Clans of the Alphane Moon (Synopsis)
By Philip K. Dick -- 1964
Summary by Paul Barry
As the story opens the reader is introduced to the character Gabriel Baines. He is sending his Mans-made simulacrum into the supreme council room in the Pare city of Adolfsville. He is sending the simulacrum ahead because it is part of his nature as a Pare to protect himself, above all else. Gabriel Baines is the Pare representative to the supreme council, which meets twice yearly in Adolfsville. Adolfsville is on the moon Alpha III M 2, in the Alphane system.
As the chapter proceeds we are introduced to the other delegates:
from - Ghanditown
from – Hamlet Hamle
from – Cotton Mather Estates
from - ?
from – DaVinci Heights
from - Joan D'Arc
The delegates are gathered at this time due to concern about a spaceship. Traders routinely visit them from Alpha II. The ship is not from Alpha II. They are worried. Through the chapter, there are details on how each of the delegates processes concern about the ship.
Chapter 2 introduces a new set of characters on earth. We meet Chuck Rittersdorf. Chuck is recently separated from his wife Mary. She has their two children with her. Chuck is renting a conapt (an apartment). He is in Marin County, California. He works as a similcara programmer for the Cheyenne government intelligence agency, the Counter Intelligence Authority (referred to as CIA throughout the book). Chuck works out of the San Fransisco office.
His relationship with Mary is difficult. She is a successful marriage counselor in Marin County. She has a good income. She is ashamed of Chuck. She sees him as not interested in "getting ahead" in her view.
There is an opportunity for him to pursue a job as a scriptwriter for a television comedian, Bunny Hentman. Chuck is not interested.
Mary comes to visit him in his conapt. She informs him that she is selling their house and putting their older child, Deborah, age 6, in boarding school. Mary also speaks of a government job she is taking. Some details are noted as background to their conversation about her role as a consulting psychologist for an inter-plan project. She describes her "charity work" as coming from the Terran – Alphane clash of 10 years before.
The Alphane System has dozens of moons and 22 planets. There was a settlement cut off from earth because of the war. It is noted that the settlement was cut off 2 generations ago. After Mary leaves Chuck reads more about the particular moon in an old homeopape. Psychologists were needed because the planet was originally a hospital. It was a psychiatric care center for Terran immigrants to the Alphane system who had cracked under the pressures of colonization.
Shortly after reading the paper, he feels a recurring urge to kill himself. He goes to a window. He is "dangling" over the street. He hears a voice, not his own, inside his head. The voice says, "Please tell me your name. Regardless of whether you intend or do not intend to jump." These Thoughts / Words come from a yellow Ganymedean slime mold, whose name we later learn is Lord Running Clam (LRC). LRC has oozed under the door, unable to knock. LRC introduces himself as an importer of uncut gems, a dealer in second hand gold, and a stamp collector. LRC welcomes Chuck to the building, which the tenants refer to as the Discarded Arms Conapts. LRC indicates that he is only one of several non-T's living in the building. LRC offers Chuck a job. Chuck declines, insulted. He claims to want to be left alone. LRC says that he fears Chuck's suicide impulse will return. He decides to send Chuck a girl. As the Chapter ends there is a girl at Chuck's door.
Chapter 3 opens with Mary visiting Bunny Hentman. She is trying to secure Chuck a high paying scriptwriter job that will support her while she is in her non-paying job on Alpha III M 2. She talks to Jerry Feld, and Bunny Hentman, whose real name is Lionsblood Regal. Bunny is not interested in Chuck, but he likes Mary. He offers a side deal, involving dinner with her, for a six-week trial with Chuck as a writer. There is a hint of lewdness in Bunny's side deal offer.
Mary heads for her new job. She meets Lawrence McCrea. He gives her some background to prepare her to speak with reporters. He tells her that the reporters will try to get her to say that her project – "Operation Fifty-minutes" is a cover-up for a Terran attempt to reclaim the moon Alpha III M 2, which had become independent, according to interplan law 5 years before.
After the press conference, Mary returns home to prepare for her trip.
CIA men come to her door. They warn her to lay off Chuck. They leave. She is more angered than frightened and plans to use this, in her view, intimidation attempt, against Chuck in court at their divorce trial. The chapter ends.
