Clans of the Alphane Moon
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3.74 / 5

"Clans of the Alphane Moon" Summary

By Philip K. Dick

science fiction | 256 pages | Published in NaN

"Shell Game" was originally published in 1954 for the first time. Later it was expanded into the "Clans of the Alphane Moon." (1964)When CIA agent Chuck Rittersdorf and his psychiatrist wife, Mary, file for divorce, they have no idea that in a few weeks they will be shooting it out on Alpha III M2, the distant moon ruled by various psychotics liberated from a mental ward. Nor do they suspect that Chuck's new employer, the famous TV comedian Bunny Hentman, will also be there aiming his own laser gun. How things came to such a darkly hilarious pass is the subject of Clans of the Alphane Moon, an astutely shrewd and acerbic tale that blurs all conventional distinctions between sanity and madness.


Estimated read time: 5 min read

One Sentence Summary

A group of mentally ill patients on a lunar colony must unite their warring factions to prevent an invasion from Earth.


"Clans of the Alphane Moon" is a thought-provoking science fiction novel written by Philip K. Dick. Set in the future, the story takes place on the moon of Alpha Centauri, where various factions and clans struggle for power and control. With his signature blend of dystopian themes and mind-bending concepts, Dick explores the complexities of human nature and identity in a world divided by mental illness and political conflict.

Brief Synopsis

The novel is set in the 22nd century, where Earth has established a colony on the moon of Alpha Centauri called Alphane. Due to the effects of cosmic radiation, a significant portion of the population on Alphane has developed various mental illnesses. These individuals are sent to a psychiatric hospital called "The Institute" for treatment.

The story revolves around the struggle for power and control among different clans on Alphane. Each clan represents a different mental illness or psychological condition. The government, known as the "Colonial Authority," attempts to maintain order but is faced with numerous challenges.

Main Characters

Character NameDescription
Chuck RittersA former CIA agent who becomes involved in the power struggles on Alphane
Mary RittersChuck's estranged wife who has become a prominent member of a schizophrenic clan
Bunny HentmanA member of the obsessive-compulsive clan and Chuck's love interest
Lord Running ClamA powerful leader of the megalomaniacal clan

Summary of Different Story Points over Chapters

Chapter 1: Introduction to Alphane Moon

  • Introduces the setting of Alphane and its unique mental health challenges
  • Chuck Ritters, a former CIA agent, is sent to Alphane to assess the situation

Chapter 2: The Institute

  • Chuck visits The Institute and meets various patients with different mental illnesses
  • Mary Ritters, Chuck's estranged wife, is revealed to be a member of a schizophrenic clan

Chapter 3: The Power Struggles Begin

  • Chuck becomes entangled in the power struggles between different clans
  • Bunny Hentman, a member of the obsessive-compulsive clan, catches Chuck's attention

Chapter 4: The Megalomaniac Clan

  • The megalomaniacal clan, led by Lord Running Clam, gains influence and threatens the stability of Alphane
  • Chuck and Bunny join forces to resist the megalomaniacs' control

Chapter 5: Political Intrigue

  • Chuck discovers a political conspiracy within the Colonial Authority
  • The megalomaniacs attempt to manipulate the power structure to their advantage

Chapter 6: The Final Showdown

  • Chuck and his allies confront the megalomaniacs in a climactic battle for control of Alphane
  • Themes of identity, power, and the nature of mental illness are explored

Main Events

  • Chuck Ritters' arrival on Alphane and his exploration of The Institute
  • Chuck's reunion with his estranged wife, Mary, and their complicated relationship
  • The rise of the megalomaniacal clan and their attempts to dominate Alphane
  • Chuck's growing relationship with Bunny Hentman and their involvement in the power struggles
  • The revelation of a political conspiracy within the Colonial Authority
  • The final confrontation between Chuck and his allies and the megalomaniacal clan

Themes and Insights

  1. Identity and Mental Illness: The novel explores the complexity of identity within a society where mental illness is prevalent. Each clan represents a different mental condition, highlighting the diverse experiences and challenges individuals face in defining their sense of self.
  2. Power Struggles: The story delves into the nature of power and control, as different clans vie for dominance on Alphane. Dick examines the motivations and consequences of seeking power, exposing the corrupting influence it can have on individuals and society.
  3. Political Manipulation: Through the political conspiracy subplot, the novel raises questions about the manipulation of power by those in authority. It explores the dangers of unchecked authority and the potential for corruption within governmental systems.
  4. Social Stigma and Acceptance: The portrayal of mental illness in the novel sheds light on the social stigma surrounding mental health. It prompts readers to reflect on the importance of empathy, understanding, and acceptance of individuals with mental illnesses.

Reader's Takeaway

"Clans of the Alphane Moon" is a captivating science fiction novel that delves into the complexities of human nature and the impact of mental illness on society. With its thought-provoking themes and engaging plot, Philip K. Dick invites readers to contemplate the nature of identity, power dynamics, and the importance of compassion.


Philip K. Dick's "Clans of the Alphane Moon" presents a compelling exploration of a dystopian future where mental illness and power struggles dominate a lunar colony. Through well-developed characters and thought-provoking themes, the novel offers readers a captivating and insightful reading experience. With its blend of science fiction and social commentary, this book continues to captivate audiences and serves as a testament to Philip K. Dick's genius as a writer.

Clans of the Alphane Moon FAQ

  1. What is 'Clans of the Alphane Moon' about?

    'Clans of the Alphane Moon' is a science fiction novel by Philip K. Dick. It is set in a future where Earth has colonized various planets, and the story revolves around a former mental patient named Chuck Rittersdorf who is sent to the planet Alpha III M2, also known as the Alphane Moon, to investigate the status of a former colony.

  2. Who is the author of 'Clans of the Alphane Moon'?

    The author of 'Clans of the Alphane Moon' is Philip K. Dick, an acclaimed science fiction writer known for his thought-provoking and visionary novels.

  3. When was 'Clans of the Alphane Moon' published?

    'Clans of the Alphane Moon' was first published in 1964.

  4. Is 'Clans of the Alphane Moon' part of a series?

    No, 'Clans of the Alphane Moon' is a standalone novel and is not part of a series.

  5. What genre does 'Clans of the Alphane Moon' belong to?

    'Clans of the Alphane Moon' is a science fiction novel, exploring themes of mental illness, identity, and societal divisions.

  6. Are there any film adaptations of 'Clans of the Alphane Moon'?

    No, there have been no film adaptations of 'Clans of the Alphane Moon' to date.

  7. What are some other notable works by Philip K. Dick?

    Philip K. Dick is known for his influential works such as 'Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?' (adapted into the film 'Blade Runner'), 'The Man in the High Castle,' and 'Ubik,' among many others.

  8. Where can I purchase a copy of 'Clans of the Alphane Moon'?

    You can purchase a copy of 'Clans of the Alphane Moon' from various online retailers such as Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or your local bookstore.

  9. Is 'Clans of the Alphane Moon' suitable for young readers?

    Due to its themes and content, 'Clans of the Alphane Moon' is generally recommended for mature readers.

  10. Is 'Clans of the Alphane Moon' available as an e-book?

    Yes, 'Clans of the Alphane Moon' is available in e-book format for those who prefer digital reading.