The Plot

(Critical Survey of Science Fiction and Fantasy)

Five and a half centuries have passed since mysterious Invaders expelled humanity from Earth. The human survivors have scattered among the other planets of the solar system, borrowing the necessary technology from the Ophiuchi Hotline, a series of transmissions, from anonymous interstellar benefactors, containing data on scientific innovations.

Lilo-Alexandr-Calypso, a genetic engineer, has been sentenced to death for violating laws forbidding experimentation with human DNA. Ophiuchi Hotline data has given humans clone technology, so a death sentence in the year 2618 includes destruction of all tissue samples and memory recordings. Lilo is saved from execution by Boss Tweed, leader of the Free Earthers, a political party determined to overthrow the Invaders and reclaim Earth.

Tweed has been manufacturing illegal clones and forcing them to work to further his goals. Thwarted in her escape attempts by several clones of Vaffa, Tweed’s utterly loyal bodyguard, Lilo eventually agrees, at least temporarily, to cooperate with Tweed. She is sent to an illicit colony on Jupiter’s moon Poseidon, where she meets Cathay, a teacher who is an illegal clone.

Lilo and Cathay plot to overthrow the Vaffa-guards and escape the virtual slavery to which Tweed has banished them. The takeover attempt fails, and Lilo apparently is killed in a fall through Jupiter’s atmosphere. Cathay manages to escape to Saturn’s rings, where Lilo has a secret...

(The entire section is 501 words.)

Literary Techniques

(Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction)

One reason why critics have sometimes called John Varley a "young Robert Heinlein" is the skillful plotting of his fiction. In fact, some...

(The entire section is 151 words.)

Ideas for Group Discussions

(Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction)

The Ophiuchi Hotline is an exciting read, filled as it is with multiple adventures and imaginative depictions of people and places....

(The entire section is 400 words.)

Social Concerns

(Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction)

In the late twentieth century, humanity was evicted from Earth by the Invaders — an alien race that had evolved in a giant gas planet. For...

(The entire section is 508 words.)

Literary Precedents

(Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction)

In 1948, A. E. van Vogt's seminal novel The World of Null-A was published. Its main character Gosseyn has extra matter in his brain,...

(The entire section is 261 words.)

Related Titles

(Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction)

The Ophiuchi Hotline is part of a group of stories set in a future in which the Invaders have forced humanity off of Earth. The short...

(The entire section is 74 words.)