The crew of Pegasus visits Bodicea, a planet ruled by women where the few men allowed to live are kept as concubine and shared among Sapphic communes for reproduction. They have a strict social philosophy focusing on collectivism, pacifism, and environmentalism. Cities are limited to a maximum population of 200,000, and they are only allowed to eat food grown within a day’s travel of their city. The women of Bodicea think their world is a social-pacifist paradise, but Keeler’s crew glimpse underneath the veil and see a reality quite different, including political oppression and social decay. The arrival of an aggressive race, the Aurelians, puts Bodicea in grave and immediate peril. The Bodiceans do not intend to resist the Aurelians, and are more than willing to submit themselves to Aurelian domination even if it means annihilation. Commander Keeler wrestles with the question of whether one should try to save people who do not want to be saved. In the finale, the Aurelians strike at Bodicea, utterly devastating the planet’s cities. Pegasus battles the Aurelians, but is overcome by their numbers, and makes a run for the point of origin of the Aurelian ships. They leave behind the Aves Basil, which was shot down while trying to flee the planet. Pegasus reaches the origin planet, but it proves to be not the Aurelian homeworld, but another devastated colony. The few human inhabitants left behind are ancient, drug-addicted, and disgustingly amorous. Pegasusreturns to Bodicea, discovering that 16 years have passed in their absence, and some of the crew left behind have begun a resistance movement.
Bodicea is the fifth planet of ten in the system 10 655 Vulpecula. It has two large continental landmasses with long peninsulas that face each other like a pair of brackets and enclose a large sea in which many islands are located, including the Isle of Mab. Overall, the planet has a mild climate, although the northern extremes tend toward the sub-arctic. Its capital city is called Concordia. Bodicea has two moons, one barren, one covered with a thick methane atmosphere. Philip Redfire sets the second moon on fire in the course of the novel.
Trivia and Obscure References
- Book 3 is the longest ‘Worlds-Apart’ Novel: 132,440 words.
- In Book 3, there are several hints that the Medea colony was settled by Russians. The story Keeler tells of its origins combines elements of the classical myth of Medea with elements of the life of Hillary Rodham Clinton.
- Bodicea’s home system is 10 655 Vulpecula. Vulpeculus is the Latin word for ‘fox’ which is in turn a slang term for a woman.
- The Bodiceans discussing defending their planet through passive aggression, similar to the plot of the novel The City, Not Long After by Pat Murphy.
- Keeler makes reference to a threat of being "locked in an escape pod with two robots and forced to watch bad movies," a reference to Mystery Science Theater 3000.
- The Isle of Mab, where some of the action takes place, is named for Mab, Queen of the Fairies in English folklore.
- Aurelian societal structure corresponds to the four suits of the Tarot deck. The Cups are personal servants, the Pentacles perform menial and technical labor, the Wands perform higher-level tasks, and the Swords act as soldiers.
- In Book 3, a disease is referred to as "The Bloodening," which was the name of a horror movie in the Simpsons’ episode "Wild Barts Can't Be Broken"
- The references to "Facehuggers" and "Headbiters" are references to the movies "Alien" and "Starship Troopers." "Headbiters" is used as a running gag that recurs in books 4, 5, 7, 8, and 11.