Having read Wild Seed and Mind of My Mind, this was not at all what I expected of a book set in the Patternmaster series. It seems only peripherally attached to the Patternmaster series courtesy of something Clay, whom we meet in Mind of My Mind, developed.
Still, the book deals with some of the same preoccupations as are developed in the first two books, in particular how people manage go live under compulsions and especially how that impacts on sex and relationships and children. It was interesting to see Butler explore similar issues coming about from different motivations.
In itself, this is a very different sort of contact story from what is more commonly written. The contact is almost just a macgyver to allow the exploration of how confinement and externally imposed obsessions might play out.
Not Butler’s strongest work, but intriguing and enjoyable (well… within the bounds of devastating sf…) nonetheless.
Later: having now read Patternmaster, this book makes a bit more sense. Interestingly, I think this is the stronger.
[…] this finally makes sense of Clay’s Ark. You can definitely read this by itself, but it is far stronger as the culmination of the preceding […]