The Plot

(Critical Survey of Science Fiction and Fantasy)

Love in the Ruins and its sequel, The Thanatos Syndrome, were published sixteen years apart. In each work, readers follow the fallible Dr. Thomas More as he attempts to cure his own spiritual illnesses as well as those of a civilization falling apart around him.

Love in the Ruins focuses on a four-day period of social unrest and rebellion in Paradise Estates, Louisiana. More, an alcoholic who is suffering mood swings that resulted in his psychiatric hospitalization, has released himself and begun to prepare for a catastrophe imminent at the novel’s opening. More has failed to persuade his fellow doctors of the urgent need to support his scientific research on psychic disorders. He believes that his invention, More’s Qualitative Quantitative Ontological Lapsometer, can measure the activity levels of all parts of the brain and diagnose the psychic problems of a society going mad. He is aware of his own mental instability after the deaths of his daughter, Samantha, and his wife, Doris, before the novel’s opening. He no longer attends services of the Roman Catholic church (now divided into several sects).

For three years, More has watched as wild vines have taken over Paradise Estates. Divisions have escalated between Republican “Knotheads” and Democratic “Leftists,” black Bantu rebels and white suburbanites, and wealthy patriots and impoverished swamp dwellers. America has continued its divisive, politically confused, sixteen-year war in Ecuador. All the while, More has sought refuge in alcohol, the promise of his scientific research to heal discord, and the love of women, namely his proper Protestant nurse, Ellen Oglethorpe; his musically gifted neighbor, Lola Rhoades; and Moira Schaffner, a beautiful receptionist at the Love Clinic.

In a scientific demonstration of his lapsometer before medical students and colleagues, More miraculously cures the elderly Mr. Ives, saves Ives from the “Euphoric Switch” of euthanasia awaiting nonconformist senior citizens, and defeats his opponent, Dr. Buddy Brown. Only Art...

(The entire section is 853 words.)