Chapter 4 opens with Joan Trieste at Chuck's door. Chuck invites her in. He finds her attractive. She tells him that she is a psi. She is a member of the psi-men, Incorporated of America. Her talent is to make time flow backward. She can do this in a 9 foot by 12-foot area, and can move time backward for up to five minutes. She indicates that she works for the Ross Police Department. They use her when they can at accident scenes. She has saved a number of lives. She is on-call 24 hours a day. They converse for several pages of the text. She speaks of the non-T's living in his building. She encourages him to give the breakup with his wife time to heal. She describes LRC as a good being. She said that he had what St. Paul described as Caritas. She indicates that the modern word is empathy.
Jack Elwood, and Pete Petri barge in. They are Chuck's co-workers. There is some dialogue. They offer him a chance to remote control from Earth a simulacrum, Dan Mageboom, on Alpha III M 2, where Mary is. Chuck entertains the thought of killing Mary with the simulacrum. The idea of killing Mary sticks with Chuck. It is noted that it is three light years to the Alphane Moon. A lot could go wrong in a long distance, remote control murder plan.
As Chapter five begins, Chuck calls Jack Elwood. He tells Jack he is interested in working on remote programming Dan Mageboom (the similcara).
Chuck hangs up from his call. LRC informs him telepathically that there is someone in the hall. Chucks opens the door to greet Bunny Hentman. They begin to discuss a scriptwriter job. Dan Mageboom arrives. Hentman cannot tell that he is a similcara, LRC can. Joan Trieste arrives.
Dialogue gets somewhat chaotic. LRC takes a role in influencing the situation with Hentman so that Chuck gets the job. LRC offers Chuck stimulant drugs so that he can hold two jobs.
A group goes out socially to celebrate Chuck's job with Hentman.
LRC is along. He does a fair bit of mind reading and communicating. He informs Chuck that Joan is interested in him amorously.
After the social time, Chuck accompanies Joan on a police call. She saves an accident victim by moving the person back in time before the accident. She is weary. Chuck goes to her apartment with her. Bob Alfson, Mary's attorney is there. He takes a picture of them: an "Agfom potent-shot." This process takes a picture of what will happen in the next half-hour.
It is clear that they were going to make love. Alfson plans to use this "fact" at the divorce trial. As the chapter ends it is clear that Chuck still has thoughts of killing Mary. "It's still possible," he says, "to perform an act in secret. That no one else knows about."
Chapter six is back on Alpha III M 2. Ignatz Ledebur is at home in Ghanditown, the Heeb settlement. It is described as filthy. Ledebur has a vision. His family interrupts his vision. He tries to recall the details.
He recalls a "Monster" that crushes Ghanditown. He sees also a "wicked soul." He sees that the monster and the wicked soul will fight a battle.
Ledebur believes that his visionary powers come from his "saintliness." "…And it was a good thing to be a Heeb. Because the Heeb had found the Pure Way, had dispensed with the unnecessary."
The action shifts to the meeting of the Clan leaders in Adolfsville. Ledebur floats up to the sixth floor window. Discussion of what they believe is an invasion, continues. Ledebur, Omar Diamond and Sarah Apostle use their psionic powers to cause the ship to land. At least they imagine that they do. It may be, from the text, that the ship was landing anyway.
Mary Rittersdorf and Dan Mageboom come out of the spaceship and visit Ledebur's home.
The Clan council, back in Adolfsville, learns of the landing. They believe that it is an invasion. They decide to make their stand in DaVinci Heights, the Manses settlement.
The story shifts back to Ghanditown, as chapter 7 begins. Mary and Dan are visiting Ignatz Ledebur. Mary begins an attempt to understand what is happening on Alpha III M 2. There are several pages (pp 93-98) in which Mary describes the variety of mental illnesses represented by the clans. At the bottom of page 98 Dan asks if Mary thinks the Clans will voluntarily return to their hospitalized status. She says, "No, we'll have to bring force to bear; with the exception of a few Heebs we're going to have to take out commitment papers for an entire planet." She corrects herself and says moon. Dan is somewhat insulting toward her due to her slip in referring to Alpha III M 2 as a planet. It turns out that Dan is in fact under the control of Chuck.
