In 1943, the United States tests an anti-radar system to make the U.S. Navy ships invisible to the enemy. Dr. James Longstreet uses his experiment in the destroyer escort USS Eldridge that disappears from Philadelphia. The sailors David Herdeg and his best friend Jim Parker are projected to 1984, where they meet Allison Hayes. They unsuccessfully try to contact their base and out of the blue Jimmy disappears in a hospital. Allison helps David to visit Jimmy's wife Pamela, but Jimmy refuses to see him. Now David's only hope is meeting Dr. James Longstreet to learn what to do.
In 54 AD, elderly and lame from birth Emperor Claudius is writing his biography and the history of his family. He recalls an encounter with the Sibyl, who recognizes him from his stutter and tells him that his account will be famous in 1900 years time. Back in Rome in 24 BC, Emperor Augustus is celebrating the anniversary of the battle of Actium, when he and his friend Agrippa defeated Antony and Cleopatra. However, now Augustus is tipping his young nephew Marcellus as his heir. This displeases the emperor's wife, the formidable Livia, who wants the succession to pass to her son from her first marriage, Tiberius, even though Tiberius believes that Augustus dislikes him. Agrippa is also annoyed and leaves Rome. When Marcellus falls ill Livia insists on nursing him and he dies soon after, as she has clearly poisoned him. This provokes a riot among the citizens but it is quelled by the return of Agrippa, who calms the crowd down. A grateful Augustus gives Julia, Marcellus's widow to Agrippa as his wife, which once more angers Livia, seeing the union as yet another obstacle to her ambitions as there was once a time when Julia and Tiberias seemed destined to be married.
Twenty years have passed and Livia, that evil woman as Claudius describes her, continues to spin her web. Her son Tiberius finally got to marry the Emperor's daughter Julia after the death of her second husband Agrippa. The marriage was at Livia's insistence and she forced him to divorce his wife in order to do so. Tiberius still loves her dearly and his marriage to Julia is not a happy one. Livia is not so fond of her other son, Drusus, who is off to the wars in Germany and is a supporter of a republican Rome. When he is injured, Livia sends her personal physician to treat him. He dies shortly thereafter. Drusus' wife Antonio had given him a son however, named Claudius. As for the Emperor, he is confident that his grandsons represent the future of Rome.
Whilst Tiberius in exile derives some comfort from hearing of the mysterious death of Gaius, Antonia confesses to Julia her disappointment in Claudius. She chastises his siblings Germannicus and Livilla for shunning him but still feels that he is stupid. However everybody is amazed when an eagle drops a wolf cub into Claudius's arms and an augur reader interprets this as meaning that in the future Claudius will save Rome in its hour of need. Livia continues her campaign against Julia by proving that she is a serial adulteress, leading to her banishment, a fact which upsets Augustus, who actually loved her. With the news that Lucius has also perished, drowned in a boating accident, Augustus recalls Tiberius from his exile to be his co-heir with his grandson Postumus.
Six years have passed. Germanicus has joined Tiberius in the Germanian campaign, to avenge the Roman legion slaughtered at the Battle of the Teutoburg Forest. Claudius remains at home, researching his family history and despised for his weakness - he faints at the gladiatorial games. In the library Pollio the historian advises him to accentuate his deficiencies. That way he will not be seen as a threat in the murderous world about him and has a greater chance of survival. Augustus names Postumus as his successor but Livia aims to thwart him. She gets Livilla to invite him to her room and then claim that he tried to rape her. Postumus is banished but manages to briefly escape before recapture and tells Claudius that he believes Livia killed Marcellus, Agrippa, Lucius and Gaius and that Claudius should inform Germannicus. He too advises the young man to play on his weaknesses. Some time later Claudius is again an object of scorn as he is married to the considerably taller Urgulanilla.
Germanicus returns from Germania in triumph and he and Claudius catch up on family news - Claudius now has a son but is not enjoying married life. He tells Germanicus what Postumus had passed onto him about Livia's murderous exploits and Germanicus in turn tells the emperor. Augustus is pleased with Claudius and apologizes to him for doubting his capabilities. As Augustus visits Postumus to restore him to his will, Livia works out what has happened and initially suspects Livilla, believing Claudius to be too stupid. Augustus is determined to survive any efforts to poison him and resolves only to eat food he has grown himself. However he falls ill and dies as Livia has presumably poisoned the fruit trees in his garden. Postumus is killed by the brutal soldier Sejanus and at last Livia has her wish - to see Tiberius declared emperor of Rome.
