“Suppose a vast number of civilizations are distributed throughout the universe, on the order of the number of detectable stars. Lots and lots of them. Those civilizations make up the body of a cosmic society. Cosmic sociology is the study of the nature of this super-society” (p 12).
As a writer there is always the temptation to be a cruel god over the imagined characters, typing down conflict after conflict without sympathy; there is also an even greater risk of loving the characters too much, coddling them as babes, and becoming benevolent creators over the fiction.
Oedipa stumbles upon a conspiracy in California which eventually leads her onto an amazing adventure, landing her by the end of the book in an auction room as she awaits the crying, or an auctioneer shouting out a sale, of a stamp collection once owned by her former lover, Pierce Inverarity, who is deceased.