The action shifts back to earth. Bunny Hentman is trying to reach Chuck. Hentman has a script idea. He wants to develop a character who is a CIA man who has a difficult relationship with his wife, and wants to kills her. Chuck visits Hentman in Florida. He meets his writing partners Calv Dark and Thursday Jones. Chuck is shaken up by the story idea. He becomes very suspicious. He wonders about Lord Running Clam's role in this (p 106).
There is an Alphane present. They bring RBX 303 in to consider the script. The Alphane is a large bug-like creature. It is blind, not telepathic, but can detect a lot from the nuances of speech. It is revealed that the Alphanes own Pubtrans Incorporated: the company Hentman works for.
Chuck returns to his conapt at the beginning of chapter 8. LRC warns Chuck that Jack Elwood and another man are in his room. The other man is Elwood's boss Roger London. They have come to talk to him about Hentman. They say his real name is Sam Little. He is reported to have been a supporter of the Alphanes during the war. His Alphane friend RBX 303 was from a family that was a wargoods producer. Elwood and London are suspicious of Hentman and RBX 303. They tell Chuck that they think it has to do with Mary. They say that the Alphanes are trying to reacquire Alpha III M 2. They believe (pp. 117) that the Alphanes are planning to induce Chuck to make an attempt to kill Mary.
Chuck remains silent for too long after they present that detail. London tells him that they are aware of the script about a CIA man who wants to kill his wife. They tell him that the plot situation is supposed to give him the idea to kill Mary. London remarks that Hentman and the Alphanes don't know that the CIA is already on Alpha III M 2 in the form of Dan Mageboom, and that Chuck is operating him. London says half to himself (apparently thinking this for the first time), "Then they'd see there's no need to build an elaborate script up to give you the idea" "…Because very possibly you have already thought of it." London studies Chuck's response.
Jack Elwood jumps in and asks chuck to give up running Dan Mageboom. Chuck says that he will not. He cannot give up because he'd confirm their suspicions. He, in fact, wants to continue his plan to kill Mary. They caution him that if anything happened to Mary, he'd be a suspect. Elwood says that he believes that Mary won't be murdered. He says that he believes that the threat of murder will be used to force her to comply. That is to allow the Alphanes back onto Alpha III M 2.
Chuck speculates in silence. He wonders about LRC. Did LRC read his initial thoughts about killing Mary? Did LRC set him up with Hentman because of this? He wonders if the script idea was Hentman's way of telling him that they knew of his murder plan. He persists in his intention to kill Mary. But, he is no longer sure why he wants to kill her.
Elwood and London leave. LRC oozes under the door. He denies any connection with Hentman. LRC offers the view that there may be another telepath at work. LRC says "…I conceive it to be my job from now on to assist you to every extent possible in order to palpably demonstrate my good faith; I am desperately anxious to clear my name in your eyes."
LRC speculates further on psi talent. He wonders about a latent telepath with the psionic power of precognitions. He wonders if the violent images in Chuck's mind about killing Mary may have triggered the psi powers in someone connected with Hentman. LRC mentions the script character's name Ziggy Trots. Chuck is suspicious again. LRC reassures him saying that the character name is in his mind.
Chuck takes stimulants, and works for hours on the script. He gets a call from Patricia Weaver, an actress (mistress of Hentman) who is to have a part in the script. Chuck has no lines for her. He agrees to see her later, and writes some lines.
Chuck goes to his CIA office. He is called in by Roger London. He is confronted about his two jobs. He is accused of having a non-T influence. He is suspended from his CIA job. London speculates that Hentman will have no use for Chuck once he no longer has access to Dan Mageboom. Chuck challenges him to rethink his scenario as Hentman does not fire him.
As the chapter ends, Chuck is calling on Patty Weaver.
Chuck visits Patty Weaver in her Santa Monica apartment. She is beautiful, and lives in a beautiful apartment. Chuck initiallly feels like he is in the big leagues now. Patty is seductive in a businesslike way. He agrees to write her a bigger part in the script. They end up in bed. She has given him a spiked drink. The phone rings. It is Hentman. He has rejected the script. He is cooly dismissed. He is back on the street, and is having a bad reaction to the combination of the laced drink and his stimulant medication. Chuck has a 2 hour blackout.
