by F. Paul Wilson

A sci-fi story with the LaNague League in the background. Dalt (possibly a name inspired by Ayn Rand) has his brain invaded by an alien creature and they develop a symbiotic relationship. They share one brain. A lot of it wasn’t being used anyway, so there is plenty of room. The two consciousness can share knowledge, opinions, and sensations. The second consciousness learns quickly and doesn’t forget. It can control activities in the shared body down to the gene level. It repairs cells, eradicates disease, and prevents the body from aging. It also has mind-reading powers and other psychic abilities.

Dalt uses these powers to cure people who are suffering from “the horrors.” He becomes famous across the galaxy. He first discovers his healing talent on the libertarian planet Tolive. The government of Tolive is briefly described. It includes monopolistic police and judicial branches but no legislature or army. It is alleged to be voluntary because the original residents of the planet all signed a contract to submit to the laws of Tolive and agreed to pay up to 5% of their income to the state. Subsequent residents must sign the contract by their 20th birthday or leave. Most of the tax money goes to the LaNague League, which provides protection from outside attack.

People convicted of non-violent crimes are punished by public flogging administered by a machine that measures the subjective pain experienced by the criminal and stops whipping when the assigned level of pain is reached. Violent criminals are imprisoned so they cannot harm anybody. They can choose either solitary confinement or farm labor. They do no mix with other criminals so they do not learn more bad habits. The government performs no functions outside of the police/court/penal system. Roads are build by private individuals or organizations. Towns have names such as Spoonerville. Roads have names such as Benjamin Tucker Highway.

Dalt lives for centuries. He tires of being the Healer (the process is emotionally draining). He doesn’t like being famous or being idolized. He disguises himself and frequently changes his name and his career to gain some privacy.He doesn’t have children because he doesn’t want to see them grow old and die while he lives on and continues to look like a man in his early 30s. He spends centuries avoiding love for the same reason.

After a long war between Terrans and an alien race concludes with a Terran victory, people lose interest in the LaNague League. Meanwhile 60,000 light-years away a psychic has been honing her powers for thousands of years and setting herself up as a god with near total control of her alien people. She develops the ability to transport her soldiers across the galaxy and has them raid and slaughter people on planets in the LaNague League. The Healer comes to the rescue.

The book is a quick read. It has more humor and more philosophy than other Wilson books. And it is more explicitly libertarian.

Year Read: 2001

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