The Planet Savers – Marion Zimmer Bradley (1962)
‘One body, two minds, and a world in the balance
Austere Dr Allison was a surgeon specialising in the parasitology of the colony planet, Darkover. Antiseptic hospital walls were the limits of his world, and the virgin ranges of the planet and the human clashes of Terran and Darkovan were abhorrent to him.
Headstrong, impulsive Jason, raised by the semi-human aboriginals, loved Darkover as his only known home. Its forests, its mountains, its varied peoples were his own, and he chafed for freedom from the confines of the Terran trade city.
Now an epidemic raged the planet, destroying Terran and Darkovan alike. The cure lay somewhere in those mountains, known to the natives as The Wall Around The World. And the doctor and the adventurer had to cooperate to find that cure.
But it was impossible for them to cooperate. For they shared only one body between them.
CAST OF CHARACTERS
The surgeon could save a world, if he could close up the gaps in his past.
The death of the body held no terrors for him, but what he faced was the death of the mind.
Because his mind held the power to save or kill, he was a walking legend.
This Amazon guide scaled cliffs without fear, until Terran science taught her otherwise.
The care and feeding of aborigines was not the realm of a Spaceforce man.
How many minds did he find expendable in the fight to save an alien world?’
Blurbs from the F-153 1962 Ace Doubles edition
Bradley here introduces us to her Darkover series. In Bradley’s universe, humanoids evolved on various worlds and on Darkover were variegated between the ground-dwelling Darkovans and the Trail folk, who are arboreal in nature and seldom if ever spend any time on the ground.
Jay Allison was orphaned and brought up by the Trail folk as their own until it was felt that he should return to his own people.
It seems that Allison’s return to humanity had an adverse effect on him in that the man that became Dr Jay Allison has no recall of his life with the aliens and is clearly hostile toward them.
Dr Forth, however, manages to uncover a second personality called Jason, a personality that is needed in order to negotiate with the hostile tree-dwelling natives.
A disease is spreading among the human population, one to which the Trail folk are immune, and the one hope is to persuade some of the natives to return with an expedition to provide blood from which to make a serum.
It’s an interesting concept, that a dual personality could be used to perform separate functions, and Bradley handles it competently, although the rationale for the buried personality is a tad weak.
This appears to be Bradley’s first ‘Darkover’ novel, and I will be interested to read how the exploration of this world develops.