He calls Joan Trieste. He tells her he was suspended by the CIA. He also wonders aloud if Bunny Hentman has fired him. She calls Hentman for him. She calls him back after talking to Mr. Feld. Feld refers her to the homeopapes, and the headline: "BUNNY HENTMAN ARRESTED BY CIA AS AGENT OF NON-TERRAN POWER, FLEES CAPTORS IN RUNNING LASER-BATTLE."
Chuck wonders how Hentman was warned. He also wonders where he is. He thinks of the call that came in to Patty Weaver when he was with her. He goes back to her apartment. He tries to play tough and frighten her into telling anything she knows about Hentman's whereabouts. She is not impressed, pulls a gun on him, and throws him out.
Chuck goes home. Joan is there. Soon after LRC warns them that a man is in the hallway, who is armed and plans to take Chuck with him. Chuck tries to get Joan to give him her weapon. She will not. They struggle, as the man breaks in the room. The man prevails says that he only wants Chuck. Chuck has no choice but to go. LRC is in the hallway. He speaks up to try to stop the man. The man shoots his laser at LRC: "…With a crackling, tearing noise the slime mold shriveled up dried into a black encrusted blob which smoked and sputtered, charring the wooden floor in the hallway." Chuck numbly continues to the elevator and the roof with the man. Chuck asks him his name. The man gives it as ALF Cherigan, and asks why. Chuck says, " So I can find you again for killing Lord Running Clam." They get into a flying vehicle referred to as a hopper. Cherigan reveals that they are heading for Luna and Brahe City. They are unable to take off. Cherigan opens the door. He fires his laser at someone. His fire is returned, and he is hit. It is Joan. She tells Chuck to hurry and find the jeweler's loupe in the storage area of the hopper (used for working on miniaturized portions of the ship). They hurry inside and search for LRC's spores. He finds 25 in all. They go downstairs and outside to the yard to find soil. They put the spores in the soil, add moisture, and seal the top. She tells Chuck that it will be a couple of days before they can know if they saved LRC.
Joan and the police leave, after removing the body from the roof. Chuck calls Jack Elwood. Offers to tell where Hentman is in return for a spaceship. As the chapter ends, Chuck is waiting.
The next chapter opens with the action back on Alpha III M 2. The supreme council is meeting with Mary Rittersdorf. Gabriel Baines finds her attractive. He begins to conceive of a scheme. Mary tells the council that the Terrans want to inspect each of the settlements. Howard Straw, the Mans, insists that they be allowed to inspect the ship. He gives an ultimatum. Let them inspect the ship, or in 48 hours they will fire upon it. Mary tells them that she believes that they are mentally ill. She says that they plan in 4 hours to leave Ghanditown, and land in DaVinci Heights. She warns that if they attack, the Terran military is orbiting less than one half hour away. Mary leaves.
Gabriel Baines shares his plan to seduce Mary. He is ridiculed by the other council members, initially. Omar Diamond ultimately says. "The universe, possesses an infinitude of ways by which it fulfills itself. Even this must not out of hand be despised."
Baines goes to Ghanditown. His initial plan was to find a seer to see if his plan to seduce Mary had a chance of success. As he reaches Ghanditown his plan changes. He goes to Ledebur. He gets a potion. He heads off to see Mary. He is brought to Mary's quarters on the ship. He proposes a toast. Soon, the potion takes effect. Mary locks the door and dives at him. She is wild, biting him. He laments that he is being bitten to death. Later, although he never quite passes out fully, he comes to himself outside on the ground. The Terran ship is gone. He is naked. He flags down a Heeb car. He is driven back to Ledebur's place. He is informed of a vision. A tiny, fast, pursuit ship has landed near the Poly settlement of Hamlet Hamlet. Baines thinks of Annette Golding. He arranges transportation, and heads that way.
Chapter 11 opens with Annette Golding. She is returning to Hamlet Hamlet. She sees the small spaceship go down. She stops her vehicle. She approaches the ship stealthily. She sees a man digging in the dirt. It is Chuck trying to save LRC. Annette approaches, Chucks knows her. He tells her it is his second time on Alpha III M 2 ( he was Dan Mageboom).
The slime mold grows rapidly in this atmosphere. Some part of the new spores carry the continuity of LRC's consciousness. LRC recongnizes Chuck. LRC immediately warns them that they are about to be attacked.
