When Marl Judson, fleeing a rapacious government that wanted not just his fabulous wealth but his life, crash-landed on a uninhabited planet, he thought he was marooned without hope of rescue, so he prepared himself to live out his remaining years as best he could amidst the planet's weird hallucinogenic flora. But head-twistting flowers (which Judson learned to avoid) were only part of the planet's weirdness: it was possessed of some sort of field effect which made time play strange tricks; temporal anomalies sometimes resulted in cause preceding effect and bizarre compressions and expansions of the normal pace of events.
In such an environment time had no meaning; has Jusdson lived centuries alone, or only decades? Or is it years? Or all of the above? He doesn't quite know, but when another ship crashes the strange time effects allow(ed) him to conduct an experiment aimed at producing a perfect society, a veritable Judson's Eden. The the Snake arrives in the form of the government that marooned him - and the Snake wants Judson's Eden for itself.