The Plot

(Critical Survey of Science Fiction and Fantasy)

On July 4, 1947, in a United States with a governmental regime that appears considerably more authoritarian than the one recorded in history, a political radical named Timothy O’Mara attempts to assassinate General Norton. He fails and is summarily executed by the general. He then finds himself back in the early 1920’s, inhabiting the body of a man named Tommy Bloome, whom he once murdered in order to take over his identity.

The main narrative describes, from several points of view, how Tommy Bloome, armed with a mysterious knowledge of things to come, becomes a zealous labor organizer, preparing the way for a general strike that precipitates a new American revolution in the early 1930’s. After an extended civil war, Bloome’s insurrectionists finally defeat the last remnants of the Nationalist army and secure power, but their rule follows much the same pattern as that of Soviet communism, involving constant internal power struggles within the hierarchy of the party and frequent purges.

Bloome is ousted from his position as director of the new Free Democratic State by his deputy, Arnold Lowrey, a political opportunist who had been the governor of Arkansas before the revolution. Lowrey is helped in this treachery by the sinister John Durgas and is further assisted by the passive but willing cooperation of Bloome’s wife, Rachel, a former socialite who became an alcoholic during the difficult years of the civil war.


(The entire section is 469 words.)