Cover by Davis Meltzer
Alpha III M2 is a former satellite-based global psychiatric institution for colonists on other Alphane system worlds unable to cope with the stresses of colonisation. The groups have differentiated themselves into caste-like pseudo-ethnicities. The inhabitants have formed seven clans:
- The Pares are people suffering from paranoia. They function as the statesman class.
- The Manses are suffering from mania. They are the most active class, the warrior class.
- The Skitzes are the ones suffering from schizophrenia. They correspond to the poet class,
- The Heebs consist of people suffering from hebephrenia (disorganized schizophrenia). To the other clans, they are useful only for manual labour.
- The Polys suffer from polymorphic schizophrenia. They are the creative members of society, producing new ideas. The children from every clan on Alpha III M2 were born Polys, went to their common, central school as Polys, did not become differentiated until perhaps their tenth or eleventh year. Some never became differentiated, though, hinting that, perhaps, some of them do not actually have mental disorders at all.
- The Ob-Coms are the ones with obsessive-compulsive disorder. They are the clerks and office holders of the society, the ritualistic functionaries, with no original ideas. Their conservatism balances the radical quality of the Polys and gives the society stability.
- The Deps are suffering from clinical depression. The name of their town is Cotton Mather Estates, where they live “in endless dark gloom.”