Tiberius, aided by Sejanus, is proving to be a harsh ruler with only Germanicus able to keep him under control. However, whilst he is in Syria Germannicus is mysteriously poisoned. His widow Agrippina is able to rally public support due to his popularity and accuses Piso, the governor of Syria, of being the slayer. Despite claiming an alibi, Piso and his wife Plancina are brought before the senate to stand trial, with Martina, a star witness, being kept under wraps. In fact, Martina was the poisoner, encouraged by Germanicus's son, young Caligula, whose insolence and taste for incest with his sister are already giving his elders cause for concern. Piso claims to have scrolls incriminating Livia and Tiberius in the murder but Plancina, in an effort to save herself, stabs her husband to death and passes it off as remorseful suicide. Thus the case is closed.
Tiberius embarks on a series of acts of debauchery, having sex with anybody he pleases, with Caligula a willing participant. Livia is shocked and Tiberius arranges to give her a horoscope for her birthday to suggest to her that she has not long to live. Augustus's son Castor is perturbed at the free hand given Sejanus in bringing to trial anybody Tiberius feels is opposing him but Castor's wife, Livilla, disagrees and is having an affair with Sejanus, ultimately poisoning Castor to get him out of the way. After Sejanus has forced him to marry Aelia, Sejanus's adopted sister, Claudius attends to the dying Livia, who confesses her murderous misdeeds to him and expresses her fear that they will relegate her to Hades. She tells Claudius of a prophecy that claimed he would become emperor and, before she dies, asks that when he is ruler he make her a goddess.
Tiberius summons Caligula and his cousin Gemellus to Capri, declaring them his joint successors. Soon afterwards Tiberius is smothered by Macro, on the orders of Caligula, and his death is hailed joyfully by the citizens of Rome, unaware that worse is to come. Caligula, clearly unstable, sinks into a coma and on recovering, in addition to having Gemellus executed for trying to poison him, declares that he is the god Zeus and marries his sister Drusilla, declaring her a deity also. When Drusilla falls pregnant by him he cuts open her belly and eats the unborn child to prevent him having greater powers than himself as Zeus once allegedly did. Antonia, sickened by his depravity, kills herself.
Caligula has not only made his horse a senator but has turned the palace into a brothel, selling off senators and their wives for sex. Although scared of him - and getting thrown into a river for his pains - Claudius is seemingly the only person who can put any sort of brake on the mad emperor, intervening to save mens' lives on at least two occasions, the second when Caligula fails in his attempt to defeat Neptune and push back the waves, blaming his generals for his failure. Although Claudius has been living in peace with ex-prostitute Calpurnia Caligula thinks it would be fun to mismatch him with the beautiful but wanton Messalina and has them marry each other. Finally, sickened by his excesses the Praetorian guard under Cassius Chaerea kills Caligula. A sergeant finds Claudius cowering under a table and, in the absence of any other claimants, he is declared the emperor of Rome.
Claudius accepts the crown and spares all the conspirators except Cassius for killing Caligula's wife and family. He also deifies Livia. Messalina, having borne him children, persuades him to let her rule alongside him and brings in senator Silanus as an aide, Silanus marrying Domitia, Messalina's mother. However Messalina attempts to seduce Silanus, leading him to try and kill Claudius, for which he is executed. Not for nothing has Claudius's friend Herod Agrippa warned him to trust nobody.
Whilst Claudius is invading Britain, Messalina is challenging the prostitute Scylla to see who can take the most partners, Messalina easily winning. She also takes the young senator Silius as her lover, forcing him to divorce his wife so that she can marry him whilst sending Claudius a divorce decree when he is away. She hopes that Rome will rally with her against her aging husband but she is mistaken as, on Claudius's return, he is informed of her treachery and she and Silius are executed. At the same time, Claudius learns that Herod has died whilst also planning to overthrow him. However, there is some good news - he has been proclaimed a god in Colchester in Britain
AD 54: Claudius feels that Rome should return to be a Republic but nonetheless marries his niece Agripinilla and makes her son Nero co-heir with his own, teen-aged son Britannicus. Aware of a prophecy that Nero will indeed become sole emperor Claudius encourages Britannicus to flee abroad and then return to restore the Republic but the boy refuses and he is killed by Nero. Claudius resignedly allows himself to be poisoned by his wife and dies. Nero and Agripinilla look for his will but find only his chronicle which they burn. However Claudius and the Sibyl have the last laugh as he has made a copy, which he has buried to be found long after his death.
In a futuristic society, some people are selected at birth to become soldiers, and trained in such a manner that they become inhuman killing machines. One of the most succesfull and older of these soldiers (Russell) is pitted against a new breed of soldiers, and after the confrontation is believed to be dead. His body is left behind in a semi-abandoned colonial planet, where everything is peaceful, and he is taught about the other aspects of life. But eventually he has to fight the new breed of soldiers again, this time to defend his new home...
In early-twentieth-century middle-Europe, villagers are literally becoming petrified. Although the authorities try to hush the matter up, it is apparent that at the full moon, Megaera, a Gorgon, leaves her castle lair and anyone looking on her face is turned to stone. When this fate befalls a visitor, experts from the University of Leipzig arrive to try and get to the bottom of it all.