The Plot

(Critical Survey of Science Fiction and Fantasy)

The story occurs primarily on Clarke County, a space colony in high Earth orbit, and involves the efforts of Sheriff John Bigthorn to stop a Mafia killer, a plot by a crazed member of an Elvis Presley cult, and a movement for colony independence. The story is told within a frame involving a journalist writing a book. Simon McCoy approaches the journalist to tell him the real story. The journalist agrees to hear him out, withholding any questions until later. The novel is in the third person and is presented from a variety of viewpoints, but it is intended to represent the story being told by McCoy.

The story begins with Macy Westmoreland, longtime girlfriend of a Mafia boss. Westmoreland is escaping with stolen cash and computer disks. An FBI agent following her is killed by a hired hit man called the Golem. Westmoreland books passage to Clarke County, and the Golem follows.

The novel introduces Sheriff John Bigthorn while he is taking peyote in his hogan (Indian sweat lodge) in an isolated section of the agricultural area of Clarke County. He is visited by Jenny Schorr. She and her husband, Neil, are the leaders of Clarke County. The Schorrs have modeled Clarke County, the first and only space colony, after their 1960’s-style farming commune. When their investors push commercialism, Jenny impulsively threatens to declare independence. That information, from a private meeting, is immediately distributed on the “net,” or information...

(The entire section is 578 words.)