The Plot

(Critical Survey of Science Fiction and Fantasy)

A book that is greater than the sum of its parts, Moderan is narrated by the leader of Stronghold 10. The book consists of interrelated stories originally published separately between 1959 and 1970.

The tale begins with a line that sets the tone for the rest of the book: “Flesh seemed doomed that year; death’s harpies were riding down.” After the first story considers possible theological ramifications of the forthcoming destruction, David R. Bunch’s narrator crosses over into Moderan. There, he undergoes a process to change him from a life-form that is primarily biological to one that is composed largely of metal, with only a few strips of flesh left on each body. Citizens of Moderan are judged in part by how little flesh they have, though no one is ever reported as having a body that is more than 92.5 percent steel.

The narrator soon demonstrates his superior abilities. Life in Moderan consists almost exclusively of making war and “Joys,” including the equivalent of sexual activity with “female” robots. The narrator excels at both pursuits. As explained in “And So White Witch Valley,” Moderan is “man country with man aims and man views.” Women who have undergone the transformation are relegated to a walled province so that men will not be distracted from their purpose of making war.

The stories emphasize everyday life in Moderan. The residents of Moderan, even though they may be primarily steel,...

(The entire section is 552 words.)