Terra can’t understand how the society on Callisto has managed to maintain a totalitarian political structure without resorting to political prisons, terrorism or extermination camps. It’s almost like the citizens are willfully going along with whatever the government wants even though they are free to believe and act however they choose.
Terra sends Peter Taverner undercover to the moon to investigate. He comes across the curious broadcasts of John Yancy, whose homespun advice and folksy wisdom have been very persuasive in creating a docile population. Yancy though isn’t real. He’s just a simulacrum created by some state-controlled advertisers called Yance-men. With the help of a Yance-man named Sipling who realizes how dangerous this level of control is, Taverner finds out the goal is to convince the Callistotes that most war is bad but some wars (like one with Ganymede for instance the government is prepping for) are just wars.
Knowing this Terra takes over the Yance-men, and led by Sipling they begin to subvert the Yancy broadcasts to promote independent thought.
Yancy reminded me of Reagan when I read it, but Dick said the model for Yancy was (obviously) Eisenhower. A version of Yancy and the Yance-men show up in Dick’s later novel The Penultimate Truth.
Cast of characters
- Leon Sipling – the Yance-man who leads a revolt
- John Edward Yancy – a neighborly simulacrum priming the residents of Callisto for a ‘just’ war
- Babson – head Yance-man
- Peter Taverner – sent to Calisto to understand how that moon’s totalitarian government operates
- Eckmund, Dorser – fellow undercover cops sent to Callisto
- Kellman – the police director on Terra