Political science fiction, which first appeared in England in 1980: a sprightly, often absorbing tale with a murky, lecture-ish ending--from the author of Pavane and The Inner Wheel. Some two centuries hence, following economic collapse, revolution, and nuclear war, Britain consists of several backward, semi-autonomous states. In the Blocks, restrictive but well-appointed and fairly appealing training centers, above-average, parent-less youngsters are educated for the mysterious, ruling Elite. When Molly Zero's best friend is killed in a climbing accident, she impulsively joins rebellious Paul and escapes. And their journey to discover and confront the Elite (whom they regard as aloof and callous) takes them, via an involving series of adventures, to London, where Paul joins a band of dogmatic but violent revolutionaries--while Molly tags along trying to make sense of it all. And finally, after much death and disaster, she comes to doubt the existence of the Elite and retreats into madness--an ending that slides off into heavy-going explanations (the Block youngsters are test-tube experiments), ruminations on the collapse of civilization (inevitable, with or without nuclear war), and musings on the art of government (Molly is unique because she doesn't understand party politics). Narrated in a rather off-putting second person present tense: a satirical, sometimes provocative exercise in futuristic politics--but increasingly sour-toned and less than fully satisfying.