The story follows the fortunes of a late nineteenth century Englishman identified only as Graham. After a struggle with a highly unusual case of insomnia, Graham falls into a strange coma referred to by Wells as a "trance" in 1897. He awakens two hundred and three years later to find that he has inherited sizeable wealth. During that time, his money was put into a trust which managed Graham's money in his name. Over the years, the members of that trust used Graham's unprecedented wealth to establish a vast political and economic order that spans the entire world.