Sydney Fox, (Syf) lives and works in a future era, ‘After Grieving Time’. His job involves responding to written enquiries from anxious residents about their failure to conform to social and facial expectations in a world controlled by a guardian class of women known as ‘fems’.
Syf discovers that a secret cabal, ‘undrooshy’ reformers, has chosen him to investigate some of the institutions of these governing elites. After a training period, he undertakes a journey in which he saves and then is befriended by Robinson, who as a child was kidnapped by a roving gang of marauders. Later, Syf helps an involuntary transexual named Jung Chou and two childhood acquaintances escape from the clutches of the Department of Gendering Studies, a desert institute housed in a giant green statue. The friendship with Jung Chou develops into a romantic attachment. Together with their companions they undergo several adventures, which include fighting predatory ice creatures and infiltrating a human-to-animal hybridization research unit. Finally they arrive at nuTulsa, where they are tasked with delivering coded transcripts to O’Brien, known as ‘The Femqueen’.
Through his experiences and the wisdom imparted to him by an aged fem, Syf becomes aware of the controlling forces of his life and times. His search leads him to a surprising conclusion when he finally comes face-to-face with O’Brien.
If in a Wasted Land is a subtly humorous, satiric and politically-incorrect dystopian vision which leaves the reader with an open and optimistic ending.