A shuttle has taken a scientist, Allen, up to do an experiment and when he does it, they're somewhere else. He was working on a battery and found a hyperdrive (handwavium). He puts the specs out on the web but the US tells everybody it contains a virus. When they get back from that jump, their vertical stabilizer is vaporized -- the French admitted that they thought it was a terrorist.
Allen and Judy jump out to see Saturn's rings and when they get back, the US considers them traitors. They get close to a communications satellite and send the instructions there, to everybody, and the US still says it's not right.
Allen and Judy take the space station's EMU and land in Wyoming. While they walk toward town, they meet Trent and Donna in a big four-wheeler who take them home with them. Trent lets them make a spaceship in his garage -- out of a septic tank and other fittings -- as long as they show him how to build his own. The US anchors were told to say the design was very wrong, but many of the anchors made it clear in some way to their viewers that the US was making them say it.
The feds come after them at Trent & Donna's and the Getaway Special jumps from their driveway, leaving the characteristic hole from the spherical field. The first place they go already has someone there so they go onward and find an empty habitat in space. They find an Earth-style planet, but because the feds made them leave earlier than they planned, they didn't have mice to check the atmosphere. Judy goes out and it's fine. They find a number of alien plants and beings, although one, Tippet, is not a native and is part of a hive mind. Tippet has varying intelligence depending on how much of the hive mind is assigned to him so he is able to learn English very quickly.
A French submarine shows up in orbit and lands men who want to get away from France, but the men cut down the trees without checking to see if they're semi-intelligent yet. Judy has Tippet's ship aim the exhaust toward the planet, which puts the trees to sleep, and the Frenchmen go back into orbit and the submarine goes on.
Judy and Allen find out that there's close to a holocaust back on Earth and they ask Tippet's species to make humans join together. Allen and Tippet make a big hyperdrive for Tippet's ship and movies that look like a monster species telling Earth they'll be killed. It didn't work and Tippet thinks of nuking Earth. They get a mayday from Trent and Donna, who have made their big red pickup truck into a spaceship, and were shot at when they tried to get home.
Judy and Allen tell Trent & Donna what's happening on Earth and Tippet is still thinking of killing Earth. Judy suggests a real galactic federation and Tippet says too many humans are out in their weird spaceships now to be capable of killing humans.
This was fun to read as long as you can let some of the science go.