And so it ends, with Connie returning to Rockover State Psychiatric Hospital, probably for life. It’s not clear whether she managed to poison the doctors after all, although her report states that she did not have the final operation, the amygdalotomy, because of “the incident”…
At the end of the story it is never made clear whether Luciente and the future society was real or all just in her head, and I’m glad of that because to me the story makes a lot more sense if it was real. The characters in the future that remind her of her loved ones are just a coincidence, after all, when a person really misses someone it is not difficult to find objects, situations or people that remind you of those you miss.
Picking up from where we left off in the story, Connie manages to end up “in enemy camp”. We get a glimpse of what life is like in the parts of the world where instead of becoming one with nature, people continued to depend on technology more and more, where women such as Gilinda are heavily operated, always on drugs, and are basically just kept alive for pleasure. There is a sort of caste-system in place, where only “richies” live past 40’s (284), have access to medical care, and live above the level of the polluted atmosphere. We also learn that some individuals here, such as the security corps, have mind control implants that allow them to manipulate their mental states (292). The security officer is unable to sense fear in Connie, sensing instead that there is something blocking it, which could be the implant doctors had put inside of her at the time. We’ll come back to this in a second.
Back in her own time, at the hospital, we get a whole bunch of pointless gossip about the doctors’ lives and right after we get a whole chapter dedicated to Jackrabbit’s funeral. After all the time she spent on the “other side”, being unconscious in the present, the doctors think it’s best to remove the implant from her. Shortly after she goes back to the future, where she finds herself in the middle of battle with Luciente, Bee and Hawk. She seems to be going back and froth between future and present; she is literally on the edge of time (!). In the climax of battle she sees the doctors’ faces in the enemy ships, and it is then that she realizes that she is also fighting her own war in her time. This is a turning point for her, as her resolution to not be used becomes strengthened. She manages to get hold of a powerful toxic insecticide while staying with her brother “Lewis” and his family over Thanksgiving, and eventually slips it into the doctors’ coffee, presumably killing them and freeing herself as a guinea pig.
It is worth mentioning the connection between Connie’s implant and the implant the guard in the enemy territory claims to possess. From the way I understand the story, this is the future that would take place if the doctors’ experiment had been successful. People would start getting implants in order to be controlled as time went on. At first it would be mental patients, then prisoners, them maybe workers, employees, and at last the population in general. Connie, through her actions, manages to stop the progress of the mind controlling implants in its initial stages, therefore altering the future and presumably avoiding the technological civilization from developing, leaving only Luciente’s society as inheritors of the Earth.
One last point worth mentioning is how Luciente claims that she feels naked without her kenner while on the battlefield. According to her, “For some it’s only a convenience. For others part of their psyche” (321). Even in Luciente’s society there are individuals who feel so attached to their technology, their kenner, that losing it is equivalent to losing part of their memories, to the point that some individuals commit suicide from the loss.
Although a tedious read at many points due to the excessive amount of back-story and unnecessary detail, towards the end I was somewhat drawn in to the novel, I actually wanted to know what Connie’s fate would be. This happened mainly during her escape sequence, and during her plotting for her “war” on the doctors at the hospital and at her brother’s house. It certainly isn’t the kind of book I would read on my own volition, but I can’t say it wasn’t somewhat interesting.