It is the Manses. They have blown up Mary's ship, and are full of pride. LRC reports reading from a Mans mind that Mary is still alive and that the Mases are hunting for her.
In the same time line, Baines intercepts the Mans tank. The Mans tank fires on a small spaceship, which turns out to be Chuck's. It goes down. Chuck drives off in the direction of the crash. He reaches the site first. The hatch swings open, Chuck, Annette and LRC come out. The Mans arrives he seems eager to kill. He and Baines point weapons at one another. LRC tells Chuck that Mary is nearby, and that he better hit the ground. Chuck and Annette dive. A laser beam disintegrates the small spaceship. Baines yells at them to get in his car. The Mans starts firing in the direction of the laser origin. He fires a missle. There is a great explosion. The car is rolled over.
They are trapped inside. The Mans soldier assists them in getting out. LRC warns them that Mary and Dan Mageboom are still nearby and planning to fire. The Mans runs for his tank but is shot down.
Baines wonders aloud why Mary and Mageboom are firing. Chuck says that Mary know why he's there. He says, "I came to this moon to kill her."
A large spaceship come in ovrhead. It is not a Terran warship as they all expect. It has a picture of a rabbit on the side. Chuck realizes that it is Hentman. Baines can no longer cope. He decides to leave. He gets up off the ground and starts walking away expecting to be killed. He encounters Omar Diamond, Ignatz Ledebur, and Sarah Apostle. They reassure him that he'll be alright. He thinks of Annette's safety ahead of his at this point.
Chapter 12 opens with Mary reading from the LRC that Dan was a simulacra. He tells her that his orders are to try to arrest Hentman. He heads off alone to fire at Hentman's ship. Mary fires at Chuck. She is not sure if she hit him. She feels some remorse at the thought. She reflects on how things got to this point between she and Chuck.
A giant Lizard appears in the sky. This is a projection from the collective minds of Diamond, Ledebur, and Apostle. The Dragon breathes fire. The fire turns into letters in the sky. The letters say, "DR. RITTERSDORF, AVOID BLOODSHED AND YOU WILL BE PERMITTED TO LEAVE US." -- "THE HOLY TRIUMVIRATE."
Moments passed, and more words formed, "PLEASE REPLY."
She wonders how, "…She was scarcely a triumvirate of holy hebephrenic saint-psychotics."
Mageboom is firing at Hentman's ship. There is one more message in the sky, "CEASE YOUR WARFARE AND LOVE ONE ANOTHER."
LRC warns Chuck that Hentman and the Alphanes believe that Chuck is behind the attack on their ship. They have sent out a launch to find him.
The launch comes in overhead. A voice tells him to get in, it is Gerald Feld.
He is taken to Hentman. Hentman asks him to take a plan to the council. He wants Chuck to convince the clan council to ask for Alphane protection. Hentman tells him he'll get him his CIA job back. He tells Chuck that Jack Elwoood is his man inside the CIA. Hentman offers to kill Mary for him. Chuck refuses this offer, asks why Hentman thinks he want Mary dead. Chuck realizes that he still loves Mary, and does not want her harmed. He agrees to go to Adolfsville with a proposal of Alphane protection.
As the final chapter begins, Chuck uses Dan Mageboom to go to the supreme council. Gabriel Baines and Annette Golding have been rounded up by Howard Straw, and they too are present. Baines sends his simulacra in. Chuck, through the Mageboom simulcara, makes the offer. Chuck's control over Mageboom is interrupted from Earth. Howard Straw shoots Mageboom with a laser. A while later Straw calls Hentman and accepts the offer. Chuck asks for a launch to go look for Mary on the surface.
The final few scenes have Mary and Chuck together, trying to sort things out. Mary puts Chuck through a series of psychological tests. He tests as "Normal." LRC persuades Mary to take the testing. She comes out as a Dep. Chuck decides to stay on Alpha III M 2. He decides to set up the Norm clan. He decides to call it Thomas Jeffersonburg. He and Mary make plans for how they will get their children off Earth. As the story ends they profess their love for one another. Mary whispers in his ear, then bites it, nearly severing it. He takes it as an omen. He is not sure what sort of omen it is, but he's happy.