A Realtopia: so called because these events are not post-apocalyptic, but take place in times that resemble our own.
The nation’s dictatorial and decadent regime under President Jocelyn has been overthrown by a coalition of bordering states; they together, the G.R.A., practice a hybrid of social reform and technological control. Anton Leonhardt has grown up without attachments. He falls in love often, and lacks emotional self-control. The ease with which he can be exploited makes him the center of operations for Herward, a soldier of the G.R.A.; the Utdrife, the disinherited of the peninsular Hidtha tribe; Palma, a general of the resistance; the Swisshelm sisters, poor academics who deal in bitter humor, unreconciled to the loss of the old regime that predated Jocelyn; and Mary Wainwright, a dilettantish reporter who loves Anton.
Anton Leonhardt, a rootless outsider galvanized by the leveling influence of foreign invasion and civil unrest, dreams of—at last—a role. He waits by the window, overlooking the causeway, for Palma’s instruction. She comes, and tells him to expect tourmaline . . . an assignment, or a clue; by word of mouth, or symbol.
The messianic General Palma believes those called must subsume themselves to the cause. She sees Anton’s disaster as an unready soldier’s weakness. She will save him, not because the G.R.A. watches her protégé closely, but because a leader bears the risk for the least of her followers, and must, at any sacrifice, bring them home.
The Hidtha Ftheorde yet holds a father’s hand over the Utdrife rebels. By this channel, General Palma has won Anton’s release, to the house of Mrs. Leonhardt, under the false identity of Anton Leonhardt. But nothing is secret to the G.R.A. Corporal Herward, offering favors and confidences, arrives.
Herward’s attentions hew to a line of persuasion, by design dependence-making. Yield, accept that you were tortured for the good of the state; that many have paid and must pay for the sins of the Jocelyn regime. Anton, the warier for wanting Herward’s friendship, sees how they would imprison him on his mother’s street. And more, he wants a name of his own, remembered; the Swisshelm sisters’ respect . . . Palma’s love.
Herward, now Sergeant, finds in his new assignment, punishment. His advocate would like him to see opportunity in supervising this snowbound mountain outpost, taming its soldiers’ wolf-pack mentality. He’d thought himself on track with the new regime, but after his mistake with Anton, understands the mechanisms of the G.R.A. do not permit an intelligent supporter to enfranchise himself; rather, they raise and abase friend and enemy alike, until all the population are leveled.
But in his private heart, he has resolved to fight. Mary Wainwright arrives, and Herward sees a way.
Herward’s gamble undergoes a change of custody, when the Ftheorde and his men intercept the group. Now Mary, the more fluent speaker of the Hidtha language, becomes the negotiator. In the city of Sedtok, Herward meets up with his disapproving major, and Jovie Swisshelm, as they settle on Anton’s terms of freedom.
Palma in her prison cell bides with patience, observing all she can, allowing the warden to befriend her, as his friendship may be needed in return. She is confident the G.R.A. methodology will not sway her. Anton and Mary visit. Palma tries Anton’s receptiveness to a job she has in mind, and boldly, speaking in code before her monitor.
Tenets of the G.R.A.
The Hidtha Language