Identity theft, multi-layer interlocking conspiracies, and mind control. Who can you trust?
With the unhappy task of bringing the verdict of the Council - death in one week's time for sedition - to his friend, scientist Wade Trask, David Marin agrees to meet Trask at his lab. Too late he realizes he knew too little about his friend, and too little about Trask's experiments; Marin awakes to find his consciousness transferred into the body of Wade Trask. A body that is scheduled to be executed in a week's time.
Marin, commander of the nation's armed forces, has a war to wage on behalf of the Great Judge, and needs to find Trask and recover his body and identity. In Trask's apartment, he finds a clock that might be the vestige of The Brain, a long-ago outlawed and supposedly equally long ago disappeared mechanism for controlling citizens. Martin's race to restore himself, conduct a lightning-fast war, cope with two exotic women, and complications, some of which tie into the Pripps, people who are evolutionary throwbacks - part human, part animals or fish raises the pace to fever pitch. With the clock ticking to recover his body, Marin ties together the threads of these disparate mysteries in an answer that will rock the foundation of the government.
In one imaginative novel, van Vogt foresaw contemporary topics of identity theft, artificial intelligence, and diversity issues that are beyond racial/cultural but cross species to explore the legitimacy of government power.