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Beth Meacham, David Brin

Clans of the Alphane Moon

Clans of the Alphane Moon - Philip K. Dick Read in November, 2015 but the review was accidentally deleted due to bone headedness. Thank you Cachedview.com for helping me rescue this review from the fifth dimension. Goodbye 24 Likes and nice comments and observations from my GR friends.

60s PKDs are some of the most weirdly funny sci-fi ever, not that Dick really ever set out to write comical sci-fi, but his inventiveness and odd sense of humour is always something to look forward to in these early books.

Clans of the Alphane Moon is about a human colony on a moon called Alpha III M2 in the Alpha Centauri star system. This is not any old human colony, it is a colony entirely made up of mental patients. The colonists have organized themselves into clans based on their different psychoses. For examples “The Pares” are people suffering from paranoia, “The Polys” suffer from polymorphic schizophrenia, “The Manses” are suffering from mania, and “The Deps” are suffering from clinical depression and quite a few more. The main storyline concerns the Alpha III M2 colonists’ resistance to Earth* who is taking back control of this moon from the colonists/inmates. For their own good of course:

“He wondered if they’d go so far as to H-bomb the Manses’ settlement—in the name of psychotherapy.”

This book is a little like Heinlein’s classic [b: The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress|16690|The Moon is a Harsh Mistress|Robert A. Heinlein|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1348768309s/16690.jpg|1048525], though “little” is the operative word. In Heinlein’s book the moon colonists call themselves “loonies” though they are all sane, in Clans of the Alphane Moon the colonists really are loonies but never use the term.

As usual Dick populates his book with oddball characters. Chuck Rittersdorf is the main hapless protagonist who just separated from his psychiatrist wife Mary, and would very much like to murder her in retaliation for her cruel treatment of him. One day he is assigned to by his boss at the CIA is to spy on his wife through the use of a simulacrum (a sort of remote-controlled android) while she is doing a research on the Alpha III M2 colony. He perceives this as an ideal opportunity to put an end to Mary and get away with it scot-free. Things, of course, don’t go according to plan. Chuck’s best friend is an alien slime mold “Lord Running Clam” who – in spite of being slimy – is actually a pretty great guy (with a great name). He is full of sage advice** and possesses some very unusual abilities.

The other main characters are equally odd though that is not too surprising considering their psychoses. Gabriel Baines from the Pare clan deserves a mention though. One of the leaders of the resistance his attempt to seduce Mrs. Mary Rittersdorf the psychiatrist with the aid of an aphrodisiac meets with hilarious consequences.

As usual I find Dick’s dialogue a little stilted, and, as usual, I don’t mind at all because I feel it is part of Dick’s charms and makes his book a little more surreal.

I don’t consider Clans of the Alphane Moon to be one of Dick’s finest books but it is a fast read, imaginative and a lot of fun. You may even learn something about psychiatry from it***.

* Referred to as Terra in this book for some reason, and seems to be just the US government.

** Lord Running Clam’s relationship advice:
“Don’t kill yourself because you’ve left her,” Joan said. “In a few months or even weeks you’ll feel whole again. Now you feel like one half of an organism that’s split apart. Binary fission always hurts; I know because of a protoplasm that used to live here… it suffered every time it split, but it had to split, it had to grow.”

*** “If there’s one thing that contemporary psychiatry has shown, it’s that. Merely knowing that you are mentally sick won’t make you well, any more than knowing you have a heart condition provides a suddenly sound heart”