Orcus's boorish son, Hump, is dangerously obsessed with the novel's beautiful heroine, Amarantha, who naturally prefers her lover Cadell. A masked V for Vendetta-style vigilante called the Winnower provides the action as he wreaks moralistic havoc on the decaying society. As in Heinlein's 1941 novella ""Universe,"" the citizens see the majesty of the stars when they finally penetrate the walls.