Four interlinked stories that together tell the story of how Earth's first colonisation of another planet comes about, just before it's space programme is about to close down for good.
The final story is far and away the best in the collection but by then it's too late; we've already had to sit through a lot of run of the mill SF that was barely entertaining. Although we are introduced to the characters of the final story in the preceeding stories, they do little to flesh them out or establish them in the reader's mind.
Poul Anderson can write great SF (and fantasy for that matter) but only a tiny glimmer of this man's talent is in evidence here, and only in the final story. It is becoming quite clear to me that he wrote a lot of forgettable books that readers interested in exploring the classics of the field would do well to avoid.