In a country called Academia, art critic Ida O’Dewey is at the top of her game – until she misjudges the limit between satire and irresponsibility, live on radio. She must retrieve her public reputation and avoid professional extinction, but sources of power and methods of persuasion are never clear-cut. An enigmatic group of radical sensualists, with an occult attraction to a glossy black substance and a deep contempt for mainstream conceptualism, present a possible way out. This stuff called ‘oil’, Ida intuits, could be the perfect subject for a block-busting thesis. Crude relates the non-sequiturs and irrational connections that make up a complex society, where even the most specialised and experienced cannot profess to be in control of their immediate future.