covert alien manipulation of human society;
a practical science of society, in this case applied by the aliens.
So does it all hang together?
So far, twenty seven pages into the narrative, we have had:
autumn, the viewpoint of Colonel Mackenzie;
an italicized dialogue between two of the aliens;
spring, the viewpoint of Mackenzie's son-in-law, on the opposite side in a civil war, in conversation with an as yet unexplained Esper (they have communities and teachings, not just psychic powers);
winter, back to Mackenzie although (this is not the author's fault) without a warning gap in the text;
information about the complicated social set-up in North America.
Thus, a characteristically substantial Andersonian text, too early to say whether it is all coming together or pulling in opposite directions.