The Plot

(Critical Survey of Science Fiction and Fantasy)

The primary narrative track follows the eponymous Doctor Rat as he tries to explain, justify, and defend the hideous experiments he is conducting in collaboration with some unseen but omnipotent human agency. The alternative track is a composite of the thoughts of various animals involved in a rebellion against manipulative technology. The animals strive to reaffirm their primal connection to the landscape of the planet and its life-giving properties.

Although he is given the physical attributes of a rodent, Doctor Rat acts and thinks like a man of the late twentieth century, measuring everything in terms of commercial success. He is devoid of compassion, reeks of machismo, and is blind to his own defects. He represents individualism gone amok, is capable of the most circumlocutory rationalizations to support his actions, and is truly a “rat” in terms of ethical behavior.

The various species of animals in peril, on the other hand, are conceived in terms of traits that traditionally have defined the truly humane—empathy, understanding, self-sacrifice, kindness, and consideration. They are drawn as genuinely spiritual creatures in the sense of feeling a connection to a cosmic, universal consciousness that lends a significance to their lives and ennobles their existence.

The narrative proceeds by juxtaposing Doctor Rat’s increasingly frantic, first-person accounts of his attempts to control the situation in the laboratory with different representatives of the wilderness (that is, a free state) awakening to a call to their particular nature. The eventual destruction of the entire animal population through the employment of the latest technological advances in war-making machinery is seen by Doctor Rat as a “final solution” that even he recognizes as a mark of failure, because it leaves “a sort of lonely feeling” out there.