Dancers In The Afterglow is a short but powerful book. Like a lot of Sci-Fi it looks at trends and extrapolates a plausible future wrapped in an interesting story. I believe Chalker was looking at three primary trends in this book. Collectivism, the personal disconnectedness of modern Western Civilization and man/machine integration. Today 25 years after its publication Chalker saw clearly into the future. Collectivism is manifested in today's political correctness which seeks to blur the line between the superior and the inferior, making everyone equal. In the West the young are purposely interfacing with machines more than with each other leading to a personal disconnect from human to human contact and integration into the "cyber world". Deep down Dancers In The Afterglow is about the demise of human soul more than anything.
Mankind had made it's way into the stars and eventually came across an alien race - inevitably war ensued. The Machists stuck in a stalemate with humanity struck out at Ondine a resort world of some 16 million souls. In a race against time the Machists brutally transformed the human population into soulless, identity-less collective. The Combine of Human worlds struck back with their secret weapon, Daniel. Daniel was once a skilled fighter pilot, but a tragic accident left him clinging to life as a disembodied brain and spine. He was integrated into the greatest machine ever conceived and was set against the Machists. He was a soul without a body and the victims of the Machists were soulless bodies.
This book is a quick read, but very well done and is extremely thought provoking. 4 stars!