The Plot

(Critical Survey of Science Fiction and Fantasy)

Norman House, an African American executive with the massive General Technics corporation (GT), becomes manager of the Beninia project, through which GT plans to salvage its investment in the Mid-Atlantic Mining Project by turning the sleepy capital of Beninia, Port Mey, into a deepwater port and ore-processing complex. As the project develops, however, GT’s supercomputer Shalmaneser begins to predict failure.

Meanwhile, Norman’s roommate, Donald Hogan, previously on the government payroll as an independent researcher and a student of the Yatakang language, is suddenly “activated.” Military authorities take him to a base in California, where intensive training turns him into a lethal killer. He is then sent to Yatakang to determine the truth of claims by that country’s government that its scientists have achieved a breakthrough in genetic technology.

Before Donald departs, the two roommates attend a party where they meet legendary sociologist Chad Mulligan, a banned author of subversive books and currently a homeless alcoholic even though he is a millionaire. Impressed by the great man’s analytic skills, they invite him back to their apartment, and he ends up taking over Donald’s room. He has already helped Donald figure out what his assignment is likely to be; henceforth he will prove invaluable to Norman and GT.

Donald’s mission to Yatakang is a technical success and a moral failure. Given cover as a newsman, he...

(The entire section is 569 words.)