The book displays a dystopic near future, when computer animation and sampling have reduced the movie industry to software manipulation.
Tom is a remake artist. He does the soulless and soul-destroying work of editing movie stars in and out of digital copies of movies, which are the only kind that still exist. The movies are all fake, but the money is very real, so there are constant legal battles over who has the rights to use which actor's image. Since the movies themselves are continuously available, the actors have to be continually edited in and out as the vagaries of court decisions demand.
Tom fills the rest of his time with the usual Hollywood pastimes, popping pills and poking popsies. Then he meets Alis, who is the classic girl from the heartland come to realize her dreams in Hollywood. Except nobody makes movies the old way anymore. Anybody can be in a movie—just pay your money at the booth on Hollywood Boulevard, and they will video you and digitize you into your own personal copy. Alis wants more. She wants to make her own movies and dance with the stars. Tom is soon astonished to see her appearing in movies he has been given to edit. She appears to have travelled back in time. Or is she a ghost from the past, as in the movie Portrait of Jennie?