The story involves both present-day and past events, both on Earth and in the alien ship. It starts with a couple of Newcomers who are in prison putting a device into the warden and managing to control him so they can get out.
It's revealed that the main one is planning to kill George. Meanwhile, Matt is after someone called the Thunderbolt Poet Serial Killer.
Matt and Cathy have been having regular sex, and their relationship seems to be quite good.
The warden goes crazy in a restaurant and kills a bunch of people. One-by-one, other people get taken control of and kill others. It's revealed that this is all part of a process of a group that had been on the ship that was responsible for killing certain people.
George, meanwhile, is ill, suffering lapses of memory, visual hallucinations, etc.
The killer is after George and everyone who knew and liked George, in an attempt to erase any “memory of him.” (This is one spot in the book that has a problem; if the guy trying to kill George wants to kill the “memory of him,” he'd have to kill everyone who watched any of the various news accounts on TV that George was in.
The story goes on about George trying to find and stop his would-be killer. There's also a lot about Buck in the story, and a lot about the Tectonese elders and their philosophy, which is quite interesting.
As usual, the strength of the book lies in its anti-prejudice, anti-racism arguments.
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