Abbey's good intentions remain intact, but his farcical skills show considerable signs of wear and tear in this little futurist us-against-them fable. In the not-so-distant yet-to-be, scarcity-plagued American society has choked on itself and has promptly disintegrated. The cities are wrecks. A fascist called The Chief dreams of total power: ""Hands clasped behind his back, he gazes up at the crown of Heaven --Corona Borealis--directly overhead. Those inaccessible realms. Inaccessible? he thinks. We shall see."" And he has in fact developed an army in a Western city which is opposed only by a small band of liberal guerrillas who snipe and play a single, rescued LP copy of Beethoven's Fifth as an anthem. These good guys, however, are soon joined by a motley band from the hinterlands--accidentally assembled, but unanimously opposed to The Chief's brutal army--which consists of a barmaid, a crusty old rancher, a powerful Harvard-educated Indian shaman, and a few other piously acceptable counterculture types. They set havoc in motion, twice escaping death at the hands of The Chief's men by the Indian's magical interventions. . . . There's not a great deal of difference between this and Abbey's last novel, The Monkey Wrench Gang (1975), despite the future-will-be-worse angle. This time, however, the adventure is unexciting, and the 1960s-ish attitudes have become shufflingly automatic. Very small beer.