In 1959, seven young women at college become such fast friends that they form the Decline and Fall Club, swearing an oath never to ``decline and fall,'' to remain true to their principles and each other, and to meet every year. Forty years later, six of the DFC- -lawyer Carolyn, doctor Ophy, researcher Jessamine, sculptor Faye, Mother Superior Agnes, and wealthy socialite Bettiann--arrange to meet. The seventh--beautiful, charismatic, enigmatic Sophy--died, or at least vanished, two years before, but each of the others has been visited by a psychic presence she believes to have been Sophy. These are dark days for women everywhere: An unholy (and exclusively male) Alliance drawn from the major religions, cultists, survivalists, fascists, terrorists, and crackpots intends to enslave all females, reducing them to brood mares and domestic drudges, then wipe out much of the human race. Carolyn, meanwhile, agrees to defend young, wretched, abused Lolly (made pregnant by gang rape, she allowed her baby to die through fear and ignorance) against murder charges brought by hateful DA Jake Jagger (an Alliance bigwig). Just then, it emerges that everybody everywhere has lost both the capacity and the desire for sex--good news for oppressed women, bad news for the Alliance and its mysterious, demonic leader. The DFC, terrified of Jagger and his vicious, highly placed friends, decides to search for Sophy: Alive or dead, can she help them defy the Alliance? While undeniably talented, Tepper (A Plague of Angels, 1993, etc.) often struggles for control--but not here. Imagine The Women's Room invaded by Big Brother: A provocative, devastating, enthralling, consciousness-raiser.