The Plot

(Critical Survey of Science Fiction and Fantasy)

Simeon Krug is obsessed with communicating with aliens by answering mysterious messages received from the stars. To achieve this, Simeon is funding the construction of a communications tower on the Canadian tundra. Simeon made his fortune by inventing a process to create androids, artificial humans who meet most of humanity’s need for physical labor. The androids are considered property and have few civil rights.

Simeon is unaware that the androids have spawned a religion with him as god. The hierarchical religion’s fundamental tenets are the androids’ fervent belief that their enslavement is a time of testing and that one day Simeon will speak out in their behalf and they will take their rightful place as equals beside humans.

Android Thor Watchman is Simeon’s foreman at the tower construction and a leading figure in the religion. Thor and his fellow believers are at odds with the AEP, the Android Equality Party, a group seeking to free androids from slavery through politics. When a member is killed, the AEP tries to use the event to get a constitutional amendment passed to free androids. The increased presence of the AEP pressures Thor into trying to influence Krug to end his creations’ suffering. Thor conspires with android Lilith Meson, who has been having an affair with Simeon’s only child, Manuel.

Manuel is a pliant, shallow playboy who takes little interest in either his father’s businesses or his obsessive...

(The entire section is 504 words.)